If you’re going to rent a car when in Cabo, we’ve heard good things about Cactus Car Rental.
Book your airport transportation here: http://www.heavenincabo.com/airport-transportation/
TransPacifico is a great limo company in the Cabo area. If you’re looking for airport transportation, these are the guys. A nicely dressed gentleman meets you at the airport, holding a sign with your name on it. Well-maintained suburbans whisk you via the toll-road to Cabo. They’ll even stop while you go grocery shopping.
This is the way to begin your Cabo adventure! They’re priced about the same as a cab ride, but you have a newer vehicle and can fit seven people into the Suburban.
You can request their services here: http://www.heavenincabo.com/transportation/
Rental Cars — Rental cars aren’t cheap in Cabo. Travelocity.com seems to sometimes have good rates on compact cars in Cabo. Be sure to pay for the car with a credit card that covers collision damage and skip getting the expensive collision insurance through the rental car agency. However, be sure to buy liability insurance from them, as your auto policy back home won’t cover you in Mexico!
Beware that your reservation will be in dollars, but your contract will be in pesos; they’ll probably make $$ from the self-applied conversion rate, so best to be aware of this.
Airport Shuttle — $16 each way, per person. It takes a little longer than catching a cab, but the free cervezas on the way will make the time go quicker. To return to the airport, see the concierge the day prior and they’ll make sure you’re set for a pickup. For not much more, you can also book with TransPacifico and have a Suburban all to yourself.
Airport Limo — TransPacifico offers upscale transportation for US$95 from the airport to downtown Cabo San Lucas (up to seven people in a late-model, clean Suburban). This doesn’t cost much more than a taxi, so it’s a great deal, even for a family of four. This is the real deal — a nicely dressed chauffeur holding up a sign with your name on it at the airport, waiting to whisk you away — just a great way to start off your vacation. As a bonus, TransPacifico will head to Cabo on the toll road, saving about 15 minutes of travel time. To book with TransPacifico, click here.
Taxis — the $300 you’ll spend on a small rental car will sure buy a lot of taxi rides. For those trips to Todos Santos, see the concierge and just rent a car for a day (or take a TransCabo tour for $50 each). Yeah, it’s a pain paying $10 each way to go to Costco, but $300 will buy a lot of those $10 trips and with a lot more convenience (like being dropped at a restaurant rather than spending 20 minutes searching for a parking space). What do we do? We keep a car in Cabo and know some great parking spots downtown Otherwise, we tend to walk the fifteen minutes to downtown in an effort offset the caloric consumption at dinner. By the way, no tip required for taxis (it’s built into the price).
Cheaper Rental Cars and Travel — when you travel internationally, try booking your rental car in the country you’ll be traveling to. For example, rather than booking at www.avis.com (the USA website), try www.avis.com.mx (the Mexican website). Also, the major travel booking engines (Expedia, etc.) have foreign variants where you can also try. If you don’t have any luck, try contacting a foreign travel agent and they can usually secure “locals” pricing (and at the same time, charge it to your USA credit card — which the websites may reject due to it be domiciled in the USA rather than in the country where you’re trying to book).
Cheaper (yet) Rental Cars — just prior to your trip, take another look at what rental cars are renting for. Since there’s no penalty for canceling a rental car reservation, it doesn’t hurt to check and see if the rate has changed. Often, if reservations are on the light side, you’ll find car rentals discounted the closer you get to your departure date.
Policia — Speaking of rental cars, you need to know that you may get pulled over for a traffic infraction. The most common is turning the wrong-way onto one of Cabo’s many one-way streets. The local cops sit and wait for some unsuspecting Gringo to do this. We’ve never, ever been hassled, but a buddy got stopped and paid the 200 peso “fine” immediately to the officer. Just be cool, mind your manners, and you won’t be paying any fines to anyone.
Emergency — Speaking of rental cars and speaking of Policia, it’s worth mentioning that 911 won’t get you ANYWHERE in Cabo. In the event of an emergency, 066 is the number to use! If you’re at Villa La Estancia, call the operator (0) first. Worse comes to worst, there’s a emergency clinic on the four-lane when it first enters Cabo. The official hospital is located across from CCC on the road to Todos Santos.
Colectivo Buses (public transportation) — These are small white buses that run around just about every street in Cabo. How’s your spanish?
The airport serving Cabo (commercial flights) is SJD. SJD is located about 29 miles from Cabo and you’ll need a rental car, shuttle, taxi or limo to get to Cabo. If you’re confused about Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, take a look at this post: http://www.heavenincabo.com/cabo-san-lucassan-jose-del-cabo/
If you’re lucky enough to fly in privately, MMSL is likely your best bet (only about five miles from Cabo).
That Funny Paper that immigration gives you when you arrive and clear immigration — HOLD ONTO IT! If you lose it, you’ll need to buy another to get on your return flight. Total hassle and $50, so tuck it into your passport and then tuck your passport away (you won’t need it until you depart, unless you head to a bank to exchange dollars for pesos).
Customs — upon arriving in Mexico, don’t let them bug you about used items for normal everyday use. Used items are duty-free. Additionally, you get a US$300 exemption, per person, for new items when entering Mexico.
Airport – avoid the gauntlet. After you exit customs/immigration, keep your eyes forward and don’t stop until you get outside. In a very annoying situation, timeshare salespeople are crammed inside of yellow booths and act like they’re there to help you with your car rental or transportation. What they’re really there to do is talk you into a timeshare presentation. Don’t stop until you can see sunlight!! Once outside, make your transportation arrangements (actually, they’ll drag you back inside to the last booth just before the glass doors — that’s the transport desk). You brought cash, right? This will likely be the first place you’ll put it to good use.
Departing Cabo: first of all, leave the booze behind (now you know where our villa’s collection of liquor comes from!). You can no longer take it in your carry-on and if you put it in your checked baggage, trust me, it will break. Go ahead —ask me how I know Kahlua is 90% sugar…
However, if you can, pack snacks and water for the airport wait, as the prices are quite high. It used to be that you could take your water to the boarding gate, but no longer true! Now you’re stuck paying US$4 for a 1/2 liter of water, so hydrate during the drive to the airport. As far as getting to the airport on time, we usually arrive 1.5 hours prior to the flight and never feel rushed. They’re pretty efficient at SJD, at least at the Alaska Airlines check-in counter.
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.