Getting to Los Cabos
The majority of Los Cabos visitors arrive by air, but you’ll meet many who have traveled by car, boat, or bicycle or even on foot. Public transportation by bus is also a possibility. Once you’ve arrived, you can do without a car if you plan to stay at an all-inclusive resort or at a hotel in town. Rent a car if you want to take a day trip to the East Cape or Todos Santos.
Los Cabos International Airport (SJD, Km. 44, Mexico 1, tel. 624/142-5111, http://aeropuertosgap.com.mx/english/airports/loscabos-airport) serves San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. The airport does not have Jetways, so have your shades at the ready as you exit the plane and climb down the stairs to the tarmac. Additional airport information is available at www.sjdloscabosairport.com, but this is not the official airport website.
The process of going through passport control and customs can take as little as 15 minutes or more than an hour, depending on how many people are working and if other flights have arrived at the same time. After you go through passport control, you’ll proceed to the baggage claim area. Claim your bags and have your paperwork ready to show the customs official. You’ll be asked to run your bags through a scanner and to press a button that determines whether your bags will be randomly searched.
Sometimes, you’ll cruise through immigration only to find yourself in a much longer customs line with one x-ray machine scanning luggage from multiple flights. Relax and enjoy the people-watching. The wait is all part of the experience.
The airport has two terminals served by several major airlines (as well as a cargo-only terminal), including:
- Terminal 1: Domestic flights on AeroCalifornia, Aeromexico, Mexicana, and Volaris
- Terminal 2: International flights on American, AmericaWest, Continental, United Airlines
- Terminal 3: Domestic and International flights on Aeroliteral/Mexicana, Alaska, Frontier, and Virgin America
Each terminal has a few fast-food options and souvenir shops, but seating is limited in the waiting areas for arriving flights.
Several international rental car agencies have desks in the terminals. For most brands, you’ll need to ride a shuttle to off-airport pickup locations, all of which are very close to the terminal. These days, you’ll almost always get a better deal if you reserve ahead of time. During busy holiday periods, most agencies will sell out of cars entirely. They tend to give cars on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of whether you have a reservation or not.
A shuttle (colectivo) into the San José area runs US$13 per person, US$15 per person to the Cabo San Lucas area. A private taxi from the airport to San José del Cabo costs US$50 for up to four passengers or US$75 to Cabo San Lucas.
Private pilots will find a 1,550-meter paved airstrip just north of Cabo San Lucas. Contact Baja Bush Pilots (www.bajabushpilots.com) for up-to-date information about making the trip to Los Cabos.
Most of the big auto rental agencies have desks at Los Cabos International Airport as well as offices in or near San José and San Lucas. Rates are similar across most companies, and since car rentals don’t require a deposit up front, it doesn’t hurt to make a reservation in advance. You can always cancel if you change your mind.
When you reserve or prepay for a car online, the price typically will not include Mexican liability insurance. Be sure to factor this cost (around US$25 per day for the minimum required coverage of US$50,000) into your travel planning. Vehicles range from standard transmission subcompact sedans to SUVs, wagons, Jeeps, pickup trucks, and vans. Independent agencies sometimes include insurance in the rates.
If you’re driving yourself, there are two ways to reach the towns along the Los Cabos Corridor from the airport: Follow signs for Mexico 1 south through town, passing through several stoplights before you reach the town of San José. Continue on Mexico 1 another 10–20 minutes for destinations along the Corridor or about 30 minutes to Cabo San Lucas.
Alternatively, if you don’t mind paying a toll of about US$2.25 (MEX$28), you can exit the airport onto the quota, a fast four-lane road with no exits until you enter San José at the junction of Paseo Los Cabos and the Mega grocery store plaza. If you pick up a rental car off-site, you’ll have to return to the terminal to get to the toll road.
The roundabout at the intersection with Highway 1 can be an intimidating entry into town, especially if you are trying to go left into downtown San José. Wait for a break in the traffic or turn right and go about one mile to the Retorno sign. Exit right and then turn left under the highway and left again to reenter the highway heading back toward San José.
A steady stream of Aguila (tel. 624/143-5020, www.autotransportesaguila.com) buses provide transportation between Los Cabos and La Paz and on to other points north. Schedules and fares are posted online, and you can purchase tickets in advance online. Current fares are about US$15 from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz and US$20 from San José to La Paz.
Note: La Paz via Todos Santos is the shorter and less mountainous route (3.5 hours from Cabo San Lucas); the route to La Paz via the East Cape takes about an hour longer due to the terrain and number of stops. The Cabo San Lucas bus terminal is on Mexico 19, north of the Mexico 1 junction and across from the Pemex station. San Jose’s main bus terminal is on Calle Gonzales near Mexico 1.
If you’re headed all the way to Tijuana (a 27-hour trip that costs US$150), you’ll need to catch the 9 A.M. or 4 P.M. departure, which will stop in Ciudad Constitución, Loreto, Mulegé, Guerrero Negro, and Ensenada.
The nearest ferry service to the mainland operates between La Paz and Mazatlán. You can book tickets in La Paz or online through Baja Ferries (tel. 612/123-0208, 612/123-6600, or 800/122-1414, www.bajaferries.com).
There are now two full-service marinas in the Los Cabos area. Marina Cabo San Lucas (Lote A-18 De la Dársena, tel.624/173-9140, www.igy-cabosanlucas.com) is still the main docking facility for those arriving by sea. But the new Marina at Puerto Los Cabos (Paseo de los Pescadores, Col. La Playa, tel. 624/105-6028, www.marinapuertoloscabos.com) is open and designed to hold up to 500 boats, including the largest luxury yachts.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition