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Traveling to Los Cabos in 2021: What you need to know

Traveling to Cabo looks a little bit different right now because of Covid — here’s what you need to know before you go.
Woman relaxing in a Hammock, looking at the view, holding a coconut
Here is what it’s like to travel to Cabo right now and a few important things you should know about Covid restrictions, testing and more.Linka A Odom / Getty Images

Los Cabos, Mexico, has always been a popular tourist destination — particularly among West Coast travelers — and that remains true in a post-pandemic world. When the Mexican borders reopened to tourists, hotels started booking between 48.7 percent and 61.5 percent occupancy for the summer season, which has been a welcome change for the resort town — the local government itself claims 90 percent of the local population depends on tourism.

I recently got back from Los Cabos and it was my first time traveling to Mexico since Covid. Before my trip, I checked the number of active cases in Los Cabos and read the CDC guidelines for the latest information. Los Cabos earned the “Safe Travels” stamp of approval from The World Travel & Tourism Council and is the world’s first destination to be VERIFIED — a health and safety initiative launched in partnership with Sharecare and Forbes Travel Guide. The program requires verification of over 360 expert-validated standards at the majority of the destination’s hotels and resorts.

Here is what it’s like to travel to Cabo right now and a few important things you should know before booking tickets.

Note: Prices shown are subject to change based on the type of hotel room and availability.

Where to stay in Los Cabos

Los Cabos is home to a slew of 5-star luxury resorts — from all-inclusive hotels to adults-only properties, there is something for everyone in Baja California Sur. Below, we highlighted a few notable hotels in Los Cabos for every type of traveler.

Best hotel with things to do: The Cape, A Thompson Hotel

Set on a beautiful stretch of Monuments Beach, The Cape, A Thompson Hotel is a great option if you’re looking for a modern resort with a hip vibe. Although it’s not an adults-only property, the resort largely caters to adults with on-site activities such as mezcal tastings, cooking classes and live music on The Rooftop, which is best enjoyed during sunset hour. The idyllic oceanfront property overlooks massive ocean breaks where pro-surfers flock early in the morning to create a spectacle for guests dining at The Ledge. The hotel’s signature restaurant, Manta, overseen by the legendary chef Enrique Olvera, is dimly lit and sophisticated with an eclectic menu that fuses traditional Mexican flavors and influences from the Pacific Rim.

Guests are greeted with a welcome tequila amenity served in hand-etched bottles that can be enjoyed on the private terrace with a hanging daybed in select rooms. All 161 guestrooms face the sparkling Sea of Cortez and offer a distant view of El Arco, the iconic granite arch.

Best secluded hotel: One&Only Palmilla

About 30 minutes south of the San Jose del Cabo Los Cabos airport lies the award-winning One&Only Palmilla, a tranquil and ultra luxurious hideaway with world-class service, charming Spanish-style accommodations and exceptional culinary experiences. There is no need to leave the resort with a range of on-site offerings including surf lessons, tequila and mezcal tastings, private cooking classes and alfresco picnics that can be set up on the pristine white sand beach. The resort is also home to four restaurants — including Seared, the fine-dining steakhouse by Michelin star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten — and a rejuvenating 22,000-square-foot spa that offers private villas with indoor and outdoor spaces for couples to relax and enjoy their traditional Mexican spa treatments.

Fun things to do in Cabo

It’s easy to stay on-property when most of the hotels in Los Cabos offer all the amenities you could need for a relaxing vacation. However, Los Cabos offers a lot to see and do if you’re willing to venture out for a day of activities.

If you want to take in the scenery and local food, you can explore the Baja desert on a camel through Outback and Camel Ride Safari. The kid-friendly tour includes a 20-minute camel ride through the Baja desert, a tortilla-making class, a Mexican buffet and a tequila tasting.

Verdant gardens and fresh produce can also be found at Flora Farms, a 25-acre organic farm in San Jose del Cabo. Guests are invited to take a walking tour of the garden, sign up for a mixology or cooking class, unwind at the spa or dine at the famous Flora’s Field Kitchen, which features live music daily for lunch and dinner. Bubbling wood-fired pizzas and salads with mounds of colorful vegetables are just a few of the menu items to expect — 95 percent of the menu ingredients are grown directly on the farm.

For a unique activity on the water, Animalon by the Sea is a fine dining experience on a 49-foot boat curated by chef Javier Plascencia. The five-course menu pays homage to local farmers and ingredients from Baja, featuring dishes like kampachi aguachile and a ribeye with black mole. The 3-hour boat ride will take you up close to El Arco for a photo opportunity and you may even spot sea turtles and manta rays jumping in the air.

COVID guidelines in Cabo and how to get tested

Masks or face coverings are currently required in Los Cabos in public areas except when eating, drinking or swimming. Currently, there is also a citywide curfew in place. “A midnight curfew has been implemented since the reopening, though grocery stores close earlier at 9 p.m. and restaurants at 10 p.m.,” said Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.

All hotels, villas and timeshares in Los Cabos are equipped with the required antigen Covid-19 test and medical personnel on-site. As a last resort, the Los Cabos International Airport has antigen and PCR testing stations available as well. Select hotels in Cabo, including The Cape, A Thompson Hotel and Montage Los Cabos, offer the antigen test complimentary for hotel guests. Other hotels, such as Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal and One&Only Palmillla, charge a discounted fee of $30 for an antigen test (rates vary by hotel). When you receive your test results online, make sure to request a printed copy from the hotel’s concierge as a backup.

Hotels such as One&Only Palmilla have taken a step further by adding extra safety precautions on-site. “From the very beginning, we appointed a Covid-19 dedicated Health, Safety & Hygiene Coordinator to ensure compliance with the enhanced health and safety programs,” said Robert Logan, general manager of One&Only Palmilla. “The resort also has access to medical personnel, including an onsite doctor available 24/7; discreet and private temperature checking; personal luggage sanitization; convenient in-room check-in through your butler; and of course access to on-site viral testing with results readily available upon departure,” he said.

Traveling to Cabo: COVID restrictions and guidelines

The CDC recommends that travelers are fully vaccinated before traveling to Mexico and says unvaccinated travelers should avoid any non-essential travel to Mexico. U.S. travelers who are fully vaccinated are not required to take a Covid test to enter Mexico and do not have to self-quarantine after they arrive in the United States. However, the CDC recommends that unvaccinated travelers get tested with a viral test one to three days prior to traveling to Mexico and three to five days after travel. A self-quarantine for a full seven days is also highly recommended.

All travelers are required to wear masks on public transportation, including planes, buses and trains within and outside of the United States, and inside airports. Passengers flying into the United States, including those who are fully vaccinated, are also required to show proof of a negative Covid test no more than three days prior to travel or documentation of Covid recovery within the past three months prior to boarding.

Currently, several major airlines are flying to Cabo from all over the United States, including Southwest, American Airlines, United and Delta. If you want to search all your flight options at once, you can check out a travel site like Expedia, which also offers vacation packages and hotel deals.

I highly recommend downloading the VeriFLY app and creating a profile before you leave Mexico. You are required to fill out paperwork at the Los Cabos International Airport, which includes showing proof of your negative Covid test. You can upload your test results and complete all the paperwork through the app instead. You will receive a verification badge on the app which you will present to airport officials and it allows you to bypass the long lines at the airport.

CORRECTION (July 26, 2021, 8 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of the chef of Animalon by the Sea. He is Javier Plascencia, not Javier Plascenica.

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