Five Things to Know Before Staying at a Resort in Cabo

Sunny beaches, palm trees, and lots of tacos and tequila are probably the things that come to mind when most people think of staying in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After spending a couple of anniversaries there at two resorts, there is some in depth advice that can be of great value to those planning a visit. While some points like managing your sun intake may seem fairly obvious, others like expecting dozens of peddlers may not, and in all cases, the consequences for ignoring such advice range from annoying to brutal. Visitors will find that Cabo does have enough sun, stunning views, and margaritas to rival any city in the world. Nevertheless, the combination of resort life, easily available food and drinks, and relentless dry heat can make for a wild vacation that's not to be underestimated.

It's Imperative to Manage your Drink Intake
Even if you're a frat god that does keg stands for breakfast, the duo of free resort drinks, party atmosphere, and intense sun means that it's not a good idea to max out on adult beverages, especially on day one. Considering that the family resort my wife and I chose featured an admittedly fun game where you compete against other couples while drinking and throwing darts, and that the prize for winning that game was a bottle of tequila, it's safe to expect alcohol to be everywhere. If you're planning on hitting the resort pounding drinks like Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, I'd advise taking it slow at first. Many unfortunate vacationers have overdone it on the first night and spent their remaining days with a very expensive hangover. Hydration is the biggest factor in staying healthy while experiencing the drinks of Cabo, so keeping some bottled water on hand is a good idea.

Sun Can Be your Best Friend or Worst Enemy
There is no doubt that the warm, tropical climate is a major factor that draws people to Cabo, but more so than most places, the sun is to be respected. This is due to the perfect storm of the sun being dry and intense, and you being out in it a lot in a swimsuit. Throw in any dehydration or hangover elements, and your experience with the sun can be a major influence on your trip. Just ask the bright red guy who thought that hanging out in the pool made him immune to sunburn.

They Want You to Play their Games
At many of the resorts in Cabo, young, fit employees are hired specifically to carry out the games and activities of the day, which range from thoughtful and awesome, to absolutely ridiculous. Don't worry about distinguishing between the two, because you'll hear each of them announced loud and clear, as you're strongly encouraged to participate in everything from pool Frisbee to the Macarena. In all seriousness, a pool volleyball tournament was among the top highlights of our trip and many games were creative, but just be prepared for even family resorts to have a lively, MTV Spring Break-style environment throughout much of the day.

The Ocean has Strong Undertows
Cabo San Lucas is a place of amazing beach and mountain views, boats available for rent, and resorts that have pools for swimming or activities. That said, the ocean has some of the worst undertows in the world, and swimming in it is typically banned by the local government. If you're thinking, "whatever, I can swim better than those people", you're not alone. Each year, a surprising number of visitors ignore the warnings, and get pulled out into the rough waters of Cabo. That said, there are swimming beaches and surfing spots accessible at some times throughout the year, but most of the beaches near resorts have signs warning against ocean swimming.

Be Prepared to Deal with Dozens of Peddlers
From the minute you hit the airport, you're practically going to be assaulted with salesmen of all types. Expect there to be a catch to any friendly, seemingly helpful people who show you a map of the city and offer a ride, and typically that catch will be in the form of attending some presentation in the city. Note that this isn't something we looked for on either occasion, but on both anniversaries that we flew into Cabo, there were sales people at the airport waiting to mob us like pit bulls. Even going into it the second time with a staunch plan to not get sucked into any schemes, one guy still turned our inquiry for directions into a hard sell attempt for his tourism company. Merchants on the beach and shopping areas are more interesting and less aggressive, but as you make your way through the gauntlet at the Cabo airport, it's advisable to know exactly where you're going and how you're getting there beforehand.

Nicholas Napier is an MBA, Navy Vet, writer, and tutor living near San Diego, California. In addition to dozens of articles for MapQuest, Nicholas has been published by a wide array of publications and companies, ranging from Roller Skating Business Magazine to Nectar Sunglasses. For writing inquiries, contact him at