Cabo San Lucas first beckoned to Hollywood's elite in the 1970s as a luxurious reprieve from the "dregs" of show business. The town's rather seedy reputation changed as world-class resorts took up residence here, in the neighboring village of San José del Cabo, and along the 18-mile stretch of highway that connects the two (known as "the Corridor"). The construction of an international airport in the 1980s made it easier for travelers from all over to hop a nonstop flight to the "Los Cabos" area.
Forty years later, this destination on the southernmost tip of Baja California is still known for its decadence — just take a look at the sprawling golf courses or deluxe villas. But the elitist pretense has dwindled: Days in the spa are just as coveted as evenings at a beachside watering hole. And there's a good chance that you'll see celebutantes and college freshmen sunning themselves side by side on the same stretch of sand.
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Most workers in Cabo's tourism industry speak English, so you won't need much Spanish to get around the city. Many of the stores and restaurants have an Americanized feel, especially in the city center's chain restaurants. Nevertheless, it may be both helpful and respectful to know some basic Spanish vocabulary, such as hello (hola), goodbye (adios), please (por favor), and thank you (gracias).
Cabo's official currency is the Mexican peso, though U.S. dollars are widely accepted here as well. You're better off converting your cash to pesos, however, as the return exchange rate is unfavorable and even if you pay in U.S. dollars you'll receive change in pesos. The U.S. dollar to peso exchange rate varies, so be sure to check what it is before you go.
And when it comes to dress code, keep in mind that standard beachwear is permissible during the day; dressy casual is preferred for the dinner hour or the nightclubs.
Cabo San Lucas has a special affinity for seafood, but restaurants featuring European and North American cuisines also attract travelers. Dining is generally expensive, but you can find cheaper eats and more fascinating cultural experiences if you try some of the hole-in-the-wall taco joints (taquerias) located downtown or along the hotel corridor.
Over the years as the area has increased in popularity, Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo have started to draw more and more acclaimed chefs (and their innovative menus) to Mexico. Some popular spots to try include Suviche Restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, located within the One&Only Palmilla Resort, which plates sushi and ceviche; Flora's Field Kitchen, which offers farm-to-table meals; and Tadd Chapman's Don Sanchez, which dishes out traditional Mexican fare with innovative flair. If you're looking for a more casual but still tasty authentic Mexican meal, head to one of Cabo's smaller hot spots, such as Mi Casa, Burrito Surf Burrito Shop or Hacienda Cocina y Cantina.
Cabo's spike in tourism has also caused a rise in crime. Both cities have been affected by the drug trade — and have seen some accompanying violence — but the main tourist areas are relatively safe. Travelers should be vigilant about their belongings, though. Pickpocketing is common in heavily visited areas, and those looking to take a drive along the Transpeninsular Highway should be cautious after dark, when highway robberies have been reported to happen. The U.S. State Department's website also cautions Cabo travelers about rough waters and nighttime swims: Make sure someone knows where you are at all times, just in case.
The best way to get around Cabo San Lucas is on foot. Sites are clustered within the downtown area, though some vacationers opt for a ride on the scenic water taxi to get from the downtown marina to the best beaches. The only trouble is that you can't walk between the Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo; you'll need to drive yourself or take a taxi along the Corridor. Just don't venture too far off the beaten path — there have been reports of car thefts in outlying areas. Car rental agencies have set up camp in Los Cabos International Airport (SJD), which sits roughly 30 miles northeast of Cabo San Lucas and 7 miles north of San José del Cabo.See details for Getting Around
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You'll need a passport that's valid for six months after your visit to enter Mexico. You'll also need a Mexican Tourist Permit, which is usually issued free of charge upon arrival. Be sure to hold on to that card throughout the trip, as you'll need to present it upon your departure. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department's website .