There is always a feeling of excitement when you book your next vacation. Cabo is the perfect travel destination if you are looking for adventure. For travelers going to Mexico for the first time, it can be shocking. Mexico is not only full of fun but also full of interesting facts. If you are traveling to Los Cabos for the first time here are15 things you need to know before you go.
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Safety in Los Cabos
Los Cabos is a safe place to travel. Recently Mexico has increased the federal police presence in tourist areas. The increased presence of federal police was a response to tourist concerns. We often hear about violence in Mexico, but it is rarely against tourists. The usual crimes are theft or vehicle burglary. You should take the usual precautions.
- Do not carry a large amount of cash.
- Do not walk alone late at night
- If you are out at night stay in well-lit areas
- Always have a portable charger
- Do not leave valuables in the rental car
- 066 - Police & Medical Emergencies
- American Consulate - 624-143-3566
- Tourist Police – 624-
- Federal Highway Patrol - 624-122-5735 or 624-125-3584
911 will not work in Mexico
San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas
When you think of Cabo the first place to come to mind is probably Cabo San Lucas. There is more to Cabo than just Cabo San Lucas. There is another city San Jose del Cabo that would be considered the little sister. This is because San Jose del Cabo is a more laid-back slow-paced city. Although they are only 35 minutes apart the vibe of each city is unique.
The US dollar is accepted in Los Cabos, but you should use Pesos. The exchange rate is much better if you use the local currency. The best way to get local currency is by using an ATM. If you use an ATM find a reputable bank, there are American banks such as Wells Fargo in Los Cabos. For US residents Charles Schwab is a great option, they have no foreign transaction fees and great customer service. If you prefer to go cashless Chase is a great option with no foreign transaction fees and 2x the points with purchases made in the travel category.
Your experience in Los Cabos will differ if you can get by with a little Spanish. Since we live in California, we could piece together when the locals spoke to us. Although, Los Cabos has become more westernized due to tourism many locals do not speak English. If you are not used to hearing Spanish, you should learn a few phrases before heading to Mexico.
Some helpful phrases are:
- Cuanto cuesta? - How much does it cost?
- Donde esta el bano? Where is the bathroom?
- Mi llamo es – My name is
If all else fails, Google Translate will become your best friend.
Do not overpack
What to bring to Los Cabos? We traveled to Los Cabos with 3 backpacks for 8 days, no problem. You do not need much, especially if you plan on spending most of your time on the beach. Due to the weather, you will not need more than a few lightweight outfits. I prefer to pack 3 bottoms and 4 tops. There are also laundromats everyone so you can wash your clothes if needed.
Skip the restaurants
Do not go to the touristy restaurants downtown or near the marina in Cabo San Lucas. If you want the best Mexican food, you have ever eaten in your life do yourself a favor and skip the restaurants and have street food. The food is so authentic and is truly made with love. The best tacos we have ever had are in Cabo San Lucas on 12 de Octubre near Pemex gas station and OXXO convenience store. You will have the best carne asade tacos and quesadillas you have ever had in your life. The owners are a family and are open every day from 6 pm to 11 pm. We ate here every day while we were in Los Cabos.
Tip: Get a large Jamica to wash down your tacos.
Pack water shoes
The sand on the beaches in Los Cabos is not only hot but some of the beaches do not have sand. The beaches that do not have sand like Playa Maria have small rocks that can get stuck in between your toes. You will also notice there are signs showing no bare feet allowed.
Beaches in Los Cabos
It is important to know when you are going to the beach which beaches are swimmable, especially if you are traveling with children. Remember, the ocean can be unpredictable, and the tide can change quickly.
You have not had a real coke until you have tried Mexican coke. What makes it so good is that it is made with real sugar cane. I am not a soda drinker, but I make a special exception for Mexican Coca-Cola because it is so much better than American Coke, which is made with high fructose corn syrup. Be sure to contact us, if you try Mexican coke and tell us what you think.
Plan to venture outside of Los Cabos
Baja California Sur has a lot more to offer than Los Cabos. You can venture to La Paz, Todos Santos, Cerritos, and Mira Flores. Each city has its own unique charm and something different to offer.
You will need a rental car
If you plan on truly exploring Baja California Mexico, you will need a rental car. I recommend reserving a car in advance using Priceline because they usually have the best price. Just be forewarned that the price on the site will not be the final price.
Tourist Card/Declaration Form
Before landing you will have to complete the tourist card and customs declaration form. The form will be reviewed briefly by a customs agent and returned to you. You must always keep this with you while in Mexico. In the event, you are stopped by the police and do not have the form you can be fined.
Tip: If you are traveling as a family you can skip the long customs line and use the machines.
Sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen
Mexico is hot, but Los Cabos is especially warm because it is considered a desert. Do not forget to pack sunscreen with at least 50 SPF. It can be difficult to find sunscreen in convenient stores and if you plan on purchasing at your hotel or resort prepare to pay double the price. If you are prone to sunburn Aloe Vera
Whale watching in Los Cabos
When you think of Los Cabos, I am sure whale watching is not one of the first things that come to mind. You can see humpback and gray whales who migrate to the Pacific Oceans and Sea of Cortez to mate and give birth. These amazing animals can be seen from December to April.
When you are shopping at the market (not a mall or Walmart), never pay the initial price. There is always room to negotiate the price. If an item is 300 pesos offer 100 and work your way up. Do not be afraid to walk away when bargaining. It is likely you will find the item a few stores down and can get a better price.
Bonus: Water is not free
If you ask for water while eating at a restaurant just know that unlike in America water is not free. You cannot drink tap water in Mexico so you will be given bottled water. We didn’t realize when we order 4 glasses of water (it was very hot) that we had to pay. The cost is inexpensive compared to in the United States, but it is something to be aware of.
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