Cabo is a varied destination that captures the essence of Baja Peninsula in its many resorts, championship golf courses, world-class dining and amazing outdoor activities.
For much of its history, Cabo was a sleepy, remote fishing port which was generally accessed either by ship or a three-hour drive from La Paz. In 1977, the airport to the north of San Jose del Cabo was expanded to handle jet aircraft and international flights, thereby launching the transformation of Cabo into one of the most popular resort destinations in Mexico.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Cabo San Lucas grew into a bustling hub for sport fishermen, cruise ships, handicraft vendors, water sport aficionados and nightlife seekers.
Cabo’s growth was further accelerated after Hurricane Wilma erased large parts of Cancun‘s legendary white sand beaches in 2005. During the four years it took to fully rebuild Cancun, many tourists looked at other parts of Mexico for their vacation options, and discovered Cabo.
The Cabo area is now considered the second fastest growing resort destination in all of Mexico. It is particularly busy with visitors during the winter high season, November to February. With some of the best all-around sport fishing in the world and every water sport imaginable, Cabo is the ultimate destination for travelers looking for outdoor adventure.
There are three major areas in “Cabo”:
- San Jose del Cabo, the “Old Town”, which is nearest to the airport. San Jose has old Mexico charm and some shining new resorts.
- Cabo San Lucas, the “Main Town”, which is 20-some miles southwest from the airport at the end of Baja, and the entertainment hub of Cabo. The famous arch, El Arco, is in Cabo San Lucas.
- The Corridor, the highway which connects San Jose and Cabo San Lucas, which is now lined with golf courses, condos and resorts that hug the stunning coastline.
By night, Cabo San Lucas is one of the hottest party towns in North America with a glittering nightlife and a plethora of dining options that make energetic Cabo San Lucas an all-time favorite. Also called Cabo San “Loco” or just plain “Cabo”, the town’s reputation as the wild party center of the Baja Peninsula has brought fame and infamy to its many bars and nightclubs.
In September 2014, Cabo was hit by Hurricane Odile and was forced to evacuate all tourists. Fortunately, Cabo had learned from Cancun’s difficult experience with Wilma (which had sparked Cabo’s contemporary building boom in the first place) and immediately commenced cleanup and rebuilding. Within two months, the airport and most hotels were repaired and back in business.
Flight is the preferred means of traveling to Cabo. The regional airport, Los Cabos International Airport (IATA: SJD), (624) 146-5111, is located outside of San Jose del Cabo and will take approximately 30-45 minutes to travel to Cabo San Lucas.
Most major American and Mexican airlines serve Los Cabos International Airport, including Aereo Calafia, Aeromexico, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier Airlines, Interjet, Southwest Airlines, Mexicana, and Volaris, as well as the Canadian airlines Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet.
If you plan on arriving in Cabo via plane, the Ruta del Desierto bus is the cheapest method to get to San Lucas. The stops are just outside of Terminal 1(domestic) & 2(international) and the route to San Lucas (the bus-stop is near Puerto Paradiso Mall and the downtown marina) takes around 45 mins, depending on traffic. The buses are modern and air-conditioned, but there is limited space for luggage. One-way ticket price to/from the airport is 80 pesos or 5 USD, as of February 2016, paid directly to the driver. If you have a lot of luggage, a shuttle bus is the next most economic option and is significantly cheaper than a taxi, especially if traveling solo.
There are also transportation companies that provide shared and private transportation in shuttle vans, Chevy Suburbans, Cadillac Escalades and more.
At the airport you may be approached with an offer of free transportation in exchange for your time on a “tour” of a resort, including breakfast. This is a timeshare promotion. They may also offer you free tickets to cruises and other excursions, or even cash. You will be asked to pay a deposit. You will in fact get your presents if you go on the tour, and you can negotiate for better presents, but the timeshare presentation may take up to 4 hours and will have a hard sales-pitch of what is generally a very overpriced timeshare. Be careful here.
If you are arriving by cruise ships, you will anchor offshore and tender the marina, approximately a 10-15 boat ride. From here you can walk into town, take a taxi or shop in the port. You can pre-book tours that specialize in tours that work with your port times to ensure your return to the ship on time.
Cabo San Lucas is essentially a tropical desert. Nighttime temperatures at their lowest are in the mid-50s Fahrenheit, while temperatures during summer soar into the 90F quite often. However, rain is rare and humidity is low, except in the late summer (July to September), which is also when Cabo is most vulnerable to hurricanes. The water temperature ranges from 70F in winter to 80F in summer. The surf is very good in Cabo.
Taxis are readily available but are not metered; rates are negotiable and should be negotiated before you get in. Unfortunately, the Cabo taxi drivers’ union is quite powerful, with the result that Cabo is notorious for some of the highest taxi rates in Mexico. As of March 2018, the base fare is $9 USD or 150 pesos (unless you have a very nice driver).
There are many car rental agencies in Los Cabos, most of which have names familiar to travelers in the Americas. If you are staying in a villa or plan on many day-trips that are not covered by a resort or timeshare shuttle, then a rental will likely be a more cost-effective option. However, you should rent a car only if you are experienced in Mexican driving and/or are fluent in Spanish. If you are renting a car, you need to get third party liability due to Mexican law.