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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Travel Guide
Last Updated: Nov-08-2011, Hits: 7,440, Rating: 2.00, Reviews: 1, Votes: 1 Bookmark and Share
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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Travel Guide Restaurants (89)
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Location: Mexico & Central America
Geography: Beach, Desert
Vacation Type: Romantic, Relaxation, Adventure
Popularity: Touristy
Costs: Moderate, Expensive
Attractions: Golfing, Scuba & Snorkeling, Shopping, Fishing, Ecotourism, Boating, Scenery, Food Destination, Nightlife, Spa & Wellness

Facts and Stats:
Population: 56,811 (Cabo San Lucas), 48,518 (San Jose del Cabo)
Government: Federal Republic
Telephone Area Code: 624
Country dialing code: 52
Languages: Spanish
Electricity: 110v
Currency: Peso
Time Zone: Central Time - GMT -7
Current Time:

While titled "Cabo San Lucas Travel Guide", this guide covers the area called Los Cabos which includes San Jose del Cabo and The Corridor. During the last 2 decades, Los Cabos has become one of Mexico's premier tourist destinations.

Baja California is a narrow peninsula that is nearly a thousand miles long extending south from California. Baja was torn apart from the Mexican mainland by millions of years of geological events. The resulting chasm, among the deepest in the world, was filled by the ocean to form the Sea of Cortez (AKA Gulf of California). Although Los Cabos is technically located in the tropics, the inland landscape is dry, rugged desert that gives way to hills that rise to the mile-high Laguna Mountains.

Cabo San Lucas is located at the southern tip of Baja California and this area is sometimes referred to as "Land's End". This is also where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Cabo San Lucas is famous for the natural rock arch (El Arco) located at Land's End and nearby "Lover's Beach" which is only accessible by boat. Cabo San Lucas has a good sized harbor and marina filled with boats and accessible by cruise ships.

San Jose del Cabo is located 18 miles east of Cabo San Lucas and is located on the calmer Sea of Cortez. The 2 cities are separated by "The Corridor" which is traversed by the 4-lane Transpeninsular Highway. The corridor has many sandy beaches and there are quite a few resorts located along this stretch and many more being built.

Brief History:
Los Cabos was originally inhabited by nomadic Guaycura Amerindians called Pericu. These Indians lived off fish, shellfish, plants, and small game.

Logically, one would assume that Hernan Cortes was the first European to discover Cabo San Lucas, but it was in fact his navigator, Francisco de Ulloa, that was credited with the discovery in 1537. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Spaniard, made the first contact with the Pericu people in Los Cabos while on a mission to explore neighboring areas for the Spanish monarchy.

The Spanish forces stayed because of the threat of English and Dutch pirates in the area. The Spanish treasure-galleon, the "Great St. Anne," was captured off Cape St Lucas by Sir Thomas Cavendish on November 14, 1587 prompting King Phillip II of Spain to establish a small fortress at Cabo San Lucas to try to rid the waters of pirates and protect their shipping interests.

The fort created by the Spanish served as a hub for further explorations of the area resulting in small settlements where pearl harvestation occurred. Jose del Cabo was originally a Jesuit mission founded in 1730 by Nicolás Tamaral to indoctrinate the Pericu Indians. The Pericu slaughtered Tamaral and his party shortly after due to his condemnation of their polygamy. It was around this time that the 2 settlements collectively became know as Los Cabos (The Capes), but the area remained relatively undeveloped for many years after this due to a lack of water supply.

In the early 20th century, the incredible abundance of tuna was discovered in the area and in 1917 an American tuna cannery was moved south from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. By the 1930's a small fishing village had developed with a population of about 400. At the time, Cabo was only accessible by boats, small planes, or by car (but the 1,000 miles of pot-holed dirt roads were a deterrent for driving). Still, the word about the incredible marlin and swordfish sport fishing opportunities continued to spread. After WWII, Hollywood began to take notice of the area and rich entertainers such as Desi Arnaz, Bing Crosby, John Wayne and others began frequenting the area. Not only did they visit, but they built the Hotel Las Cruces which was an exclusive getaway for the rich and famous.

In 1974, the Mexican government built the Transpeninsular Highway which connected Cabo San Lucas to the United States. At the time, the population of Los Cabos was about 900, but this was all about to rapidly change. The area experienced slow but steady growth for the next decade, but in the 1980's an international airport was built outside San Jose del Cabo. This increase in accessability, coupled with funding from the Mexican government and private investors, has fueled rapid growth in the area and Los Cabos has become one of Mexico's premier destinations in the last 20+ years.

For many years, the biggest draw to this area was the sport fishing available. It is still touted as one of the best places in the world for marlin fishing and there are big money tournaments held here every year. With the rise of resorts and other tourist facilities, the beaches and activities such as diving and snorkeling now also take a center spotlight. Medano beach is the main tourist beach and is located next to the marina in Cabo San Lucas. There are resorts and beaches on the Pacific Ocean side of Cabo as well, however, the ocean is much rougher than the Sea of Cortez and is dangerous for swimming.

Of course, the most famous attraction is El Arco (The Arch), located at lands end. The Arch is only accessible by boat which is a short and inexpensive trip by water taxi. You might also have a water taxi or tour boat drop you off around the corner from The Arch at Lover's Beach. This tiny beach borders the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other.

Another major attraction is whale watching during the months of January-March. Gray whales migrate from Alaska to the warm waters off the Pacific Coast of Baja California to breed. Although the best spots for viewing these animals is north in Magdalena Bay and San Ignacio, they do often head further south into the Cabo area. Local companies offer whale watching boat tours, and there are tours available to visit the breeding grounds up north, but they can take some time to get to and can be pretty expensive. If whale watching is a focus of your visit, you might be better off staying in La Paz or Loredo.

In recent years, several championship golf courses have been built in The Corridor and more are on their way, making Los Cabos a great golf destination.

If you get tired of water and beach related activities, you might consider a desert tour on 4-wheel ATVs. If you have a car, you might want to escape the area entirely and visit neighboring cities such as Todos Santos which is an artist community (and the home of the beautiful Hotel California), or La Paz which is an attractive modern city with great ecotourism. Todos Santos is an hour drive north from Cabo San Lucas and La Paz is a little over 2 hours away. For those into wind surfing and kite boarding, the sleepy community of Los Barriles is an hour drive north of San Jose del Cabo. Heavy sustained winds make Los Barriles a great place for these types of water sports. Costa Azul in San Jose del Cabo is one of the best surfing spots in Baja California.

Last but not least, this destination is known as being a place to party for the young and young at heart. Cabo San Lucas is definitely where the nightlife is centered while San Jose del Cabo is much sleepier and attracts an older crowd who just want to stay at a resort away from all the craziness. This division allows Los Cabos to satisfy a wide demographic of travelers.

Because Los Cabos is a newly developed region, there is not much in the way of historic ruins or cultural attractions. In other words, don't expect a great education on Mexican history and culture while visiting here. Furthermore, many foreign investors have interests here resulting in establishments like Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, Home Depot, McDonalds, and other American businesses. It is to the point that it can be easy to forget that you are in Mexico.

Most of the people that live in Los Cabos have migrated from the mainland for the jobs that the growing tourism affords. In fact, unemployment is almost non-existant here. Nevertheless, as in most Mexican resort towns, as you move away from the tourist areas, the poverty level becomes more noticeable. Los Cabos is no different despite the fact that the wages in this area are higher than those in other parts of Mexico. In addition to the locals, there are some foreigners (mostly American) that now call this area home as well. Most of the locals that you come across, particularly in the service industry, speak English. As you will find in most Mexican resort areas, they are friendly and will take very good care of you.

Another similarity to other Mexican resort areas is the existence of peddlers and time-share sales people. You will likely run into them at the beach, Boulevard Marina, and any other areas where tourists congregate. Be especially wary when the cruise ships come in as they attack this crowd en masse. There is also a fair number of "Chiclets" kids selling their gum around town.

Your best options while here are seafood and obviously Mexican food. There is no shortage of good restaurants, but you might find that some of the best food you have comes from the least likely places such as a taco stand or hole-in-the-wall restaurant if you can conquer your fear of such places. When you burn out on Mexican food, or your body (or your fellow travelers) simply tells you to STOP, there are plenty of other options including Italian, Continental, Japanese, Chinese, etc..

The water in Cabo San Lucas is piped in from San Jose del Cabo and is drinkable in most parts of the city. Furthermore, all resorts in Cabo, by law, are required to have their own desalinization plants. The restaurants in the resort areas are fully aware of "Montezuma's Revenge" and use purified water when cooking and in making ice. Although rare, people do still occasionally get sick, however, bad salsa can be just as much the culprit as bad water. I have been to Mexico a number of times and never worried much about the water situation, mainly because it is easier not to worry. I have never been sick, nor has anyone in my party been sick. Be aware of the risk and decide for yourself how worried you wish to be about it. It is not rude to ask about water conditions in hotels and restaurants that you frequent. Having said all that, Los Cabos is one of the better areas of Mexico with regards to water quality.

As in the rest of Mexico, the unit of currency in Los Cabos is the Mexican Peso. Unlike many other resort areas, American dollars are accepted in many establishments here. The costs while vacationing here are similar to the rest of Mexican tourist traps for the most part. There is no shortage of luxury hotels which are mainly located on the beaches, downtown Cabo San Lucas, or in the Marina. Sacrifice a little bit of location and there are plenty of perfectly nice budget hotels around town. When tipping a hotel porter, $1 per bag is usually reasonable. It is common practice to leave the housekeeping staff 10% of one day's hotel bill at the end of your stay.

Save the fancy resort restaurants, there are plenty of delicious and affordable dining options around town - you shouldn't have to break the bank to eat on this trip, although you certainly can if able and inclined. Tipping in restaurants should be around 15%. Some places will include the tip in the bill, so it is wise to check for that.

Drinks are pretty affordable until you visit the popular party places like Cabo Wabo, The Giggling Marlin, and Squid Roe where they can be a little more expensive. Fortunately, these places often have employees cruising around trying to get some free tequila in you.

There are some deals to be had while shopping here. You can certainly score many items at prices less than you would pay in the U.S.. Haggling over prices is the norm when shopping.

Gasoline is significantly less expensive than in the U.S. and the price will be the same no matter which gas station you go to. This is because their gas services are run by the government and all stations are called PEMEX. Be very careful when purchasing gas as sometimes the attendant will rip you off by not starting the meter at $0, or not giving you proper change. The best ways to avoid this are to get out of your car before the attendant begins pumping gas and make sure the pump is at 0. Try to keep smaller denominations of money on hand so you can pay with exact change. If you get ripped off, tell the attendant that you are going to call the police, and then do it.

Getting There and Around:
America West, US Airways, Alaskan Airlines, Mexicana, Aeromexico, Continental, Delta, and American Airlines all fly into the Los Cabos International Airport.

The Los Cabos airport is located 8 miles north of San Jose del Cabo. If you are staying in San Jose, a cab ride is reasonable, however, this can be very expensive ($60+) if you are going to Cabo San Lucas. Your best bet in that situation is to take an airport shuttle van. Make sure to check with your hotel in advance as many of them offer discounted shuttle prices.

Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are the perfect size for walking. If you plan to spend your whole vacation in town, then you will not need a car. If you want the freedom to explore other parts of Baja California, then you definitely will want a car. Parking is tough to find in Cabo San Lucas, particularly during the peak months (March-April). Some resorts do provide parking and you will need to ask about this if getting a rental car. If you are looking to get a minivan or SUV, you may want to book it well in advance as their numbers are limited.

Water taxis are an affordable way to tour Land's End (El Arco) and Lover's Beach. More expensive tours are available.

Entry Requirements:
United States citizens must have a valid passport, or other proof of citizenship, such as an original birth certificate accompanied by an official photo ID (e.g. driver's license). To avoid complications, the U.S. Embassy recommends using a passport. A visa is not required for stays of up to 180 days, however, you must carry a Tourist Card/FMT form issued free of charge by airlines. From 31 December 2006 all US citizens travelling to and from Mexico by sea or air will require a passport; by 31 December 2007 the requirement will be extended to include all land border crossings as well. Citizens of other countries, can learn more about the requirements for your country here.

Below are the current weather conditions in Cabo San Lucas.

The table below shows monthly averages for highs, lows, and rainfall.

Month Avg High Avg Low Average Rainfall
January 74 54 0.2"
February 77 55 1.1"
March 81 56 0
April 86 58 0
May 89 61 0
June 94 66 0.2"
July 96 73 0.4"
August 95 75 1.2"
September 94 75 1.4"
October 90 68 0.6"
November 83 63 0.5"
December 77 58 1.1"

  • Police - 143-0057

  • US Consul - M-F 10am-1pm; 143-3566

  • PROFECO Consumer Protection - 142-8076

  • Chamber of Commerce - 143-0437

  • Health Center - 143-0102

  • Tourist Assistance - Ministerio Publico; 143-0016

  • Tips and Additional Information:
  • Los Cabos is very safe in the tourist areas. The most likely crime you may be a victim of is theft. Make sure you leave unnecessary valuables at home, and lock those you bring in the room safe if available. Women should not walk around town alone at night.
  • Spearfishing in the waters off of Cabo San Lucas is illegal.
  • Climbing on The Arch is illegal.
  • Most web sites will tell you to never drive on the Baja highways at night. This is due to animals running in the roads, theives, tired drivers, poor road conditions, etc. We did drive at night and it was fine, but you should probably err on the side of caution.
  • Swimming and watersports in the Pacific Ocean are highly discouraged. There are deadly currents and undertow that make this very dangerous. The main beaches in Los Cabos are located on the calmer Sea of Cortez and is a much safer option.
  • There are rattlesnakes and scorpions in the desert areas outside the cities.
  • You will not find addresses on buildings here. Directions are given with cross streets.
  • As anywhere in Mexico, be wary of people selling time shares. These sales people will promise you the world for a short amount of your time. In the end you will find yourself giving up half a day and receiving much less than what you were promised. If you are interested in this type of investment, you should get a good Mexican lawyer who understands the many ripoffs and pitfalls common in these types of sales.
  • Make sure you establish a cost up front for cab rides. If they change the price dramatically on arrival, tell the cab driver that you are going to call the police and you are likely to get the quoted rate. They are more likely to try to take advantage of you if they think you are drunk.

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    User Reviews (1)

    Reviewed by: sloshed
    Review date: Mar-06-2009

    Cabo is moslty everything I hate about tourist traps. Crowded beaches, crowded bars, peddlers, etc. I loved the Blarney Castle where we stayed and Mi Casa restaurant was excellent. We managed to have a good time during the couple of days we were there, but it just isn't my thing. We were in La Paz before coming here and that was much more my speed. 

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