If we were to tell you that Mexico was home to a region with unbeatable white-sand beaches, crystal-clear warm waters, and unparalleled marine life, what would come to mind? The Riviera Maya? Guess again. Tucked away at the southern end of the Baja Peninsula is a tropical paradise that tends to receive less praise than it’s Yucatan Peninsula counterparts – that is, until recently. That now, not-so-secret destination Los Cabos, Mexico.
With access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, this Mexican paradise offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience. With the perfect waves for surfing and watersports on one side, and calm waters home to vibrant marine life on the other, Los Cabos is the prime location for both those seeking adventure and those looking to get away and relax.
Sound like something you’d like to experience for yourself? Well, what are you waiting for? It’s time to plan! While you begin to piece together your next trip south, be sure to take into consideration these 15 simple tips when traveling to the lovely Los Cabos.
1. Book a flight from a major U.S. city
With numerous direct flights departing from major U.S. cities to Los Cabos, traveling to this remarkable Mexican destination has never been made so easy. Airlines with direct flights include Delta, American, United, and Southwest Airlines among others. If you are looking for the most economic option, you may have to purchase a flight that has a short layover.
As with any flight, you want to purchase your airfare as soon as possible to reduce costs. Peak season for the Los Cabos region is between the months of April and June, and between the months of September and November – so expect higher flight costs during this time. At other times of the year prices will fluctuate according to demand. Don’t wait – book your flight now and watch your plans become reality!
2. Get acquainted with customs prior to your arrival
Let’s be honest – no one enjoys the tedious process of passing through customs. Luckily for U.S. and Canadian citizens, the process is usually quick and painless. To ensure a smooth entry, be sure to have all necessary documentation ready prior to your departure. The good news – U.S. natives visiting Mexico for less than 180 days do not need a visa to enter Mexico. However, you will need to have a valid passport. Mexico generally requires that your passport be valid for at least 90 days upon your return.
It is recommended that your passport be valid up to six months after returning to the U.S. One additional form you must complete prior to entry is the “visitor’s permit”. This form will be provided to you by your airline, travel agency, or by Mexican customs upon entry to Mexico. Laws and regulations that guide immigration policies are constantly changing, so be sure to review up-date-date rules are regulations prior to travel. Stay calm, don’t stress, and ask airport personnel if you have any questions or concerns – they are there to help!
3. Pack light and pack smart
It’s no surprise that most visitors spend their first day (or two) soaking up the Mexican sun on some of Mexico’s most pristine beaches. After all, that is what Mexico is known for, isn’t it? While true, there are a few items to consider in addition to your bathing suit and flip flops. Home to spectacular marine life, outdoor excursions, and underwater activities, Los Cabos has become an ideal destination not only for those wishing to relax, but those looking for some action packed activities.
Depending on what activities you have planned, you may want to consider packing the following items: hiking shoes, athletic clothing, hat, sunglasses, water-proof camera and/or phone case, insect repellant, and diving gear. Don’t forget to pack one or two nice outfits – you’ll have the opportunity to strut your best evening wear with numerous bars and restaurants along the coast.
If you are visiting during the off – season when temperatures are less intense, be sure to pack one or two heavier clothing items, such as a sweater or long-sleeved shirt, especially if you plan to be out on the water! While this may sound like a lot of items – it’s really not. Be sure to pack as light as possible – not only does it help to reduce travel costs and make the customers process simpler, but it will also leave you with the much needed space for souvenirs on the return trip home.
4. Master local currency and be prepared to bargain
You’re not at home anymore. This will become extremely evident when you try to pay for something in dollars and realize that U.S. currency is often no longer accepted. While certain establishments (usually American hotels) located in the Los Cabos region may accept U.S. currency, it ‘s best to exchange your dollars for Mexican Pesos prior to your arrival. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to exchange your cash – whether at your local bank, airport, or upon arrival to Mexico.
Be sure to review the current exchange rates prior to travel – this will help you to budget for your trip and plan accordingly. If you forget, don’t panic. There are numerous currency exchange sites located throughout town – usually near or at local banks, or at the local bus station, known as the “central de camiones”.
Once you have your newly exchanged, colorful Mexican currency in hand, you’re ready to go! When visiting small local shops, especially located in markets, feel free to bargain. This may seem rude at first, but it’s quite common in local Mexican culture. However, keep in mind that the exchange rate often favors local vendors. Also bargaining may not be necessary as your trip is surely to be impressively affordable. Plus, the astonishingly beautiful, hand crafted trinkets found in markets are usually very cheap, and well worth the money.
5. Research transportation options for when you arrive
Before reaching Los Cabos, it’s important to know what local transportation options will be available to you during your stay. Upon arrival to the airport, it is best to have your hotel arrange for transportation to the resort – this is often done free of charge. If you plan to stay at a smaller location and these services are unavailable to you, use the airport shuttle or taxi services to reach your destination – they are safe and generally offer fair prices. These can even be booked in advance on company websites.
Once you arrive to Los Cabos, traveling to and from surrounding areas is quite simple. Known as the Los Cabos Corridor, or Tourist Corridor, this 19 mile (30 kilometer) stretch of seamless beaches and resorts is easily maneuvered via the Transpeninsular Highway. Situated between the cities of San Jose del Cabo in the east and and Cabo San Lucas to the west, this remarkable stretch of land and sea is a must see.
Luckily for visitors, Mexico has a highly functioning public transportation system, making travel between towns and cities in the Los Cabos area relatively cheap and easy. Local buses are incredibly inexpensive, with tickets ranging between $50-$150 MXN ($3-$8 USD). Check first with your hotel – they may offer their own transportation to-and-from nearby attractions.
If public transportation isn’t your style, car rentals are also available. According to the U.S. State Department, U.S. driver’s licenses are valid in Mexico. The only catch – you’ll need to purchase Mexican car rental insurance. Whichever option you choose, you should have no problem getting from one location to another, making it that much easier to explore all that Los Cabos has to offer.
6. Secure your passport and special items in a safe place
One of the greatest mistakes that is too often made by international travelers is that they bring along their passport wherever they go. This is a very bad idea. Once you arrive safely to your hotel there is no need to bring along your passport and other important items.
While Mexico is safe, you want to ensure that important personal information and documentation remains protected. It is recommended that you keep these items in a secure place within your hotel room. Losing your passport or other important items such as your photo I.D., debit/credit cards, and loose cash can cause much unneeded stress during your stay.
While it’s smart to have an official photo I.D. on you at all times, this does not mean to bring along your passport. Only do so when no other options are available. Taking only a debt /credit card, photo I.D., and enough cash for the day is ideal. If need be, you can always withdraw more cash from local ATMs or make a return trip to the hotel.
If you feel the need to bring along important items or additional funds, an over-the-shoulder backpack or purse are your best options – you want to have your items in sight at all times. With such a high volume of tourists, lost or stolen items are difficult to recover.
7. Protect your skin while enjoying the sun
We get it – after a long winter, the feeling of the sun’s rays hitting your skin can feel rejuvenating. It’s important not to forget how powerful these UV rays can be, especially down in Mexico and on the water.
With a dry and warm climate most of the year – and a short rainy season in late summer and early fall – Los Cabos is a destination that can be enjoyed year round. However, for those visiting during the Los Cabos peak seasons, when warm temperatures range from the low 70s Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) to the upper 80s Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), the use of sunscreen will be important.
While these temperatures may not seem extreme, the sun is much stronger down south and sun rays are constantly reaching your skin – even when cloudy! No one wants to spend the latter half of his or her vacation tucked away in the hotel due to severe sunburn. Be sure to take plenty of breaks in the shade. In any event, what’s not to like about a frequent break in the nearby beach bar or resort lounge? There will be plenty of indoor activities to keep you occupied!
8 Stay hydrated
I know, we are starting to sound like your doctor. However, consistent fluid intake is key if you are to maximize your Los Cabos experience. With numerous activities and underwater excursions available, you will need to be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Not the kind of fluids you get at the hotel pool swim at bar – but water – lots and lots of water!
By maintaining a hydrated body, you can lay on the beach a little more, enjoy that boat ride for a little longer, and be ready to do it all over again the next day. For those looking to jam-pack their vacation time with unforgettable Cabos experiences remember this – it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon! Hydration and self-care is the key to longevity.
9. Bypass the restaurant chains and enjoy local cuisine
With the U.S. located directly to the North, it’s not uncommon to see a few American restaurants – usually large chains – in Mexican territory. While many feel safe eating somewhere familiar, this is one of the biggest errors travelers can make!
Mexico is home to some of the world’s most exquisite cuisine, including the Los Cabos region. With cuisine that will dazzle the taste buds of even the most diverse of pallets, missing out on the local food scene would be devastating.
Experience authentic street tacos, freshly made ceviche (fresh raw fish and/or seafood cured in lime juice with chopped onions, salt, cilantro, and spicy chiles), or the regional favorites known as Machaca de Pescado, or Mantarraya (a dish prepared with pounded fish or stingray, and seasoned with chili and other native spices), and Almejas Chocolatas Tatemadas (grilled clams cooked on beach stones and covered with ”romerillo”, a kind of shrub that grows in the desert).
You can’t fully enjoy a meal without an artisanal tequila or mezcal cocktail to accompany the flavors! If you prefer something light and less potent, try a refreshing Mexican lager.
Either way, it’ll will add the perfect touch to your already delicious meal.
Keep in mind – when traveling abroad, it is common to have some stomach issues due to different cooking oils and spices. Known as “Montezuma’s revenge”, an upset stomach can be a real damper on your vacation. Be sure to have over the counter stomach medicine available just in case!
10. Know where to go in case of an emergency
Sometimes our stomach issues can get the best of us. If you feel that you aren’t improving or that you have become severely hydrated, it’s important to visit a nearby medical professional. With numerous pharmacies with in-house medical professionals, such as Farmacias de Ahorro, you should have no problem receiving the attention you need.
Prior to needing a doctor, be sure to look up additional options near your hotel – such as urgent care clinics and hospitals. If you are unsure where to look or how to begin your search, speak with a hotel representative.
Always remember – your health comes first!
11. Lay out on some of the country’s most spectacular beaches
You can’t visit Los Cabos without experiencing some of the most world-renowned beaches perched along the stunning Sea of Cortez. Home to what French explorer Jacques Cousteau deemed the “aquarium of the world”, the Sea of Cortez and the waters that brush up along Baja Peninsula’s shores are sure to mesmerize anyone lucky enough to their innate beauty.
White-sand beaches, breath-taking views, and warm waters filled with vibrant marine life make the shores of Los Cabos the perfect destination for those searching for both peace and excitement.
Visit the region’s social hub known as Playa Medano (Medano Beach), a two-mile (3 kilometer) stretch of beach lined with restaurants, shops, and bars – the perfect scene for the visiting socialite! Or take a stroll down Playa Santa Maria (Saint Maria Beach) and witness the calm bay waters home to diverse flora and fauna. If you’re looking for an exhilarating yet romantic experience, take a boat ride to Playa del Amor (Love Beach) near Land’s End (the penínsulas most southern point). Here, you can enjoy unparalleled views and dazzling blue waters. Don’t forget to visit Cabo San Lucas attractions either on your way , or during your return trip to the hotel.
No matter your preference – Los Cabos has the right beach for you!
12. Take an amazing boat tour
With the Sea of Cortez cozied up alongside the Peninsula’s eastern shores, and the Pacific Ocean on the west, Los Cabos offers a truly one of a kind experience by offering visitors impeccable views of not one – but both bodies of water.
One of the best ways to explore life above and below the water’s surface is on one of the many boat tours offered by a multitude of local companies. Take a trip south to End’s Landing – the southernmost tip of the península – and witness awe-inspiring rock formations and hidden, tropical beaches such as Playa del Amor (Love Beach) and Playa del Divorcio (Divorce Beach).
Or head north on a ferry towards Playa Santa Maria (Saint Maria Beach) and enjoy an afternoon snorkeling among some of the region’s most vibrant marine life. To top off the trip with a once in a lifetime experience, get on board a small boat and head towards Isla Espiritu (Spirit Island) – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and snorkel with sea lions, hike island trails, and witness an astonishing sunset.
Simply put – the best way to explore Los Cabos and the surrounding waters is to via the water itself. So, hop on board and get ready to see Los Cabos from a truly unique perspective onboard one of the spectacular Cabo boat tours.
13. Explore a world below the surface
While the Pacific side of the Baja Peninsula experiences rougher waters – perfect for the seasoned surfers – the Sea of Cortez is home to consistently ideal temperatures and unforgettable marine life, making it a prime location for underwater activities. Grab your snorkel and your wetsuit and get ready to take a dive below!
Where you go will depend on your level of expertise. Snorkeling yours are perfect for the beginner who wishes to survey life down under with minimal equipment and training. Sites such as Playa Santa Maria (Saint Maria Beach), Playa Chileno (Chilean Beach), and Cabo Pulmo offer the calm waters and vibrant marine life perfect for snorkelers. With bus and boat tours to all sites, it’s an easy route to take for visitors located in Cabo San Lucas or other spots located along the Cabos Corridor.
For more experienced divers, sites such as El Punto (The Point) – located just off the southern tip of Land’s End – and Isla Espiritu (Spirit Island) – located off the shores of La Paz – are ideal. With opportunities to take deep or shallow dives at these locations offers guests with different levels of experience an opportunity to catch a glimpse of life below.
With warm water temperatures year around and unmatched visibility of over 100 feet (30 meters) between the months of June – December, it is without question that all visitors should partake in Los Cabos underwater excursions. Ever wanted to swim with dolphins Cabo style? Don’t miss out on these amazing open water opportunities.
14. Visit and shop at nearby, historic towns
Thanks to the Cabos Corridor, travel to and from numerous other towns and attractions has been made easy for those staying along the Sea of Cortez coast. A part from the well-known destination of Cabo San Lucas, other equally impressive spots are worth a visit.
Such locations include San Jose del Cabo, Todos Santos, and La Paz. Each town with its own, unique personality makes exploring the Los Cabos region an exciting journey. Visit the town of Todos Santos for a quiet, relaxing afternoon of shopping and local cuisine, or head to the state capital of La Paz, and lay your eyes upon some of the sea’s most heart-stopping views.
While walking the historic streets of these nearby, historic towns, be sure to enjoy the enchanting city centers, which are sure to be lined with numerous street vendors selling items that range from clothing, handmade ceramics, home décor, jewelry, and food. These are also great places to shop – with local markets and small family shops located at or near the city center.
Whether you wish to shop ‘till you drop, or simply walk the beautiful cobblestone streets, an afternoon or evening spent in town will be one to remember.
15. Practice your Spanish as much as you can
Remember how much time you invested in Spanish classes during college or at home on the computer through the use of online language programs? Well, it’s time to put your know knowledge to the test!
If you have yet to learn – don’t worry! There is still time to at least master some basic phrases that may come in handy. It’s important to remember that when traveling internationally to a country whose native language is something other than English, it’s respectful to learn at least the basics. Your vacation to Los Cabos is the opportune moment to perfect your Spanish skills. Not to mention, the locals will love and appreciate your efforts.
Mexican culture is kind, warm, and friendly. After leaving your fears aside and practicing your Spanish with native speakers, you will return home not only feeling accomplished, but repeating phrases like “órale” (right on), “qué chido” (how cool), and “salúd” (cheers). Immersing yourself into the native language only enhances your overall experience. Not only will you leave with incredible memories and stories to tell, but with newly gained knowledge and appreciation for the local culture.
There you have it – 15 simple tips that not only prepared you for your trip south, but gave you just enough insight to help you put together what is soon to be one of your most unforgettable life experiences. Now equipped with a list of the best things to do in Cabo , what could possibly stand in your way? It’s time to purchase that ticket, board that plane, and prepare yourself to experience firsthand the most outstanding Los Cabos experience.