Is Cabo San Lucas safe to travel to in 2023? If you are planning a vacation to the Baja California Sur Resort city of Cabo San Lucas safety is likely to be at the forefront of your mind.
More than 3 million international travelers visit Cabo San Lucas every year. Most visits are trouble-free and most travelers create memories that last a lifetime.
However, safety is a big concern for people traveling to Mexico in general. After all, the country doesn’t always receive the most positive press.
Is Cabo San Lucas Safe to Travel to in 2023?
Cabo San Lucas and the wider region of Baja California Sur are among the safest places to travel in Mexico. Your trip here can be safe and enjoyable provided that you take the same common sense precautions as you would when traveling to any foreign country.
Since tourism is a big part of the Mexican economy, the Mexican government and tourism board provide additional security and police presence in areas that are popular among tourists. That includes the hugely popular Cabo San Lucas.
This article has been written by an expat writer that lives in Mexico. It will provide an honest look at the safety situation in Cabo San Lucas and in Mexico on the whole.
It will then go on to provide useful safety tips to help make sure that your trip to Baja California Sur is a pleasant one.
Check your government travel advice before visiting
It is a good idea to check your country’s government travel advice before visiting a foreign country and the same rings true for visiting Cabo San Lucas and Mexico in general. Government advice can be sternly worded which can be intimidating.
Review the US Government travel advice for Baja California Sur
However, these sources of information are a good starting point to get an idea as to what the safety and security situation is like in a specific place. The U.S. Department of state travel advice is particularly useful and comprehensive for planning a trip to Mexico.
It gives a state-by-state breakdown of what the safety situation is like in each part of the country. This is a good thing to refer to whether you are a US citizen or not.
The 32 different states in Mexico a broken down into four different safety categories. Several States including Sinaloa and Sonora are on the do not travel list for Mexico.
Some states including Jalisco and Baja California Sur are on the list which suggests that you should reconsider travel. Then, other states are detailed as places where you should exercise increased caution.
Finally, the Yucatan State and the state of Campeche are detailed as places where you should exercise normal precautions. The official advice states that you should “reconsider travel to Baja California Sur due to crime and kidnapping”.
However, it goes on to expand on that. The safety situation varies significantly from one part of Baja California Sur to another.
Organized crime groups operate in the Mexicali Valley, in Tijuana, and close to the US border.
Most of the safety warnings for Baja California Sur relate to these regions. In the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, things are different entirely.
Review the UK Government travel advice for Baja California Sur
The UK government travel advice for Mexico is structured differently and it doesn’t give a state-by-state breakdown. Instead, it identifies Mexican states as green states where you can travel with comfort and ease and states where the UK government advises against all but essential travel.
There are no Travel warnings in place for Cabo San Lucas. The only places on the do not travel list for Baja California so here are Tijuana and Tecate.
Tips for staying safe in Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is a beautiful coastal city that sits at the southern tip of Baja California Sur where the glittering aquamarine Waters of the Pacific Ocean meet the Sea of Cortez. A trip here is usually about relaxing on pristine white sand beaches, swimming and snorkeling in translucent seas, and whale watching.
Mexico can be a safe and culturally rich travel destination provided that you take precautions. It is unfortunate that Global media, particularly the US media often paints a picture of Mexico as being a no-go zone or a violent, failed state.
When you arrive in Cabo San Lucas, you’ll see that the reality is much different. However, harsh warnings and intimidating news articles can be a deterrent for many people and can create a lot of unnecessary anxiety when planning a trip.
Truthfully, most crimes and acts of violence in Mexico only affect people that are involved with criminal organizations. If you don’t go looking for trouble in Mexico, trouble won’t go looking for you.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the local cuisine
Many people worry about getting sick when they travel to Mexico. However, falling ill is not a guarantee of traveling in Latin America.
It would be a real shame to miss out on sampling traditional Mexican food and street food eats during your trip out of fear. These experiences are just as wonderful as seeing the sights.
There are lots of world-class restaurants in Cabo San Lucas that serve everything from traditional fare to international eats. Metate Cabo (Mexico 1 S/N, 23454 El Tezal, BCS) is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
The restaurant’s menu focuses on indigenous recipes that have existed for hundreds of years.
Many of Metate Cabo’s dishes are a fusion of Mexican and other Latin American cuisines. Los Cabos Seafront location means that this is a wonderful place to try seafood and fish dishes.
For mouth-watering fish tacos made with smoked marlin, scallops, or breaded fish, head to Los Claros Tacos (Ignacio Zaragoza, Downtown, Centro, 23450 Cabo San Lucas, BCS). For a real local experience away from the tourist crowds, order yourself a plate of cow head tacos (cabeza tacos) at Los Tacos May (Jose María Morelos S/N, Local 3, Centro).
Is it safe to eat street food in Cabo San Lucas?
If you haven’t tried Mexican street food, you arguably haven’t traveled to Mexico. Mexican street food is extremely diverse, cheap, and flavorful. Tacos are of course a popular treat and you will find taco stands open day and night on virtually every street corner.
Tacos made with sirloin or arrachera beef a popular throughout Mexico. However, there are a few more unique local alternatives to look out for.
Huitlacoche (corn smut), machaca (dried beef), and flor de calabaza (squash blossom) are all variations to add to your radar. For breakfast (yes, breakfast tacos are a thing!), papas con chorizo are a delicious choice.
Elotes (corn topped with mayonnaise, chili, cheese, and lemon) and loaded hotdogs and hamburgers are other favorites. In Autumn 2022, The sale of street food was temporarily suspended in Los Cabos due to sanitation issues caused by storm Javier.
Although this was a mitigating circumstance, the temporary ban caused people to be more aware than ever of the importance of food safety and the safe storage of ingredients.
So, in general, you can feel assured that street vendors in Cabo San Lucas ensure that they cook in a safe and hygienic way. There are also a few things that you can keep in mind when choosing a street food store to eat from.
If somewhere has a queue of people waiting beside it, it is generally a good indication of the quality of the food. Choose busy street food stands over quiet ones, even if you have to queue.
In Mexico, people usually order street food and then sit and eat it right beside the truck rather than take it home. Use your judgment and if the food looks like it has been left out a while, move on to the next stand.
You cannot drink the water in Cabo San Lucas
You cannot drink the tap water in Cabo San Lucas or anywhere else in Mexico for that matter. This isn’t just a case of your stomach and body not being accustomed to the water because you are a foreigner.
Even locals do not drink the water in Mexico. Despite the fact that the water is cleaned at the source, the plumbing and the pipes that connect water to the taps are dated and leave a lot to be desired in Mexico.
As such, it often gets contaminated en route to you and many people have fallen sick. Unfortunately, you would never know if the water in a certain area is going to make you sick or not until you try it.
(This is arguably not the kind of experiment that you want to try when you’re on vacation!)
All hotels and Airbnbs in Cabo San Lucas will provide you with a complimentary bottle of water or two when you check in. Some coastal resorts often have potable water on site that is safe to drink.
If they do have this, they will tell you at the check-in desk or there will be signs around the premises that say agua potable.
Then, you can easily buy large multiliter bottles of water from convenience stores and supermarkets around town. You don’t have to worry about drinking water at restaurants or having ice in your drinks. Tap water will never be used for this purpose.
Prepackaged ice is typically delivered to restaurants in bulk and bottled water is used to make Mexican drinks. Most people brush their teeth with tap water with no issue.
Protect yourself against petty theft
Violent crime is rare in Cabo San Lucas. If you are going to be a victim of criminal activity, It is most likely to be a petty crime such as pickpocketing or bag snatching.
Be careful with your personal belongings, particularly in crowded local markets in tourist areas. Plaza Artesanos is one of the best places to shop for Mexican souvenirs and handicrafts such as Jewelry, oil paintings and artwork, handmade apparel and accessories, pottery, and trinkets.
There are also a lot of excellent farmers’ markets in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. El Merkado (Transpeninsular Highway, Bv. Cerro Colorado) is a particularly fun local spot to explore.
since these places can get quite crowded, always walk with your backpack in front of you. If you travel a lot around various parts of Mexico, you may want to consider investing in a theft-proof backpack.
Theft-proof backpacks such as those offered by Pacsafe come with additional safety features. for example, many are waterproof, slash-proof, and come with a TSA-approved locking system. They may cost a little more than an ordinary backpack but they are generally worth the investment, particularly since they often come with long, multiyear warranties.
Be careful in cabs and Ubers
A lot of people prefer to use Uber in Mexico rather than taxis as a way to get around. Uber is not available all over the country. (You can use Uber in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Cancun, and a few other destinations, but in some areas, it is banned).
In many countries, people often think that taking an Uber is less safe than getting into a licensed taxi. However, in Mexico, the opposite is true.
Getting into an Uber arguably means that there is more accountability. After all, you can see your driver’s vehicle and license plate information, as well as details on how many rides they have completed, their rating, and how long they have been using the app.
When you get into a random street taxi, you don’t have any of that information. When getting around in Cabo San Lucas, you should use public transport, Uber, or ask your hotel or accommodation host to organize a trusted taxi driver for you.
For safety reasons, you should never get into a random street cab. On the lower end of the spectrum, getting into a random taxi may put you at risk of being scammed.
Taxi drivers are often a law unto themselves all over the world. So, getting into a random taxi may mean that you are overcharged, scammed, or taken on a roundabout route around town.
Take Ubers rather than random street cabs
However, on the more serious end of the spectrum, express kidnappings are a thing in Mexico including destinations like Cabo San Lucas. This is not ultra common but it isn’t completely unheard of either.
An express kidnapping happens when an unsuspecting tourist gets into a random cab in Mexico. The driver will drive the individual around a corner and their accomplices will enter the vehicle.
Then, the tourist will be forced to hand over their valuables before being driven around town and asked to withdraw funds from their ATM cards. Sometimes the individual is forced to call their relatives overseas and request a ransom.
This would be a traumatic thing to deal with on vacation. So for that reason, you should opt to use Uber (or the local alternative Didi) in Mexico rather than take a random street cab.
Is Cabo safe for solo travelers?
Cabo San Lucas is generally safe for solo travelers, including solo female travelers. Since this is a popular tourist destination, there are always plenty of international travelers around and you will not get weird looks or stick out like a sore thumb.
If you are looking for some alone time to relax and unwind by yourself in peace and quiet, it provides plenty of opportunities to do that. however, if you are hoping to be social during your trip and meet other travelers, you will find that it is easy to meet people here too.
Stay safe on Cabo San Lucas beaches
The chance to relax on gorgeous beaches and to indulge in luxurious resorts is the whole raison d’etre that a lot of people choose to travel to Cabo San Lucas in the first place. Medano beach, Playa de los Amantes, and Playa del Divorcio (divorce beach) are among the best beaches in Cabo San Lucas.
However, do pay attention to the swimming and safety warnings. Many beaches, including Playa del divorcio often display black flags which indicate that the waves and weather conditions are not safe for swimming and water sports.
There are also no lifeguards on any of the beaches in Cabo San Lucas, with the exception of some beaches that are owned by private inclusive resorts. All of these safety matters are important things to consider, particularly if you are traveling with children
Purchase comprehensive travel insurance before your trip
It is a good idea to purchase comprehensive travel insurance before you travel anywhere in the world and the same is true of visiting Cabo San Lucas. Unfortunately, today’s health is not promised tomorrow.
You never really know what is around the corner so it is a good idea to prepare for every eventuality. Medical care in Mexico is usually cheaper than it is in the United States.
However if you do need assistance overseas, medical bills can quickly mount up.
A good travel insurance policy will cover you for up to $1 million dollars worth of medical coverage. Good policies will also include additional extras like repatriation, loss or theft of luggage and electronic devices, and hiking or outdoor activities.
Check the small print of your policy so that you know exactly what is included. If you have an annual travel insurance plan, do make sure that Mexico is included in its coverage destinations.
Once you have purchased your insurance, make a note of the policy number or print out the first page of the policy. If you need assistance overseas, this will be the first thing that you will be asked for before anyone helps you.
Be mindful of where you explore
One thing to note about traveling in Mexico is that you cannot just walk randomly to random areas by following Google maps. Most areas of tourist interest in Cabo San Lucas are safe.
However, there are also areas that you want to avoid. The neighborhoods of Los Cangrejos and Las Palmas see higher rates of crime and are best avoided.
Crime has also been increasing in the Santa Rosa neighborhood in recent years which sits about 4 miles from Central Cabo San Lucas. Honestly, you are not likely to accidentally wander into these areas as they don’t really offer anything that appeals to tourists anyway. however, it is worth noting.
Medano Beach, Pedregall Hills, San Jose del Cabo, and downtown Cabo San Lucas are great places to base yourself as a first-time traveler to the area
Is Driving in Cabo San Lucas safe?
Driving in Mexico and driving in Los Cabos is generally safe and not as daunting as it may sound. Indeed, renting a car in Mexico offers you a lot more freedom and flexibility during your trip.
Having access to a car means that you can take day trips to many of the gorgeous beaches and towns that said less than an hour away from Cabo San Lucas. Todo Santos is one of the most popular day trips from Cabo San Lucas and it’s just an hour away down Highway 19.
The town was founded In 1723 when it thrived as a result of the local sugar cane industry. It is a Pueblo magico.
Pueblo Magicos are Mexican towns and settlements that have been recognized by the Mexican tourism board for having a particularly special history, gastronomy, or natural beauty. When you see that somewhere is designated as a Pueblo Magico, it is generally a good indicator that it is a worthwhile place to visit.
The Charming cobbled streets of Todo Santos provide a journey back in time and are filled with Gorgeous artisanal stores and quaint colorful churches. If you are interested in surfing, you can stop at the coastal area of Los Cerritos en route to Todo Santos.
La Paz also makes a wonderful day trip from Cabo San Lucas. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Baja California Sur.
Its five-mile Malecon is a great place to walk by the sea and is filled with an abundance of bars, restaurants, stores, and cafes serving Mexican and International fare. The roads in Cabo San Lucas and the surrounding area of Baja California Sur are excellent and well-maintained.
You won’t notice much of a difference here from driving in the United States.
Book excursions with trusted companies
There are a lot of great activities and excursions that you can participate in during your trip to Cabo San Lucas. If you are traveling to Mexico between December and April, you will be in Cabo San Lucas for the prime whale-watching season.
Participating in a whale-watching tour is a great way to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat while still maintaining a respectful distance. Although local tour companies will say that they cannot guarantee that you see whales during your trip, it is unlikely to go out on a whale boat tour and not see one.
Many local companies will also give you a refund or offer to take you back on the tour again the next day if you should be unfortunate enough not to see a whale.
There are a lot of other activities that you may want to consider during your time in Baja California so to enhance your trip. For example, you may want to take a cooking class, go on a snorkeling excursion or treat yourself to a sunset dinner cruise.
Numerous reputable tool companies operate in Baja California Sur. However, it is always a good idea to check past reviews and make sure that you know that you are traveling with a trustworthy firm. Get your guide and Viator are two great companies to consider booking with.
Recommended Cabo San Lucas tours and excursions
A selection of wonderful day tours and excursions that you may want to consider while traveling in Cabo San Lucas are detailed below. Book your place online in advance to avoid disappointment.
FAQs on Staying Safe in Cabo San Lucas
Do you have any further questions about safety in the Los Cabos area or Mexico travel in general? The answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic a detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information that you are looking for here. If not, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Is Cabo safer than Cancun?
Los Cabos and Cancun are both popular travel and spring break destinations. Since tourism is important in both areas, both areas have a heightened security presence and are generally safe areas of Mexico.
However, as cartel activity has increased in Cancun in recent years, Cabo San Lucas is now the safer option of the two. Although tourists are generally not the targets of cartel violence, they have often been caught in the crossfires in Cancun in recent years.
Arguably, you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time in any part of the world. However often, clashes between crime syndicates in Cancun take place in public tourist areas with no concern about who is around.
Is Cabo San Lucas safe at night?
It is not safe to wander around Cabo San Lucas at night. However, if you stick to the main strips and you are simply walking from one bar or restaurant to another, you will generally be fine.
Never leave your drink by itself or accept drinks from strangers. When it’s time to leave, order an Uber or have somebody call you a trusted taxi rather than ambling into a random street cab or trying to walk home.
What should you not do in Cabo San Lucas?
You generally be safe in Cabo San Lucas provided that you follow the same common sense rules that you would anywhere else. You should not wear flashy designer gear, expensive jewelry, and sunglasses, or walk around with an expensive camera hanging around your neck.
Watch your alcohol intake. Never leave a drink on attended and never wander home from a bar alone while intoxicated.
Drunk and disorderly behavior is not tolerated in Mexico and you really don’t want to find yourself in trouble with the authorities overseas.
Be careful when taking taxis and opt to use Ubers and taxis organized by your accommodation where possible.
Why can’t you swim in Cabo?
It is safe to swim at some Cabo beaches but not others. It is important to check what the situation is like at the beach that you will be visiting for the day before you go.
The presence of riptides and strong undertows makes swimming at certain beaches dangerous. These fast-moving currents can quickly sweep someone out to see.
You will usually see black flags waving at certain beaches in Cabo. These exist to warn you that this is not a safe area to swim.
Can you drink coffee in Cabo?
Yes. it is perfectly safe to drink coffee in Cabo and elsewhere in Mexico. This, along with other drinks is prepared with bottled water rather than tap water.
Is Cabo San Lucas safe? Final thoughts
Cabo San Lucas is a safe destination to travel to provided that you take precautions for your own safety. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do in your home country, and read about the latest developments in the area prior to your trip.
Do you need any further information on traveling to Mexico? I live in the Yucatan capital of Merida and would be happy to assist with any questions that you may have.
Safe travels! Buen Viaje! xo