Swimming in Los Cabos, Mexico.


Considering that you’re harassed to buy time-shares before you even step out of the airport, most stores and restaurants accept American dollars, and everyone seems to speak English —Los Cabos can feel more like America than Mexico. But even though more than one million visitors landed in Los Cabos in 2005, there are some undiscovered gems that tourists haven’t ridden an ATV over yet: ?


•Most accommodations in Los Cabos are resorts that look like they belong in Fort Meyers, Fla., not Mexico. To feel like you’re really south of the border, check into Casa Natalia, a European style boutique hotel located in San Jose del Cabo (one of the two towns that makes up Los Cabos — the other is Cabo San Lucas). ?

Surrounded by 39 palm trees, the hotel offers 16 rooms, all of which are decorated with local art and include private terraces. Nightly rates start at $230, depending on the season and room choice. The hotel is located within steps of the town square of San Jose del Cabo, which feels worlds and centuries away from the nightclubs and bars in Cabo San Lucas. Another perk (to this writer at least): The hotel doesn’t allow children under 13. If you are traveling with children, consider Casa del Mar, a 26-room hacienda-style hotel surrounded by nothing but ocean, beach and an 18-hole golf course.

•The Cabo Dolphin Center is one of the only places in the world where you can frolic in an immense salt-water pool with the adorable mammals. During each hour-long program, trainers instruct dolphins to give you rides on their backs and stomachs. Before getting out of the pool, a photographer snaps a photo of a dolphin giving you a kiss on the cheek. Sure, swimming in the ocean is cheaper, but $165 is worth this experience. ?

•There may be no better flan in this world than the one at Don Emiliano Restaurant. The family-run establishment boasts signature dishes like Mixiote de Cordero en Verde (traditional lamb stew wrapped in agave skin paper) and Chile Relleno San José (shrimp stuffed ancho chile with goat cheese and cilantro sauce).

•You won’t find Mayan ruins in Cabos, but the El Faro Viejo, or what remains of it, has been standing since 1890. Only accessible by horseback or ATV, the structure was once a lighthouse and stands 500 feet above the water. It’s not the lighthouse itself that’s impressive — it’s the view of the ocean, and the shipwreck you can spot through the crystal blue water below the cliff.