Los Cabos (the Capes) are not one place but two very different ones, separated by 33km (22 miles) of wild, gorgeous beaches and a roster of luxury resorts. San José del Cabo, known as San José, is the original Cabo, founded in 1730 by Spanish missionaries in a fertile plain uphill from the sea. Cabo San Lucas, known simply as Cabo, is the upstart -- up until the 1950s, it was a small fishing village, albeit at the edge of some of the most dramatic coastline in the Americas.

How things have changed. Today, nearly two million people visit Los Cabos every year, and the mission settlement and the fishing village have grown into sophisticated tourist playgrounds catering to wealthy North Americans. But the differences remain, and the two have less to do with each other than the joint name Los Cabos would suggest. San José is still the older sister, more cultured and staid, while Cabo is the wild child, dedicated to sports, beaches, and parties. San José savors organic cuisine and ambles along the colonial streets of its arts district, while Cabo is busy sunbathing on yachts and drinking in nightclubs. San José has the surfing beaches, but Cabo has the port. San José is upscale Mexican; Cabo is gringo all the way.

The good news is, you don't have to choose. However different they may be, the two Cabos are only a half-hour drive apart on a zippy four-lane highway. It's common to make your base in one and make day trips to the other, or split the difference and bed down in one of the super-luxurious beachfront resorts along the so-called Corridor between them. The string of beaches fringing the coast here doesn't discriminate -- each town has its own, but, as in many things, the best lie somewhere in between.