After traveling many times to Los Cabos, my mother and I decided it was time to create a comprehensive list of tips and facts that we had learned.
In the beginning 50 seemed like a huge number, but Cabo is such a fantastic place that we probably could have kept on going. With everything Los Cabos offers (like amazing restaurants, 5 star hotels and an almost fantasy-like history of pirates, Indians and priests) there is a lot to learn about this area.
A special thanks goes out to Rick Wendland of Cabo San Lucas Villas for his input.
Here’s just a small slice of the Cabo we have grown to know and love:
The average temperature during the summer is roughly 70-100 degrees (Fahrenheit). During the winter the temperature is about 50-80 degrees. Year round average is about 78 degrees.
Cabo has near perfect weather with hot sunny days and low humidity. Expect around 350-360 days of sunny weather.
The rainy season in Cabo is around July, August and September. Even so, the Los Cabos area sees only about 7 – 10 inches of rain annually.
Los Cabos, located in Baja California Sur, is over 1,000 miles from the US/Mexico border. That’s roughly the distance between France and Russia.
Los Cabos has 3 distinct areas: Cabo San Lucas, the Corridor and San Jose del Cabo. Cabo San Lucas is to the west and San Jose del Cabo is to the east with the Corridor being the around 20 miles between the two.
Los Cabos is on Mountain Time.
Cabo San Lucas means “Cape St. Luke” and San Jose del Cabo means “St. Joseph of the Cape”. Los Cabos means “The Capes.”
San Jose del Cabo is more of a traditional Mexican town – founded in the 1700s by Jesuit Missionaries. Cabo San Lucas, originally a small fishing village, has developed as more of a tourist destination.
The Los Cabos area used to be frequented by pirates. In fact, a Spanish ship full of treasure is said to have been sunk in the area.
The original inhabitants of the Los Cabos area were not Mayan or the Aztec; they were the Pericu Indians (also known as the Cora or Edues). Unfortunately, they have been linguistically and culturally extinct for over two hundred years.
El Arco and the Arch refer to the famous arch rock formation that juts out of the ocean where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. You’ll find it on postcards, t-shirts and even bottles of tequila.
Land’s End (Spanish: El Finisterra) is the name of the entire set of the rocks, including the Arch, the Window to the Pacific, Lover’s beach and more. Sometimes people will refer to the Arch as Land’s End.
There is a phenomenon that every few years a beach is visible around the arch. Sometimes you can even walk under the arch. This is caused by the tides and is very hard to predict. You will hear versions such as it appears every 7 years, every 4 years etc. Most photos of this phenomenon are from 1989 or 2008.
There is a underwater sand waterfall which Jacques Cousteau found during his adventures in Baja. This sand cascades down into the 1,200 foot canyon below. This dive spot is for advanced divers only.
It is rumored that Jacques Costeau once called the Sea of Cortez “The Aquarium of the World,” referring to the large amounts of schools of large fish. You will hear this countless times by various snorkeling and diving vendors.
Cabo San Lucas has been called the Striped Marlin Capital of the World. Rumor says that more striped marlin have been caught in Cabo than anywhere else in the world. Marlin fishing is a popular tourist activity.
Cabo San Lucas is home to the Bisbee’s Black and Blue Marling Fishing Tournament, which is the world’s richest fishing tournament with a jackpot of over 3 million dollars. It’s held annually in October. Bisbee’s Offshore Tournaments also hosts other fishing tournaments in the area.
There are 9 great public golf courses in the Cabo area. Many of these are championship courses and designed by greats such as Jack Nicklaus (Palmilla, Cabo del Sol and more), Tom Weiskopf (Cabo del Sol) and Robert Trent Jones II (Cabo Real).
Cabo is known for its fantastic restaurants and world renown chefs. Cabo has many famous chefs such as Manuel’s Creative Cuisine’s Manuel Arredondo (who was head chef at President Bush Sr.’s 80th birthday and many other accolades) and Agua’s Larbi Dahrouch (who studied under Jean-Louis Palladin and helped open the Jean-Louis restaurant at the Watergate Hotel).
It’s perfectly fine to drink the water in most places in Cabo. Most hotels and restaurants have filtered water systems. If you feel uncomfortable, just order a bottled water (Una botella de agua, por favor.).
Using dollars is not a problem when traveling to Cabo. Most places accept both dollars and pesos. However, if you do use dollars you will most likely get pesos as change. Also most vendors use a 10 peso to 1 dollar exchange rate which is higher than the actual exchange rate – around 12 pesos to 1 dollar.
Most restaurants and hotels take all major credit cards (except Discover). If you need cash, there are many ATMS in Cabo. Beware that most only dispense in Pesos. So you are not withdrawing 2,000 dollars from your account, you are withdrawing 2,000 pesos!
All Mexico’s beaches are public (up to the high tide line). This means you should feel free to wander the beautiful beaches of Cabo.
The most popular beach is Medano Beach (Playa Medano) where you will find plenty of beach vendors, activity rentals and popular beach restaurants such as the Office and the Mango Deck.
The water can be rough for swimming at some Los Cabos beaches. Check ahead if the beach you are going to is swimmable. The Pacific Ocean has strong under tow that has caused many accidents and deaths in the past few years. Safe swimming areas include (but are not limited to): Medano Beach, Chileno Beach, Santa Maria Bay and Playa Palmilla. However, make sure to follow the safety flags; red means danger.
You can surf in Cabo. Places like Zippers, Monuments, and El Tule are great for duffers. If you are a beginner, head to Playa Acapulquito, home to the Mike Doyle Surf School at the Cabo Surf Hotel.
Vendors can and will approach you to try to sell you things. If you would like them to go away, a kind “no gracias” is the appropriate phrase.
If you want to go out and party, downtown Cabo San Lucas is place for you. You will find everything from crazy bars like El Squid Roe to swanky clubs like Pink Kitty. There are a few bars and clubs in San Jose del Cabo, but the majority are definitely in Cabo San Lucas.
On that note, the drinking age in Cabo is 18. However, few places will check your identification.
Most clubs and bars in Cabo close late- around 3 – 4 a.m. in the morning. Most restaurants in downtown Cabo stay open as late as midnight or even 2 a.m.
Most bars and clubs have Ladies Night. A lot of bars/clubs offer specials which range from no cover charge for women or even free drinks for ladies until midnight.
Sammy Hagar of Van Halen owns the Cabo Wabo Cantina, which has its line of Cabo Wabo Tequila. Hagar plays at the club each year at his “Birthday Bash.” At other times during the year, other bands provide live music at Cabo Wabo.
Cabo San Lucas is a popular celebrity hang out. Everyone from Jennifer Aniston, to George Clooney to Paris Hilton has been spotted in Cabo.
Many Americans and Canadians own second homes in Cabo. Many of these homes are luxury villas that they often rent out. There is also a large ex-pat community. Don’t be surprised when you talk to a restaurant or tour company provider and find out that s/he is from the States.
Los Cabos has a population of over 180,000. However, it is rare to find a person who has been born and raised in Cabo.
The airport is 45 minutes (about 25 miles) from Cabo San Lucas. If you are staying in Cabo San Lucas, this is something you may want to keep in mind as it can be a hefty cab fee (around $40 USD).
Security rules are different at the Los Cabos International Airport than in the States. You don’t have to take off your shoes when going through security. You can take bottles through security, but you must consume them before boarding. This means also that you can’t take on bottles you bought once past security. Your carryon luggage will be hand checked upon boarding.
You will be harassed by people trying to sell you timeshares when trying to leave the airport. If you’re not interested, don’t make eye contact and walk directly outside to pick up your transportation.
If you use a taxi, always agree on how much before you get in. Most hotels will have set rates to certain locations and will help you arrange that rate with the taxi driver. Keep those rates in mind as you return back to the hotel.
Although you are technically supposed to fully stop at stop signs like in the US and Canada, many drivers in Cabo practice a rolling stop. Be careful driving as the person behind you may not expect you to fully stop.
Cabo has some of the most highly rated hotels in Latin America. Esperanza, One&Only Palmilla, Las Ventanas and Pueblo Bonito Pacifica are constantly receiving awards and accolades from some of the top establishments such as Travel + Leisure, the AAA and more.
Not all of the hotels in Los Cabos are American chains. You can find some great Mexican run hotels, such as the Pueblo Bonitos.
You will find many American brands in Los Cabos. Expect to see everything Starbucks and McDonald’s and to Walmart and Costco.
Most everyone who works in the tourist industry in Cabo speaks English. This means it is easy to find English speaking tour guides, hotel managers, servers and even doctors. However, many people appreciate you trying to speak a little Spanish – hola (hello), gracias (thank you) and de nada (you’re welcome) are great starters.
Mexican nationals consider it rude to throw your charge card on the table instead of handing it directly to the person.
There was a television show called Lands end shot and themed in Cabo. It ran from 1995-1996 and stared former football player Fred Dryer.
Whale watching runs from mid November to the end of March. It is best in January – March when the gray whales make their 6,000 mile migration from Alaska to the warm waters of Baja California Sur.
The San Jose Estuary, located in eastern San Jose del Cabo covers roughly 2,000 acres of lush green land, a contrast to Cabo’s desert/mountain terrain. The Rio San Jose, an underground river which flows from the nearby Laguna Mountains, forms the estuary. There are over 250 species located in this wetland, including many bird species.
Internet is not hard to find in Los Cabos. Most hotels offer free internet (or at least have an internet plan you can purchase). Some restaurants and cafes have wifi and it’s often free of charge.
In the mountain regions around Cabo, you can find teeth from the over 200 million-year-old Megalodon shark. Megalodon are thought to be a grandfather of the Great White Shark. These teeth are rather large as it is estimated by some that the shark had jaws around 7 ft across.
Do you have any tips or advice to share about visiting Cabo?
Photo: Land’s End from the Pacific Side © Cara Gourley 2010
Cara Gourley is the Director of Web Strategy for All About Mexico as well as an All About Girl. She’s a certified Los Cabos Expert and has been to Cabo many times.
If you have any questions on restaurants, hotels or activities, Cara would love to help you! You can head to the forum to ask a question or you can email her directly.