As European explorers expanded their quest for the riches of the far east, Baja California became an integral part of sea travel. Merchant ships, dominated mostly by Spanish Galleons, sailed from European ports traveling to and from the Philippines and Far East. Ships laden with treasures sailed to Baja, the Sea of Cortez and the western shores of Mexico when returning from their journey to the South Pacific. It didn’t take long for others to challenge the security of these Spanish ships. Naturally, privateers sought to profit from these expeditions as thieves lying in wait to exploit the vessels’ bounty. Racing up and down the Pacific coastline, the pirates had a field day. When these pirates were not plying their trade they moored in Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and La Paz.
One of the most famous pirate stories remains the treasure of the Santa Ana.
Legend has it in 1587, the English buccaneer Thomas Cavandish doubled-down and took on the heavily armed galleon theSanta Ana at the Cape of San Lucas. On November 14th, Cavandish and his two ships, the Content and Desire gave chase and engaged theSanta Ana. The battle raged for 3 days with reports describing a swashbuckling scene straight out of Hollywood. Finally, the Santa Anasurrendered and its loot was loaded aboard the Content and Desire. The two English ships quickly set sail and soon separated. The Desirearrived in Plymouth, England months later but the Content was never seen again. The treasure from the Content was never found. Indian legend claim it remains in a cove on the Pacific side of Baja north of Cabo San Lucas. The treasure of the Santa Ana still remains a mystery today.