cabo san lucas

arriving in cabo

Cabo San Lucas Airportcabo beach action

Unless you feel like driving down the Baja Peninsula for about 20 hours, you're likely flying into SJD, the Los Cabos Airport. Take note. Things are a little different in Mexico. Read on.

That picture to the right? It's another typically gorgeous Cabo vista. And it's better than a picture of an airport!

What we're going to cover here:

  • In the plane
  • In the airport
  • Leaving the airport
  • What you should've done before you left!

cabo header


Did you know
there are allegedly more gringos (foreigners) living in Cabo than Mexicans? Most of them live in fancy gated communities, so you'll likely only see fellow tourists and the freaky expat locals. Boy are they fun! Just don't let them smell your cerveza or they'll follow you around like a lost puppy!

cabo plane

cabo paul nollYou're going to receive a couple of documents from a friendly flight attendant. Now, we're not going to tell you to lie, but you should use common sense when filling these out. The big red flag they're looking for is contraband imports, so if you've got a banana or an apple in your bag, either eat it, or stick it in your pocket and tell the customs clerk you're just happy to be there.

As Cabo is in the desert, you might encounter serious turbulence while landing. Don't fret. You'll be fine. While enduring the bumpiness, be sure to turn around to face the kids who've been kicking your seat the entire flight. Let them know that, "We're all going to die!" You'll feel better. Jump over to the right column to read about el aeropuerto next. (Cabo flyover (above) and runway (right) pictures taken by Paul Noll circa 1980. Please visit his site for more on Cabo of yore! )

leaving the cabo airport

Cabo Airport Terminal

Extracting yourself from the Cabo airport is in itself a tiny trip to hell for the unprepared Cabo traveler. Six smart words will save you time and money. They are: Buy Your Taxi Ahead Of Time. Don't screw around with the seemingly affordable shuttles unless you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • time to burn (possibly hours!) and light pockets
  • a very large (10+) party
  • hotel is close to airport (<7 miles)

As soon as you leave the secure airport area, (and actually while you're still in it, in most terminals,) the time share sales crews will strike. There's nothing like being able to say, "I already have a taxi, gracias!" And you'll be saying it a lot. Seriously try to NOT talk to locals in the airport. They will lie to you to try to get your hard earned dinero.

Check with your resort to see if they offer a shuttle service. But be sure to ask how many stops it makes on its way to your destination.You can buy round-trip cab rides online. The going rate is about $75 per seven people. We've heard people recommend TransCabo (google it) but their web site is absolute crap, so try other options too.

However it is that you choose to leave the airport, make sure that you know what your driver is wearing. And read the fine print of your reservation. Some of them require that you re-confirm your seat back to the airport after your stay. Again, leaving Los Cabos airport can be really frustrating. Just go to your happy place and tune out the timeshare people. Let the douchebags behind you deal with them. Trust us! If you really need some help in the airport, ask another gringo who looks more confident than you feel.

in the cabo airport

SJD is a small airport. Accordingly, don't expect a covered jetway. Don't worry, you don't really need one. It's always warm and beautiful in Cabo! So keep that in mind as you trek down the tarmac from the plane to the terminal. Don't take any shortcuts though. The tarmac gestapo like their touristas to take 90 degree corners, and whatever you do, don't try to light a cigarette! The officials get a little jumpy when you try to spark up near a thousand gallons of jet fuel.

So you follow the herd into the airport. Queue-up! Those documents we mentioned before? You're going to need those. Unless you look like a Sandanista, they won't ask you any questions. Just be sure you didn't check any of those red flag boxes and save the remaining document they hand back to you. You'll need it to leave Mexico. The best part of Mexico's customs is the big button you have to press. Green = good. Red = bad. Nobody knows how or why with the whole button deal, so just enjoy it. Done with customs? Then they'll kick you out to the wolves. Who are they? Jump back to the left column to find out.

cabo necessities

Passport - The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires that by January 1, 2008, travelers to and from Mexico have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States. If you don't have a passport yet, get one NOW. Renewals only take a week or so, but first-timers might have to wait six weeks or more.

Sunscreen - Sometimes that Cabo cool ocean breeze will make you forget you're in a nearly cloudless desert. Don't be the lobster-tomato-skinned gringo everybody laughs at, and don't be ashamed to have your platonic pal spread that sunscreen on your back. Nothing ruins a wonderful tropical vacation like a blistering red rash. (We recommend the spray sunscreen products.) Bring a couple pairs of sunglasses while you're at it.

Snacks - Take a few granola bars or whatever non-perishable food you like to munch. You'll be able to replenish your stores in Cabo, but access to pocketable grub is sometimes fleeting.

Hand sanitizer - Are you at least 10% OCD? Then you'll need this stuff in Cabo. Trust us.

Visor or Hat - C'mon Dracula! Get out in the sun. But don't forget your sombrerro.