Sun, surf, and sand. The combination makes for a terrific get-away.
But so many awesome beaches are overcrowded and touristy. Not Mexico’s Los Barriles, a gem of a village on the Sea of Cortez. The village got its name, which translates into The Barrels, from legends about Spanish conquistadors burying barrels of gems and gold in the area. No one’s found the treasure, but the exquisite scenery, spectacular coastline, and clear water make this region even more coveted than any buried booty. The village sits about halfway between La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, and Cabo San Lucas—book a flight into Los Cabos International and then hire a car for the hour drive north.
The town is small, but the beaches around Los Barriles are beautiful: warm water, white sand, and picturesque thatched roof fishing casitas. The spot is ideal for people who want to avoid crowded tourist destinations and experience a Mexican village that hasn’t exploded with giant destination resorts. The tranquility is terrific, and there’s plenty to do after you get tired of lying on the beach and sipping a margarita.
The beaches around Los Barriles are beautiful: warm water, white sand, and picturesque thatched roof fishing casitas.
There are places to hike, but to make the most of the area, venture offshore. Rent a kayak or boat (or better yet, bring your own inflatable paddleboard) to explore the coastline. The region is famous for Mobula rays, flying fish, and dolphins, and you might even spot sea turtles laying eggs along the shoreline.
The beach is a terrific place to watch sea lions frolicking in the surf, and the whale watching is truly amazing. You can get up close and personal with humpbacks, blues, and greys. And if you time it right, you can swim with whale sharks, which are non-threatening, bus-sized whales with shark-like fins that gracefully coast through the water as they migrate from early winter to late spring. This is also one of the best places to see the Devil Star, a Mexican starfish mutation with six arms (the top one splits into a “Y”).
The scuba diving and snorkeling in this part of Mexico is quite good, with clear water and plenty of colorful fish. The region is known for its world-class windsurfing and kite boarding, especially in the winter months, when winds can average 20 to 25 knots. But, arguably, the star attraction in Los Barriles is sport fishing.
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This coastal area of the Sea of Cortez offers one of the world’s most diverse marine ecologies. The rich sea population includes big marlin, Pacific sailfish, and dorado (mahi-mahi). It’s one of the few places where you can fish for marlin year-round. Striped marlin spawn there, and the blue and black marlin grow big (200 to 1,000 pounds)! While the billfishing is plentiful offshore, catch-and-release ethics are strongly encouraged. For eating, there are plenty of tuna and dorado, and many hotels have smokehouses, freezers, and fillet service.
The billfishing is plentiful offshore, catch-and-release ethics are strongly encouraged.
The best way to explore the deep sea fishing opportunities is by hiring a guide. Many of the local outfitters provide all the equipment you need, from rods and reels and tackle to on-the-spot lessons for casting (fly and spinning rod) and trolled lures.
There are several options for where to stay in Los Barriles; you can camp, book a room at a hotel, or even rent a house. We can recommend two resorts, Hotel Palmas De Cortez and Hotel Playa Del Sol are both located in town, right on the beach with ocean views. The two resorts are located about 300 feet from each other. They also boast the largest sport fishing fleet in Mexico, with more than 40 boats. Guests schedule their fishing excursion with the front desk, and each morning depart from a private boat dock located out front of each resort.
The weather here is reliably nice.
While fishing on the East Cape is year-round, the north winds that hit the area from November to March can make it difficult during the winter. This is a good time for windsurfing and kite boarding in Los Barriles. The Hotel Playa Del Sol specializes in both with its Baja Vela program. You can get equipment rental and personal instructors for all levels. High season for fishing starts in May and ends mid-November and then the windsurfing and kite boarding takes over from mid-November to mid-March.
When a guest charters a fishing boat from the hotel, they walk down to the dock at 7 a.m. to meet their boat and crew. Then fish until 3 pm on the private charter, which can accommodate anywhere from one to four people. Drinks and lunches are provided on the boat for an additional charge. But many guests like to fish from the dock or beach directly in front of the hotel, or will rent ATVs and drive down the beach looking for a good fishing spot; most of the ATVs come with rod holders.
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The weather here is reliably nice. In the winter and into spring, the temperatures range from 70 to 80 degrees in the day and 50 to 60 at night. In the summer and fall, temps can reach the upper 90s in the day and the low 80s at night.