Relive the glory days of youth – now with private yachts, spa treatments, and passion-fruit margaritas – in Los Cabos.
Growing up in the 1980s, summer camp promised endless adventures and limited supervision. When I was a kid, I went to camp in Colorado every summer for two weeks. It was the first place I rode a horse, shot a bow and arrow, and got my ear pierced – safety-pin-style – and where I had my first kiss. Over the years, those memories have been faded into the cycle of adult responsibilities, but I’ve always longed to rekindle that not-a-care-in-the-world feeling, even just for a little bit.
It turns out I’m not the only one dreaming of summer camp – today, more and more resorts and hotels are offering programming that’s geared for adults but designed to re-create the feeling of childhood. And while many properties around the world offer camplike vibes, Mexico’s 141-room Four Seasons Resort & Residences Los Cabos at Costa Palmas presents the real deal: a five-day program called Camp Verano. While Cabo may not conjure the most idyllic summer- camp visions, the resort is located on Baja California Sur’s East Cape facing the Sea of Cortés, with its own coastline and no Señor Frog's in sight. It’s where John Steinbeck wrote The Log from the Sea of Cortez while watching spyhopping gray whales, migrating fish schools, glimmering marlin, and glistening waters. It didn’t seem like a bad place to go to camp, so I signed up, ready to chase those Colorado glory days.
Day 1: Sunsets and Seared Tuna
At check-in, I picked up my five-day camp itinerary, which the resort can help guests customize before they arrive. Once I dropped my bags in my suite and pulled my gaze away from the sea, I met my “counselor” on the beach for a sunset dune-buggy ride (Camp Verano’s counselors are local adventure guides). Memories of horseback riding through Colorado’s evergreen pines came to mind as we breezed over and zigzagged around the East Cape’s sandy hills.
Dining at Camp Verano is a bit posher than the Tater-Tot-laden buffet lines of camps past. At the Four Seasons’ outdoor restaurant Limón, I ate fresh, locally caught tuna prepared five ways, paired with silky Mexican wines that enhanced each bite. The night ended under the stars as I ambled back to my suite’s king-size bed – way better than bunk beds.
Snorkeling at Cabo Pulmo.
Day 2: Earning My Water-Sports Badge
I don’t remember any in-room breakfasts at my childhood summer camp, but I indulged at Camp Verano, sitting on my private patio, watching the tide roll in. I met my guide at the resort’s private marina and boarded a 35-foot fishing bound for Cabo Pulmo, a marine park and UNESCO World Heritage site an hour away known for its diving, snorkeling, and spearfishing. We donned wetsuits and took a dinghy deeper into the park, where pods of dolphins hunted large fish, marlin dodged fishing hooks, and giant sea turtles floated in solitude. I snorkeled coral reefs with brilliantly colored puffers, needlefish, angelfish, snappers, and more, but the highlight was diving right into the middle of a school of thousands of shimmering jackfish, three-foot long, metallic swimmers with bulging eyes and streamlined bodies that floated casually around me.
Back on the boat, I drank passion-fruit margaritas and snacked on fresh guacamole as we skipped past more dolphin pods on the return to the resort. My afternoon was free – campers can lounge by one of six pools, eat fresh ceviche and sip Palomas at El Puesto (the hotel’s cevichería and sushi spot), or go stand-up paddleboarding.
Day 3: Communing with Nature
No camp experience is complete without hiking in the woods. In the East Cape, one of the driest places on earth, a forested oasis beckons a 30-minute drive west. The Rancho Ecológico Sol de Mayo is a lush park with cascading waterfalls fed by a natural spring. My guide and I spent the day hiking, traipsing across a river, and winding up at a lake with a natural rock waterslide that dropped us into the chilly-yet-refreshing water. As I dunked my head underwater, I lost myself in the moment, forgetting about anything else at home, work, or anywhere in the world – and that’s what summer camp is all about.
This summer camp comes with a bartender.
Days 4 and 5: Mind, Body, and Soul
Summer camps are always filled with activities, and Camp Verano is no different. Fitness is on the agenda: Campers can hike to the top of nearby Flat Rock for a 30-minute HIIT class with panoramic views (I skipped out on this because I was busy experimenting with too much mezcal). They return to the resort for a post-hike spa treatment, something that, despite my absence at the peak, I did not skip out on. The blissful hour was packed with healing stones, personalized aromatherapy, and deep-tissue massage.
Speaking of spirits, Camp Verano’s final night swaps the traditional end-of-camp talent show for a taco dinner under the stars, accompanied by a mezcal and tequila tasting led by the resort’s in-house expert, Ricardo Robles. Afterward, I moved to a bonfire on the beach for the pastry chef’s fancy take on s’mores – the homemade sweet crackers and locally sourced chocolate (both milk and dark) put the classic version to shame. A cool breeze whipped across the beach, the fire warmed my toes, and the Milky Way put on one hell of a show.
It was a short stint, but Camp Verano ticked every box on my summer-camp list and uncovered that adventurous, thrill-seeking child – in ultra-luxe fashion. The custom, five-day Camp Verano program is available through September 4, 2023.