Most restaurants and stores accept Visa and Mastercard. American Express is also accepted. However, be sure to bring cash with you for those merchants who don’t take credit cards.
Also, be sure to call your credit card issuer prior to departing for Mexico, just to let them know (it’s a total hassle to arrive and find that your cards have been placed on hold due to ever-stringent security at your issuer). We usually take the time in-between flights to make the calls.
Note that many credit card companies charge a 2% conversion fee for foreign exchange transactions. There are several that do not, Capital One being one of them.
When buying things in Cabo, insist on being quoted in PESOS. If you’re being quoted in dollars, the merchant will likely convert to pesos when tallying your bill and you can bet that the conversion won’t be in your favor.
We’d always heard that September and the first half of October were the “off” season in Cabo. Therefore, based on rumor, we’d never visited during September/October. Pretty much on a moment’s notice (our anniversary, combined with our need to get some fabric to Cabo for a reupholstery of our condo), we decided to hop to Cabo and spend a long weekend.
We’ve been VERY pleasantly surprised at the wonderful weather (about 85; a bit humid) and wonderfully amazed at the tepid ocean water. There are a few bugs in the air and an incredible amount of butterflies riding currents of air. Overall, we’d return to Cabo in September in a second!!
Be aware however that several restaurants (and even some resorts, such as Club Cascadas) close during part of September for repairs, rehabilitation and probably some recreation for the employees. We were disappointed to find that The Office, Ediths and even Tabasco’s were closed. However, everything has a silver lining, and we were forced to try some new restaurants and found some gems.
The ocean water temperature is wonderful. The clarity and warmth of the Cabo water was wonderful. We took an ocean kayak over to Lover’s Beach and played on the beach — and made a comparison of the water clarity to that of our beloved Lake Tahoe.
It seems that every time we visit Cabo, we enjoy it more and more. Our September trip is no exception!!
Okay, let’s get this confusion un-confused right away.
If you’ve never been to Cabo San Lucas, it’s important for you to know that there are two different towns with the name CABO in them: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Don’t get them confused!
Cabo San Lucas is at the tip of Baja and is the “CABO” you want. The airport is located at San Jose del Cabo (SJD), which is a town located about 25 miles east of Cabo San Lucas. SJD has resorts, but not as upscale as Cabo San Lucas; also, the weather’s more humid around SJD. We’d like to say that SJD has some pretty cool ambience downtown – art galleries and restaurants – but Cabo San Lucas is where most people go when they think “CABO.”
In between Cabo San Lucas and SJD is the “tourist corridor” and many resorts are located along this stretch (Hilton, Westin, One-and-Only Palmila), but they are not in “CABO” and require an expensive taxi drive to get to CABO. If you’re staying on “the corridor,” you might get tired of having to drive 20 minutes to get to town…
Always a favorite (passed on by a musical friend):
3 wedges lime
2 ounces gold tequila (Cuervo 1800)
1/2 ounce tequila (Cuervo white)
1 1/4 ounces Rose’s lime juice
1/2 ounce triple sec (Bols)
1 splash orange Curaçao (Bols)
Put all ingredients except the 3 lime wedges into a shaker. Squeeze 2 of the lime wedges into the shaker. SHAKE WELL! Rim outside of glass only with lime. Salt only the outside of the glass. Add fresh crushed ice to glass. Strain mixture over ice. Squeeze remaining lime wedge in glass.
Tipping in Mexico is greatly appreciated by the workers.
Prior to leaving for Cabo, make sure to get a handful of 1’s and 5’s; for us, tipping very much improves our stay in Cabo — and at the same time plays a BIG part in spreading goodwill and of improving the lives of the workers that work hard in making our stay enjoyable.
BELL STAFF AND TRANSPORATION: We typically tip $1/bag
RESTAURANTS: 10-20% of the bill
GROCERY SHOPPING: If you shop at the local markets, the kids and people bagging your groceries aren’t paid and depend on tips.
MAID: We usually tip our maid the first cleaning of our stay. US$10-20 is always VERY appreciated by our maid and we end up tipping just about every other cleaning day.
POOL: If you want that particular chair saved for you…
CABS: Cab drivers do not expect tips in Mexico. Shuttle drivers who do a good job can be tipped (some of them even provide free cervezas for the road…).
Just a word to the wise: if you rent a car, you’ll need to buy gas for the car. Be aware of the fact that the closer you get to the airport, the bigger the chance that you may get scammed by a Pemex attendant. They’re aware it’s a rental car, you’re filling up prior to returning it and that you’re probably in a rush — they rely on that knowledge and might be tempted to scam you.
The biggest scam: they fill the vehicle, you give them US$50 and expect change. The attendant disappears with your US$50, only to return with a US$1 or $5, saying “senor, you give me the wrong amount…” What are you going to do? Call the cops and miss your flight?
Sometimes they won’t even disappear — another attendant will distract you (“Senor, would you like the window washed?) and during the distraction, the attendant holding your money will switch out your bill for a lower-denomination bill.
The other scam (and it happened to me): the attendant filling the vehicle distracts you by asking how your vacation was, whatever, and gets you to stop watching the pump (which you should be doing). Meanwhile, his buddy somehow resets the pump to read higher than what was pumped (it may be some kind of diagnostic mode). When it happened to me, I noticed out of the corner of my eye another attendant at the pump and when he quickly left, it turned out that it took 17 gallons to fill our rental car — and on the way to the airport, my wife pointed to the vehicle manual where it said “gas capacity… 14 gallons.”
Here’s my recommendation:
1. Pay in pesos; if no pesos, pay in dollars — but ask how much gas that will buy
2. Tell the attendant “200 pesos worth” or “17 gallons” (if that’s what your money will buy) or ask “How much will this buy?” while holding up the bill(s).
3. Hold onto the cash while the attendant pumps the fuel.
4. WATCH THE PUMP; ENSURE THAT IT HAS BEEN RESET TO ZERO before pumping begins.
5. WATCH THE PUMP
6. WATCH THE PUMP
7. Have a passenger in your car witness the handing of the bill(s) to the attendant for final payment. Count it out.
Not all Pemex jockeys are dishonest. Just pay attention. Tip them if they were honest.
Want to pay for your trip? Need some dental work? — Angel’s Touch, a dentist’s office in San Jose del Cabo, offers great dentistry at about 50% of what it costs in the USA. Seriously. www.angelsdental.com
On a recent September trip, Patti and I both had cleanings/exams and I ended up having an old resin filling replaced. Total cost — for the both of us — was US$135. That’s two cleanings and exams AND my filling replaced. This probably would have run close to US$300 in the USofA?