Are you a sun seeker? Mad for margaritas? A fan of fish tacos?
You need to head to Cabo, a sun-soaked resort destination located in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur.
Cabo San Lucas is the quintessential all-round vacation hot spot. Think resorts of all styles, fun activities like boat trips (with whale watching!), excellent restaurants and buzzing nightlife.
But we’re aware that planning a trip to Cabo can be overwhelming – especially if it’s your first visit to Cabo.
From finding the best hotels to sussing out restaurant gems, it’s tough to plan a trip from start to finish!
That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate Cabo travel guide, where you can find all our Cabo blog posts in one handy place.
We’re Janice and George, frequent visitors to the area for the past 20 years, and we head there often.
So, here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Los Cabos!
Where is Cabo?
Cabo is located at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula in sunny Mexico.
It’s just over 1,000 miles south of San Diego and the U.S./ Mexico border.
The main town is called Cabo San Lucas, and it’s found in the Los Cabos region.
Los Cabos encompasses both Cabo San Lucas, the smaller town of San Jose del Cabo and nearby visitor-friendly destinations.
We know, there are a lot of Cabos, and it can be confusing!
Read our guide on Is Los Cabos the same as Cabo San Lucas? – it will help clear things up a lot.
The following are the distances by road to the main day trip destinations on the Baja California Peninsula:
- Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo – 20 miles
- Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos – 47 miles
- Cabo San Lucas to La Paz – 98 miles
- Cabo San Lucas to Los Barriles – 70 miles
- Cabo San Lucas to Cabo Pulmo – 87 miles
Here are some practical things to know about Cabo:
The currency of Mexico is the peso, and there are about 20 Mexican pesos to every U.S. dollar.
It’s best to always pay in local currency. While USD is widely accepted, you’ll save money by exchanging pesos and using those. Try to always carry a few pesos with you.
The plugs in Mexico are the same as in the U.S., with two flat pins. If you’re traveling from outside of the Americas, you’ll likely need an adapter.
Mexico visa and entry requirements
Citizens from the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, the E.U., New Zealand and many other countries don’t need a visa for Mexico. There are no Covid or vaccination requirements either.
Just make sure you have a passport that’s not about to expire and is valid for at least another six months.
In Cabo, as in all of Mexico, the main language is Spanish.
However, as it’s a tourist destination, you’ll find that virtually everyone in hotels, restaurants and bars (in tourist hot spots) and all tour guides speak excellent English. Many other locals have a good command of the English language too.
Locals always appreciate it if you speak a little of their tongue though. A Buenos Dias can go a long way!
Getting to Cabo
The Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) serves the Los Cabos area. It’s the sixth busiest airport in Mexico.
From the United States, there are tons of direct and non-stop flights to Cabo from popular hubs like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York and Chicago.
Alaska, American Airlines, Delta are just some of the airlines that fly from U.S. cities to Cabo’s international airport.
From Canada, you can get direct flights from cities like Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto (usually on WestJet and Air Canada).
Try Kayak to search for your flights.
This popular search engine compares airfares from different airlines to come up with the best flight deals. Clicking through takes you to the airline or online travel agency, where you make your actual flight booking.
You may want to also check Expedia.
Expedia is one of the biggest and best online travel agencies for booking the cheapest flights.
(But be aware that your tickets may be non-refundable and if you have to make a change, you’ll probably have to call Expedia, not the airline directly.)
For booking transfers from the airport to your hotel (and avoiding high taxi costs), scroll down to Cabo travel tips.
Cabo San Lucas is also a popular port for cruises in the winter. Many people therefore visit Cabo while on a cruise, spending a day in port.
Moving around in Cabo
There’s Uber within Cabo San Lucas town and within San Jose del Cabo.
But Uber has a complicated relationship with the taxi lobby, which is very powerful (and would prefer that Uber pull out of Los Cabos). So sometimes you might not be able to meet your Uber driver outside your hotel.
Taxis are, however, plentiful within both towns.
Both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are very walkable too.
You may want to rent a car in Cabo if you plan on doing a lot of exploring or like the convenience of having your own wheels at your fingertips. For our last visit to Cabo, we booked an Avis vehicle through Discover Cars, a car rental platform which searches the best prices from different car rental agencies.
Local buses also travel along the Tourist Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are another transportation option in Cabo. They’re very cheap and safe. (And they’re clean.)
We often use them when we haven’t rented a car and don’t want to pay the exorbitant taxi rates.
Which is the best month to go to Cabo?
Every month is a good one to go to Cabo (for various reasons)! Except maybe September…
We’ve visited Cabo at different times of the year (except hurricane season) and have enjoyed it throughout the seasons.
The best time to visit Cabo largely depends on what kind of trip you want.
If you’re looking to see whales and want pleasant weather for golfing, go in winter.
If you desire fewer tourists and better deals, head to Cabo in summer.
December to March/April (winter)
With whales and gorgeous weather, winter is the most popular time to go to Cabo.
It’s when North Americans who are shivering in the snow fly south for some welcome Vitamin D.
It’s a great idea. But it’s an idea that a lot of people have – so Cabo is busy in winter.
There’s a lull in Cabo in January right after New Year’s, when rates are slightly cheaper and there are fewer visitors (as they’ve flown home after the Christmas/New Year’s holiday).
Tourism numbers then pick up again later in January and throughout February.
Cabo in March and April sees spring break crowds, so maybe avoid this time if you’re over the age of 25. Or choose resorts where spring breakers don’t go.
After Easter to June (shoulder season)
After Easter and spring break season, the weather starts heating up, making this a great time to enjoy watersports.
And as the northern hemisphere inches closer to summer, Cabo starts getting quieter. We love Cabo in June in particular. It’s not too hot, and you can get some good deals.
July to September (summer)
Now we’re really heating up! July and September are the hottest months of the year, and August onwards can be hurricane season.
So why visit? Well, the resorts are still open, so if you can handle the heat, you can grab some excellent deals.
Plus, if you’re a fan of fishing, it’s world-renowned in September.
October and November (shoulder season)
More humid than in winter, it has a hot tropical feel.
The sea is deliciously warm too. This is the best time in Cabo for snorkeling and scuba diving.
October is also when the world’s richest sportfishing tournament takes place in Cabo – the Bisbee’s Black & Blue.
Where to stay in Cabo
On our trips to Cabo, we’ve bedded down at a lot of them. And we’re always impressed with the quality of the accommodations and level of service offered!
Cabo is a high-end resort destination, so most accommodations tend to be in the deluxe range. But there’s literally something for every taste and budget.
Our main advice would be to book in advance, especially if you’re visiting during peak season.
If you want to stay where you can swim in the ocean, then read our post on resorts in Los Cabos with swimmable beaches.)
Here are some specific options (some of these have swimming beaches):
Best Medano Beach hotels
- 1 Homes Preview Cabo – Best new luxury resort on Medano Beach
- Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos – Lovely mid-range hotel on Medano Beach with a Mexican-Mediterranean feel
- Bahia Hotel & Beach House – Cool (and affordable) boutique hotel close to Medano Beach with a great beach club
- Breathless Cabo San Lucas – Buzzing adults-only all-inclusive resort on Medano Beach
Best all-inclusive resorts
- Grand Velas Los Cabos – Luxury all-inclusive resort with terrific restaurants
- Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort – Family-friendly (and affordable) mega-resort) featuring condo-style accommodations with full kitchens and an all-inclusive option
- Le Blanc Spa Resort – Top 5-star all-inclusive resort for adults only
Best deluxe Los Cabos hotels
- Montage Los Cabos – Luxury resort on a great snorkeling beach (Santa Maria Bay)
- Zadun, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Secluded ultra-posh resort with private pool suites
- One&Only Palmilla – Celebrity-favored retreat on a virtually private swimming beach
- Waldorf Astoria Pedregal – Swank resort in Cabo San Lucas featuring rooms with private plunge pools
Best boutique hotels in Cabo
- Hotel El Ganzo – Arty boutique hotel in San Jose del Cabo with a beach
- Casa Natalia – Boutique hotel in the heart of San Jose del Cabo with an excellent on-site restaurant
Where to eat in Cabo
Think Mexican food. Think tacos!
We’ve scoped out more than a dozen places serving the tastiest tacos in Cabo San Lucas. You’ll find many more delicious taco spots in San Jose del Cabo too.
But Cabo’s restaurant scene encompasses more than just Mexican restaurants. You’ll find eateries serving a variety of other cuisines too.
Some of our favorite restaurants in Cabo San Lucas (and nearby)
- Salvatore G’s – An impressively authentic Italian restaurant offering huge pasta dishes and a variety of other courses.
- NickSan – A gourmet Japanese restaurant with innovative Japanese/Mexican sushi and other dishes.
- Outpost – A boutique farm-to-table restaurant serving up fresh creative meals (try the sweet-and-sour pork chops).
- El Farallon – With incredible sea views, El Farallon has a tantalizingly tasty ocean-to-table menu.
Some of our favorite restaurants in San Jose del Cabo
- Flora Farms – This farm-to-table establishment serves up artisanal cocktails and fresh local fare (book in advance if you want to snag a table).
- Mi Cocina – Enjoy a deliciously creative menu, with dishes like organic chicken served with caramelized apples and chocolate sauce
- La Lupita Taco & Mezcal – If you love tacos, but also want a full dining experience, La Lupita is for you!
- Café des Artistes Los Cabos – This exclusive Mexican/French fusion restaurant is the place to go for a special culinary night out.
- 7 Seas Seafood Grille – As the name suggests, this casual eatery offers great seafood.
Things to do in Cabo
Well, obvious attractions include the area’s beaches.
Many, however, are not safe for swimming due to big waves and strong rips and undertows.
But there are also lots of swimmable beaches in Cabo, and you can be sure to get your ocean swimming fix. Medano Beach is the most popular swimming beach.
Plenty of beach clubs on Medano Beach and elsewhere add to the allure.
Another big attraction? Humpback whales.
December to March/April is the prime whale season and there are lots of great whale watching boat tours in Cabo.
We also love the array of water activities in Cabo.
Sportfishing is epic too, especially in September and October.
Top tours in Cabo San Lucas
There are so many activities and tours you can enjoy in Cabo!
If you’re looking for private yacht cruises, see our post on the top private boat tours in Cabo San Lucas.
Here are some of the other most popular Cabo tours with the highest reviews, offered through GetYourGuide. (Click on the image or text below to check rates and information for the specific tour.)
Things to pack for Cabo
Whatever time of year you’re going, your Cabo packing list should include beachwear – shorts, T-shirts, swimsuits and beach cover-ups.
If you’re visiting in the winter months, bring a light sweater or jacket too, as it can be chilly in the evenings and early mornings.
Don’t forget sunscreen at any time of year. The sun’s rays are strong. Take a hat too.
If you’re visiting any of the fancier restaurants or checking out Cabo’s nightlife, you’ll want to pack a dressy outfit. More casual clothes are fine for the more laid-back eateries.
You can pick up most toiletries in Mexico, but bring anything specific, as the brands may be slightly different.
A good camera (or phone with a good camera!) will help you capture those core memories.
And don’t forget a good book or Kindle for beach and pool days.
Do you need travel insurance to travel to Cabo?
We are world travelers, and would never, ever travel without insurance.
Although Mexico has affordable healthcare, emergency treatment is still expensive, and any healthcare that you have in your own country probably won’t cover it.
Hopefully, you won’t have any emergency situations while you’re in Cabo. But travel medical insurance can cover plenty of other things, including infections and minor injuries, all the way up to needing to be airlifted out of an emergency situation.
Without travel medical insurance, you could end up facing a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Travel insurance is also worth having for trip cancellations. While these aren’t usually quite as expensive as emergency medical cover, they’ll give you a refund if you have to cancel your trip or fly home for certain reasons (for example, if you suffer a bereavement or illness).
It can also cover non-personal situations, such as an airline going bust or severe weather preventing you from traveling. (While you may receive compensation from your booking company for this, having insurance can mean getting a refund quicker.)
Often, you can find a comprehensive policy that covers both medical issues and trip cancellations or changes.
Here are some travel insurance options:
Check your credit card to see if you have insurance and if it covers you and your trip. For example, there may be a limit on the number of days that it covers you, or it may have an age limit.
SafetyWing is insurance designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It provides coverage for things like medical expenses, lost checked baggage and trip interruptions.
We also have a Medjet membership. Medjet will fly any members who are hospitalized to their hospital of choice (which is usually in their home country).
General travel insurance covers hospitalization, but it may only cover a local hospital. If we fall ill, we know we’d want to get home as quickly as possible.
Cabo travel guide FAQs
Is Cabo safe to visit?
Safety in Cabo is always a hot topic.
The U.S. travel advisory level for Cabo is currently Level 2, which means “exercise increased caution.” It’s the same level issued for countries like the UK and Italy.
While Mexico certainly has drug cartels and violence is prevalent in some areas, the touristy parts of Cabo are generally pretty safe.
Petty crime like pickpocketing can happen anywhere. And while it does occur in Cabo, simple precautions, such as securing all valuables and not walking around late at night, can help you to stay safe and enjoy a carefree vacation.
Is it expensive to visit Cabo?
Yes, it’s expensive, especially compared to other Mexican resort destinations. See our post on how to keep your Cabo trip costs down.
Can you drink the water in Cabo?
No. You should drink bottled or filtered water.
Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Cabo?
We do. The water isn’t that bad.
But to be super safe you should use bottled, boiled (then cooled) or purified water for brushing your teeth.
How many days in Cabo is enough?
We could quite happily spend months in Cabo and not get bored!
If you live on the west coast in San Francisco or L.A., you could zip off for a long weekend and experience many of Cabo’s highlights in two to three action-packed days.
But most people visit for one to two weeks, enjoying beach time along with boat trips, snorkeling tours and maybe a couple of day trips to other towns and areas on the Baja California Peninsula.
Cabo travel tips
Pre-book your airport transfer
We always recommend booking a private or shared airport transfer in advance. It’s one of the best tips we can offer in our Cabo San Lucas travel guide.
If you’re traveling as a couple or by yourself, a shared airport transfer with a reputable company is less expensive than taking a taxi.
You’ll travel in an air-conditioned van – and it takes the stress out of figuring out how you’re going to get to your resort.
You’ll either be met at the airport by the driver who’ll be waiting for you. Or you’ll be given instructions to go to the transfer company’s stand under the large umbrella canopy outside, where your driver will be waiting for you.
The cheapest shared airport transfers are offered by Gray Line Los Cabos. (And they’ve received hundreds of 5-star reviews on Viator.)
Ballard Tour Services offers the cheapest private transfers for up to 10 people.
We’ve gone with the following, and they’re all recommended:
- Cabo Transfers – Cheap rates for semi-private (shared) transfers for solo travelers and couples
- TransCabo – Good prices for private transfers for large groups of up to 10 people
- Cielito Lindo – Cheapest private airport transfers for a single person or a couple
- Blue Dreams – Top-notch private transfers
Pay in pesos, if you can
US dollars are widely accepted. But your money will go further if you pay in Mexican pesos.
For souvenir shopping in flea markets or from beach and street vendors, you’ll need to pay in cash.
Credit cards are accepted in most other places, however.
When you pay by card, you’ll have the option to pay in your home currency or in pesos. Choose pesos, as you’ll save money this way.
Choose the right hotel, depending on the area you want to stay
There are seven main areas to stay in Cabo and oodles of different accommodation options. So we recommend doing your research before booking somewhere.
Medano Beach is best for swimming in the ocean, Cabo San Lucas is great for nightlife, the Tourist Corridor is most popular for all-inclusive and secluded high-end resorts and the Pacific side has quieter hotels.
Be careful with the sun
The Mexican sunshine can be very strong! But sometimes it’s easy to forget how far south you actually are. (Remember, it’s around 1,000 miles south of the U.S. border.)
Make sure that you slap on high-SPF sunscreen, wear a hat and drink water to stay hydrated.
Go on tours
There are so many amazing tours to choose from. (Have we mentioned whale watching?) You won’t want to miss them.
That wraps up our guide on traveling to Cabo, Mexico!
If this is your first-time visit to Cabo San Lucas, you’re sure to be beguiled by everything that Cabo offers.
And if you’re a repeat visitor like us, well, you’ll have fun discovering all that’s new – because Cabo is constantly evolving! Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the new resorts that are springing up!
Anyway, enjoy Cabo your way, whether that’s sipping chilled margaritas on the beach, snorkeling with whale sharks or rocking out at all-night parties. Or all of it!
Photos: 1, 8 © Janice and George Mucalov, Cabo Visitor