Los Cabos

Overview

First sights can be deceiving. On the flight into Los Cabos International Airport, you might notice little more than a dry landscape with low-lying mountains. But within a short drive of the airport, you'll spot the bright blue band of Mexico's shimmering Sea of Cortez. And that's when everything changes. As the memorable drive continues, desert scrub and twisted cactuses give way to palm trees and vibrant pink bugambilia plants.

Soon, you'll see the iconic El Arco (The Arch). This rock formation is where cruise ships anchor and where hundreds of species of fish probe the marine refuge below. Stay at one of the many all-inclusive resorts and you'll find magnificent beaches and the jutting El Arco right in front of you.

From the airport, you'll travel through San Jose del Cabo, a traditional Mexican town. Along the 32-km Los Cabos Corridor, on the way to the more commercial and glitzy town of Cabo San Lucas, your driver may point out the resorts hosting Hollywood stars.

The Los Cabos area is anchored by the San Lucas Harbour. Restaurants, tour operators, indoor malls and facilities circle the marina in an area called The Golden Zone. The marina promenade stretches around luxury yachts, sailboats, fishing boats, water taxis and other vessels. Here, a parade of locals and travellers in bathing suits, shorts and T-shirts stroll. It's a people-watching paradise.

This is the place to bite into a sweet mango, feel the tang of the sea on your face, reach for a beer and smell a fresh lobster taco being prepared at a dockside restaurant. Get ready to join a parade that can rock until dawn at one of Cabo's huge nightclubs, including rock legend Sammy Hagar's landmark Cabo Wabo Cantina.

Maybe you'd prefer to settle the family into a sunset pirate cruise or have a guitar player serenade you during a romantic candlelit dinner? Perhaps you've come for a memorable wedding on the beach?

Whatever kind of holiday you're looking for, regardless of budget, you'll find in Los Cabos. The area includes Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Further out, there's the officially designated Magical Town of Todos Santos, where you might be tempted to check into the Hotel California. Just be forewarned, you may never want to leave.

Los Cabos is a fantastic destination for:

  • golf
  • outdoor adventure
  • nightlife

Airport served by: SJD

Destination basics

Los Cabos is typically dry year-round, with average temperatures in the low- to mid-20s C and some 300 days of sunshine yearly. But it's not too dry. There is enough precipitation in the air to help keep the desert cacti, flora and fauna flourishing.

Climate cont

It is a remarkably comfortable heat, though less so during the hottest summer months. A big bonus of visiting the Los Cabos area, particularly in the off or shoulder seasons, is it rarely gets the storms that hit the Pacific coast. During high season, you can still be comfortable at night wearing shorts and a short-sleeve shirt.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Los Cabos

European missionaries visited Baja's southern tip (now known as Los Cabos) in the 1500s. There they encountered a nomadic tribe of native Indians called the Pericu. Today, you’ll still find Pericu influences along with those of other cultures in the handicrafts and paintings seen in galleries and shops in San Jose del Cabo, Todos Santos and Cabos San Lucas.

There's a bit of pirate history here as well. Pirates once roamed the coast to pick off Spanish galleons, giving Baja a slice of its own pirate lore that lives on. From Cabo San Lucas, you can take a pirate cruise. The early arrival of the Jesuits was another of the many influences in the region that make Los Cabos one of Mexico's most-visited tourist destinations.

Water has always been a part of the culture in Los Cabos, including activities such as snorkelling, diving, surfing, paddle boarding, sailing, Jet Skiing, fishing and kayaking, among others.

One of the more popular snorkelling spots is Playa del Amor at Land's End where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific. Here you might see colourful tropical fish, turtles, sea lions and even manta rays. And the beaches – including Lover's Beach – offer romantic sunrises and sunsets and are quintessential Los Cabos experiences. There are some 20 different major beaches to explore here in total.

Fishing is also alive and well in Cabo. Big-game sport-fishing thrives here, which was one of the main draws when tourism started to take off in the 1990s. Even though tens of thousands of marlin are caught along the coast of Los Cabos each year, most sport fishermen practice a catch-and-release policy.

Local fishermen still practice their trade in the Los Cabos region, reeling in bountiful catches. Seafood is the main ingredient for local dishes and a key aspect of Los Cabos culture. In Cabo San Lucas, you'll find it everywhere, from award-winning lobster at Lorenzillo's Live Lobster House to delicious fish tacos at Los Claros.

To see bountiful fish among the most beautiful reef, you'll want to visit Cabo Pulmo Beach National Marine Park. Famed marine biologist Jacques Cousteau once called it "the aquarium of the world." But there's no fishing allowed here. The Mexican government declared the area a marine preserve in 1995, marking it as off-limits for fishing.

Near the marina in downtown Cabo San Lucas, you’ll find a new cultural attraction honouring the region's history. The Pabellon Cultural de la Republica (the Cultural Pavilion of the Republic) was part of the 2010 bicentennial marking Mexican Independence. The US$40-million project has since opened its first phase and features an auditorium, a 160-seat theatre, two cinemas and a shopping centre, along with exhibition space.

The Mexican peso is the official currency in Mexico. Canadian debit cards are also widely accepted, but Canadian currency and traveller's cheques are not. Most stores in Mexico do not accept debit though, so making purchases using pesos is usually best.

To exchange your Canadian cash or traveller's cheques, stop by an exchange kiosk, local bank, or the front desk of your hotel. But don't forget your passport – it's required to cash your traveller's cheques. You can also withdraw cash from ATMs found in banks, grocery stores and hotels.

Although American money is widely accepted, regulations are now in place to limit the amount of US dollars both residents and visitors can exchange in Mexico.

By regulation, the maximum visitors can exchange per month is US$1,500. Many financial institutions have imposed additional rules, limiting this amount further to US$300 per transaction.

As for using American money for purchases, local businesses will only accept a maximum of US$100 per transaction; however, there is no limit on the maximum number of transactions per customer. You should also keep in mind that many businesses in Mexico have chosen to forgo accepting US money altogether. The best way to pay is therefore with Mexican pesos or credit card.

If you love beaches and water sports, Los Cabos is the place to be. Los Cabos (which means "The Capes" in English) is located at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in the state of Baja California Sur. In addition to the mix of sun, sand and surf, Los Cabos offers the bonus of a backcountry desert for adventure travellers. In just one day, you can snorkel, surf and drive past fields of thorny cactuses.

At night, you can visit the more sedate town of San Jose del Cabo. It rests on a fresh water estuary formed by a river that flows beneath the mountains. There, you can explore art galleries and restaurants.

The narrow Baja California peninsula is nearly 1,609 km long. The Sea of Cortez is an arm of the Pacific Ocean that rests between Baja and mainland Mexico, offering many opportunities for water activities. In total, there is more than 805 km of coastline along the Sea of Cortez side and almost 1,448 km on the Pacific side.

Looking to get around in Cabo? You're in luck! The Los Cabos region offers many public and private transportation methods. Or, call WestJet Vacations to book your excursions in advance and we'll arrange transportation for you.

Transportation con'd

Public Transit in Los Cabos

The main bus terminal in Los Cabos is a short 10-minute drive west of Cabo San Lucas. From the terminal, you can catch air conditioned buses (many with restrooms on board) to Todos Santos and La Paz. Buses to other destinations are also available but less frequent. If you're looking to explore other regions on the cheap, bus fare is only US$4 per person and you can pay in pesos or US dollars.

Cabo by Car

The Los Cabos region offers a wealth of rental car companies perfect for the tourist who likes to go off the beaten path and explore attractions on their own. Most paved and dirt roads intersect with the main highway, the Carretera Transpeninsular or Hwy 1. This makes Los Cabos easier to navigate than many other regions of Mexico. Just avoid high speeds and never drive at night. The road is narrow and has no streetlights. It's also worth mapping out gas stations for refueling, especially in the more rural regions where stations can be fairly spread out.

If you're planning to off-road, four-wheel drive will come in handy (check your rental agreement to make sure you're insured for backcountry exploration). For city streets, any car will do. Just hop in and stop by Los Cabos' many magazine-worthy attractions.

Taxis in Los Cabos

As with most tourist destinations in Mexico, it seems there are always taxis driving around Los Cabos, even in the most remote of areas. But fares are some of the most expensive here across the whole country.

Although illegal cabs are less of an in issue in Los Cabos, guests should still exercise caution when taking taxis. All government-authorized cabs have licence plates beginning with the letter A or B and you can easily identify these taxis by the plate number stamped on the side of the car.

Consulting with your hotel's concierge before travel can also be helpful in determining the best rate.

Airport Information

During the flight into Aeropuerto Internacional de San José del Cabo, you’ll receive two forms to fill out. One is your Customs Declaration Form. The other is your Multiple Migratory Form for Foreigners or FMM for short. One Customs Declaration Form needs to be filled out per family while each guest must complete an FMM.

In Mexico, there is a tourism tax of US$20 per person. For your convenience, when you fly WestJet, this tax is included in the price of your airfare.

Arrival

Upon arrival in Cancun, you'll be guided to the immigration hall where visitors will form a line to meet with a Mexican immigration officer. This officer will ask you for your passport and your FMM and may also ask you a few questions as to the purpose of your trip, how long you will be staying and if this is your first time in Mexico. The officer will then stamp the FMM and return a portion of it to you.

Important: Keep your FMM with you in a safe place at all times during your trip. Mexican authorities can ask you to present this form at any time and you will need this document when you depart the country.

After passing through immigration, you'll pick up your bags and proceed to customs. A customs agent will ask you for your Customs Declaration Form and ask you to press a button on a traffic light-looking device. A green light means you get to pass through without inspection, while a red light means your baggage will be inspected. Should you get the red light, you'll need to open your baggage and the Customs Officer will perform a quick inspection.

Once you depart customs, you'll see representatives from transfer companies, tour operators and timeshare sellers in the corridor soliciting business. If you've purchased transfers to and from your hotel with WestJet Vacations, please continue through until you’re outside the airport terminal. There, you will be greeted by a friendly Terra Mar Airport Transfers representative holding a WestJet Vacations sign.

Once you've found the Terra Mar rep, identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest and you'll be on your way.

Hop on board the shuttle and you'll be at your destination in no time. San José del Cabo is just 13 kms down the road, with Cabo San Lucas just under 50 kms away.

Departure

When departing Los Cabos, you'll need to provide officials with your signed FMM card. Lost FMMs can be replaced at the airport or at the immigration office before you check-in for your return flight. However, there is a fee to obtain a replacement card. If you have some wait time before your flight, check out the airport's duty free shops and variety of restaurants.

Vaccinations

Be sure your routine vaccinations are up to date. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Malaria, typhoid and tetanus are commonly recommended. The Public Health Agency of Canada also recommends that all travellers to Mexico get vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus before leaving Canada.

Mexico uses the North American standard plug, however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles.

Los Cabos' mix of desert, ocean and low-lying mountains makes it different than most other Mexican destinations. It provides a perfect combination for laid-back lounging or for full-on fun adventures. Another one-two punch for visitors is the vastly different personalities of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, each with its own charms.

Between them is The Corridor with its fine beaches, five-star hotels and resorts, and golf courses galore. For you, this all translates into plenty of variety. You may prefer the more laid-back and authentically Mexican experience of San Jose del Cabo, with a population of 60,000 and historical buildings, or the American-influenced but high-octane vibe of Cabo San Lucas, home to 80,000.

San Jose has a traditional town square and central plaza that links streets lined with art galleries, restaurants and cafes. In Cabo San Lucas, the marina is the hub of the action, where boats throng during the day and revellers check out the many bars and clubs at night. The marina is always buzzing with families, romantic couples, adventurers and foodies.

The towns are linked by The Corridor Highway, separated by a 20-minute drive. It's not uncommon to spend a few days in Cabo San Lucas to experience the nightlife, then head to San Jose del Cabo for an evening of art galleries or high-end restaurants. Many enjoy soaking up the local atmosphere in the town’s spacious plaza in the shelter of the imposing Mission of San Jose del Cabo church.

The Thursday Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo (November to June) is a highlight. On those nights, you'll see girls practising folk dances while musicians stroll the streets. Food cart vendors prepare cups of spicy food and art gallery owners offer free drinks. Artists paint and travellers weave in and out of the open-air art spaces.

Add ocean sports like marlin fishing and snorkelling to desert activities such as backcountry Hummer tours, rural ranches and even camel rides, and you’ve got a potent mix of adventures. You can easily dip into at least one, even during a short holiday.

Los Cabos' popularity continues to soar, drawing more than 30,000 visitors monthly and at least 150 flights a week. Eye-popping, high-end properties along The Corridor include Las Ventanas al Paraiso and Marquis Los Cabos, both of which offer butlers, oceanfront pools and spas, semi-private beaches, haute cuisine and an enviable degree of privacy. But you'll find a wide range of accommodations to suit every taste, whether it's in San Jose del Cabo, The Corridor or Cabo San Lucas.

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ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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