Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
By Plane -- Aeroméxico (tel. 800/237-6639 in the U.S., 01-800/021-4000 in Mexico, or 624/146-5098 or 624/146-5097; www.aeromexico.com), flies nonstop from San Diego and Ontario, and has connecting flights from other cities; American Airlines (tel. 800/223-5436 in the U.S., or 624/146-5300 or 624/146-5309; www.aa.com) flies from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York; US Airways/America West (tel. 800/235-9292 in the U.S., or 624/146-5380; www.usairways.com) operates nonstop flights from Phoenix, Las Vegas, Oakland, and San Diego; Alaska Airlines (tel. 800/252-7522 in the U.S., or 624/146-5100 or 624/146-5101; www.alaskaair.com) flies from Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and San Francisco; Continental (tel. 800/537-9222 in the U.S., or 624/146-5040 or 624/146-5080; www.continental.com) flies nonstop from Houston and Newark; Delta (tel. 800/241-4141 in the U.S. or 624/146-5003; www.delta.com) has flights from Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York, and Salt Lake City; Frontier (tel. 800/432-1359 in the U.S. or 624/146-5421; www.frontierairlines.com) has nonstop service from Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San José; Mexicana (tel. 800/531-7921 in the U.S., or 624/146-5001 or 624/143-5352; www.mexicana.com), has direct or connecting flights from Guadalajara, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Mexico City; United Airlines (tel. 800/538-2929 in the U.S., or 624/146-5433; www.united.com) flies nonstop from Chicago, San Francisco, and Denver; Aereo Calafia (tel. 624/143-4302; www.aereocalafia.com) is a small regional airline that offers regularly scheduled service and charters on Cessna Grand Caravans throughout Baja and between Los Cabos and Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, Culiacán, and Los Mochis.
By Car -- From San Diego, drive south on Highway 1 all the way to the tip -- as night driving is not recommended, the drive takes about 2 1/2 days. From La Paz, take Highway 1 south; the drive takes 3 to 4 hours. Or take Highway 1 south just past the village of San Pedro, and then take Highway 19 south (a less winding road) through Todos Santos to Cabo San Lucas, where you pick up Highway 1 east to San José del Cabo. From Cabo San Lucas, it's a half-hour drive to San José.
By Bus -- The Terminal de Autobuses (bus station), on Valerio Gonzalez, a block east of Highway 1 (tel. 624/142-1100), is open daily from 5:30am to 8pm. Buses between Cabo San Lucas and La Paz run almost hourly during the day. For points farther north, you usually change buses in La Paz. The trip to Cabo San Lucas takes 40 minutes; to La Paz, 3 hours. Buses also go to Todos Santos; the trip takes around 3 hours.
Arriving -- Los Cabos International Airport (tel. 624/146-5111) serves both Cabos and the Corridor in between. San José is 13km (8 miles) from the airport and Cabo San Lucas is a 48km drive (30 miles). As Los Cabos grows in popularity, the number of flights coming into the destination has increased steadily each year -- from 18,963 flights in 2005 to 20,898 in 2006 -- justifying continuous construction and two separate terminals. Be sure to request the correct terminal when you head home. Upon arriving in Los Cabos, pass Customs and baggage claim, and turn right once you exit the sliding doors. Ask for the shuttle desk while breezing past the timeshare booths that hawk free amenities in exchange for attending their sales-pitch presentation. You'll have plenty of encounters with timeshare salespeople -- especially in Cabo San Lucas -- so feel free to head straight for a taxi or shuttle if you want to get to the beach in a hurry. At about $10 to $17 per person, depending on the location of your hotel, shuttles are the most economic transportation option, and Josefinos (tel. 624/146-5354) is located in the airport. A private van for up to five passengers is $70 and may be able to whisk away your large group more quickly than a regular shuttle. Taxis charge about $20 to San José and upwards of $35 to San Lucas.
For those who like their freedom, it's helpful to have a car in Los Cabos, and rental is very affordable when booked online in advance. However, the major car-rental agencies all have counters at the airport, open during flight arrivals: Avis (tel. 800/331-1212 from the U.S., or 624/146-0201; firstname.lastname@example.org; Mon-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 6am-9pm); Budget (tel. 800/527-0700 from the U.S., 624/146-5333 at the airport, or 624/143-4190 in Cabo San Lucas; daily 8am-6pm); Hertz (tel. 800/654-3131 from the U.S., 624/146-5088 or 624/142-0375 in San José del Cabo; daily 8am-8pm); and National (tel. 800/328-4567 from the U.S., 624/146-5022 at the airport, or 624/142-2424 in San José; daily 8am-8pm). Advance reservations are not always necessary.
If you arrive at the bus station, it's too far from the hotels to walk with luggage. A taxi from the bus station to downtown or the hotel zone costs $2 to $5.
Visitor Information -- San José's city tourist information office (tel./fax 624/142-3310, or 624/142-9628) is in the old post-office building on Zaragoza at Mijares. It offers maps, free local publications, and other basic information about the area. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 3pm. Prior to arrival, contact the Los Cabos Tourism Board (tel. 866/567-2226 in the U.S., or 624/143-4777; www.visitloscabos.org).
City Layout -- San José del Cabo sprawls from the airport half way to San Lucas, but two main areas are most enticing to visitors: el centro, or downtown, has restaurants, shopping, sophisticated inns, and traditional budget hotels, while the hotel zone is lined with all-inclusive resorts along the beach.
Zaragoza is the main street leading from the highway into town; Paseo San José runs parallel to the beach and is the principal boulevard of the hotel zone. The mile-long Bulevar Mijares connects the two areas and is the center of most tourist activity in San José.
There is no local bus service between downtown and the beach, but it's about a 30-minute walk from the center of downtown to the sand, and taxis (tel. 624/142-0580) connect the two for about $5 each way. For day trips to Cabo San Lucas, ask your concierge if your hotel has a daily shuttle, or just catch a bus or a cab.
Festivals & Special Events in Los Cabos
San José del Cabo celebrates the feast of its patron saint on March 19. June 19 is the festival of the patron saint of San Bartolo, a village 100km (62 miles) north. July 25 is the festival of the patron saint of Santiago, a village 55km (34 miles) north. These festivals usually feature fairs, music, dancing, feasting, horse races, and cockfights.
Los Cabos: Your Home Away from Home?
If you spend any time eavesdropping at local coffee shops and gringo bars, you'll find the Baja Peninsula is full of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans who came for a visit and never left. Owning property in Mexico is no longer as simple as plunking an RV on the beach, a la 30 years ago, but if you fall in love with Los Cabos -- or Baja in general -- you never have to leave, either.
Mexico has made it easy for foreigners to own their dream home on its shores. Through a fideicomiso, which is essentially a renewable trust, your home, condo, fractional ownership, or land by the sea is within reach. If you want to learn more about what's available in Los Cabos, check out the Baja Real Estate Guide (www.tregintl.com), a Los Cabos listings magazine that's not sponsored by any one particular real estate company and therefore showcases an unbiased range of options. Second, choose a reputable real-estate brokerage, such as Snell Real Estate (tel. 866/650-5845 in the U.S., or 624/105-8100; www.snellrealestate.com). A good agent will walk you through the process and help you find the ownership option that's right for you.
Another great resource for investors thinking about buying in Mexico is Mitch Creekmore and Tom Kelly's book, Cashing in on a Second Home in Mexico: How to Buy, Rent, and Profit from Real Estate South of the Border (Partners Pub Group Inc., 2005).