The slender Baja California peninsula extends for almost 800 miles along Mexico’s northwestern coast. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Sea of Cortez to the east, Baja is desertic and largely undeveloped. Down at the peninsula’s southernmost tip, where the Sea of Cortez meets the open ocean, the resort town of Cabo San Lucas is perched along one of the most spectacular environments in Mexico.
The immense natural beauty is perhaps southern Baja’s greatest asset—the iconic stone arch at Land’s End is emblematic of the dramatic vistas that abound in the area—though the region’s modernity, convenience for international travelers, and wide range of sports and recreational activities are also a major attraction for expatriates. Many foreigners settle down or retire here, others spend part of the year in Baja, while others come down for a season. Prices run quite a bit higher here than in other beach resorts in Mexico, though you’ll still find the cost of living is a bit more reasonable than most coastal cities north of the border.
Though the peninsula has always been sparsely inhabited, the Spanish established numerous missions in Baja California, around which many of the current settlements are centered. The town of San Jose del Cabo has the most southerly mission, as well as a pleasant Mexican-style town center. Over the years, Baja has attracted many residents from the other side of the Sea of Cortez, and, as a result, the region has a northern Mexican flavor. Culturally, this region also maintains strong links to the west coast of the United States—many Californians vacation in Cabo, just as others buy vacation homes in town. English is widely spoken, and tourism is a major industry.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Living Abroad in Mexico.