Reaching land's end

Cabo is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, in the municipality of Los Cabos in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. Cabo is known for its sandy beaches, scuba diving, and the distinctive sea arch El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, Land’s End, which is home to both Lovers’ Beach (facing the Sea of Cortes) and Divorce Beach (the side that faces the Pacific).

Spanish galleons first visited Estero San Jose at the mouth of the Rio San Jose to obtain fresh water near the end of their lengthy voyages from the Philippines to Acapulco in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.  As pirate raids along the coast between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz became a problem, the need for a permanent Spanish settlement at the tip of the cape became increasingly urgent.  The growing unrest among Guaycura and Pericu indians south of Loreto also threatened to engulf mission communities to the  north; the Spanish sent armed troops to the Cape region to quell these uprisings.

In 1730, Jesuit Padre Nicholas Tamaral traveled south from Mission La Purisima and founded Mission San Jose del Cabo on a mesa overlooking Rio San Hose.  Due to the overwhelming presence of mosquitoes at this site, Tamaral soon moved the mission to the mouth of the estuary.

Tamaral and the Pericues got along until he pronounced an injunction against polygamy, a long tradition in Pericu society.  After Tamaral punished a Pericu shaman for violating the decree, the Pericues rebelled, burning the missions in October 1734, and killing Tamaral.  After this, a Spanish presidio was established, ostensibly to protect the area against continued Pericu insurgency and pirate attacks.  Even after the death of nearly all the indians in the area, the outpost remained an important Spanish asset until it was turned over to Mexican nationals in the mid 19th century.

During the Mexican American war, Marines from the U.S. frigate Portsmouth briefly occupied the city.  A bloody siege ensued and the Mexicans prevailed under the leadership of Mexican naval officer Jose Antonio Mijares.  After this time, as mining gave out, San Jose del Cabo lost population along with the rest of the region.  A few farmers began trickling into the San Jose area in the 1930s, culminating with the church being rebuilt in 1940.  Today Los Cabos is booming and is currently the seventh most popular tourist destination in Mexico and the second fastest growing resort community in Mexico. 

Today’s dives were at Neptune’s Finger and Land’s End.  Neptune’s Finger consists of two coral reefs, a beautiful vertical wall and the biggest sandfall of the Cabo San Lucas Marine park. The top of the reef is only 15 feet deep and the vertical wall drops down to more than 500 feet. Turtles, groupers, machetes, goatfish, guitarfish, scorpion and a lot of other tropical fish were teeming.  Right before the dive, a sea lion swam past, making its way back to the Land’s End rock formations where they all hang out.  We also saw a good number of jacks, and ran into the perpetual jellyfish.  My leg just looks awful!

Land’s End was a slightly more challenging dive with a lot more current.  I was diving with a 63, so I wasn’t thrilled with all the work.  The site itself is unique because you dive in both the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific Ocean at the same time. Large schools of barracudas, tunas and baitfish abounded, which, along with the current, made this an unforgettable dive. The flat rock inside the cove is home to a small colony of California sea lions, two of whom decided to do a swim-by while we were submerged.  Near the end of the dive, there was a shipwreck at 50 feet. Unfortunately, the clarity of the water let you see the thermal clines before they hit you.  We would be in 82 degree water, and suddenly the temperature would drop by up to 50 degrees.  It seems to be that way here all the time.  Still, great diving!