The pandemic may have changed the way we travel, but during my most recent visit to Los Cabos, I found an experience that reflects a comfortable “new normal,” with safety-minded protocols that still allow for an enjoyable vacation.
I also learned some valuable insider travel tips about how to avoid long lines at the airport, thanks to a couple of savvy transfer drivers.
For my latest trip, I arrived in Los Cabos on a delayed flight from Dallas/Fort Worth and was pleasantly surprised to breeze through immigration and customs with no lines whatsoever. It was only about 7 p.m., and I was shocked at how quickly I found myself outside the terminal.
My super-fast arrival processing at Los Cabos International Airport is not an uncommon experience, according to the driver who picked me up, for those travelers who follow his valuable Los Cabos travel tip: “Always try to arrive early in the morning or in the evening,” he advised. “There are hardly any lines at those times of day.”
On the Ground in Los Cabos
I was visiting Los Cabos to check out a newly branded hotel: Corazon Cabo Resort & Spa, a stylish property on the delightfully swimmable Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas. My stay also gave me an opportunity to see how pandemic protocols have evolved around the region.
Upon arrival at the hotel, the bellhop dutifully offered me hand sanitizer and took my temperature.
Following Baja California Sur’s statewide mandate, a mask or face covering must still be worn when interacting with others who are not members of your household in public or private spaces, except when eating, drinking, swimming or doing some other activities. As usual, I didn’t find the requirement constraining, since guests at a beach resort usually spend much of their time outdoors.
I found similar protocols in place off the hotel property; during breakfast at a beachfront restaurant called The Office, for example, we sat without masks but donned them when walking through the restaurant; staff wore masks at all times and they took our temperatures and offered hand gel when we arrived.
During a scenic yacht cruise, I found the experience to be as comfortable and hygiene-conscious as when I visited last year; crew wore masks and offered hand sanitizer as we boarded, but once we were sitting on deck and enjoying the beautiful Pacific coast breezes, we were able to take off our masks (I had to explain to a confused crewmember that I was keeping mine on to serve as an extra layer of sun protection, but that’s a separate story about how to travel with sensitive skin).
Leaving Los Cabos
To comply with the U.S. testing requirements for my return flight, I made an appointment for an antigen test the day before my departure, at Corazon Cabo’s own testing facility. I received results within four hours via email (those who aren’t staying at a hotel with onsite testing can make use of any of a variety of labs around Los Cabos; there’s at least one right at the marina).
After uploading my lab results via the Delta Air Lines app, I received fast approval on the evening before my departure. (Interestingly, I was able to check in and get a boarding pass before submitting the test form, but I think that was a technical glitch.)
The following morning, I was surprised by a very nice touch on the part of the Corazon Cabo staff: the receptionist presented me with a printed copy of my test results when I checked out (it’s never a bad idea to have a hard copy, just in case).
On the way to the airport, I learned yet another valuable travel tip, from yet another driver. It happened after I commented about the long wait to pay at a highway toll booth. “It always takes longer to drive to the airport on Saturdays,” he said. “That’s the day when most timeshare travelers arrive and depart, so the airport is packed. You should always avoid traveling on Saturdays if you can.”
Upon entering terminal two, I saw that he was right about the crowds. Terminal 2 was, indeed, packed. But I was happy to find that there was very little wait for the automated check-in kiosk, and the security area was so well staffed that the line was constantly in motion and didn’t take long at all.
The biggest wait, I found, was in the departure area — specifically, at the food and beverage outlets. Los Cabos International Airport is in the midst of an impressive, $13 million expansion plan, so the terminal itself has plenty of space. But if you want to buy food on a Saturday, you should probably allow extra time.
I chose my lunch solely based on which vendor had the shortest line, waiting about 15 minutes for kung pao and orange chicken from Panda Express. Since the food court was so crowded, I shared a table with two friendly strangers. One woman, a former American Airlines employee and regular visitor to Los Cabos, confirmed that Saturdays are always the busiest days at the airport.
“So why do you travel on Saturday?” I asked.
“Because I have a timeshare,” she responded. “We don’t have much of a choice.”