Driving, Cabo San Lucas
I thought it would be difficult to get around and that taxis would gouge me as an American tourist so I rented a car and spent way too much money just to have something to take me to and from the airport. It turns out that most hotels have shuttles available for about $15 per person each way. Much better deal.
Having tried other routes to Los Cabos, this year we drove to Tucson then south to Nogales and into Mexico. It is critical that you check the Baja Ferries website to ensure that the ferry is running from Topolobampo to La Paz. Two years ago, it was unexpectedly taken out of service about this time of year so the Mazatlan ferry became our Plan B. There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to make a ferry reservation so be prepared to just show up and take your chances. Back to the drive. About 21 km south of Nogales, you stop to get your tourist cards and car sticker. A painless process in the middle of January. The run down to Topolobampo took about 9.5 hours driving time on mostly 4 lane roads. The Sanborn logs, that came with our Mexican insurance, helped us navigate a couple of city by-passes. We left Nogales at 8:00 am and arrived at the ferry dock well before it was dark. A first drive through Los Mochis is best done with some daylight. We had plenty of time to buy our tickets and wait in line for loading. The van and driver cost about $160 and the second person about $65. Departure was at 11:00 pm. We elected to rent a cabin for about $65 but this is optional as the crossing time is only around 6 hours.
As the sun rose, we disembarked from the ferry in La Paz. This particular morning, the military were doing an extra thorough search of all vehicles so we were a couple of hour before we were on our way. Within 24 hours of leaving Nogales, we were on our way down to Los Cabos from La Paz, a 2.5 hour drive. We will go back home the same way by catching an afternoon ferry the other direction.
Having a car while in Los Cabos is almost a must. There is so much to do and see at the bottom of the Baja. My wife and I are retired and long-stay 4 – 6 weeks in timeshares by using our points carefully to select efficiency units with at least a partial kitchen. Another factor in wanting a car is to be able to purchase our own food rather than rely on expensive resort meals. The incremental cost of driving a car down to Los Cabos is not significantly different from the cost of two airfares, and you have a vehicle when you get there.
I make a point of getting my Mexico car insurance before I leave home. I have used Sanborn in Yuma a number of times because they are reputable, have good emergency protocols, and provide excellent log books to assist with the navigation. A detailed map book is a helpful companion. We also travel with water and some food to avoid dubious roadside restaurants. Many of the roads are four lane, and signage is improving. The log books will identify where to stop south of the border to pick up your tourist cards and car sticker.
There are 3 routes to Los Cabos: via Laredo, Nogales and Yuma to the Topolobampo ferry to La Paz and then down to Los Cabos. Double check the Baja Ferries website to ensure that the ferry is running. The route across Mexico, via Saltillo and Mazatlan, will take about 3 days. The roads are OK but busy, particularly through the cities. It is potentially slow going over the mountains. Accommodation is not a problem. Don’t take the Mazatlan ferry unless you have no choice. The drive down from Nogales to Topolobampo takes 9 hours, so it is easy to catch the ferry the same day. It departs at 11:00 pm. This route trades off Mexico driving time for US. The drive down the Baja should be done at least once, and Yuma is a good entry point. The sights are marvelous and there are lots of side trips. Plan on 4 or 5 days, and think through overnight stays in advance. Return using the ferry, and consider a side trip to the Copper Canyon.
Beware of gas station rip-offs at Pemex gas stations. I stopped between San Jose Del Cabo and the Los Cabos Airport to fill up my rental car before turning it in. At the Pemex gas station, the guy filling up the car asked me to check my key in the steering column. After I had done this, another guy comes up and starts asking me questions like my name, where are you from, etc. After this the guy pumping the gas points to the pump and says this is what i owe: $360Pesos. I told him I has only down 3/4 tank and was topping it up so it couldn't be that much. He then smiled and said he made a mistake and my bill was $110Pesos, which is about right. I left without leaving a tip!
My advise is to watch the guy filling up your gas tank until it finishes and shuts off. Then you know for sure what amount was put in your tank. I am sure they catch a lot of foreign tourists with this scam and get away with it. This is a major rip-off and easily performed. Please spread the word!
The distance between Cabo San Lucas and Cabo San Jose is not walking distance - the Corridor stretches several kilometers in between the two towns.
Renting a car to get about in is highly recommended. If you're intending to visit both towns, having a car is definitely more convenient than flagging a taxi down, or getting on the bus (I didn't see any in the week that I was there!). If you're staying on The Corridor itself, and don't intend to spend the entire holiday on the resort grounds, then getting a car to take you into the towns is again highly recommended.
It gives you the flexibility of getting around whenever you want to, and for making little side trips. Not all tour operators (whether snorkelling, diving, horseback riding or ATV)provide hotel pick-up, so if you're planning on doing more than lazing by the pool, then definitely get a car.
Don't expect spanking new cars though, the general condition of the rental cars are clean, but not the latest models. If you're not travelling great distances, it shouldn't be a problem. They run fine, if a little rattle-y! Most of the major rental car companies (Avis, Hertz, etc) have offices either within the airport compound, or provide transfers from airport to their off-site offices.
You'll need a car if you really want to enjoy the southern tip of Baja. Taxi's are expensive.
Go to the Westin Regina Hotel and visit Manuel at the Hertz Car Rental Desk.
If you slip him some US cash under the table he gives you a great deal on cars.
I picked up this great Nissan wagon for 55 USD including all insurance and tax.
Renting a car in Cabo is strange enough not too expensive. We rented a car for two days and had to pay only one day. In the end we got a car for free to drive back to the airport and leave it there. Do not forget to turn off you lights as we did. You will lose a lot of time to start the car :o)
When I finally got out of the airport we jumped in our van that was included in the cost of the vacation package and drove the half hour to Cabo, and all along the way (they call it the Corridor) we saw little crosses with flowers, apparently loads of people somehow DIE on the very flat and very straight road.
Maybe if we did that in the US, more people would feel uneasy about driving drunk. Some of these little monuments have photos… ere.
Alaska Airlines is my mode of getting there and they are a top rated airline.
Once you are in town, walking is the mode of getting around. However, if you want to wander off the beaten path, I strongly suggest a rental car. You can rent a 'bug' for a reasonable price. Take a drive out into the desert, it's safe.
If you are up for a serious road trip you can drive the 1000 mile penisula. I have down it several times!! If you don't have the time or desire then the best way is by plane!!
The best way to really see Cabo is to rent a car. It makes everything a lot more accessiable and easier on you!!
Fly into San Jose then drive about 2 1/2 beers south to the town ...stop at the road stand,then get another beer and find your hotel.
Rent a Jeep and only a Jeep...do not get, a stupid VW beetle there or like my first stop... A Cadillac,unless looking like Guido is your thing.
If you truly want to enjoy all tha activities available at Los Cabos, rent a car. It's not expensive and they have nice and comfortable models.