Are you planning a trip to Cabo San Lucas but don’t know where to start? No worries! I’ve got you covered with some Cabo San Lucas info that answers questions about safety, how to get around and where to stay for the best Cabo experience. Not to mention my favorite Cabo restaurants. So whether you are traveling to Cabo San Lucas for a week or just for a day, this guide will help you do it better.
Starting January 26, 2021 air travelers returning to the U.S will be required to have a negative Covid test within 72 hours of their flight. Read the details on CDC.gov. Many resorts and hotels in Mexico have implemented testing to make it easier for visitors to get back home. Check with your hotel to see if they are offering testing. If not, Cabo San Lucas has been very responsive to travelers’ needs. Find out more on their website.
Where is Cabo San Lucas?
Cabo San Lucas is located at the southern most tip of Baja California, the peninsula across the border and south of the US state of California. It’s where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean with some of the prettiest golden sand beaches and clear bluish-green water I’ve ever seen. Cabo has a reputation of being touristy, and it is, but the landscape is just so beautiful. it’s totally worth it.
When people say “I’m going to Cabo”, they could be referring to Cabo San Lucas or San Jose de Cabo. These two places are entirely different areas, 20 miles apart. But they both make up Los Cabos. Between the two areas, there’s a strip of coastline full of hotels and resorts and is commonly referred to as the Corridor.
Is Cabo San Lucas Safe?
Even though Mexico seems to be in the news quite often, Baja California Sur, as a state, is somewhat safer than other parts of Mexico. While Cabo has had reports of petty crime, scams and occasionally, cartel activity and more serious crimes, it still remains one of the safest areas in Mexico.
Someone traveling to Cabo San Lucas should take the normal traveler precautions. Don’t flash money or jewelry around, don’t drink too much and don’t walk around with your phone in your hand. Yes, phone snatching is common in some places. If you are renting and driving a car, don’t leave luggage and things in plain view. Better yet, put it all in the trunk to be safe.
For females and especially solo females, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t accept mixed drinks or shots from strangers. In fact, for added safety, you might want to stick to beer. Most restaurants and bars in Mexico will open your bottle of beer right in front of you. That way you can be sure there’s nothing extra added to it.
Most importantly, if your gut tells you something is wrong or a little off, go with that feeling. It’s way better to be safe than sorry.
Officially, according to the US State Department, Baja California Sur is Level 2. This means Exercise Increased Caution due to crime. The State Department has not restricted government employees from travel to Baja Sur. For comparison, Jamaica and The Bahamas are both Level 2 travel and they aren’t in the news near as much as Mexico is.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Visit Cabo?
Since Baja is a desert climate, Cabo is warm most of the year. Of course, some months are going to be hotter than others. December through April is high season and the busiest time. Many snowbirds from the states and Canada end up in Baja for the winter. March and April are busy with spring breakers.
In my opinion, May and June are perfect months to visit. The daytime weather is warm but the nights are cooler and breezy. You also don’t usually have to worry about hurricanes during this time. However, if you want to see whales, then January through March is the best time to visit.
Hurricane season officially runs June through October. Even if the area doesn’t experience any tropical storms or hurricanes, you can expect some rain later in the season. Temperatures are also hot with highs in the 90’s but since this is low season, you can save money on lodging during this time of the year.
Traveling to Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is a easy direct flight from many US and Canadian cities. Delta, United, American, Spirit, Alaska, Southwest and Sun Country are all US based carriers that fly there.
A passport is necessary for traveling to Mexico but there’s no visa required for US and Canadian citizens. You will be required to fill out a FMM or Forma Migratoria Multiple. If you are traveling by air, the flight attendants pass these out before arrival.
The FMM is a visitor card, or entry card, for stays over 7 days. It’s also valid for up to 180 days in a 12 month period. If you arrive by air, the cost of the FMM is included in your plane ticket. The cost is approximately $25 USD.
The FMM has two parts. You’ll fill out your personal data and pertinent info on top part. Immigration keeps that top portion and stamps the bottom half, that you keep with you during your stay, as proof of proper entry into the country. When you leave the country, you’l turn it in at the airport. Whatever you do, try not to lose it. If you do, contact the nearest immigration office.
Arriving at the Airport
The Los Cabos area is serviced by Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) which is about 30 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas and closer to San Jose de Cabo. The airport has two terminals. Terminal 1 is for domestic flights in Mexico and flights to Central and South America. Terminal 2 is for international flights to the US and Canada.
After going through immigration and getting your bags, you’ll pass through customs, which is a little different from what you might be used to. If you have anything you are bringing into the country to declare, you do it here. Everyone is asked to to push a button. If it lights up green, you are good to go but red means you’ve been selected for them to search your bags.
After exiting customs, there’s one more room. This is the timeshare room. Be warned, you will be made to feel that it’s necessary to stop and schedule a tour or a taxi or something. Unless you’re interested in timeshares, just pass through the room and exit the airport.
How to Get to Cabo From the Airport
If you fly into the Los Cabos area, you are actually closer to San Jose de Cabo. From the airport, it takes about 45 minutes to get to Cabo San Lucas depending on where you are staying. There are several ways to get from the airport to Cabo San Lucas.
Shuttles are a popular way to get to your hotel from the Los Cabos airport. Check with your hotel to see if they offer shuttle. Many do, but it’s not complimentary because the airport is outside the city. Arrangements can be made ahead of time for either a shared shuttle or a private one. A shared shuttles means you would share with other travelers. They could be traveling to a different hotel than you, so be prepared for several stops. A private shuttle would take you and your travel party directly to your hotel.
Authorized taxi stands are located outside after you exit the airport. When you use an authorized taxi, there’s no haggling over the price. The price is a fixed rate to based on what zone you are traveling to. Confirm the price ahead of time just to make sure.
Cabo San Lucas finally has Uber. But just like in many cities in Mexico they aren’t allowed on federal property. Since the airport is federal property, they cannot pick you up there. However, they can drop you off at the airport.
Renting a car in Cabo is easy and similar to renting in the US. It is a little more expensive because of the required Mexican liability insurance but depending on where your hotel is, you could actually save money renting instead of paying for taxis or Uber. Rental cars are available at the airport and throughout town. Even hotels have rental agencies on site. To rent, you’ll need a valid driver’s license and a credit card.
Buses in Mexico are good options for getting around. From the airport you can take the public bus system Subur Cabo, that goes from the airport to San Jose de Cabo, the tourist corridor and lastly to Cabo San Lucas. The fare is around $2.50 USD each way. .
Getting Around Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is a very walking friendly town especially if you are staying in the Medano Beach, marina or downtown area. We walked everywhere from our hotel and only used a taxi for an early morning fishing trip. If you prefer not to walk or are not able, then most hotels can quickly arrange a taxi or you can call an Uber.
Again, public transportation on Subur Cabo buses that run throughout the city are a great affordable option. The buses are different colors for different routes and the destination should displayed on the windshield. If you have any doubts about where you are going, don’t be shy, just ask the driver.
Southerner Says: it’s best to have small bills or change in pesos for bus fare. If you are part of a group or family and one person is paying, that person should enter last and pay for the group.
Where to Stay in Cabo San Lucas
Deciding where to stay your first time traveling to Cabo San Lucas will likely depend on your budget and what your interests are. A hotel in the downtown or the marina area is the best choice for the budget minded. If money is no object and you want to be directly on the beach, then Medano Beach, Land’s End or Pedregal are all good locations
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I personally love Medano Beach. The water is beautiful, calm and swimmable because it’s more protected than the open water of Land’s End and Pedregal, on the Pacific side. At Medano Beach, there’s also a direct view of the beautiful Arch. Restaurants are plentiful and so are beach clubs. The clubs have chairs and umbrellas for rent and you can spend all day just hanging out. It’s easy to hop on a boat to the see the arch too.
Where to Stay in Medano Beach
ME Cabo is a resort right in the heart of Medano Beach. It’s not as big as some of the other resorts so it feels a bit more intimate. You can easily walk to downtown or the marina. Most of the rooms have balconies with views of Land’s End and the Arch. The property has a huge pool, hot tub, lounging beds and a swim up bar as well as a couple or restaurants and spa.
If you prefer the beach to the pool, there are covered lounges and chairs available in a private area. On the beach you can rent stand up paddle boards or catch a boat to the Arch and Land’s End.
Bahia Hotel is smaller hotel just a couple of blocks over from the ME Cabo. I didn’t stay at this property but had breakfast there one morning. A smaller, boutique hotel, it’s perfect for a quieter getaway. The food at the hotel restaurant, Bar Esquina is delicious. Bonus points for having a take away coffee shop and juice bar too.
Even though the hotel is a couple of blocks from the beach, guests have access to the hotels’s beach club and restaurant, SUR. Golf cart are available to take you to the club. Guests also receive signing privileges for room charges so you don’t have to carry money around. There’s also towel service, lounge chairs, daybeds and free WiFi. And you get those same beautiful views.
Staying downtown Cabo San Lucas offers some really good budget friendly options. Hotel Mar de Cortez is a brightly painted cute, colonial style hotel, with rooms around a courtyard swimming pool. There is also a highly recommended bar and restaurant on site. Many of the room rates have breakfast included. We went for brunch and it was excellent. They also have a daily happy hour that’s pretty popular.
The marina area is another good option for centrally located accommodations when traveling to Cabo San Lucas. From the marina, you can do just about anything. It’s an easy walk to the beaches or downtown. There’s plenty of restaurants and shopping in the marina and nearby. Tours to the Arch and charters for deep sea fishing leave from there too. The Marina Fiesta Resort even offers an all inclusive option right in the marina.
If you are someone that prefers an all inclusive option in a resort, there’s plenty of options for that as well when traveling to Cabo San Lucas. I personally prefer to explore and discover places to eat on my own but if I were planning a honeymoon or wanting to stay put for ultimate relaxation, I would consider Casa Dorada Los Cabos or Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa.
If you prefer to stay in a resort outside of town a bit, then consider Hacienda Encantada.
Airbnb in Cabo San Lucas
There aren’t as many Airbnb homes as I thought there would be in Cabo San Lucas but here are a few of my favorites. If you need a larger home for a group of people or for a wedding, I picked out a few of those too. Airbnb in Mexico is the same as Airbnb anywhere. Maybe better. I’ve found the homes and apartments I’ve stayed in to be spotlessly clean and in ideal areas.
Where to Eat in Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas has a wide variety of restaurants and not just Mexican food. If you like seafood, then this is definitely the place to order fresh fish and even lobster. I personally love tacos and the fish tacos in Cabo were some of the best I’ve ever had in the Baja peninsula. Here’s a few of my favorite.
Milky Way Cafe & Deli You can’t go wrong with breakfast or lunch from Milky Way Cafe. The location is one of the best on Medano Beach, next to Andromeda Dive Shop. You can sip your morning smoothie or espresso with a view of the Arch. They serve breakfast, Mexican food, sandwiches and sushi.
El Cortez Bar is the restaurant at Hotel Mar de Cortez. I had read a lot of good things about it so we walked over one morning and had a delicious brunch. I’m a breakfast all day person and my partner isn’t so it worked out great that we could get breakfast and lunch.
Tacos Gardenias I’ve tried a lot of tacos and the tacos at Tacos Gardenias were so good, they’re the tacos by which I judge all other tacos now. The fish tacos and the breaded shrimp tacos were my favorite. They also serve other Mexican dishes besides tacos.
La Galeria is a seafood restaurant in the marina area. It’s casual but it a great spot for a special occasion. The seafood is delicious. Outdoor seating along the waterfront and live music while sipping a glass of wine makes for an unforgettable Cabo moment.
Pan de Bacco I’m always eager to try pizza and Italian food in Mexico because I’ve eaten some of the best wood fired pizzas south of the border. While I ended up not eating pizza at Pan de Bacco, they did have delicious lasagna and homemade bread and I would certainly return for pizza.
The Office is an open air palapa style restaurant in a gorgeous setting right on Medano Beach. You can dine with your toes in the sand or on their patio. Fresh seafood dominates the menu but they also serve steak. There’s even heaters for cooler weather. The Office is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Edith’s Cabo If there’s one place I’m planning on eating next time I travel to Cabo San Lucas, it’s Edith’s. I’ve read so many good things about this Mexican restaurant online. I even remember walking by and thinking how cute it is. I’ve added it to my Cabo wishlist for next time because there definitely will be a next time.
Beach Clubs in Cabo San Lucas are a great way to spend a day doing nothing but sunning, drinking and being waited on. Typically you can choose from tables and chairs or lounge chairs right on the sand. They also tend to get a bit crazy depending on the type of entertainment and contests they have. I wouldn’t want to spend a special occasion or dinner here but you always can count on them for great snacks, like guacamole, buckets of beer, and a fun time.
Mango Deck on Medano Beach is open 7 days a week, bright and early at 8am. They really do have a great breakfast. On Sunday, from 8am to 1pm, they also have an all you can eat brunch menu. Besides contests and trivia, Mango Deck has live music nightly, can arrange tours and is just in general a good place to hang up and meet people.
Breweries to Visit When Traveling to Cabo San Lucas
Cabo has a few breweries and brew pubs. Baja Brewing Company is the place to go when you want a burger or some pub food. There’s a couple of locations but my favorite one is on the rooftop of Cabo Villas Beach Resort on Medano Beach. It has the best views and the patio has misters for the hot weather and a fire pit when it’s chilly.
Visiting Cabo San Lucas
Cabo is one of those destinations that I could return to again and again. It’s a relaxing, easy vacation in one of my favorite parts of Mexico. Sun, sand and that beautiful water. You can’t can’t go wrong traveling to Cabo San Lucas.