Since the COVID-19 Pandemic started in March, I have been to Mexico three times. Twice to Cabo San Lucas in July and September and once to Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita just last month in November. I will admit that I didn’t post anything on instagram or really tell anyone about my first trip in July as I was terrified of the backlash I would receive. Although I took all safety precautions and felt very safe at the resort we chose, I didn’t want to face any criticism that others were starting to experience at that time for leisurely traveling during a pandemic. Unfortunately travel-shaming is definitely a thing right now. However, as the world is slowly opening up to non-essential travel, I wanted to share my experience traveling to Cabo San Lucas so that others could get an idea of what it is like and make their own deicison on if they feel comfortable enough to do the same or to wait a bit longer for vaccines and what not. To each their own. I’m not one to judge. Since I’ve been to Cabo twice now, I’ve mashed up both trips into this post as my experience was relatively the same both times.
FLIGHT: ALASKA AIRLINES SAN DIEGO —> CABO SAN LUCAS
Alaska Airlines has a very special place in my heart. They are my go-to domestic airline as I travel with them weekly for work and I always know they will consistently deliver the best service. Flying during COVID was no exception.
The flight from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas is only two hours so it doesn’t really matter if you’re flying economy, premium or first class, it’s a short flight so all seats are just fine. I booked a main cabin economy ticket but because I’m MVP Gold 75k, I got an email the night before that I had been upgraded to first! This is pretty common on Alaska Airlines. They treat their elites so well! Unfortunately, my boyfriend and I booked on different tickets so he didn’t get the upgrade with me…I didn’t have much of a problem leaving him in economy though hehe.
Boarding went smoothly. I was one of the first on the plane so it was interesting to see how flight attendants directed passengers during this time. The first thing I noticed was how ecstatic the flight attendants were to be back on their normal route. They joyfully welcomed everyone on board and even recognized a few regulars (mainly boat captains) going back to Cabo for the first time since the marina opened. I overheard one of the attendants reveal that she had actually cried when she saw the first passengers board on her first flight back at work. So dang sweet! They also nicely reminded passengers to have their mask on. Many people tried to board with their noses exposed but the flight attendants at the door were on top of it. Everyone obeyed the rules and we luckily had no issues!
There are a few differences when flying during these times. Masks are to be worn at all times during the flight except when eating or drinking. They also made an announcement that they would give passengers sanitizing wipes to anyone who asked for one. Meal service was extremely limited. First class got a light meal box and all drinks were in single serve bottles (wine, beer, soda, water, etc.). Premium class got a light snack and also choice of water or single serving alcoholic beverage. Premium and economy service doesn’t make another pass through so if you want more than one drink, ask for more when they first serve you. Economy got a small snack and just a small water bottle I believe. There was no alcohol for sale on this flight. First class and premium has alcohol included in the ticket price.
The two hour flight went smoothly and after filling out our immigration forms, we anxiously awaited decent into Cabo!
CABO SAN LUCAS AIRPORT ARRIVAL
Arrival to San Jose Del Cabo is where it gets a little interesting. While deplaning, we were each handed a health check form that needed to be filled out before customs. Now keep in mind we’re in the middle of the tarmac about to cram into a bus to take us to customs. Where in the world do we fill these suckers out?? Welp, let me tell you, watching people scramble (including myself) to fill out these forms on the short bumpy bus ride was a sight to see. I bet half of these forms were even eligible. Once we got to the terminal there was a small room with tables to fill these forms out but definitely not enough space for a full flight that just landed. You also couldn’t continue on to immigration until an airport employee checked to make sure you had filled out and signed the health check form. I really wish our flight had had these forms before-hand and could have given them to us along with our immigration forms. It would have made it less chaotic.
Immigration went smoothly enough once we got through the panic of filling out the health forms. The lines had social distancing stickers on the ground so everyone was six feet apart and we all still had our masks on. Once your passport is stamped you again show an airport employee your signed health check form and you’re directed to look at this camera type thing off in the distance which I can only assume is a temperature check. The camera man gives a nod, the employee circles your “No” answers to COVID related question and hands the form back to you and you continue on your way to baggage claim. That’s it. They don’t keep your health check form that you had just panic completed 20 minutes prior. I was shocked. Do we keep it just in case? Do we need it for the return flight home? Do we throw it away? To this day my questions are still unanswered.
The baggage area also had social distancing stickers and again, we all still had our masks on. This is about the time I got a big sniff down from the security dog which resulted in my purse getting searched. Back at the San Diego airport, in order to get an alcoholic beverage, you have to buy some food as well. We chose the cheapest item and bought a banana with our beers and I shoved it in my purse on our walk back to our gate and completely forgot about it. Well everyone knows you can’t bring fruit from one country to another so when the dog started sniffing my purse very persistently I was so confused as to why. Lo and behold the security officer pulled out that damn banana. Embarrassed was an understatement. He took my banana.
We collected our bags and ran them through the second security check and we were quickly on our way to the exit to meet the transfer to our hotel. When meeting your transfer company, follow their instructions and if they say meet them outside, meet them outside. Not in the impending corridor of time share doom. These guys and gals try everything to try and get you to their desk and sell you time shares. They will even go as far as pretending to be your transfer service if you tell them which company you’re using. Just keep walking until you get, you guessed it, OUTSIDE! Unless you’re into going to timeshare presentations then by all means counter hop in that corridor of doom.
AIRPORT TRANSFER TO PUEBLO BONITO SUNSET
We arranged private transfer through our hotel and got a nice sedan. They also offer shared shuttles that were a bit cheaper but they weren’t available late in the afternoons which is when we landed. As we always do when we’re in Cabo, we had the driver pull over and we picked up some road beers. Don’t forget to offer your driver something! Non-alcoholic of course. Our driver wore a mask the whole time and had plenty of hand sanitizer with him. We asked if he was ok if we took our masks off for the car ride and he didn’t mind which was nice.
The transfer from the airport to Cabo San Lucas is about 45 minutes. We took the time sipping our Coronas and looking out at the beautiful desert landscape and of course the blue, blue ocean!
PUEBLO BONITO SUNSET CHECK-IN
Upon arrival, we put our masks back on and started the check-in process. A bellman took our bags and directed us toward a sanitizing station. Each guest upon arrival is required to get their temperature checked and then proceed into a closed chamber where it directs you to turn around in two complete circles while it sanitizes your shoes and clothing with a fine mist. After they sanitize you, lol, you’re directed to the front desk. There are social distancing stickers on the ground keeping everyone 6 feet apart. Hotels in Cabo are not operating at 100%, so I never saw a line form at the front desk which was nice. All employees are wearing masks and there are plastic shields separating you from the front desk agents. Check in was as normal as any other check in. They went over their current rules, closures, etc. on property. Each guest has to fill out and sign a health check form and unlike the airport, the hotel actually keeps yours and files it away.
After a quick and painless check in we were whisked to a golf cart to take us to our room! Pueblo Bonito Sunset is a huge resort so golf carts are widely needed to get from one place to another. Luckily, the golf carts are in quite an abundance there and there’s never much of a wait for one.
The golf cart ride to our room was quite the adventure. The paths are full of hatchbacks and I was very impressed on how well these drivers were able to maneuver these big carts around the sharp turns. Even with oncoming traffic they knew exactly at what point to each turn so we narrowly missed side swiping each other. Who needs Disneyland when you have these golf carts?? During COVID, the carts have a maximum of four people per cart when they can easily fit six. It’s configured as two long benches facing each other. In order to ride, the driver makes sure your mask is on and gives you a squirt of hand sanitizer before you climb on board.
When we reached our room, there was a sign on knob letting us know our room was fully sanitized before arrival. This resort does offer daily housekeeping which I was extremely grateful for. Resorts back home won’t do housekeeping until you’ve reached a certain number or nights. I don’t know about you, but I feel a daily sweep and mop is 100x more sanitary than leaving it for four days untouched.
At this particular resort, each room has a small kitchenette and while I was looking through cabinets at what was offered, I found that they had provided us with a bottle of Lysol underneath the sink. Of course, it was accompanied with a little card that nicely requested that you leave the bottle in the room and not try and pack it in your suitcase back home. I guess the shortage of cleaning supplies applies everywhere.
PUEBLO BONITO SUNSET RESTAURANTS
Restaurants on property are operated much like back home in San Diego. Masks had to be worn until seated at your table and all menus were accessible by QR code that are scanned by your phone. Also, like back home, not all tables are available. Some are marked off to allow for proper social distancing between tables. Again, all employees are wearing masks throughout your whole service. You also sign your check through your phone as well. When your meal is complete, the server comes by with a QR code you scan with your phone and you complete the transaction on your phone. This includes adding tip and even signing! You receive a copy of your receipt in your email. Contact is definitely kept at a minimum here!
PUEBLO BONITO SUNSET POOLS
Only two of the many, many pools on property were open. The Sky Pool and the Main Pool. We wore our masks during the trek to the pool and once we got our chairs we took them off. Lounge chairs are separated in pairs of two or in groups of four for families traveling together. Although only two of the pools were open, there was no need to wake up early and snag your chairs. There were more than enough for everyone! Unfortunately, all swim up bars were closed. I was extremely bummed about this but I completely understood. It would definitely be the spot for everyone to accumulate and hang out. The pool menu is accessible by QR code and everything is ordered through your server.
PUEBLO BONITO SUNSET SPA AND GYM
This resort has one of the best hotel gyms I’ve seen in quite a while. It is huge and has everything you could possibly need. There’s even a barbell and plates! However, in order to access the gym, you need to make a reservation. You might also want to ask for a schedule as well because every couple of hours they close the gym for about a half hour to deep clean. They definitely don’t mess around here when it comes to cleanliness!
The spa was also taking special precautions. When you’re directed to your locker, there’s a little note inside letting you know that your locker has been sanitized. I even saw one of the attendants cleaning a used locker and she really got in there. Sanitized to the max! Like most spas here in San Diego, saunas and steam rooms were closed. However, the whirlpool and cold plunge remained open as well as showers.
MARINA/DOWNTOWN CABO SAN LUCAS
We left the resort a few times during our trip. Since Pueblo Bonito Sunset is on the pacific side, you cannot swim in the ocean as it is way too rough so we took the free shuttle to their sister property Pueblo Bonito Rose to get a day in at the beach. The same rules at Sunset applied to Rose. The beach was a blast although all the vendors are still there trying to sell you anything and everything. They were all wearing masks though!
Another night we left to have dinner at one of my favorite spots Torro Latin Kitchen and Bar. Same rules applied as our resort and back home in San Diego. All precautions were taken. This is still one of my favorite restaurants in Cabo and I highly recommend it. It’s even more special when they have their live music and fire pits going.
Our last night in Cabo we decided we wanted to see how the marina was holding up. Driving through the usually packed marina was a sad, sad reality. It was dead. There was hardly anyone walking the streets and many of the famous clubs and bars were boarded up. Some have managed to adapt and turn more into restaurants during the time being with some music. I mean, we saw people eating dinner at Squid Roe! How weird is that?? I mean I’m obviously happy they were able to adapt and stay open but it’s just so odd to see a globally known club becoming a lunch and dinner spot. During our trip down to the marina, we decided on dinner at Tres Gallos. This is now a new-found favorite!! This place is such a gem. Beautifully decorated and delicious traditional Mexican fare. All precautions are taken with temperature checks at the door and there are sanitization mats you stand on to sanitize your shoes. Restaurants are relatively empty so the attention you get from the staff is 10/10. They’re honestly so happy to have tourism back.
CABO SAN LUCAS AIRPORT
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. After a wonderful four-night escape (seven nights after both trips were completed), we packed up our luggage and headed back to the airport. Upon arrival, there are security agents at all entrances to the terminal checking your boarding pass to make sure you’re on a flight for that day. Once we got to the Alaska Airlines desk and checked our baggage, we were given a piece of paper to fill out. Can you guess what it was? You guessed it, another health check form! We laughed wondering what would happen to this one. We took the forms and filled them out before heading to security. It was set up similarly to immigration. There was the temperature check camera thing and an agent checking your yes or no questions. Once again, our “No” answers are circled and the paper given back to us where no one ever asked for them again. Shocker.
There’s one sit down restaurant in the terminal called Corona Sports Bar. There was a line to get in as tables are limited to allow for social distancing. However, the line to get seated was moving fast. There’s also a lounge we were able to get in to using my Priority Pass card. The food was ordered from a little placard on the table and came pre-packaged. Options were severely limited but at least there was free alcohol and football on! The Corona restaurant would be a better option if you were hungry and wanted a hot meal but as we had just eaten before we left for the airport, the lounge was just fine for us. However, the upstairs portion was closed so it got a little cramped in the small main room.
So, the question remains, did I feel safe traveling to Cabo San Lucas? 100% yes. Cabo is handling the COVID pandemic similarly if not better than the US. We never ran into a situation that made us feel uncomfortable and we got extremely lucky that everyone at our resort was happy to follow the rules.
Would I travel back to Cabo again during COVID? 100% yes. I love Cabo and have for a very long time especially since it’s just a short flight from San Diego. COVID does not change this and I would book another flight there next week if I could.
After speaking to many of the servers at our resort and at the restaurants in town, Cabo is extremely happy to welcome back tourists. They’re happy to be working again and it reflects in their attitude and service. I am so glad Cabo welcomed us with open arms. I couldn’t have imagined a better place to go as the world of travel slowly opens back up. Although completely different than what we’re used to, I’ll take any version of travel we can get right now.