Field Guide: Inside Costa Palmas, a seaside golf retreat on Cabo’s emerging East Cape
Costa Palmas
Costa Palmas by @evan_schiller_photography

Field Guide: Inside Costa Palmas, a seaside golf retreat on Cabo’s emerging East Cape

As GOLF’s chief photographer and visual editor, Christian Hafer visits some of the most gorgeous and exclusive golf courses and properties in the world. Here, in his Field Guide, he’ll take you along for the ride. Lucky for us, Christian never leaves home without his camera. Ed. note: Golfers may not be traveling much these days but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream about future escapes. To give you a little inspiration, here’s a 360-degree deep dive — words, photos and video — into Costa Palmas, a splashy newcomer to the Cabo golf scene.

Not many tourists drive north after landing in Los Cabos International Airport — Cabo San Lucas and its wealth of resorts, golf courses and nightlife are a 30-minute drive south.

But we headed north.

Back in January, I joined a few friends to experience a part of the world that we’d never visited. The East Cape of the Baja Peninsula is just now beginning to develop, and Costa Palmas, a luxury resort and private residential community, is paving the way. Imagine what Cabo must’ve looked like shortly before it became a vacation hotspot — that’s what the East Cape looks like today.

Costa Palmas’ long, sand-swept entrance is surrounded by hundreds of acres of land, most of which is still untouched. We stepped out of the car and into the open-air lobby of a Four Seasons Resort, which had opened just two months earlier. Set on two miles of pristine beachfront and comprised of low-slung buildings that offer views of the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains, this 141-room resort exudes a sense of contemporary, eco-friendly luxury. (The even higher-end Amanvari Resort is scheduled to open adjacent to the Four Seasons next year, and it’ll be Aman’s first property in Mexico.)

But for us, Costa Palmas Golf Club was the draw, so we spent most of our time looping the walkable 7,221-yard links-style Robert Trent Jones II design, hitting balls on the range that doubles as a six-hole par-3 course, putting on the sprawling practice green and dining at Bouchie’s, one of the property’s five dining options that’s embedded in the practice area.

Costa Palmas has one core principle: ensure its guests have fun. There are few rules, no dress code and golfers may play as many holes as they’d like with as many partners as they’d like. Since most of arrived at Costa Palmas in the late afternoon, we knew we couldn’t squeeze in 18, so we walked as many holes as we could before sunset.

That’s when we discovered the magic of the Costa Palmas’ five-hole loop. Holes one through five offer generous landing areas off the tee, fast and firm terrain and large, inviting greens that allowed us to bump and run our way from shot to shot. We carried half-sets, listened to music and teed off from the most forward set of markers (there are five total sets) to keep the mood lighthearted. We called it “cinco de los cincos” (“five from the fives”), and during our three-night stay the sunset loop became part of our daily ritual.

When we played more than five holes, we looked forward to spending time at Lucha Libre, an open-air snack shack located between the 7th and 8th holes, and also between the 13 and 14. The eatery serves made-to-order tacos and offers an impressively-stocked bar, and it’s manned by arguably the happiest chef in Baja. Since the course is open only to a limited number of residents and resort guests, we never felt rushed to complete our round in under four hours or rushed at the snack shack. Time slows down on the East Cape, and we were down with that.

While the opening holes at Costa Palmas are wide open and low stress, the middle six holes move inland, playing against the mountains and demanding more precision. The course’s closing stretch bring you back out to the coves and channels that weave through the region. We were intrigued from start to finish on what is one of the few walkable courses on the Baja Peninsula.

It’s becoming increasingly rare to feel like you’re discovering a new spot or that you’re visiting a destination that’s on the cusp of breaking out, but Costa Palmas offers just that. It’s a throwback to simpler, more peaceful times in Baja, albeit with luxurious touches throughout.