Palmas de Cortez Resort, Los Barriles, México
“No, Chris. You’re not dreaming.” I pinched the skin on my forearm and pressed a cold bottle of Dos Equis against my forehead. The Mexican sun beat down, pulsing insanely hot, and underfoot the deck of the ship rocked with the choppy rhythm of waters so blue you’d think they were painted. Or dreamt. I pinched my skin again. “It’s real?”
Yes it is. A hotel and resort where people go literally just to get away and fish. And it’s one of the best kept secrets.
Some might call it heaven, but it’s given name is the Palmas de Cortez Resort, and it’s just a hop, skip, and jump away in Los Barriles, Mexico. This post is less about the actual fishing, per se, and more about the place that makes it come to life (for more on the fishing around Los Barriles, check out some of my other adventures).
Now, I’ve been to some of the most beautiful places in the world, and while Los Barriles is somewhere (further down) on that list, it has a certain kind of raw beauty that comes not from scenery (although that is very nice, too), but from the spirit. There’s a camaraderie that hangs in the air like seaspray, like salt on a breeze rolling in off the bay. It’s the spirit of excitement to fish. There are hardly any families, and you see a few women who are really passionate, but mostly you’ll find groups of guys who get away just to fish. You’re in good company.
Generally speaking, us fishing types don’t need to be pampered and put up at a 5-star resort, so long as the fish are biting and we have all the gear we need. Fortunately, Palmas de Cortez gets that, and they’ve found a phenomenal sweet spot between “destination resort” and “Fishers’ Paradise.” Because the fact is, even for the most passionate and die-hard fisherman (me), you can’t stay on the water 24/7, and you want to enjoy what you’re coming back to.
They have condos, hotel rooms, little grass-topped villa huts, basically a full spectrum of accommodations, and their amenities are excellent to keep you satisfied, along with two oversized pools, swim-up grass-topped tiki bar, and a great entertaining room. The resort is still owned by the Van Wormer family, even though the original owners have long since passed, and their entertaining room is kind of a time capsule of mounted catches and trophy hunts from years and years past. The whole resort is approachable and fun for families, but geared to us.
And boy is it geared to us. The infinity pool overlooks Sea of Cortez with its white sands and crystal clear waters, which are perfect for us to gawk and oogle over the insane amount of aquatic life teeming in the sea. I’d fished Los Barriles before on a family trip with some buddies, and the whole area is really famous for its thriving fish populations. From rooster to tuna, marlin to dorado, pretty much any pelagic species can be found in those blue waters.
To cater to our fishing whims, the Palmas de Cortez folks wheel out this great pier on wheels right out into the water. With a fleet of 20 boats or so, all run by these super friendly and knowledgeable Mexican captains, the boats can pick you up right on the pier and take you off to deeper waters. The pier itself actually attracts all kinds of fish large and small, so you can often get away with fishing right there, too.
They also have these wild ATVs you can rent to go up and down the coast, 20 miles or so in either direction (off the resort, you really feel a little bit of the wilderness, the press of danger and the rush of adventure, but the resort itself feels totally safe — like guests leaving their doors unlocked safe).
Los Barriles itself is somewhat small, so the Palmas de Cortez Resort stands out above it, like an oasis or mountaintop rising out of the surrounding town. You get there via a quick flight into Cabo and about an hour or so in the car driving north. The partying and tourism is all to the south, but the fishing paradise is where you want to go. The town is a great complement to the resort with some fantastic little restaurants for real, authentic Mexican meals, places to grab drinks and souvenirs, and some genuine, salt of the earth people.
Palmas de Cortez is truly nothing short of a gem, and one of the best kept secrets its owners WANT you to know about. I can already see it gaining in popularity, and it’s really just a matter of time before its an overrun family destination, too, especially as more fish-crazy guys like me can convince their wives and families to come enjoy it as a proper getaway. So long as they love the outdoors, the adventure, and the thrill of tip-toeing to the edge of their comfort zones, Palmas de Cortez delivers in every regard.
Check it out sooner rather than later — before the secret really spreads!