Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Melissa Berry of EverydaySpokane.com
There’s a very good chance you’ve heard of Cabo San Lucas, especially if you’re on this site! Cabo is known as a party destination, with gorgeous beaches, plenty of things to do – basically, an epic location to celebrate a wedding, bachelorette party, and more. But is Cabo San Lucas safe?
All that partying can lead to regret if you’re not careful – whether you’re in Cabo San Lucas or Los Angeles, danger can be all around if you don’t take precautions.
Luckily, I recently spent a week in Cabo San Lucas and can attest that it is a very safe city, full of fun – not danger. That said, I do have some tips on how you can stay safe in Cabo San Lucas while still enjoying your time there.
Top Cabo San Lucas Safety Tips
1. Try to learn a bit of the language
It goes without saying that most people appreciate you learning a few words in the local language while you’re there. Even if you’re not confident in your ability, people will sincerely appreciate the effort – and it will help keep you a little safer.
Yes, even if you have a heavy ‘gringo’ accent, speaking a little bit of the language and understanding a few key words will be really helpful! It comes in particularly handy if you’re allergic or, like me, a lifelong vegetarian who has never eaten pork, beef, etc.
Knowing the words for things you’re allergic to or even simply don’t like could be the difference between you being stuck indoors for a day (or worse!) and you being out enjoying the weather.
Learning a few key phrases in Spanish is pretty easy, especially if you’ve studied a Romance language like French or Italian in the past. My top tips for learning some phrases quickly?
I personally prefer podcasts, as you can download them and take them on the go, but YouTube is also a great source of help as well! Here are a few recommendations to help get you started:
- Notes in Spanish podcast – my absolute favorite! I majored in Spanish and this was one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. Make sure to grab the Beginner podcast!
- Learn Spanish Survival Guides – this is more of a supplement, but will do a great job to get you started (there’s an episode on food allergies too!)
- Discover Spanish – this podcast offers episodes on exchanging money, describing aches and pains and more. Another great supplement!
If you want some phrases on your phone or to look at later, check out this list of 40 basic Spanish phrases, including how to find your hotel, asking for help, and asking around for an English-speaker.
And of course, the Google Translate app has come a long way. I’d consider it an essential part of safety travel as well!
Wondering what to include on your Cabo itinerary? Check out these awesome things to do in Cabo San Lucas!
2. Plan your trip in advance
We all know to plan our trips in advance: purchase travel insurance, make sure we arrive on time and have scheduled a shuttle, pretty much know where we are staying, etc. But did you know you should also plan while you’re in Mexico?
Yes, although it’s fun to be spontaneous and go wherever you feel like it, if you at least have a general idea of where you’re going (a restaurant, bar, back to your hotel), you’re more likely to have a safe, enjoyable trip.
This doesn’t have to mean you obsessively plan out every detail. To stay safe in Cabo San Lucas, follow these three steps:
- Decide where you want to go – do you want to visit the artsy town of Todos Santos? Or do you just want to visit a cool bar you heard about from a friend or website (like this one!). No matter what city you’re in, don’t just wander around aimlessly – but especially in Cabo San Lucas. Every shop owner and server wants you to visit their restaurant, and they can be pretty persuasive. Don’t get persuaded to visit somewhere so-so just because you didn’t plan ahead!
- Take a look at Google Maps – once you know where you want to go (or have a general idea), type your location into Google Maps to see how far away it is and what major streets you’ll take. This is helpful whether you’re taking an Uber or walking – you can double check you’re in the right direction and walking or driving along well known and hopefully well lit streets.
- Make sure you have some change on you – There are a lot of toll roads around Cabo and, while you can avoid them, you may not want to or accidentally find yourself on one. Make sure to carry some Mexican pesos on you at all times – not a lot, up to 100 pesos – enough to make sure you can pay any unexpected fees.
This is very similar to travel advice you’d receive even in the US: stay aware of your surroundings! Luckily, Google Maps makes it easier than ever to do this. Don’t panic – just prepare.
Planning to rent during you trip? Check out these tips for renting a car in Los Cabos.
3. Make sure to carry small Mexican bills on you
Carrying small Mexican bills on you is not only helpful for tolls, it’s also helpful when you’re walking around the city and doing things. While almost every place takes American dollars, you’ll often end up paying more if you pay in US dollars.
While that’s not the end of the world, there’s no harm in exchanging some US dollars for Mexican pesos – you can use it for tips, for buying street cart churros and more.
That said, if you are carrying more money than you’d prefer (maybe you got out a bunch at the bank for later) or you’ve just arrived and you’re carrying your passport, make sure you have someplace safe and secure to store your stuff!
You can find a full list of travel safety gear here!
4. Plan for the worst
No one wants to plan for their trip to be canceled, delayed, or otherwise interrupted for any reason. If you’re like me, you’ll try to weather out an illness before delaying or otherwise ‘ruining’ your trip.
But unfortunately, sometimes things happen beyond your control (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.) or you get very ill – it happens! There are a few things to keep in mind here:
- If your illness can be solved by a doctor, don’t be afraid to go to a local pharmacy in Cabo! There are, from my experience, very good and can typically see you within an hour.
During our Cabo trip, a friend did get sick and had to go to the pharmacy. He was seen by a doctor within an hour, got a prescription and was able to fill it nextdoor. Our friend was better within a day – and at a fraction of the cost of an American doctor.
Don’t be afraid to visit the doctors and pharmacies in Cabo – go with your gut, but also go knowing that, especially in tourist-heavy areas like Cabo, the doctors are likely to be very skilled and helpful.
If something worse happens and you truly won’t be able to finish out your trip, this is when it pays (literally) to plan ahead with travel insurance. Janine has some excellent advice about how to get travel insurance here, but suffice it to say that it will provide you peace of mind whether or not you use it.
Enjoy Your Cabo Vacation!
Cabo San Lucas is a beautiful place to visit with plenty of things to do. Overall, Cabo is very safe to visit and even my non-Spanish speaking husband had no problem getting around on his own.
As long as you take precautions and prepare ahead (learning some of the language, knowing your surroundings and having some cash on you), you’ll be fine! Cabo wants tourists to visit and doesn’t want to be known as a dangerous place, so go knowing that you’ll have a great, safe time.
That said, sometimes things happen that are out of your control, and in that case we highly recommend protecting yourself with travel insurance. It’s typically not too expensive and will provide peace of mind if nothing else.
Let us know what questions you have about Cabo below!
Melissa Berry is a local travel blogger at EverydaySpokane.com, a local resource for Spokane tourists, newcomers and transplants. When she’s not exploring the Inland Northwest, she’s comparing local Spokane happy hours to those around the world! (PS – Happy Endings is a little bar in Cabo that, while a little cheesy, is fun and has delicious drinks!)