Is Cabo San Lucas Safe?
It’s a question I received a lot while I was living in the Los Cabos area and one I think is important to discuss.
Maybe you’re concerned about current Covid restrictions in Cabo San Lucas. Or about the news and statistics that state that Los Cabos is one of the most dangerous places in Mexico.
We’ll look at all of the safety concerns you may have about visiting Cabo San Lucas and I’ll offer some tips for staying safe if you plan to head out and party.
If there are any questions or concerns about safety in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, San Jose del Cabo or other places in Baja California Sur (or anywhere in Mexico for that matter), please feel free to send me an email or have a read of some of the other safety posts about Mexican cities on this blog.
A Brief History of Crime in Cabo San Lucas
About 10 years ago, Cabo San Lucas and indeed much of the municipality of Los Cabos (read about the difference between Cabo and Los Cabos here), was something of a cartel battleground.
In the 1990’s, the municipality had something like 3,000 residents and today there are nearly 300,000.
This growth brought with it many growing pains. Including who would get to cater to all of these people’s desires for illegal drugs.
The locals of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas had had enough. They wanted their cities back. They marched through the plaza of San Jose del Cabo. The people demanded that the government do something to make change in their society. And it worked.
If you’re interested in learning more about this, I highly recommend taking this tour with Cabo City Tour which is in San Jose del Cabo (about 25 minutes from Cabo San Lucas).
The tours guides are so knowledgeable and share some really fascinating insight into how Los Cabos turned its image around and became a safe and magical place for both domestic and foreign tourism.
Is it Safe to Travel to Cabo San Lucas?
According to the US State Department Website, visitors to Baja California Sur (the state in which you find Cabo San Lucas) should exercise increased caution when traveling there due to crime.
They then state that:
There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Baja California Sur, which includes tourist areas in: Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and La Paz.
As someone who has been living in this area since Janaury 2021 (and in Mexico City before that for four years), I think it’s important to know that there are some small risks, but not to let it damper plans for your trip.
Crime does occur here, just as it does in every part of the world. But it is incredibly unlikely to occur in the tourist areas of Cabo San Lucas.
The government and tourism sector have worked incredibly hard to ensure that tourists not only feel safe while traveling to Cabo San Lucas but actually are safe while exploring this stunning region of Mexico.
Coronavirus in Mexico: What You Need to Know
Coronavirus has, of course, changed the way we travel.
In June 2020, the federal government here in Mexico created what they call the “traffic light system.” There are four colors: red, orange, yellow, and green.
States in red have the highest risk of covid and the most restrictions. In many places, this has been taken to mean a sort of mild lockdown. Only essential businesses are open to the public and restaurants tend to be take-out only.
Orange means there is still quite a high risk of covid. Some things are allowed to resume opening hours and depending on the state, you can dine inside at a lower capacity.
Yellow is a medium risk of covid. Most states have sat in the Yellow for the majority of the last 12 months. This means that most tourist sites are back open and there is more capacity in restaurants and hotels.
Green means that there is a low risk of covid. However, there are still restrictions in place, like masks indoors.
Every two weeks, the federal government assesses each state based on how many cases they have, the availability of beds in the public hospitals, how many people have been vaccinated amongst several other factors.
To keep everyone up to date with these changes, I send out an email every time the government makes these changes. You can sign up for those emails here.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know what this actually means for travel in these places without speaking to someone who is currently there.
The truth of the matter is, that the federal government has left it up to the state governments to determine what exactly each of these colors means. Mexico City may be red, but you’ll still see thousands of people out in the streets. All of the shops and restaurants will still be open.
Meanwhile, if Jalisco goes orange, most of the state’s capital (Guadalajara) will implement a curfew, close restaurants, and more.
Is it Safe to Travel to Cabo Right Now in 2021?
As of January 24, 2022, Baja California Sur (the state where Cabo San Lucas is located) is in the orange.
This means that there is a medium-to-high risk of Covid-19 here. Precautions are being taken around the state and vary depending on what area of the state you are in. This includes anything from masks being worn indoors and on public transportation to hand sanitizer being offered at all indoor establishments.
In areas like La Paz, this means masks outdoors in public places, especially along the malecon or around the center of the city.
Currently, Baja California Sur has the highest number of cases per capita in the entire country. There are approximately 1,000 active cases for every 100,000 people in Baja California Sur.
There is always a chance that you could contract Covid while you are visiting Baja California Sur. With every restaurant you visit, every group tour you take, every taxi you hop in, you increase your chances.
Los Cabos has actually had more visitors between April and August 2021 than it did during the same time period in 2019. There are MORE people traveling to Cabo than there were before Covid. That means it’s busier than it has ever been.
There are other places in Baja California Sur where there are fewer visitors and therefore less of a risk of covid.
I am neither condoning nor condemning your plans to travel to Cabo San Lucas. All I want to do is give you as much information about what is really happening there so that you can make an informed decision.
Because the reality is, tourism is open in Cabo San Lucas. Hotels, resorts, beaches, restaurants, bars are all open.
Baja California Sur had some of the strictest regulations last year on tourism which meant that the thousands of workers who live in Cabo San Lucas to support their families were out of work.
They are doing everything they can to make up for the lost income of last year and your dollars make a huge difference. Tip well.
How to Keep Up-to-Date with the Covid Changes Each Week
So how do you keep up to date with whether or not it’s safe to travel to Cabo San Lucas right now?
I always recommend non-Spanish speakers check out Mexico News Daily.
This is the best English-language newspaper in Mexico. They have been pretty extensive with their Coronavirus coverage in Mexico and it’s a great resource for getting a gauge on what the traffic light color is each week for Cabo San Lucas or anywhere else you plan to travel in Mexico at the Moment.
Every two weeks the traffic light system is updated by the federal government. When updated, I send an email with everything you need to know about traveling to Mexico right now. I include links to different articles around the internet so that you can read specifically about Cabo San Lucas or wherever you are planning to travel to in Mexico in the future.
I also share the details of other travel bloggers, vloggers, and journalists who are currently in Mexico. Many of them are sharing their experiences in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Cancun, and other places around Mexico.
The best way to keep up to date with the changes in Cabo San Lucas are to keep in touch with people who are there right now and learn about what it really looks like there.
Sign up for my newsletter here to get bi-monthly emails about what is happening with covid restrictions around Mexico, including Covid safety in Cabo San Lucas.
There is also an English-language newspaper in Los Cabos called the Gringo Gazette. This can be a good resource for what’s happening, although it doesn’t tend to share a ton of hard-hitting news like Covid.
Covid Restrictions in Cabo San Lucas December 2021
As of December 2021, masks are required in all public spaces in Cabo San Lucas.
This includes when entering bars and restaurants as well as in the lobby of the hotel or resort. If you take a taxi or bus it is required (although not always enforced). If you are in a public space like the marina or sidewalk where it is impossible to keep your distance, masks should also be worn.
Several months ago, Baja California Sur government passed a mandate for masks. This means that if you are found not wearing a mask in public spaces, police can fine you up to 9,000 Pesos ($450 USD).
Is this mandate actually being enforced? That’s a very different story.
In my experience, very few tourists are actually wearing masks, especially outside. Some restaurants and bars simply will not allow you to come inside if you are not wearing a mask.
Other places do not care at all and would much rather you come in and spend money than not enter because you don’t have a mask.
Most places are taking your temperature at the door (although many of these temperature guns ran out of batteries months ago). Some places have mats in front of the door that you are required to step in. These mats are just filled with bleach, so best to avoid if you are wearing thin flip flops.
Do You Need to Be Vaccinated to Visit Mexico?
Mexico’s president has made it very clear that the country will not be requiring vaccines. This includes entering the country. It also means no vaccines in order to participate in any activities in Mexico.
However, some states are starting to require covid “passes.” At the moment the two states that are asking for either proof of vaccination or a negative covid test are Baja California (home to Tijuana and Ensenada) and Jalisco (home to Puerto Vallarta, Lake Chapala, and Guadalajara).
Do you Need a Covid Test to Visit Mexico?
You do not need to have a negative covid test before visiting Mexico.
In order to visit Mexico, all you need to do is fill out the health questionnaire. You will be able to fill it out at the airport before boarding your flight. Or once you arrive in Mexico and are about to go through immigration.
You will fill out the form on your phone. Once it has been submitted, a QR code will show up on your phone. Take a screenshot of this so that you can show it when going through
If your phone doesn’t work or you would rather fill it out physically, there are paper copies supplied to you.
The form is simple and takes only a minute or so to fill out. You will be asked:
- First name
- Last name
- E-mail address
- Phone number
- Date of your flight into Mexico
- Airline name
- Flight number
- Seat number
- Countries and cities that you have visited in the last 14 days
- Have you been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus? (if so, supply the date)
- Do you have a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher?
- Have you experienced frequent coughing or sneezing?
- Do you suffer from nausea, headaches, or any other acute health problem?
- Have you experienced breathing difficulties?
It’s worth noting that you will also be asked to fill this form out when leaving Mexico or if traveling internally to another city.
Where to Get a Covid Test in Cabo San Lucas
If you are leaving Mexico and heading back to the USA, Canada, or pretty much any country for that matter, it’s likely you will need to take a Covid test 24 hours before you fly.
Are you staying at a resort or big hotel chain? It’s likely that the covid test is already included in your price. Most hotels in Cabo San Lucas can organize to have the test administered in your hotel room the day before you fly.
If your hotel cannot organize this or you are staying in an Airbnb or rented condo, you’ll need to get yourself to a private hospital to get the test done.
The easiest place to get a Covid-19 test in Cabo San Lucas is the American Medical Center. Scroll down on their website to find the links to register for a Covid test.
If you are in San Jose del Cabo, you can walk into either location of St Luke’s Hospital and get a Covid test done on the spot there.
Tips for Staying Safe When Traveling to Cabo San Lucas
If you are visiting Cabo San Lucas for the first time or even more excitingly, Mexico for the first time, you may have some concerns about safety.
When I told family and friends that I was moving to Mexico in 2016, most of them were terrified for me. They thought it was a dangerous country and I was going to certainly get myself kidnapped.
Of course, this does happen in Mexico.
However, it is incredibly unlikely to happen to you unless you decide to go looking for trouble.
You’re far more likely to deal with problems like sunburn, jellyfish, and perhaps a doozy of a hangover (have I mentioned there are some great bars and restaurants in Cabo San Lucas?).
Here are some tips for staying safe in Cabo San Lucas:
- Avoid drugs at all costs. There are some people who may try to sell them to you at a club, by the beach, in an empty plaza. Always say no.
- Don’t travel with too much cash at any given time. While it is pretty safe around the tourist zone, there are always opportunists who know there are rich Americans and Canadians wandering around Cabo. Pickpocketing can happen. But there are police everywhere, so it’s rare. There is no reason you need to carry around hundreds of dollars with you. I usually keep one credit card on me and leave the rest in the safe of my hotel room. Then I take about $50 worth of Pesos with me, that’s about 1,000 Pesos. Everywhere in Cabo takes credit cards, so you don’t really need to carry much cash with you. A card like the Chase Sapphire gives you lots of points AND doesn’t charge you when spending in foreign currencies. Read more about handling money in Mexico here.
- Don’t drive at night. This is just a general tip for driving in Mexico, but if you plan to rent a car in Cabo and want to take any day trips, always drive during the day. The biggest safety reason for this is that Baja California Sur is open pasture land. This means that farmers take their cattle out to graze wherever they want. That could be the side of the road in San Jose del Cabo. It could be along the highway on the way to Todos Santos. There are no street lights on the highway. So it would be impossible to see them at night before it’s too late.
- Keep up to date about Travel Restrictions. It’s always good to check the latest information from the US State Department before you plan your trip to Cabo San Lucas. Things can change quickly in Mexico.
- Know that most people here are incredibly nice and can help with any questions you have. Cabo San Lucas is a melting pot. Thanks to the booming tourism trade here, people from all over Mexico live here. You’ll meet people from Acapulco. There are a lot of people from Mazatlan. Lots of people from Mexico City and Chihuahua have moved here. It’s safe for them to raise their families and the money in tourism here is excellent. People are here because they want to be. They are happy to help tourists however they can.
Travel Tips for Visiting Cabo San Lucas
I lived in neighboring San Jose del Cabo for several months. I visited Cabo San Lucas a lot. It’s a short bus ride between the two cities and well worth exploring both.
I have a lot of articles on the blog about Cabo San Lucas which you can find here.
I also made a TON of YouTube videos during my time in Baja California Sur. You can watch them from the beginning here.
I spent so much time in this beautiful state and fell in love with it so much, I even wrote a guidebook! You can purchase a digital copy of that here or head over to Amazon to purchase it as a paperback here.
This post contains affiliate links.