If you are traveling by air, you will need a valid passport. All air passengers, including US citizens, traveling to or through the USA must have a valid passport. US Citizens are no longer permitted to use their birth certificate/driver’s licence to enter the US by air from Mexico. Your passport should be valid for at least six month from the time of your entry into Mexico. The maximum period of time that a visitor may stay in Mexico without a visa is six months. Mexican Immigration may allow or deny entry of any person into Mexico when a passport is valid for less than six months.
Passport holders of American, Canadian, British/EU Member Country, Australian, New Zealand, and Israeli passports do not need a visa to visit Mexico. They may, instead, use a visitor’s permit known as a FMT. Holders of other passports should check with their local Mexican Consulate for visa requirements. These passport holders simply fill out a short Mexican Visitor’s Permit (FMT). When arriving by airline, it is usually handed out on the plane before you land. If not, it is available at the immigration desk when you arrive. However, business visitors staying more than 30 days are subject to different rules than vacationer. IMPORTANT! YOU MUST KEEP YOUR FMT FOR YOUR DEPARTURE! If you do not have your FMT at time of departure, you will pay a fee and be delayed.
Mexico charges a fee to all tourists and business visitors arriving in the country. Airlines normally collect the permit fee on behalf of the Mexican government and include the cost within the total airfare. Visit the U.S. Department of State official Travel Initiative web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for more information.
The full list of allowable items is listed on the customs entry form.
In general, you can bring:
- Personal Luggage: including items for personal use such as clothes, footwear, personal hygiene and beauty items
- Two cell phones or pagers
- Two cameras and twelve rolls of film or videotapes
- Three surfboards; four fishing rods; a pair of skis
- One used or new laptop, one used or new printer, one projector
- Two used or new items of sports gear
- One CD player or portable music player, one DVD player
- One musical instrument
- Twenty packs of cigarettes and twenty-five cigars OR 200 grams of tobacco
- Three liters of liquor, three liters of wine
- Other items are subject to tax over a certain amount, which various by time of year (more is permitted at holidays so that gifts can be imported).
- Guns are not permitted
- Prescription drugs are permitted with support documentation which proves a medical need. The documentation should include the patient’s name and a description of the medication.
Visit the Mexican Customs Web site at www.aduanas.gob.mx for more details.
After you retrieve your luggage, you will have to pass your luggage through a scanner. One person in your group will also push a button (it looks like the walk/don’t walk button). If it is green, you keep going. If it is red, your baggage will be searched.
After customs, you will be met by a hoard of persons trying to sell time shares. They will tell you anything to get you to stop. Some will even tell you that you must stop and show them your passport of travel papers. You do not have to. Some will ask you where you are going or what your travel arrangements from the airport are. No matter how you answer, they will tell you they are the person that does that. Unless you want a time share presentation, ignore (politely) all of them until you get outside. Once outside, all the real travel persons are there, usually with signs or shirt tags.
All of the major car rental companies are at the airport. Representatives of the car rental companies are outside the exit door with shirts or signs.
Taxi Cabs are also waiting outside the exit door. Get a quote before you take the Cab. Most of the Cabs use the toll road and pay the toll for you. Some don’t. Ask if the Cab will be taking the toll road and make sure they will pay the toll (its not much though). The toll road is clean, smooth, and the fastest route.
You can also pre-arrange for a private or shuttle transfer, or limousine.
Cabo is desert on the Sea. The climate is arid with lots of sun. During the high season, October to April, the temperature averages 80 daytime and 60’s nighttime.
Average Weather in Cabo Area:
The Pacific side of Cabo is generally about 10º F. cooler than the Sea of Cortés side.
The currency of Mexico is the Peso. In high tourist areas, you can pay with dollars and get change in dollars. US dollars are actually the main form of currency in the downtown of Cabo San Lucas, with prices usually listed in American dollars instead Pesos. ATM machine dispense cash in Pesos, not dollars. Shops and restaurants accept credit cards as in the US. You should call before you come and tell your card company where you will be in Mexico and for how long. When paying by credit card, clearly write whether the amount is in dollars (“USD”) or pesos.
When paying in dollars and getting change in Pesos, exchange rates tend to fluctuate from place to place. As with the rest of the world, a common tourist problem in Cabo is short changing of tourists. Most short changing is done when you pay in dollars and getting change in Pesos. You can always ask for your change in dollars in advance.
Mexican gas stations are notorious for short changing of tourists. Mexican gas stations are full service. Most Mexican gas stations do not take credit cards. It is traditional to tip the attendant, but not the usual US tip; a real tip, as in “keep the change.” If you pay in dollars, do not expect change in dollars at gas stations . The best way to avoid short changing at gas stations is to pay for gas in pesos.
Just as American cash seems to be flowing into Cabo, a good chunk of money is apparently flowing right back where it came from.
When you look at a map, it is at once obvious that Cabo is not connected to mainland Mexico, nor even close to much anything else. It is not the same water supply as the rest of Mexico. Also, a major source of water in Cabo is desalinization. The water is generally safe, but there can be occasional concern over the source of delivery.
The water is safe in all of the major hotels and tourist locations. Most of the major hotels have there own desal plants.
Bottled water is readily available.
Casa Vista Hermosa is located in the luxury gated community of Pedregal, and has safe water.
Spanish is the language in Mexico, or at least the Mexican version of it. With exceptions, English is spoken in the tourist areas of Cabo San Lucas by most, including in the downtown shops and restaurants. Fluency in English tends to be related to pay grade, so, for instance, the maitre d’ and the waiters will typically speak English while busboys and cleaning staff typically will not (just like in the Southern California!).
There are some odd exceptions. The car rental agency offices a the airport all have English speakers, but the local car rental offices sometimes don’t. Gate security, even at hotels, don’t always have English speakers, which seems to be fixed by waiving through gringos.
If you are adventuresome and want to travel outside of the tourist areas, you probably should have a Spanish speaker with you.
Too many to list.
The first thing to think about is the pace of things. Everything is sloooower outside of the US mainland. If you are in a hurry, don’t leave the US mainland.
In Mexico, it is not customary to bring you a restaurant tab until you ask for it.
It is customary to tip gas station attendants, but only a small amount as in “keep the change” (like at Starbucks, for some of you). On the other hand, it is customary not to tip cab drivers in Mexico, but the cab drivers in Cabo are used to it because of all of the Americans that go to Cabo.
There are some odd driving practices in Mexico, like the left turn lane being on the right.
Bargaining to buy things is expected here, with some exceptions like restaurants and shopping in the mall.
You will see children selling small items like gum. The locals do not like you buying from them because they are usually being “run” by an adult such that they are typically being taken advantage of.
Just like in Europe, there are internet cafes in the Los Cabos area providing internet access service. Many are located around the Cabo San Lucas marina. The major hotels all have internet access.
Casa Vista Hermosa has internet access.
Dial 066 for emergency Not 911
Take these Cabo San Lucas numbers with you:
Los Cabos Medical: (624)142-2770
Los Barriles Medical: (624)141-0606
Red Cross: (624)144-4420
MX Toll Free (800)236-8080
Northwest Medical: (624)143-5404
Hospital : (624)143-1594
Cabo San Lucas Fire Dept: (624)143-3577
Canadian Consulate: (624)142-4333
US Consulate: (624) 143-3566
Good medical care, doctors, dentists and health care facilities are available in Los Cabos.