Rancho Leonero Resort

Hidden Treasure on the Sea of Cortez

Entry fountain On the Sea of Cortez side of the sun-drenched southern Baja, where the legendary peninsula juts into the tropical zones, the palm-thatched, king-sized guest rooms and "main house" of Rancho Leonero punctuate the broad green lawns of a tropical clearing of a 350-acre corner of "Old Baja", nose-to-nose with the pristine blue sea.

A fishing and sportsman’s paradise, where coconut palms bend gracefully over two miles of dazzling unspoiled beaches, it’s a place like no other. Set well apart from other "East Cape" hotels, this handsomely tropical flower-studded resort stands in intimate relationship with the sea itself. Cradled by the mythical Laguna Mountains, it provides a comfortable and friendly sanctuary for those who want to truly experience the Cortez.

Even without the big-time game fishing, Rancho Leonero would be a vacationer’s dream. The sit-down family-style meals are spectacular and the kick-back, intimate style of the place is truly unique in all the world. Owner John Ireland is likely to greet you personally; the staff is friendly and available; and the service is first rate. Like Cheers, it’s a place "where everybody knows your name."

entry viewIf you are seeking a memorable family-fun vacation in the unique atmosphere of one of the world’s last great nature frontiers, or intent on setting a new game fishing record (or both), Rancho Leonero has all the facilities for full participation in your Cortez experience.

SunriseNot only do 1,000-pound black and blue marlin prowl these waters, but striped marlin, sailfish, dorado, huge yellowfin tuna, yellowtail, wahoo, grouper, snapper, roosterfish and dozens of incidentals swarm over undersea canyons and dropoffs within a mile of shore.

Surf fishing along the famous "double reef" directly in front of the ranch is spectacular. If big game fishing is what you are after, Rancho Leonero sports a complete fleet of inexpensive pangas (Mexican skiffs), larger center console "super pangas", and roomy sportfishers up to 40 feet, all at affordable prices, all with superlative local guides who know how to put you on the fish.

SportfishingWrites Neil Kelly, author of the definitive Baja fishing book, The Baja Catch, "This 40-mile stretch of the Cortez is the Grand Premiere class of all of Baja’s waters, and few if any places in the world can approach it".

Scuba or snorkeling in the waters right in front of the ranch are like diving in an aquarium, and the astonishing Pulmo Reef nearby (the only living coral reef on the Pacific side of the northern hemisphere) is something no diver should miss in a lifetime.

It is no secret that travel writers love to "discover" an out of the way resort where their readers can Hotel groundsfind not just a vacation, but an experience that truly takes them away from the workaday world. Here is what they are saying:

"From the huge statue of Neptune in the entry garden to the incredible undersea wonders of Pulmo Reef nearby, Leonero is a natural extension of the Sea of Cortez itself. It is so different from most Baja resorts that it demands a close look before choosing. Once you find it, you’ll keep coming back again and again." - BAJA NEWSLETTER

"Set directly on the Sea of Cortez…[Rancho Leonero] consists of gracious flagstone-and-thatched-roof cottages. There is a nice pool directly in front of the bar, and a baronial dining room has Spanish-leather chairs… Maybe 70 percent of the guests come for the fishing, 20 percent for the excellent scuba diving and snorkeling, and 10 percent loll on the beach, frolic in the pure blue bath-warm sea or explore the desert roads by foot or car." - MICHAEL SHNAYERSON, CONDE NAST TRAVELER  

Leonero Activities

Activities are reserved for hotel guests.

KayakingSea Kayaks

Enjoy a relaxing paddle in the calm waters in front of the resort. Or experience the latest craze - kayak fishing!



The Los Cabos area is one of the most popular golf destinations in the world.  Within 90 minutes of Rancho Leonero there are a bevy of championship courses, including designs by Robert Trent Jones III & Jack Nicklaus.  Click on the following links for more info - Palmilla Golf Club, Cabo San Lucas Country Club, Cabo Real Course, El Dorado Course, Cabo del Sol.


view from flattopHiking & Running Trails

Enjoy the panoramic vista from the top of Flattop Mesa. Or soak in the sun while hiking or running on our selected trails, designed to satisfy and challenge all skill levels, from novice to expert.


Underwater fishSnorkeling & Scuba Diving

Spend a morning or evening exploring the famous double reef at the resort. Or take a guided snorkeling tour to Coral Beach or the secluded Iguana Beach, where you can visit the nearby sea lion colony. Click here for additional information on our snorkel tours.  Scuba dive the renowned Cabo Pulmo reef, the only living coral reef in the northwestern hemisphere. Introductory dive courses and PADI certification classes available. Click here for a description of the various dive sites.


Gym/Exercise Room

Workout in our remodeled air-conditioned ocean view gym, including paramount station, lifecycle, treadmill, and free weights.


Massage Therapy

Relax with a therapeutic or deep tissue massage after exploring our desert trails or spending the day battling that world class marlin.


Shopping Excursions

Take a day off and explore La Paz or Cabo San Lucas. Our guided tours will take you shopping, visit tourist sites, and take you to the best restaurants.

Room Description

Room Numbers



7 thru 12

2 double beds, west-facing patios


1 thru 5, 29 thru 35

large rms, dbl or queen beds, ocean-view/courtyard patios


15 thru 20, 27 & 28

large rooms, queen beds, private patios

Ocean-view Bungalows

13 & 14, 21 thru 26

large rooms, queen beds, ocean-view patios



all rooms are air conditioned

Bungalow interiorBungalow exterior

desert garden in front of standard rooms


A Brief History of Rancho Leonero

Back in the 40's and 50's, Mexico's Baja peninsula was a rugged, remote area with few roads, and even fewer tourists. Cabo San Lucas was a sleepy fishing village, and most Americans had never even heard of the East Cape. Wealthy sportsmen and adventurers would fly down in their private aircraft, land on rough dirt airstrips carved out of the desert, and return with wild stories of the big fish they caught here.

Gil at Rancho El LeoneroGil Powell was one of these hearty souls who fell in love with the area. He was a wildlife cinematographer by profession and related to actor William Powell. Around 1950 he found and purchased a 300 acre piece of paradise located on the beach just south of Buena Vista. Gil was continually going off to Africa to shoot movies - hence the locals gave him the nickname "El Leonero", which roughly translates to "The One Who Knows Lions". During this time his ranch became known as "Rancho El Leonero", and over the years has been shortened to "Rancho Leonero".

During those wild west days before paved roads and civilization came to Baja, Hollywood's "bad boys" would fly down in their private planes for some R&R where they could escape from the notoriety of their public lives and just hang out. The likes of John Wayne, Bing Crosby, and Errol Flynn were all frequent visitors here. 

Rancho Leonero circa 1960

Original ranch house circa mid-70'sAfter Gil's death in 1974, Rancho Leonero languished for a number of years until John Ireland stumbled upon it in 1979. Instantly falling in love with the area, John spent the next two years trying to acquire the property, and finally succeeded in 1981. In 1984 he started construction of the original five rooms of what was to become "The Inn at Rancho Leonero". The original ranch house became the bar and office for the current resort. In 1986 the Inn opened to it's first guests. From this inauspicious birth (in 1986 we had 1 cruiser with an oar-powered shore boat), the resort has grown to become arguably the best facility on the East Cape. In 1989 we added a fleet of fast bullet cruisers, in 1990 the second wing of 6 additional rooms were completed, in 1991 the pool and first of our super pangas were added, in 1992 the first 6 of our fabulous bungalows were finished, and in 2000 our new 2-story complex was added. 

Gil Powell Memorial Plaque



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