You might think that Cabo is overhyped. Overrated. It’s where those obnoxious college kids go to party, right? WRONG!
I mean, sure, you’ll see the kids in their 20’s bar hopping and sloppily walking the streets. But Cabo is so much more than that!
As crazy as it may sound, my first experience in Cabo was a family trip. My husband and I took our then 10 month old and 2 year old to Cabo San Lucas back in 2014. We fell in love with the place! There are so many family friendly activities in the area and the people are so warm and friendly. We’ve visited Los Cabos a few more times since our first visit and it’s easily our favorite vacation spot. Here are some tips we’ve accumulated through our travels to make the most of your next Cabo vacation.
1. Rent A Car
Do not be afraid. You can drive very easily in Cabo. Having a car means you’ll have the freedom to go wherever and whenever you wish. We love driving around town aimlessly. We’ve found some of our favorite spots this way. Depending on how often you like to get out and explore away from your resort, renting a car can also be a huge money saver. Getting a taxi into downtown can be upwards of $20 each way depending on your location. The rental company we’ve always gone with is Dominic Los Cabos. They meet you with your car at the airport parking lot. They hand you the keys and off you go! It comes with a full tank of gas and 24 hour service. You can book your car rental here.
Pro tip: There are tolls on the freeway and they only take pesos. Make sure to exchange currency before leaving the airport.
2. Go During Low Season
One of the many advantages of being homeschoolers is that we can go on vacation whenever we want. There’s no need to wait for spring break or summer vacation. The best time to go is when schools are still in session. If you can manage it, definitely go during the school months. Our favorite time to go is in the 2nd week of May. By this time, all of the spring breakers have already cleared out and the beaches and streets are a lot less crowded.
Pro tip: Be mindful of hurricane season when planning your vacation.
3. Stock Up On Essentials At Walmart & Costco
If you’re like me and have difficulty keeping your luggage within the weight limit, Walmart is your friend. Leave all of your shampoos, conditioners, lotions, etc. at home and go to Walmart as soon as you arrive. Keep in mind, they don’t have all the options you may be accustomed to. So, if you’re sensitive to ingredients or prefer the nontoxic stuff, bring your own toiletries.
If your hotel accommodations come with a kitchen, you’ll want to get your groceries here, too. It’s fun shopping at Walmart because you’ll see a lot of other tourists pushing a cart from aisle to aisle looking for the same items- paper plates, napkins, snacks, alcoholic beverages, etc.
Costco is also nearby. Go here to stock up on all your water. And if you have a child who loves Kinder products, they sell those here in bulk. It’s also worth a try to hit up the snack bar and see the Cabo inspired foods.
Pro tip: Before heading out to shop, head to your hotel and have your luggages held for you OR check in and leave your belongings in the room. A car full of luggages in the parking lot might be an easy target.
4. Explore Outside Of The Tourist Area
Here’s where having a rental car comes in handy. You are free to explore and get a more broadened experience of Los Cabos. See an interesting street down the road? Go there. Curious to see where the locals shop? Go there. It’s really that easy. Of course, always trust your gut and know when to head back to the hotel zone.
Keep in mind that Los Cabos is comprised of 2 areas- Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Be sure to explore both areas as they each have their own personality to offer. Cabo San Lucas has more of a city vibe and offers an exciting nightlife that many come to enjoy. San Jose del Cabo is more laid back and has a flourishing art scene. Having a car will allow you to easily travel back and forth from the 2 different towns. The drive is about 30 minutes.
Pro tip: Prior to your trip, look for points of interest on Google Maps. Make a list of places you’d like to visit during your stay. Doing this will also give you an idea of how far you’re willing to drive from your hotel. [To learn how to make a list on Google Maps, click here.]
5. Talk To Locals
The popular tourist spots are nice, really nice. But sometimes you just want something a bit more authentic. Ask the person at a store where their favorite restaurant is or ask the guy at the hotel where he likes to take his family for dinner. On our most recent visit to Cabo, the owners of Cobalto Pottery pointed us to the restaurant of El Mexicano. You guys, it’s so good! El Mexicano is now part of our food rotation. It might possibly be our 1st meal the next time we return to Cabo. My point is, don’t forget to ask the people around you. They are the best resource and know the area the best.
Pro tip: You can get by without knowing any Spanish so don’t let that discourage you from asking questions. Most of the people we’ve interacted with speak English quite well. And when we do encounter a language barrier, we are usually still able to understand each other.
6. Swimmable Beaches
You’ve probably seen those postcard worthy photos of the beautiful beaches in Cabo. But here’s the kicker. Most aren’t swimmable at all. Shocking, I know! They’re what I like to call looking beaches. LOL. The currents are strong and can be dangerous if you’re not a strong swimmer. So, keep that in mind when booking a hotel. Depending on what your expectations are, you might want to consider staying closer to a beach that you can actually swim in and feel comfortable letting the kids play in.
Medano Beach which is located on the hotel zone is the most popular swimmable beach. Specifically, we like the area that’s right in front of SUR Beach House. Make a brunch reservation and ask for seating on the sand. They have the best paella here. (I think it’s only served on Thursdays so double check!)
If you’re looking for a beach that’s not so touristy, check out Chileno Bay. It has showers, restrooms and umbrella service. Bring your own food and drinks and spend a day at this beach. There are many families here and everyone is friendly. The fish are friendly, too! They are eager to get a close look at you! It’s a fun beach for the kids.
Pro tip: When visiting Chileno Bay, bring swim shoes in case the kids want to climb on the large rocks. You are bound to follow after them. The rocks are course and were hard on my feet.
7. Charter A Private Boat
I promise you don’t have to be rich & famous to charter your own boat. Here’s the trick- You have to find the right person to talk to. Before I go any further, let me just clarify that there is nothing wrong with joining a boat full of other tourists. However, for my family’s needs, we like to do private experiences when it’s feasible.
Okay, okay, so onto the tip! You have got to talk to the people standing in front of this mini mart. There you’ll find a small kiosk with various activities you can book in Cabo. Let them know you’re interested in a private boat charter and they’ll help you. We’ve found this to be the same price if not cheaper than paying for 4 of us to join a public charter.
Pro tip: If you don’t see the kiosk outside of the mini mart, check the nearby businesses to see if they’ve moved. They’ll be outside in a blue canopy.
8. Eat All The Tacos!
Whatever you do, make sure to eat outside of your hotel. You’re in Mexico for crying out loud! Don’t eat most of your meals at the hotel’s restaurants. Just don’t do it. There are way too many delicious taquerias within the vicinity to explore. Make it into a family activity and go on a mission to find the best tacos in Los Cabos. Each eatery has it’s own unique personality and it’s quite the adventure to visit each one. I’m not going to lie, the tacos alone are enough to get me to fly back to Cabo.
Pro tip: Use Google Maps to make a dedicated list of taquerias or restaurants you’d like to try in Cabo. It makes figuring out where to eat so much easier once you’ve arrived.
9. Street Food
This may fall on the thrill-seeking side for some but it’s really not that dramatic. Trust me. We absolutely love finding random food vendors on the street. If we spot someone on the road with a big pot of who knows what, you better believe we’re making a pit stop to ask what’s inside. The best tamales we’ve ever had were from a late night drive when we were aimlessly looking for street vendors.
Pro tip: Try driving around at night when looking for street food. There are usually more vendors at night than during the day.
10. Look For The Best Horchata Or Coffee
Tequila tastings are so 2008. Go on a hunt for the best horchata or coffee instead. Besides, this activity is family friendly and can be enjoyed by everyone in the group. We found our favorite horchata vendor on our first visit to Cabo. We continue to try others but it’s yet to be defeated. Long live Neveria Michoacana!
If coffee is more your speed, San Jose del Cabo has it on lock! Our favorite is Cafe Dona Nena and they also have ice cream for the kids! It’s usually one of our first stops when arriving in Mexico.
Pro tip: Parking can be hard to find on the main street. If it’s a busy day, don’t bother driving ’round and ’round waiting for someone to leave. There’s an inconspicuous parking lot that can be found here. Sometimes there will be an attendant asking for a small fee and sometimes there won’t. Use your best judgement.