Although the Sea of Cortez bears his name, it was not Hernan Cortez, but his navigator, Francisco de Ulloa that was credited with first discovering Cabo San Lucas in 1537. Given its strategic location, it wasn't long befire it became a busy trading port and stopover for pirates. British and Dutch privateers both targeted the heavily laden Spanish treasure ships trying to take the plunder of the Americas back to Spain.
The Spanish treasure-galleon, the Great St Anne, was captured off Cape St Lucas by the renowned English privateer Sir Thomas Cavendish on November 14, 1587 prompting King Phillip II of Spain to establish a small fortress at Cabo San Lucas to try to rid the waters of undesirables.
With the establishment of a fort at Cabo San Lucas, the area was opened up to exploration. Settlements along the Baja began to spring up as pearls were discovered in the Sea of Cortez. In 1730 a Jesuit mission, Jose del Cabo, was established to the north. Together, the two towns became known as Los Cabos (the capes). However, the lack of a reliable water supply meant that Cabo San Lucas remained largely undeveloped.
(Cabo now has the first Municipal/government desalination plant in
operation, in Mexico, which is providing most of the fresh water used inCabo
San Lucas today).
By the 1930s the population of Cabo San Lucas was still only around 400, but it was rapidly becoming known as a sports fishing haven accessible only by small plane, long range yacht, or anyone willing to travel 1000 miles of rutted dirt tracks to get there.
After World War II, word started spreading around Southern California's elite of a place where the sun always shone and Los Cabos became a playground for the rich and famous. By 1950, Bing Crosby, Phil Harris, Desi Arnaz, and even The Duke himself had built the exclusive hotel Las Cruces on the East Cape.
In 1974, with Cabo's population now at around 900, the peninsular highway was built and Los Cabos started to become accessible to Middle America. Mexican architecht Manuel Díaz Rivera purchased 250 acres of stunning cliffside which would become the development we now know as Pedregal. Marlin fishing tournaments began drawing international attention and Fonatur, the Mexican tourist agency, along with international developers began to pour money and resources into the region. More recently, the construction of an international airport in San Jose Del Cabo, a modern 300 slip marina and a fresh water pipeline to Cabo San Lucas have ignited the current boom.
Today, sportsmen continue to flock to Los Cabos for its world-famous fishing, outstanding watersports , and game bird hunting. However, the area now also draws families, beach lovers, honeymooners, and golfers. Huge investments in golf courses have been made in the 30 kilometer "Corridor" between Cabo San Lucas and Jose Del Cabo. Over 108 holes are already open, with a master plan calling for an eventual 207 holes. Dramatic course layouts built by some of golf's premier designers take full advantage of the region's striking landscape.
With miles of pristine beaches, beautiful scenery, and perfect weather, it's no wonder that Los Cabos is fast becoming the ultimate resort destination.
Here is a very interesting video on the history of Cabo San Lucas. It is in Spanish but the images and story are easy to follow even if you do not speak the language.