Cabo San Lucas Travel Guide 2019

Best of Cabo – Lovers Beach

Best of Cabo San Lucas Mexico 2019

Cabo San Lucas Vacation

It’s crazy to think I can fly from Minneapolis during the freezing cold winter and in 4 hours be in sunny Cabo San Lucas. This year it was a 100 degree swing from -20 degrees to 80 and sunny. Cabo is a perfect getaway for someone looking to have great weather, ocean views, sandy beaches and nice dinners.

It might not be the best vacation if you’re looking for old world Mexican charm and traditions. Cabo is very much been built up as a “Gringo” vacation spot much like Cancun.

Starting in the 1950’s when a decision was made by the Mexican government Cabo San Lucas would cease to be a cannery town, and would be developed instead into a major tourist destination based on sport fishing. The real “boom” happened in Cabo much later and only about 20 years ago.

Cabo San Lucas is on the very tip of Baja California and one of Mexico’s best tourist destinations. Everytime I check into my hotel at Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos and walk through the lobby to see views of Land’s End and the ocean it never gets old.

I come to Cabo to escape the Minnesota winter and relax around the pool or take a dip in the ocean. If you get bored there are plenty of activities like sailing, boating, golfing, water sports, sportfishing, surfing, desert ATV rides and much more.

Where area should I stay in Los Cabos?

Playa El Médano (Medano Beach)

Pueblo Bonito Blanco Los Cabos
View from our balcony at Pueblo Bonito Blanco Los Cabos.

Classic Cabo where it all started – Medano Beach on the Cabo San Lucas Bay is the southernmost beach and close walking distance to the harbor/marina and downtown San Lucas. The views of Lands End and El Arco don’t get much better than this. The beach has restaurants and bars you can enjoy or you can walk to Downtown and the Marina for more options. Grab a drink and app at the famous Cabo beach bar The Office (look for the blue umbrellas).

Main hotels on the beach:

Pros of staying on Mondo Beach

  • Swimmable beaches
  • Water sports from the beach (Paddle boards, parasailing, wave runners)
  • Short boat ride to El Arco (the Arch) or Lovers Beach ($15 per person)
  • If your into beach bars you can hit up The Mango Deck or The Office
  • Views of Lands End
  • Walkable to downtown and the Marina

Cons of staying on Mondo Beach

  • Touts selling their goods
  • Busy beach during peak season (pro if your into people watching)

The Corridor (Between San Jose and San Lucas)

The 33 mile corridor that connects San Jose and San Lucas are for quiet getaways. Almost everything that you do outside of your resort will require transportation. This is a good option if you like All-Inclusive Resorts or plan on renting a car to get about Cabo. Over the last 25 years The Corridor has been under constant construction with new resorts popping up every year.

Land’s End – Pacific Ocean Side (Paraiso Escondido)

Lands End Pacific Ocean Side
Morning beach walk on Solmar Beach at Lands End.

This is the area that is the very tip of the Baja Peninsula facing southwest. Hotels on this side sit on the Pacific Ocean and unfortunately the currents and drop-off make the beaches unswimmable. Depending on the resort you may be able to walk to the marina or downtown area. This area has very quiet beaches and most people tend to stay at their resort pool. Each year between December and April you can watch whales from the beach around the Baja Peninsula.

Map of Cabo San Lucas and Playa El Medano

San José del Cabo

Cabo San Lucas together with San José del Cabo is known as Los Cabos – two very different cities. San José del Cabo is more like your traditional Mexican town known for it’s Thursday nights art gallery crawl. It’s held every Thursday evening from 5-9pm between the months of November and June. This event was established, promoted and organized by the Gallery District Association. More information.

Food and Drinks in Los Cabos

Cabo San Lucas and the Baja California Peninsula is full of great restaurants and bars. Whether you choose a delicious streetside taco stand or book a swankiest seaside restaurant, you’re sure to eat well in Los Cabos.

My Recommend Places to Eat – Nice Dinners

Good Eats in Cabo San Lucas – Moderate Prices

Traditionally Mexican

The Best Tacos & Taqueria’s in Cabo San Lucas

Tacos Guss, Cabo
Tacos Guss, Street Tacos

Best Bars in Cabo San Lucas

Things to Do in Cabo San Lucas

  • Sunset Cruises & Sailing
  • Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
  • Whale Watching in Cabo San Lucas (In-Season)
  • Visit Beaches (Lovers Beach, Chileno Beach, Santa Maria and Medano)
  • Sport Fishing
  • ATV Desert Tours
  • Paddle Boarding, Kayaking
  • Jet Skis, Parasailing
  • Golfing

General Travel Information about Los Cabo

A Quick History of Cabo Tourism

From a sleepy fishing village: Early Cabo from 1950’s to 1970’s was very remote with only a handful of small hotels with no paved roads to connect it to any major towns or cities. To reach Land’s End you needed to either fly in private planes or by boat. Fishing has always king in Cabo and the main reason to visit in the early days to catch Marlins.

In the 1960’s & 1970’s word spread about a very exclusive vacation spot on the tip of Baja. The rich and famous of Hollywood could fly from Los Angeles to Lands End in their private planes. Major Celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne and Bing Crosby.

By 1974 Mexican workers from hotel Hacienda started dredging the marina. At that time there was only two other main hotels Finisterra and Mar de Cortez.

The major expansion or the international airport in San José del Cabo and new parts of Mexican Federal Highway 1 started a relatively unchecked building boom along The Corridor and in Cabo San Lucas. Today Los Cabo is a top destination in Mexico with over 3 million visitors each year.

Flying to Baja in the 1970’s & 1980’s

Check out this story from Keith Peterman sharing photos and memories flying into Cabo.

Flights into Cabo San Lucas Today

To search for flights to Cabo San Lucas Mexico I recommend looking at Skyscanner, momondo or Google Flights for your best deals. The Los Cabos International Airport (Airport Code SJD) is located in San José del Cabo and takes about 30 mins (33 miles) via a taxi or shuttle to arrive in Cabo San Lucas.

Cabo Travel Tip: How to Avoid Timeshare People at the Los Cabo Airport

Once you have claimed your luggage and cleared customs, immediately in front of you will be two doors that lead in the same direction. No matter which door you choose, you will pass timeshare representatives who will try to make you stop or confuse you by saying they work for the airport or your transportation company.

This is a lie, do not talk to them and do not stop until you have completely exited the airport. After customs all people inside the airport are timeshare sales, my recommendation is to avoid the at all costs, don’t even look at them – ha! Once outside the shuttles and taxi lines will welcome you and rental cars. I just saved you 15 mins of your vacation time!

Transportation to and from the Cabo Airport

If your a budget traveler you can even take the public bus to Cabo San Lucas. It’s a modern air conditioned bus that is safe for all travelers. The only con is it will stop frequently along what is called the Los Cabos Corridor the stretch or hwy between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas dropping off the resort workers.

For a VIP experience you can book a private transfer from Cabo Airport with a luxury Escalade SUV. The cost is expensive at around $185 for round trip. I’ve used All Ways Cabo many times with no issues and good service. The shared shuttle buses run you about $15 to $30 per person each way.

Things you should know before renting a car in Cabo

Obviously you can rent a car as well, but I recommend you think about buying the full insurance to avoid any issues with Mexican Law. In many ways, renting a car in Mexico is much like in the United States and is safe. You’ll need a credit card, valid driver’s license and passport. Book or reserve your rental car ahead of time online, it’s a good idea to pay in Mexican pesos.

Is there Uber in Cabo?

Yes, however at the time of writing this they can’t pick up or drop off at the airport or inside bigger resorts. A lot of the resorts have contracts with either the blue or green taxi vans. My wife & I took a bunch of Ubers around town and to Walmart during our stay with zero issues. The Ubers were a fraction of the cost compared to the taxi vans. For example to Walmart in a taxi van from our hotel it costs $10. For the Uber it was $3.50. It cost an average of $3 for Uber around Cabo San Lucas. Tip: We walked outside the main gate to our resort be picked up.

The Los Cabos Corridor

The Los Cabos Corridor once a sleepy highway with cattle and dogs roaming has become a vacation destination with numerous resorts and timeshares along the coast between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. One the the best luxury resorts is Esperanza. To book Esperanza, An Auberge Resort in Los Cabo I recommend comparing prices on booking.com, tripadvisor.com and expedia.com

Money: Can I Use U.S. Dollars in Cabo?

Yes, we use American dollars and most business except them for payment. However, you will be paying their exchange rate which is usually lower than a bank or resort. Hence, I recommend to use your debit card to withdraw pesos or exchange your US dollars to pesos to get the best rates.

You can exchange cash at your resort, a bank (bring your passport) or a cambio offering the best rate. At the time of writing this article the U.S. Dollar to the Mexican Peso is $1 USD to $19 Pesos. Money Saving Tip: Lastly, when a restaurants ask if you want your credit card charged in American dollars or Mexican pesos always say Pesos to get the best exchange rate.

Look up the current rate: USD to MXN

Best Times to Visit Cabo

The best time to visit the Los Cabo area is just after the American Spring break crowds leave around mid April to mid June. Granted if your from the midwest like me, I’ll be fighting the wintertime crowds to get out of the cold! October and November are also nice months for a vacation, but you’ll need to begin your hotel search early if you want to save money. Plus, the busy Holiday weekends include Easter, Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving.

The weather is hot all year, with lower temperatures Dec–Apr. Summer (Jul–Sep) is wet. Hurricane season is Jun–Nov.

Cabo Weather – Average Monthly Temperature Chart.

What’s the weather difference between the Pacific Ocean (Lands End) or Medano Beach side of Cabo San Lucas?

I will say this about the weather in Cabo San Lucas – there is a big difference between the Pacific Ocean side and Bay of Cabo San Lucas or better know as Medano Beach. It’s much cooler on the Pacific Ocean side because of the wind and ocean breeze. It can even be cloudy on the Pacific side and sunny on the bay side. There’s definitely a micro client change between the two areas that are so close together separated by Lands End. I’ve experienced on the same day what feels like 65 degrees on Pacific side and 85 on bay side.

Is the water safe to drink in Cabo San Lucas?

The water is very likely to upset your stomach, which can make the rest of your trip unpleasant. Bottled water is sold almost everywhere, and you should always choose bottled water rather than drinking from the tap while you’re visiting Cabo San Lucas.

However, I always order a glass of “house” water with ice in restaurants and bars because they have to use purified water. Almost every single restaurant and resort in Cabo uses purified water both for cooking and drinking. Hence, it’s safe to have drinks with ice or eat salads and raw foods. Please help save our planet form wasteful plastic bottles! Plus, you can actually save money by drinking the house water. I’ve never been sick from eating in restaurants in Cabo or drinking their purified water or ice.

Explore Los Cabos Yourself

I hope this guide helps you plan your next trip to Cabo. Go for the weather, beaches, nightlife or to simply relax. Salud!

Read my other travel blog post: Best 5 Days In NYC

Photos from Cabo San Lucas

I’m loving AirBnb or VRBO for Mexico Trips

In the last 6 months I have traveled to Puerto Vallarta (PV), Playa del Carmen (Playa) and Cabo San Lucas. Both my trips to PV and Playa I booked my stays with either AirBnb or VRBO. In PV my wife and I stayed at a newly built condo 2 block from the beach with a infinty rooftop pool with ocean views for $65 a night in November. My Playa vacation with a buddy we booked two different places both with 2 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and paid $100 a night. Both condos were very modern with rooftop pools and walkabout to the beach and 5th Ave.

Therefore, if you want to save money, dislike hotel stays or want to get away for cheap in Mexico check out AirBnb and VRBO for great deals. The time is now because I believe Mexican tourist destination have been over developed with condos so there is a ton of competition to drive down the price.

Try one of these Mexican cocktails

Are you tired of Mexican beer and traditional margaritas? If so, try one of these drinks – Paloma or Pineapple Mezcal Margarita.

The Paloma cocktail is most commonly prepared by mixing tequila with a grapefruit-flavored soda such as Fresca, Squirt, or Jarritos and served on the rocks with a lime wedge. Adding salt to the rim of the glass is also an option. Fresh juice Paloma recipe

Change up your traditional margarita with a Pineapple Mezcal Margarita. The sweetness of the pineapple balances the smoke of the mezcal. One variation to this drink: see recipe