East Cape Get-Away: An Angler’s Dream
by Tom Gatch
For most of the visitors who fly into Baja Sur’s Los Cabos Airport, their ultimate destinations in places like San Jose Del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas or Todos Santos lie relatively close at hand. But for those who head north along Baja’s Cortez coast, the narrow highway passes through miles and miles of primitive, sparsely inhabited terrain eventually crossing the Tropic of Cancer and passing through the small poblado of Los Barriles, which is 40 miles north of the airport and in the middle of the legendary East Cape, a place where countless anglers have caught the fish of their dreams.
Well over half a century ago, the renowned writer, angler and Baja aficionado Ray Cannonfell in love with this area and professed the waters of the Cortez to be a “giant fish trap.” Since then, literally millions of anglers have visited the East Cape and returned home to enthusiastically confirm Cannon’s portrayal of the region.
Although the numbers and varieties of fish may not be nearly as prolific as they once were back in the middle of the 1950’s, the angling opportunities and conditions here are still considered exceptional when compared to just about any other fishing venue on the planet. And for fly anglers, Hotel Buena Vista provides outstanding accommodations along with relatively easy access to several nearby beaches that offer world class action on the fly.
A majority of the hotels here either have their own sportfishing fleets or can easily arrange fishing trips for their guest’s through a reliable local charter service. One of the oldest of these is the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort, which began as a lavish beachfront hacienda that was originally built as the vacation retreat by Mexican General Agustín Olachea, a two-time governor of Baja California Sur.
In 1981, a young entrepreneur named Jesus “Chuy” Valdez ended up leasing the property during an era when the East Cape was virtually undiscovered. He eventually purchased it in 1981, and then began expanding the hotel to include 60 rooms, a fleet of 20 fishing boats, swimming pool, lushly landscaped grounds and world-class restaurant. In 1992 the resort’s name was changed from Spa Buena Vista to the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort.
Over the years, Valdez, along with his sons Axel, Felipe and the rest of the family, have worked diligently to turn the property into what it is today; a first rate fishing resort that can hold its own when compared to its counterparts anywhere else in the world.
Of course, there are several other equally notable venues in the immediate area, which include the Van Wormer resorts of Palmas de Cortez, Playa Del Sol and Punta Colorada, the latter of which is sometimes referred to as ‘the roosterfish capitol of the world’.
As time progresses, however, the fishing oriented resorts located on Baja’s East Cape are beginning to realize what a valuable, finite resource their regional waters truly are. Along with the recent frenzy of residential and business development comes the reality that a gradual erosion of this area’s unique, isolated innocence is also taking place. There is now a greatly increased emphasis on conservation with widespread support for the Worldwide Billfish Foundation’s catch-and-release program.
But, in addition to the plethora of great fishing opportunities to be had in the region, the more aesthetic therapeutic qualities of an oasis of this nature should not be forgotten either. Because, as many will agree, sitting aimlessly under a palm tree with a cold beverage in hand while staring out at the seemingly endless turquoise waters just beyond the sandy beach can be a tonic all unto itself.
‘Hooked on Baja’ author & columnist, Tom Gatch, is one of Baja’s foremost writers with a focus upon outdoor and recreational topics in Baja and Southern California.
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