San Jose del Cabo has a particularly colorful history, shaped by padres and pirates, explorers and expats. A freshwater estuary that empties into the Bay of San Jose lured the earliest Spanish explorers to the cape area. Jesuit Padre Tamaral established the first mission settlement in 1730. A few years later, he was killed in an uprising of the indigenous population. After the Jesuits left, the mission at San Jose continued to operate under the Dominicans and became a strategic Spanish military encampment.
A century later, during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, a small group of U.S. marines briefly occupied the town under President Polk, before the Treaty of Hidalgo was signed. The treaty did not give Baja California to the U.S., as was expected, and the marines withdrew.
Mining and agriculture influenced the next period in San Jose history. The first sportfishing tourists discovered the town in the 1960s, and development began in earnest with the completion of the Transpeninsular Highway in 1973.
Today, San Jose del Cabo is part of the Los Cabos tourist corridor, a region designated for development and funding by the Mexican national government. The scene for visitors is much more authentic, quieter, and less touristy than what you’ll find in Cabo San Lucas; however, with each new season, development takes a few steps forward and more businesses open to meet traveler needs.