El Encanto de Cabo Pulmo

Cabo Pulmo, Baja California, Mexico Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Enchanting little house and a separate casita, with a gorgeous walled garden, in the peaceful village of Cabo Pulmo on the wild East Cape (sleeps 2-8)
Baja California Sur is synonymous in people's minds with spring break vacations and brash all-inclusives. But in the laid-back 2-horse town of Cabo Pulmo (where there really are 2 free-roaming horses, one of which nibbled our thatch at night) we found the magical antithesis to Los Cabos. Reached only by dirt road, it's a dusty, off-the-grid fishing hamlet with a few scattered eateries and homes, tucked beside the turquoise Sea of Cortez and framed by arid, rugged hills.

Diane and Rob fell for Cabo Pulmo, as do many who venture here, and their masterpiece, El Encanto, is truly a labour of love. The 3 generous and vivid suites, 2 of them in a little self-catering house and one in a separate casita, spill out to covered terraces and patios, set within a colourful walled garden of native and desert plants which attract vivacious birdlife. The owners' excellent taste is evident in the high quality of fixtures and fittings, the bold yet harmonious palette, and the eclectic mix of Mexican folk art, handcrafted furniture and whimsical sculptures. We are forever thanking our lucky stars (and we saw plenty in this light-pollution-free town) that we could stay in this piece of paradise.


  • You can book one suite or all 3, making it ideal for both couples and families (though we think it works best as a house rental for 4-6)
  • The clever design has high palapa ceilings and covered terraces to keep it cosy and cool
  • Cabo Pulmo itself is friendly and slow-paced - we longed to stay
  • Friendly local hosts Henri & Pilu who will be your meet and greet, are are also the best dive-masters in Cabo Pulmo, multi-lingual and can arrange excursions, kayak rentals etc
  • This is the closest embarkation point for Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, with its corals and fish, snorkelling and watersports


  • No meals are served and only the Fountain Suite comes with use of the kitchen; if you're in the other suites, you'll need to eat out and dining options in Cabo Pulmo are limited
  • It's all solar-powered, so don't expect an array of electronic gadgetry (although the main house is pretty well equipped)
  • There's no pool - but the town beach is safe for swimming and has palapas for shade
  • There's no nightlife (a plus for many) but if you're here to party, get thee to Los Cabos (90 minutes away)

Best time to go

Most visitors come to Baja California Sur from December to around Easter, when the whale-watching is at its best (although it can be windy from December to February). The seas are warm by Easter so May and June are nice - and not too hot before the humidity starts to rise. The summer months get very hot and humid but have the best diving, with clear, warm water. The sticky hurricane season usually lasts from August until mid-October, so it's not advisable to come then. October and November are really good months since the rains have come in the summer and it's amazingly jungly (really!).

Our top tips

Cabo Pulmo is off the grid so don't bring a hairdryer etc. Consequently the stars are superb, so do come with a star atlas. You'll also need sun protection and swim gear, binoculars for birding and whale-watching, and pesos (from Los Cabos) - there are no ATMs nearby.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Villa
  • 3
  • Limited self-catering, restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Outdoor shower
  • Snorkelling gear
  • Games
Room: Casita Suite


Entering through a gate into the orange-walled garden, we were struck by the tranquility and beauty of the surroundings. In front is the Main House, with its wraparound terrace coloured in rich jade, saffron and lilac. Step inside to the vermilion open-plan living/dining room, which has orange leather sofas and a wall of books; the surround-sound TV, xm sat radio, DVD player and iPod docking station are all hidden behind rustic wooden doors.

Step down a couple of stairs into the king/twin-bedded Fountain Suite, which has a colourful wardrobe, a small tiled shower room and French doors opening onto the fountain courtyard. This is the only room which can be configured as a twin. If you book this, you also get use of the kitchen and living areas, which is a big plus.

Climb the stairs from the terrace to reach the half-covered, Capri-blue patio of the Vista Suite, which claims the best views in Cabo Pulmo. Lounge in rattan chairs to watch the sun set over the mountains (or rise over the Sea of Cortez if you're up early); the patio also has a dining table and chairs. A vivid orange and red door opens to the pumpkin and purple king bedroom, behind which is the shower bathroom. The WiFi signal is best here too.

Separate from the other suites, tucked through an archway in the garden, is the cosy queen-bedded Casita Suite. It has a small patio with armchairs shaded by a palapa roof, and a traditional chimenea in a little 'amphitheatre' to the side for convivial get togethers around a fire after dark.

Given the layout of the place, we'd recommend booking the Main House (the Fountain and Vista suites together) for families or groups of 3-4, or the Casita for couples (so long as you don't mind the lack of meals on site). Or, of course, the Whole Enchilada (as they call it) for a group of 4-8 friends.

Wherever you stay, expect bold colours, vintage oriental rugs, and windowframes of recycled wood. All suites have a fan, a safe box, mosquito canopy nets (you may want to bring additional insect repellent, although some is provided) and air conditioning (at an additional cost, and most likely not needed given the high ceilings and deep covered terraces). You get local handmade soaps in each bathroom, along with a plentiful supply of towels.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Beach towels
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Torches
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


If you take the Fountain Suite or are booking the Whole Enchilada, you'll get the fully equipped gourmet kitchen with a built-in barbecue plus a fridge/freezer, a stove/oven, a water filter, great cookware, Mexican handmade dishes and glassware, a stovetop toaster, coffee pots, utensils and sharp knives.

This looks out to the wraparound terrace and is separated from the open-plan living/dining room by a counter made from polished beach pebbles encased in concrete, with bar stools from old tractor seats. It's a funky, convivial space, and very homely too. The dining table sits 6 comfortably, or you can eat on the terrace or in the courtyard by the hand-painted fountain.

Once you're here, believe me, you'll not want to leave, so do a big shop (don't forget to buy ice as well) in La Ribera (16 miles / 25km away) at the Rey Mini Super, or stop at the Mega supermarket in San José del Cabo on your way in from Los Cabos. There's a small general store in the village, but it hardly has any groceries.

The Vista Suite and Casita Suite have no cooking facilities nor any crockery and cutlery, but Karl and Kimmie give you a cooler on arrival to keep drinks and foodstuffs fresh, and there are tea and coffee making facilities.

Options for eating out are few, but close at hand - you'd be advised to bring food for breakfast at the very least, although some of the local eateries are open for breakfast. Amble across the road for essential Mexican fare at Restaurant El Caballero for lunch and dinner, or carry on past them to Nancy's. Continue along the main (deserted) road for the Coral Reef, which has a varied all-day menu including American-style food, plus a bar. Saunter 'downtown' towards the sea for fish tacos and delicious fresh fish at the La Palapa next to the dive tour operators.

Karl and Kimmie can help you order food to be delivered from Alicia's restaurant on request.

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Ice box
Eating: Dining Table
Activity: Cabo Pulmo Beach Palapas


  • Laze in your hammock, or sit in one of the many alcoves on your private terrace and admire the wonderful garden, watch the hummingbirds and lose yourself in a book - bliss

  • Take a snorkelling tour out to the Cabo Pulmo Marine National Park and swim with seals and exotic fish such as manta rays and roosterfish

  • There are a couple of watersports and boat trip outfits down by the slipway: book ahead for kayaking and scuba diving plus PADI certification, or head out beyond the Marine Park for marlin, dorado and wahoo fishing

  • Get up early to see the sunrise over the Sea of Cortez; or stay up late to marvel at the panorama of stars above

  • Look for migrating gray whales in the winter

  • The main beach (a 2-minute toddle down the road) is safe for swimming and has palapas for shade (the sun is fierce at midday). There's also another, more idyllic beach (Los Arbolitos) just a few minutes' drive south, which is great for snorkelling

  • The birdlife around the house (and inland in the desert bush) is excellent thanks to the profusion of flowering plants and feeders; checklists and bird books are provided

  • In the windy winter season this is a great spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding

  • Great surfing is about 20 miles away; the best waves usually come in spring and summer

  • There are 11 miles of hiking trails through rugged landscape and desert bush that start within walking distance of the house, and are also good for mountain biking (bring your own bike); in the hinterland (a 45-minute drive away) you'll find amazing canyons and waterfalls

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Kitesurfing
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Snorkelling
  • Stargazing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Whalewatching
  • Windsurfing


Children are welcome and this friendly 2-horse town has a slow pace of life perfect for families. That said, the main beach is a little stony in places, and there's no pool at El Encanto. Older kids will love the water sports available. The property is well set up for extended families (grandparents could take the Casita Suite for example) or a group of friends with a couple of kids in tow.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Fountain Suite is ideal for families. The Casita Suite would suit a couple plus a toddler or baby

Baby equipment:

  • Cots available on request
  • Night lights

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The kitchen in the Fountain Suite is very well equipped and has a blender

Kids Activities on site:

  • Games such as Scrabble and Yahtzee
  • Some books
  • Star guide, bird guide and fish ID book in each suite

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Four sets of snorkelling gear for kids, take a boat trip to the Cabo Pulmo Marine National Park
  • The shingly beach is just 2 minutes away, for swimming and playing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Birdwatching
  • Stargazing

Families Should Know:

The Vista Suite is up a relatively steep winding stairway, so it's not ideal for families with toddlers. Bear in mind that the midday sun is fierce, so bring plenty of sun protection


  • Airport: 1.5 hours
  • Shops: 2 minutes
  • Doctor/Hospital: 60 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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