By Elisa Allen
Baja Sur is full of untouched beaches and scenic drives - all available to any adventurous wanderer with a full picnic basket and a 4WD vehicle. One such day trip starts near the airport in San Jose del Cabo, with a turn onto an unassuming neighborhood road. This road will take you through the shade of huge mango trees on the local huertas, before you cross the large sandy arroyo of Los Cabos. The road then begins to wind past casitas with chickens in the front yard and larger ranchos. Palm trees, palo verdes, and palo de arco trees are abundant in the low spots here so close to the underground water of the arroyo. This time of year, both the palo de arco and the palo verde trees are green and often blooming with yellow flowers. It’s best to drive slowly as there are often cows wandering across the road in this section. You will soon begin to climb and will be surrounded by sprawling desert interrupted by the occasional rancho. From here, there are unimpeded views of the local mountains from the road, including Picacho de la Laguna, the tallest peak in the Sierra de la Laguna range.
This road trip covers only about 22 miles, but takes over an hour to complete on the dirt road from San Jose Viejo to the coast. As far as Baja’s dirt roads go, this one is in good shape, though a careful eye for soft spots, topes, and blind turns is always necessary. Cell phone service ends about 5 miles into the desert, though there are easy-to-follow signs for the Vidasoul Hotel you can use when Google Maps fails. The drive takes you through a few different ecological zones of the local desert, and different flora and fauna are easily seen from the car. Keep your eyes peeled for wayward goats, jackrabbits, roadrunners, and slow-moving farm trucks. About halfway through the drive, you’ll pass through the small town of Palo Escopeta, which includes a little school, a dirt soccer field, and scattered roadside homes. Eventually you’ll reach the top of a hill and begin to see the ocean up ahead and below. The road ends at the coast on the East Cape and there are many real estate opportunities and empty beaches to explore in this area. To the left, you’ll find Vidasoul Hotel across an arroyo, where you can order lunch and a cocktail at oceanfront Crossroads Restaurant. They also have quads to rent and a pool to enjoy. Rocky surf spots can also be found with some 4WD meandering. Whatever your interests are, this quiet part of the East Cape is definitely worth the trip!
By Elisa Allen