Are you planning a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for the first time? If so, you’ll fall in love with the gorgeous beaches, all-inclusive resorts, and rocky coastlines that have made Cabo San Lucas a world-class destination for travelers around the globe!

Travel Tips to Know Before Visiting Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo

However, if you’re traveling to Cabo (or Mexico) for the first time, you might have questions about what to expect. Below, we’ve listed our most helpful travel tips for first-time visitors to Cabo San Lucas to ensure your trip goes smoothly and is unforgettable!

1. Know the Difference Between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo

First things first — it’s important to understand the difference between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. When most people refer to “Cabo,” they are referring to Cabo San Lucas, located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. However, San Jose del Cabo, located about a 30-minute drive north of Cabo San Lucas on the southeast coast, is still part of Los Cabos and offers a unique blend of history, culture, and beautiful beaches.

We recommend staying in Cabo San Lucas, as this is where most of the hotels, restaurants, shopping, tours, and tourist attractions are located. However, it’s definitely worth planning a day trip (or two!) to explore the quieter and less touristy San Jose del Cabo.

2. Winter is the Whale-Watching Season

A group of people on a whalewatching tour, observing a whale's tail fluke as it dives into the ocean.

Cabo San Lucas is one of the prime spots in the Pacific Ocean for whale watching — particularly if you’d like to see humpback whales and gray whales. Blue, killer, sperm, minke, and pilot whales also make their home in the warm waters off the coast of the southern Baja Peninsula. It’s also common to see whale sharks while visiting Cabo or a bit further north in La Paz, Mexico.

Since whale watching in Cabo is one of the most popular Cabo adventures, it is crucial to know when to visit Cabo San Lucas to have the best chance of seeing whales. The whale-watching season lasts from mid-December to mid-April, which is also the peak season for travel to Cabo. The peak of the whale season is December and January, and baby whales are most commonly spotted in February.

3. Convert Dollars to Pesos

Various Mexican pesos in both coin and banknote form are spread out.

Although both US dollars and pesos are widely accepted in most places in Cabo San Lucas, it’s smart to convert US dollars to pesos at the bank before traveling to Cabo San Lucas. Instead of having to do quick mental math when paying with US dollars when the price is listed in pesos, it will be easier to pay (and ensure you receive exact change).

You should also bring a debit card and credit card as a backup. However, many places in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo will not accept card payments, so it’s important to have cash on hand.

4. Pack Reef-Safe Sunscreen

If you plan on swimming or snorkeling in Cabo, one of the best things to pack before heading to Cabo San Lucas is reef-safe sunscreen.

Though reef-safe sunscreen is not federally mandated in Mexico like in other destinations such as Hawaii, the harsh chemicals in many traditional sunscreens, like oxybenzone, can harm the coral reefs and marine life in the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. Lather up with reef-safe sunscreen when you visit Cabo San Lucas to protect the beautiful marine life under the sea!

5. There are Few Swimmable Beaches in Cabo San Lucas

A dramatic sunset over a rugged beach with fiery skies reflecting on the water's surface. Jagged rocks and boulders punctuate the shoreline, as frothy waves wash onto the sandy coves.

Most of the beaches in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are not suitable for swimming because of the strong waves, undercurrents, and lack of lifeguards. This is why a whale-watching tour, sunset cruise, or fishing charter is a fabulous and popular way to enjoy Cabo from the water!

However, if you do want to swim, there are a few swimmable beaches in Cabo San Lucas and along the Tourist Corridor stretching to San José del Cabo. Medano Beach is the most popular swimmable beach in Cabo, and Lover’s Beach, which can only be accessed by boat, is another popular place for swimming and snorkeling.

Before you swim in Cabo, check the weather report to ensure the waters are safe and calm enough for swimming and snorkeling.

6. Make Dinner Reservations at the Great Restaurants

Although most resorts in Cabo offer all-inclusive packages that include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, one of the best travel tips for visiting Cabo is to get into town to enjoy the incredible local cuisine!

Of course, Cabo San Lucas is home to several Mexican restaurants serving traditional Mexican fare and drinks, such as tacos, enchiladas, tequila, and margaritas. La Lupita Taco & Mezcal and Mi Casa are two options for a great lunch or dinner.

However, you’ll also find several high-end restaurants with a view in Cabo that are perfect for a romantic date or celebratory dinner while watching the sunset.. Sunset Monalisa and El Farallón are a few of the most popular upscale restaurants with a view in Cabo.

7. Don’t Miss the Arch of Cabo San Lucas

The natural rock formation known as The Arch of Cabo San Lucas stands majestically in the sea, with a clear blue sky above.

Although the Arch of Cabo San Lucas (El Arco) is pretty touristy, it’s that way for a reason — it’s a can’t-miss attraction when visiting Cabo!

To get to El Arco, Lover’s Beach (on the Sea of Cortez side of El Arco), and Divorce Beach (on the Pacific side of El Arco), you’ll have to board a boat at the Cabo San Lucas Marina. Some popular things to do at El Arco include snorkeling and scuba diving, a sunset cruise, kayaking, paddleboarding, watching the sea lions, and glass-bottom boat tours.

8. Book a Shuttle or Take a Bus From the Airport

There are several ways to get to your resort in Cabo San Lucas from the Los Cabos International Airport. Still, it is best to determine your mode of transportation ahead of time since airport shuttles and private transfers often need to be arranged before arriving in Cabo.

Taxis from the airport to Cabo San Lucas cost about $80 USD for a one-way ride. You can also take the public bus from the airport in Los Cabos to get around, such as traveling between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Of course, rental cars are always an option, but you’ll often have to pay parking fees at the resort, and it’s usually not recommended to drive outside of the typical “tourist areas” of Los Cabos for safety reasons.

Book an Unforgettable Stay in Cabo San Lucas with Cabo Rentals by Jane

We hope these Cabo San Lucus travel tips have given you some helpful insight into what to expect when visiting Cabo San Lucas. After putting in the work to plan a fantastic trip ahead of time, after arriving, you can kick back, relax, and enjoy all the beauty, culture, and fun that Cabo San Lucas has to offer!

If you’re still looking for a hotel in Cabo San Lucas, we would love to host you in one of our gorgeous oceanfront villas or beachfront rentals from Cabo Rentals by Jane. Our rentals, located at Villa La Estancia Beach Resort & Spa, are located right on Medano Beach and within proximity to all the dining, shopping, and fun in Cabo San Lucas.

Explore our rentals to find the perfect place to stay!

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