A FIRST-TIMER’S GUIDE TO LOS CABOS
Los Cabos is located at the tip of the Baja California peninsula in North-Western Mexico. The name “Los Cabos” refers to San Jose Del Cabo (resort area with silvery sand beaches) and Cabo San Lucas (metropolis of high-end shopping, and nightlife). And everything in between.
This is a beloved destination for California folk. If you too are guilty of watching Laguna Beach and The Hills back in the day, you’ve undoubtedly seen many a vacation take place in Cabo.
It’s easy to see why there’s so much hype surrounding this destination. Close proximity to the United States and Canada makes it a piece of cake to score an inexpensive short flight. The sky and the ocean alike are impossibly blue. And there’s just the right balance of luxury and affordability.
Yeah, Cabo, you’re alright.
It’s been said that Los Cabos has similar weather to Palm Springs. Hot and deserty.
You’ll want to bring a light sweater for when evening temperatures drop a bit in the winter. And if you visit during the summer, you should be able to get a glorious sunburn effortlessly. But really, there’s no bad time to vacation in Cabo.
We went in June, which is considered off season for tourism. And holy toledo was it scorching.
During our two-week sojourn we found the first half of the trip to be sunny and HOT. The second half was stormy and HOT. Moral of the story? If you’re heading to Cabo in the summer months, expect to sweat. A lot. Also, maybe be prepared for a potential storm.
Cabo beaches are mesmerizingly beautiful, but not always ideal for swimming.
It’s not uncommon to be restricted from taking a dip in the ocean in front your hotel. There are strong undercurrents and pounding surf. Red warning flags fly high at regular intervals.
This was especially the case during our second week in Cabo. The waves reached over twice (maybe even 3 x) our height and came crashing down so hard on the beach that the seashore eroded into an immense cliff.
Though, not always is the case.
We also encounter several days of hushed waters as well.
The rich and famous love it here. Therefore, you’ll find plenty of posh and exclusive restaurants to choose from. Expect to pay top-level prices for these, though.
It requires a bit of added effort, but you can certainly find some superb budget eats sprinkled in among the classy establishments. Most notably street tacos. My favorite.
On one particular afternoon during a hefty summer storm, we went for lunch at the renowned oceanfront restaurant “The Office”. Two noteworthy things happened.
One: A larger than life wave came crashing up onto the front row of tables. Ocean water completely covered the plates of food and washed them out to sea. Soaking the startled patrons as it did so.
Two: We sat down at a table next to who we thought was just an exceptionally tall man and some attractive blondes. After people kept approaching him asking for autographs and having their picture taken with him, it was revealed that he was actually a very well-known (read: famous) basketball player.
Why do I mention this? Well, if celebrity sighting is your thing, there are good odds of encountering a few on holiday in Cabo.
The predominant landmark to see as a tourist is the Golden Arch. A famous rock formation that juts out of the water right where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean.
It is quite literally the most popular attraction in Cabo. You’ll undoubtedly be taken to see the Golden Arch numerous times throughout your stay (intentional or not). Practically every activity or excursion we embarked on involved a trip to, you guess it, the aforesaid arching rock.
At low tide you can actually walk under the arch on the now-you-see-it now-you-don’t sandy beach. Make sure you’ve got a getaway boat ready for high tide, though.
Cabo has activities for every category of traveler. There are snorkeling and fishing tours. You can sail alongside wild dolphins. Zipline through the desert, or ride ATVs over sandy dunes. Ride a horse on the beach into the setting sun. Spend way too much money at the premium shopping malls. Dabble in the flourishing nightlife. Take a sunset party cruise. And even befriend a camel. (yes, Cabo has camels!).
There’s really no shortage of tours or attractions on offer. If you find yourself bored with nothing to do that excites you, well, you may just be impossible to please.
Money Saving Tips
- Consider staying at an all inclusive resort. Los Cabos is an upscale Mexican destination. Having the cost of your flight, accommodations, food, and drinks (yes – alcohol included) already determined is a sure fire way to stay within your budget. We stayed at one of the two side-by-side Riu properties and cannot recommend this resort line enough. (You can read about our Riu stay >>here<< and why an all inclusive resort in general may be what your vacation needs >>here<<)
- Bring Mexican pesos, not US dollars. Yes, dollars are widely accepted. But if you pay with them you’ll get your change back in pesos at an exchange rate that is not very favorable to you. Get your currency traded before you arrive to ensure you’re receiving the best rate. Or withdraw pesos from a local ATM.
- Stockpile bottled water, snacks, and alcohol from Walmart, the Mega Grocery store or City Club if you aren’t going the all-inclusive resort route. A bare-bones bottle of water acquired from your hotel can set you back more than a bottle of bargain tequila. No joke.
- Don’t book your excursions through the first tour operator you encounter. And definitely don’t book through your resort (if you’re staying at one). Shop around and barter. Shop around some more. And then, barter some more. Tour prices are inflated initially, but the lion’s share of businesses are willing to make a deal.
- Be sure to inquire what the meal covered in the cost of your tour consist of. Then you won’t be surprised when it’s tuna sandwiches only. Or Costco-brand taquitos and guac. This saves you from having to purchase the dreaded second lunch.
- Forego taxis in favor of Supercabos. These are the local buses that continually run up and down the highway, picking up passengers and dropping them off where they wish. Not just at designated stops. They cost next to nothing; unlike the pricey taxis.
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