Note: Traveling during the COVID pandemic is a highly personal choice and should account for your personal comfort, tolerance for risk, and overall health. The conditions, status, and entrance requirements of various destinations are in constant flux so please check local authorities for the latest information. Also, please review the State Department and CDC’s latest guidelines to ensure you’re ready and able to travel.
Here at Salt & Wind Travel, we are committed to regenerative travel -- sustainable travel that uplifts destinations, their economies, and their communities.
When we choose to travel, we strive to do so in the safest, most responsible manner possible. And that’s even more so the case during the pandemic.
As you're likely aware, destinations where the main economic driver is tourism (i.e. Hawaii, Mexico) have been exceptionally compromised by the pandemic. So responsible and safe travel during this time is a win-win as it not only provides you some much-needed r&r but also can help to support the destination.
Safety In Los Cabos Mexico
We recently traveled to Los Cabos to experience first-hand the safety measures in place and to understand what is open. After a week in the destination, we feel it is possible to travel there right now in a safe, responsible manner. But, of course, that is ultimately a personal decision.
When we shared Instagram stories of the experience a lot of our newsletter subscribers asked some questions that we think you too might be asking if you're considering traveling soon. We compiled them in this FAQ about traveling to Los Cabos. Of course, this is by no means comprehensive so head to the official Los Cabos Tourism site for the most updated information.
Traveling To Mexico During COVID
Can I travel to Mexico right now?
Yes, Mexico is open and accepting travelers. The land crossings are still closed to everyone except essential travelers, but you can fly into Mexico as a tourist. If you’re planning to travel throughout Mexico, check out this page for nationwide health and safety information.
Should I travel to Mexico during the pandemic?
Let's be clear: the possibility of travel and the choice to travel are two different things. If you are considering traveling, account not only for the safety standards of the destination but also for your personal health. Consider how your metabolic health and health history impact your risk of geting sick. Do you have a chronic disease or suppressed immune system that is considered a comorbidity? Are you prone to anxiety?
Do I need a negative COVID test, an antibody test, or proof of a vaccine to enter Mexico?
As of the writing of this article, you do not need proof of a negative COVID test, an antibody test, or of a vaccine in order to enter Mexico. However, things are in flux so be sure to refer to the Los Cabos tourism board's COVID page.
The U.S. government is considering requiring negative COVID tests for any domestic flights. Therefore, if you were to have a layover within the United States while en route to Mexico, you may still need proof of a negative test. Please refer to the CDC's COVID travel section for the most updated information.
How do I know the current status of where I’m traveling in Mexico?
Mexico is using a nationwide color-coded "stoplight" system to communicate COVID case levels in all of its regions. When we traveled to Los Cabos, the region was at the orange level -- that meant non-essential businesses could be open with 30% of their personnel, they had to operate at reduced capacity, and they had to follow all regional rules.
Traveling To Los Cabos During The Pandemic
Is it safe to travel to Los Cabos Mexico right now?
We can't stress this enough: traveling during a pandemic is a very personal decision. Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to travel and that’s only more so the case now -- that said there are strict measures in place across the destination to make the experience as safe as reasonably possible.
Where do I find updated information about COVID in Los Cabos Mexico?
If you are looking for the most updated case count in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur (where Los Cabos is located), your best bet is to check this Baja California government site.
However, if you’re in search of more general information about traveling to Mexico, the Los Cabos tourism board has a frequently updated page dedicated to COVID. There you can find information on everything from regional safety standards and protocols to hotel safety and COVID testing.
Can I travel to Los Cabo during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes! Los Cabos Mexico reopened to visitors as of summer 2020 and much of the region is open though it is operating at limited capacity. The destination has implemented a set of strict, consistent standards that are coined Los Cabos with Care – A Safer Way to Get Away -- they include a variety of safety measures (such as temperature checks, hand sanitizing, social distancing) to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Current COVID Safety Measures In Los Cabos
How much of Los Cabo is open?
As we’re writing this article, the majority of businesses in Los Cabos are open though operating at reduced capacity. You'll want to double-check directly with a business before assuming they’re open.
What can I do in Los Cabos right now?
Many of the classic activities travelers love in Los Cabos -- ahem, sunset cruises, farm-to-table dining, biking, horseback riding, surfing, sailing, and fishing -- are all available right now. Head here to get an idea of activities you can do in Los Cabos during the pandemic.
It's worth noting that some tour operators are allowing small groups of people who don’t know each other to come together for outdoor activities. Masks are still required and worn, but, if this makes you uncomfortable, be sure to book a fully private experience.
What is the maximum capacity of hotels and restaurants?
The region's hotels are currently allowed to operate at a maximum 30% capacity; though, when we traveled there, the hotels were operating at almost half that.
The majority of the most popular restaurants and activities are open and operating at normal though limited capacity. Many hotels and restaurants have arranged their tables spaced apart and on open-air terraces or other areas where the air is flowing freely.
What are the standard safety protocols?
The destination as a whole has worked to implement stringent safety guidelines across all open businesses. Head here for a detailed list of the COVID safety precautions being taken by airports, hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, and tour operators in the Los Cabos area.
Do I have to wear a mask?
Yes! The state of Baja California Sur has mandated that everyone wear masks throughout the destination and at all times when interacting with people outside of their household. Similar to many places in the United States, there are a few exceptions -- namely when eating, drinking, or swimming.
Are other people wearing masks regularly?
When we traveled to the area, we found that pretty much all locals wore masks and the majority of visitors did too. We did come across a few instances where people forgot (or chose not) to wear masks such as say going from their hotel room to the lobby or from the pool to the bathroom so just be aware that might happen.
All in all we found people very amenable to everyone's individual needs. For example, people accommodated us without question when we wanted to ride alone on the elevators.
Are the shuttles and taxis safe in Los Cabos?
In our experience across Mexico, we’ve seen that more than half of Ubers and some taxis have plastic partitions in addition to hand sanitizer in the vehicles.
However, you will be safer if you choose to get private transportation and ask that you have one driver for the duration of your trip. For private transportation in Los Cabos, we recommend Transcabo. They have a great track record of exceptional service and their current COVID safety measures are that they clean cars daily with a sanitizer, have hand sanitizer in the cars, require that all drivers and guests wear masks, and sanitize all luggage.
How To Get A COVID Test At Los Cabos Airport
Where do I get a COVID test before returning to the United States?
As of January 2021, the CDC is requiring all travelers arriving in the United States from an international destination (including US citizens) to have proof of a negative COVID test (or proof of having a vaccine or previously having had COVID) taken within 72 hours of their return flight's arrival.
Many hotels are offering on-site testing -- just be sure to check how far in advance you need to schedule your appointment (we were able to book an appointment upon check-in). There are also various medical clinics and hospitals offering tests -- head here for a list of options in the Los Cabos area.
Can you get a COVID test at the Los Cabos airport?
Yes, you can also take a test at the Los Cabos airport. However, we discourage you from doing so. One reason is that it will add more time to your pre-departure routine when you can easily do it in advance. But the more important reason is dealing with the logistics of having to stay in Cabo should you get a positive test.
If you are already in a hotel and have a positive test result, the hotel will be able to work with you to help you quarantine in a safe and effective manner. If, instead you get a positive result at the airport, you’ll have to start at square one with transportation and lodging.
How much is a COVID test before returning to the US?
Unless you have a health or travel insurance policy that explicitly covers COVID testing abroad, you’ll most likely have to pay out of pocket (though you may be able to use an FSA card). The COVID PCR tests range in price depending on where you get them. When we traveled to Los Cabos, tests we’re costing anywhere from US$20 to US$150.
How far in advance do I need to schedule a COVID test before returning to the U.S.?
According to the CDC’s current guidelines, you need to have taken a test within 72 hours of landing in the United States so you’ll want to schedule your test accordingly. Many hotels are offering on-site testing and results are typically available within 12 hours. Be sure to check with your lodging to see if this is an option.
What happens if I get sick? Do I have to pay for everything?
There is no state or regional support to help travelers if they get a positive COVID test. However, in talking with the tourism board, they ensured us that the majority of the hotels have protocols in place to help guests easily and safely stay on property if they test positive.
As a traveler, you take the risk upon yourself to travel during these times and should be prepared (financially and mentally) for the chance that you have to extend your stay due to a positive test result. Many hotels are trying to work out reduced rates or free stays for individuals who get sick but this is not guaranteed nor is it legally mandated.
Los Cabos Airport Safety Measures
How can I stay safe in the airport and on the plane?
In an ideal world your travel will be as safe, healthy, and stress-free as possible -- be sure to read our tips on how to make the trip to the airport less stressful.
Next, choose travel partners you can trust. We have been traveling with Delta airlines during the pandemic because they’re committed to blocking middle seats and their rigorous cleaning measures have kept us at ease.
Finally, we suggest you follow the same healthy habits you’ve already adopted for daily life during the pandemic (i.e. social distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent handwashing) but that you be even more frequent and vigilant than normal. If you want an extra layer of protection, you can also wear a second mask, a face shield, and gloves -- just make sure you don’t get complacent as a result!
How much time do I need at the airport for my return flight to the United States?
This really depends based on where you’re traveling to and from. Seeing as the Los Cabos destination currently has a fraction of its normal visitors, you likely won’t encounter lines for check-in or at security.
However, there are a few additional steps you have to take for departure (see below). So we’d recommend you plan to be at the airport a minimum of 2 1/2 hours before your flight’s departure time.
What additional steps do I need to take to prepare for departure?
As of the time of writing this article, you need the following to fly (in addition to standard travel identification and travel documents):
Proof Of PCR COVID Test: When we flew with Delta airlines, we had our COVID test in both electronic form and printed out, but they specifically requested the printout of our COVID test. So, be sure you have both forms or check with your airline carrier as to which they require. You can also provide proof of having recovered from COVID -- refer to the CDC for specifics regarding that.
Health Questionnaire: Fill out the health questionnaire which is in paper form at the airport or can be filled out electronically here.
Arrival City Forms: As travelers returning to Los Angeles, we were also required to fill out additional health and safety forms that we presented upon arrival in the United States.
Are airport lounges open and operating?
At the Los Cabos International airport, the main airport lounges (i.e. VIP lounge) were operating at a limited capacity when we traveled. Similar to hotels and restaurants in the region, they did not have any grab-and-go or buffet food but rather had electronic menus available via QR codes.
How rigorous are the safety precautions and other restrictions in the Los Cabos International airport?
When we traveled through the airport in February 2021, there were many measures in place. In addition to the standard airport safety measures you saw at airports in pre-COVID times (i.e. checking boarding passes and security checkpoints) there were additional measures in place related to the pandemic. Upon going through security, our temperature was checked, we used a sanitizing mat, and surfaces were being constantly cleaned.
Have any other questions about traveling to Mexico? Add your name to this list to know when our next free webinar about safely traveling to Mexico happens! Or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to help!
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More Mexico On Salt & Wind Travel
- The Six Neighborhoods To Visit When You Travel To Mexico City
- From Mexico Con Amor: The Everyday Foods That Originated In Mexico
- From Al Pastor to Carne Asada: A Brief Guide To Classic Mexican Tacos
Sponsored Post: This post has been sponsored by Visit Los Cabos. Thank you for supporting these partners who help us keep Salt & Wind Travel up and running.
Published February 2021