Cabo San Lucas is one of the world’s most sought-after tourist destinations for a sprawling list of reasons: the idyllic weather, pristine beaches, world-class accommodations, vibrant entertainment, and uncountable more. But what sets the pace for this flourishing city is its very unique history. Strewn between every alleyway, room, and sandy footstep is a history and culture that elevates the city into something special. To get the most out of your Mexican getaway, learn more about what got Cabo San Lucas to what it is today.
Early Inhabitants and Settlers
Archaeological research indicates that human settlement existed in the Cabo San Lucas area (under the Baja California Sur region of Mexico) as far back as 10,000 years. When Europeans first visited the area in the early sixteenth century, they encountered indigenous people known as the Pericú. Should you choose to drive through the region’s highways, you may catch signs denoting “pinturas rupestres,” areas where you can find indigenous cave paintings, potentially from the now extinct Pericú.
In the sixteenth century, the area became a favorite traveling navigation reference for explorers and pirate bands alike. Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez landed in the Bahia de Laz Paz region sometime in the 1530s and named it Santa Cruz. Colonizing the area failed after about one year and it would not get resettled for approximately another 150 years.
The next round of settlement came with the arrival of Spanish Jesuit missionaries aiming to convert the indigenous people. Some missionaries succeeded; others failed, as was evident in many revolts at the time. Depictions of such revolts can be found through historic sites and churches throughout the Los Cabos area. In the roughly the same time period, King Philip of Spain established many strategic settlements and bases throughout the region to combat the rash of pirates interfering with Spain’s questing.
Local Prominence Grows
One of Cabo’s premier features—which remains as such to this day—is its plentiful fishing waters. They offer access to tuna, mahi-mahi, and, most notably, striped marlin. As decades yielded to passing centuries, many countries—including the United States—competed for access to the region’s waters. Increased attention brought investment, residential expansion, and, ultimately, an eye for tourism. Luxury hotels sprang forth during the 1950s and with them brought Hollywood celebrities in the 1960s and beyond. As household names like Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, and Elton John began to visit this booming paradise, celebrity news publications brought Cabo to regular citizens’ attention. From there, it was all history.
Exploring Cabo’s History
Though the Cabo San Lucas landscape may be filled with glittering monuments to modernization, its still easy to find its history—its soul—throughout the city if you really explore it. Visit the Iglesia de San Lucas and one of its regularly hosts bilingual masses; the people and building alike speak volumes about the region’s culture, architecture, and style. Make your way to the Arte de Origen and find unforgettable artworks from local artisans. Take tours—and there are many—from people who know this city best.
Understanding what serves as a foundation for Cabo San Lucas will make every aspect of your trip—the beaches, the nightlife, or the general exploration—all the sweeter. Learn more by exploring our website and blog.