Villa del Faro

San Jose a la Ribiera, Baja California, Mexico Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Beautifully conceived and magical eco hotel overlooking miles of deserted beach, one hour from Los Cabos
In 1989 a large extended family of LA-based artists, architects and writers bought 12 acres of land on the exquisite wild East Cape of Baja California Sur, where whales pass by and cacti bristle from the brush. They lived in tents on the endless empty beach, while painstakingly crafting Italianate dwellings around the trees and plants, creating a lush paradise from the desert. Mexican artisans handmade unique furniture, ironwork and carved mouldings for tiles and balustrades. The result is a loving and witty ensemble of vintage pieces, folk art, paintings for sale, fireplaces, rattan chairs, family collectibles and mementos. Immaculately tended tiered gardens, tropical plantings, terraces and palms, playful sculptures, paved walkways, neo-classical fountains, sit-outs, palapas and alcoves all lead to a lavish swimming pool, and on down to a pristine private beach on the turquoise Sea of Cortez.

In the mid-Noughties they opened up the beautifully furnished suites and the impossibly romantic beach cottage to paying guests, converting the ping pong room to a dining palapa and serving superior Mexican influenced fare. We are forever grateful that they did.


  • The superbly remote setting is in a tropical oasis that cascades down the hillside to the sea, far from the hustle and bustle of Cabo
  • It's an endearingly hospitable set-up: the family, who still live on the premises, welcome you warmly into their haven, but give plenty of privacy
  • There's a big swimming pool with extensive terraces and a pool house
  • Genuine eco-principles were applied in the construction and continue to underpin the operation
  • It's ideal for those who seek quiet, relaxed adventure in beautiful, arid surroundings, whether honeymooners, a family or small group of friends


  • It's not for those wanting nightlife, shopping and golf courses - who should stick to Los Cabos
  • This isn't a full service establishment where staff wait on you hand and foot; you're left to your own devices, though friendly advice is always on hand
  • The beach immediately below Villa del Faro is rocky and can be rough, but fine for strong swimmers
  • The rooms are supremely comfortable, but don't expect any of the latest electronic gadgets: you're "exquisitely off the grid" here
  • It's seriously off the beaten track: access is via a long bumpy dirt road, so you'll need a car for activities and alternative lunch/dinner venues (of which there are few)

Best time to go

Most visitors come to Baja California Sur from December to around Easter, before the temperatures and humidity start to rise. It's also when the whale-watching is at its best, and the seas are calm and warm. Villa del Faro is closed from August until mid-October, which is the sticky hurricane season when the locals batten down the hatches and close up shop.

Our top tips

Bring binoculars for birding and whale watching, and sun protection apparel (the sun can be very fierce here). Your swimming togs are a must, with both the pool and the sea to splash in.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 8 rooms, casitas and suites
  • Breakfast (+ dinner on request)
  • Children welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Games


Villa del Faro has grown organically over its 20 years, and now has 8 guest rooms, suites and casitas, each uniquely created and all with sea views, set among tropical landscaping and cascading terraces. All have a selection of toiletries - shampoo, conditioner, and hand cream - along with locally-made soap.

The most spacious is Casa Tres, a huge suite with its own wraparound terrace and a charming palapa with sofas. Casita Dos consists of 2 suites joined by an open-sided living room and a large terrace with sea and pool views. The North Suite has an unusual artisan-carved bed, an anteroom with a daybed, and an outdoor shower with the most wonderful view. In the South Suite you'll find another hand-crafted bed with matching chests and cabinets.

Down by the pool is the thatched Casa Alberca. You get a romantic kingsize canopy bed and a Juliet balcony overlooking the beach. This huge palapa living room has an 11ft carved table reputed to have been owned by Mark Twain, plus games, a stone fireplace, cheerful artwork, and a well-equipped galley kitchen.

But we think the most romantic option is undoubtedly the Stone Beach Cottage, a petite 1-room stone-and-thatch affair just yards from the waves which lull you to sleep. There’s an outdoor shower with solar-heated plus a firepit and grill let you cook your catch on a private beach as the sun sets.

The slight simpler Casa Azul is a 1-bedroom casita with an outdoor living area and gorgeous ocean views. We’re yet to see the Bali Room or the 2-bedroom Penthouse Suite, but both look incredibly inviting. The former is a Balinese-style hut with stunning views of the ocean, the latter has an impressive wraparound terrace; these two rooms can interconnect.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Firewood
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi


Meals are taken in the cosy dining pavilion on one of the upper terraces, facing east over the Sea of Cortez. On one side is the bar, where we were served with the best margaritas of our trip (according to my cocktail-loving husband). Opposite, a wonderful fountain, surrounded by lush tropical flowers, positively thrums with birdlife.

Dinner is on request (let them know at breakfast), with a locally sourced menu which changes nightly and contains no choices. Expect artfully reworked Mexican cuisine or Pacific Rim fare: for us they served a simple yet delicious guacamole as an appetiser, then achiote-marinated Cornish game hen grilled with chayote (a squash-like vegetable) accompanied by frijoles refritos con queso (refried beans with cheese), plus rice and tortillas. We scoffed the lot - yummo!

Dessert could be an exquisite fruit tart or strawberry crepes with cream cheese filling. Coffee and tea are served along with a good choice of wines. We took our digestifs down by the pool, gazing out at the velvety sea and spectacular night sky.

There are few choices for dining out. We sampled the Crossroads Country Club one night. Popular with surfers, big game fishermen and quad bike riders, there was a decent choice of dishes, and a memorable setting atop sand dunes overlooking the Sea of Cortez. You can also walk there from Villa del Faro for lunch. Otherwise Cabo Pulmo has a couple of eateries, from seafood shacks to classic Mexicana. Those in the Penthouse Suite have a full kitchen, so can self cater if desired.

Breakfast at the villa is a voluminous Mexican desayuno, with eggs cooked to order, refried beans, tropical fruit, yoghurt and granola plus bottomless pots of coffee and tea - all served on hand-crafted Mexican pottery.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Breakfast
Activity: Pool


  • Sun yourself on your terrace, gaze out to the turquoise sea and watch California Gray Whales spouting in the distance (December-April)
  • Wander down to the pristine beach and read a book in the summer house; or stroll a few minutes along to swim in the silky warm sea (the beach immediately below Villa del Faro isn't safe to swim in)
  • Birding is excellent along this protected coastline: cormorants, brown pelican, the rare Least Tern and sandpipers. When we stayed, we saw two baby Xantus's Hummingbirds about to fledge from their nest, as well as orioles and cardinals
  • The Sea of Cortez, described by Cousteau as 'the world's aquarium', has three distinct currents and thus a wealth of marine wildlife, home to 1/3 of the world's cetaceans and many species of exotic fish. It is well worth taking a boat trip from Cabo Pulmo to snorkel with sea lions and splendidly coloured fish in the Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park
  • The delightful small town of Cabo Pulmo also offers windsurfing and kayaking, and just before you reach the town is another excellent swimming and snorkelling beach
  • Follow hiking trails into the arid mountains, covered in desert brush and cacti
  • Villa del Faro is within 3 miles of the best surfing on the East Cape
  • Go horse riding along the beach at Boca del Palmas
  • We loved stargazing from our terrace, and - if you're up early - sunrise over the Sea of Cortez is worth the effort!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Whalewatching
  • Windsurfing


Children are welcome and older ones will love the extensive terraces, the swimming pool and the wonderful deserted beach. Villa del Faro is not ideal for toddlers as the pool is unfenced and there are lots of steps - although ours loved her time here.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Interconnecting Casita Dos is ideal for a family party. You can also request that the Bali Room and the Penthouse Suite are connected. The Stone House, Casa Azul and Casa Alberca are for couples only.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots, a children's hand-carved bed and a high chair are available on request. Pool equipment for kids is available.

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

Families Should Know:

There are lots of steps down to the beach and the pool is unfenced, so supervise your children.

Kid Friendly:

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