From its glittering coastline and awesome adventure activities to gorgeous resorts, restaurants, rooftop bars lining the beach, Los Cabos is a must-visit destination. If you’re planning your first-ever visit to Cabo and aren’t quite sure what to expect, here are a few things we learned on our first visit. Hopefully, they will help you feel prepared and ready to have an incredible time in a truly stunning part of the world. Here are 18 things you must know before you visit Cabo!
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1. The weather is gorgeous
Cabo boasts 350 days of sunshine each year and during our visit, the sunny days were deliciously warm, setting the tone for outdoor activities and poolside relaxation. That said, we had two unseasonably wild days of rain and discovered that, when it rains, Cabo kind of comes to a stop. It certainly didn’t dampen our spirits, it just meant that instead of sunning ourselves by the pool we made the most of our gorgeous hotel room and ate lots of great food while we waited for the weather to improve. We did have to change up some of our activities but, again, it just meant we relaxed indoors so just be prepared to adapt should your visit coincide with one of the few rainy days in Cabo.
2. It’s not all wild parties
You may have the preconceived idea that Cabo is non-stop parties and wild nights out on the town. I’ve no doubt it can absolutely be that if you want it to be. But if that’s not what you want, it doesn’t have to be party central! We found ourselves visiting rooftop bars and gorgeous restaurants then retiring back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep before tackling another full day of fun adventure activities. Your trip to Cabo can be as quiet or loud as you want it to be.
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3. The local currency is the Mexican Peso
The local currency is the Mexican Peso and we used local ATMs to withdraw pesos after we arrived. We found US dollars were accepted at most of the places we visited and we were also able to pay by cash and card.
4. There’s a tipping culture
We found Cabo had a tipping culture and we weren’t prepared for it when we first got off the plane. Make sure you have a few US dollars or Pesos on you when you arrive so you can tip your drivers and hotel staff before you’re able to make it to the ATM. Be sure to tip your servers, hospitality staff and tour operators, if you feel it’s warranted, and note at some restaurants the gratuity may be automatically added to the bill. If you aren’t used to calculating tips at restaurants or struggle to calculate a tip, there’s an app for that! Free tip calculator apps are available for android and iPhone in your app store.
5. The beach at your resort may not be swimmable but that’s okay!
I was shocked to learn the picture-perfect beach out the front of two of our resorts wasn’t suitable for swimming. In fact, I kind of laughed it off thinking, “Well, sure, I’ll follow the rules but I’m Australian and I know how to swim so I’m sure I would’ve been fine.” Then I saw the water and realised why that rule is in place! The waves are powerful, dumping hard and fast onto the shore so one slip up could lead to a serious issue, especially as the beaches aren’t patrolled. Do not risk it by going into the water where swimming is not permitted. But, don’t be disheartened! The resorts we stayed at were made for the location, featuring seriously stunning pools overlooking the beach and you can enjoy activities like snorkelling and swimming in specific spots like we did!
6. English is widely spoken
The local language is Spanish and we found everyone we met in Cabo also spoke English. A visit to Cabo is the perfect opportunity to learn another language and we found the locals were more than happy to help us perfect our Spanish! It definitely pays to learn a few basic phrases before you go but we also had Google Translate downloaded to our phones and made sure the Spanish language was downloaded to it. It just meant we could learn as we went along and delve deeper into the local culture. It also made the locals so happy to see us making an effort!
7. You’ll need to pack some ‘nice’ outfits
I just assumed Cabo would have the same laid-back beachside dress code as spots we’ve visited in Thailand and Bali, for example. Turns out, it was a bit fancier than I was expecting! During the day, around the resort, swimmers with shorts and a shirt, a sarong or light dress/cape over the top are more than okay. But, if you’re heading out for dinner or dining at the hotel restaurant, you’ll find most people dress up. You don’t need to pack a ball gown, of course, but collared shirts and a few nice dresses will suit perfectly.
8. The food is amazing!
I’ve always loved Mexican food so I had pretty high expectations and it truly did not disappoint. All the places we ate served up absolutely delicious meals bursting with flavour. We seriously didn’t have a single bad meal the entire time we were in Cabo. There’s an amazing range of restaurants to choose from and I would recommend trying as many spots as you can because there is just so much good food on offer.
9. The locals were great with food allergies
The food in Cabo was nothing short of fantastic! We were both so impressed by just how many memorable meals we had during our stay, I’m still dreaming about some of them even now. In addition to the fresh ingredients and great flavours, I was really impressed by how attentive all the staff was when it came to dietary requirements. At each meal we had, our server would always ask upfront, “Do you have any dietary requirements or allergies we need to know about?” It was fantastic and great for anyone travelling with food allergies as I know just how challenging it can be at times.
10. It’s a wonderland for adventure and outdoor activities
Of course, you can also balance all that rest, relaxation and good food out with adventure and outdoor activities! There are so many fun things you can experience in Cabo, including kayaking out to the world-famous arch and snorkeling or scuba diving in the pristine waters, home to an abundance of colourful fish. We did a sunset horse ride along the beach, a Baja Jeep Tour out to Fox Canyon and nearby hot springs, luxury sailing and we barely scratched the surface.
11. You’ll need travel insurance
With all those wonderful things to see, eat and do, it’s important to sort your travel insurance out so you can enjoy your holiday to the fullest. Matt and I have an annual insurance policy with Southern Cross Travel Insurance. We started getting annual policies a few years ago as it saves us money and means we’re always covered. But, don’t worry, travel insurance isn’t all doom and gloom. For us, it means we get to travel stress-free at all times on our adventures around the world and the few times we have needed to use it, we’ve been very glad we had it because those moments always pop up when you least expect them.
12. Beachfront resorts are the way to go!
Cabo is made for luxury beachfront resorts and there’s no shortage of them to choose from! Best of all, resorts can be all-inclusive, absolute-beachfront and adults-only which is something I had never had the sheer pleasure of experiencing before. Oh my gosh, I could have spent all day every day just relaxing by the infinity pool, overlooking the gorgeous beach, enjoying a never-ending, all-inclusive roster of delicious food and drinks in total peace and quiet. It really is something special!
13. There’s security everywhere
When we arrived at our first resort our car was greeted by a security guard who took down the car’s number plate and asked us about our stay. As we moved through Cabo, we began to notice just how strong the security presence really is! There are security teams at all of the big resorts we saw and a strong police presence on the streets too.
14. We didn’t feel unsafe
Our visit to Cabo was also our first time visiting Mexico so we were unsure what to expect in terms of safety. Our experience was nothing but wonderful and we didn’t have a single moment where we felt unsafe! As always, we followed our usual travel safety rules. We kept our bags and valuables close at all times, used our hotel safe to store passports and cash and never got super drunk and wandered off alone at night.
15. Just beware of timeshare talks
Matt did some pre-trip research as he always does when we visit a new country, trying to find out about any potential scams we should be wary of. One he kept coming across was time-share scams! While it never happened to us, apparently some people find themselves being caught up in the scam where they’re talked into being part of a timeshare they cannot get out of. Scammers can pose at the airport as representatives of your hotel or resort and some people online shared they had experienced promises of cash and freebies in return for their time listening to a presentation. Again, this never happened to us but it’s always good to know about it so you can be wary, avoid signing anything and very firmly say no if the situation does arise.
16. It’s best to use a rideshare service
When it comes to getting around in Cabo, you’ve got a few different options! You can hire a car or use a private service and arrange a driver and car for your entire trip or just a few days. By far the most affordable and easy option would be to use a ride-share service like Uber. Be sure to install the app and set-up your account before you leave home and set your payment method to be via the app, not cash.
17. You’ll need an ESTA if transiting through the USA
If you’re transiting through the USA at any point on your way to Los Cabos, you’ll need to make sure you get an ESTA. This can be done easily and quickly online and is absolutely essential, even if all you’re doing is stopping at LAX for a few hours in-between flights. One other tip; you’ll need to collect your luggage when you arrive in the US on an international flight, go through customs/border control and give your luggage back to the airline or airport staff. Don’t worry, in our experience, the on-ground staff are well-prepared with signs and help if needed.
18. Everyone we met was so nice and the service was amazing.
One thing that stood out to both Matt and me throughout our trip was the local people. Every single person we met made us feel so welcome in Mexico. We were treated with nothing but respect and kindness. In fact, the first person to greet us at the airport did so with a huge smile and the words, “Welcome home.” The service at each resort, restaurant, and bar we visited was fantastic and we found ourselves falling in love with the charm and humility the locals showed. It made us fall in love with Mexico and want to see more!
This post is generously sponsored by Southern Cross Travel Insurance and we’re grateful for their support! As always, the opinions and advice within this guide are our own.
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