WHEN I first heard, “Let’s go to Cabo!”, images of wild Spring Break parties, yachts blasting loud music, and crowds of tourists all flooded into my mind as quickly as an overflowing tequila shot straight from the bottle. “Cabo?” I questioned, “land of sunburnt buns and all-inclusive resorts?” Two weeks later, aboard a flight to San Jose Del Cabo Airport (and my first time South of Tijuana), I was eager to explore and challenge the validity of my preconceived notions of the tip of Baja Sur. Sure, I saw what I expected to see almost instantly — college girls gone wild, non-stop parties, and beach peddlers galore, but I found the true beauty of Cabo San Lucas in what I did not expect.


Go for a longer walk down the beach

Immediately upon arriving, my travel partner and I walked to the famous Medano Beach, home to renowned clubs with fine white sand dance floors and the closest views of the of the Lands End Arch. We wandered just 15 minutes down the beach to an entirely secluded swimming spot, with pristine warm water and fish everywhere. We continued to explore various stretches of golden sand along Los Cabos’ miles of untouched, quiet shores and found that the party-goers and spring breakers pretty much all hang out in one place, leaving miles of secluded coastline to swim, snorkel, kayak and explore to your heart’s content if you’re willing to wander.


Get out onto the water, the earlier the better

The Sea of Cortez is also one of the newest and most biologically diverse seas in the world. Jumping in the water to play with Sea Lion pups or swimming alongside a fish the size of your boat is all time amazing. While all the spring break crowds are sleeping, try renting a kayak and getting up with the sun for a trip out to the arch, where you’ll be able to enjoy the most famous view in Cabo before any of the boats are allowed in the water.


Try eateries without websites

I found that my favorite food spots were hole-in-the-wall establishments. As soon as I tasted my first bite of authentic Mexican cuisine, I was filled with the bittersweet awareness that American-Mexican food would never be the same. Try everything from the taco stands on the side of the road to the classier beachfront restaurants and never skip "desayuno". My favorite way to start the day was with "chilaquiles" and fresh squeezed orange juice.


Get off the beaten path

Some of the best places in Cabo are at the end of the worst roads. Venture down dirt roads to prime surf spots, unexpected viewpoints, and a ton of adventure. Before coming to Mexico, I was warned that danger lies off the beaten path, but I found only warm, welcoming people and yet another stereotype busted. We were able to explore the dendritic hills of Cabo on horseback, learning about the land and culture out in the desert sun. One biologist from Mexico City told us a story about the first time he went mountain biking in Baja Sur. One of the spines of a hanging chain cholla got stuck to his shoulder. Instinctively, he reached down to grab it off, had his hand stuck to his shoulder, and crashed his bike for an abrasive introduction to the jumping cactus. The beautifully striking landscape where the desert meets the sea, and Cabo's unique culture are completely accessible if you stray from the resorts and downtown. But if you do, be sure to tread responsibly; learning and loving, but leaving no trace.


Find your chill place (preferably one with a view)

After a long day’s adventure, find yourself a beach chair and a cold cerveza and watch the sun set behind the arch. Chances are, it’s been a good day in Cabo San Lucas. It’s surprisingly easy to find yourself a little corner of Cabo to enjoy spectacular views, soak up some sun, and relax away from the steady thump of the party (unless that’s your thing).