Thinking about renting a car in Cabo San Lucas? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, I will tell you all about the process of renting a car in one of Mexico’s most popular destinations and give you my insider tips on how to avoid mistakes when renting a car in Cabo.
If you do some basic research, you will find a lot of information on how to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas. We are going to go over everything in this article, so by the time you are done, you will be ready to go.
Where is Cabo San Lucas?
Cabo San Lucas is a popular resort town on the border between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. It is 40 minutes away from San Jose Del Cabo, its sister city, and home to Cabo San Lucas International Airport (SJD) that serves the region.
Check flights to Cabo San Lucas here.
Why rent a car in Cabo San Lucas
Since San Jose Del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas are located 32 miles (20 km) apart, so you will need a ride to get to your hotel. Public transportation is available and you can get on a bus right outside of the airport terminal, but you should still consider renting a car in Cabo San Lucas, and here’s why:
Explore more of the region
Cabo San Lucas is one of the most popular places to visit in Baja California Sur, with millions of tourists coming here every year, mostly from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Renting a car in Cabo will allow you to visit some of the best beaches in Baja California Sur, and explore pueblos Magicos like Todos Santos and Loreto.
Visit some of the best surfing beaches in Baja California
If you are coming to Baja California for surfing, renting a car in Cabo San Lucas is a must! I’m probably not going to surprise you by telling you that you need a car to get to some of the best surfing beaches in the region like East Cape and La Fortuna.
Travel at your own pace
Traveling around Baja California Sur is the ultimate adventure! When you rent a car in Cabo, you no longer need to rely on guided tours and public transport, and can organize your trips however you like.
Get outside the resort area
Cabo is well known for its resorts where you can have a great time. But it’s also worth exploring the area outside of the tourist zone to see what Baja California is all about. Renting a car in Cabo San Lucas is the best way to enjoy some of the best things to do in Baja California.
Where to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas?
The best place to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas is San Jose Del Cabo International Airport (SJD)
My top advice for renting a car in Cabo is to book your vehicle early.
This is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico, and many travelers rent cars. The high demand often causes car rental prices to go up, especially from December trough April. So, whether you want to rent a smaller car or a 4X4, book your car in Cabo with DiscoverCars.com
Is it cheaper to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas Airport?
While car rentals around Cabo San Lucas Airport have higher rates, you will save a lot of time by going there after landing at the airport. Some off-site car rental offices have cheaper prices but you will spend more time and money getting there, and will not save much in the end.
Los Cabos International Airport (SJD)
When you make your way through the customs, your car rental company will pick you up outside the arrivals and will drop you off at the car rental office where you will fill out all of the paperwork.
Why rent a car with Discover Cars?
DiscoverCars is a great platform for renting cars in Cabo San Lucas. They work with major car rental companies in Mexico and offer some of the best prices on many types of vehicles. You can also add a full Mexican insurance for you car rental for less than $10 per day when booking your car with DiscoverCars.
Tips for renting a car in Cabo San Lucas Airport
There’s a lot of conflicting information about renting a car in Cabo San Lucas Many people think that driving a car in Mexico is dangerous and if they get pulled over by police something will happen to them.
Driving in Mexico is easier than you think, but it does require some knowledge.
PRO TIP: Never rented a car in Mexico before? No worries! My complete guide to renting a car in Mexico will help you to avoid mistakes and help you to save money.
- Check reviews – When renting a car in Cabo San Lucas, you can find a lot of information by checking what other customers have to say about a given company. If you use DiscoverCars, this platform will automatically find the best rates for you and you can also check reviews before booking your car rental.
- Fill up your tank before returning your car – Since there are many car rental companies near Cabo airport, you will have no problem finding a gas station. Fill up your car before returning it because you will get charged extra if you bring back your car with an empty tank.
Things to know before renting a car in Cabo San Lucas
- U.S. car insurance is NOT valid in Mexico and most car rental companies in Cabo will not accept it. Some credit cards in the United States cover rental car damage, but even if you have a credit card that provides car rental coverage, you will still have to pay for car rental insurance in Mexico.
- When renting a car in Cabo San Lucas, you can choose from three types of car insurance: basic, medium, and full coverage, with basic insurance offering only minimal protection and full coverage protecting you if your car is totaled or stolen.
- Consider renting a 4X4 vehicle – Baja California is one of my favorite parts of Mexico. It has many hidden corners and compared to other parts of the country it is less developed outside of major tourist centers. If you plan on visiting places like Todos Santos, La Paz and San Jose Del Cabo, you will be driving on paved roads, and a regular car will do just fine.
PRO TIP: if you are going to camp and explore remote parts of the Baja California Peninsula, you will need a good four-wheel drive, as many roads around Baja California are unpaved and require a 4X4.
- You have to be 25 years old to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas – Most car rental companies in Cabo San Lucas require you to be 25 years old to rent a car. Some companies allow younger driver to rent cars, but they typically include a daily fee between $10-25 on top of your daily rate.
If you are under 25 and want to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas, carefully check the company’s policy before booking your car.
You can find a good selection of bigger vehicles on DiscoverCars.com
How to save money on renting a car in Cabo San Lucas
When you look for car rentals in Cabo, you will find many good deals that look fairly reasonable. But these deals do not always include mandatory car insurance. Once you arrive at your car rental office, you are asked to choose an insurance package which will increase your daily rate.
- Book your car rental in Cabo ahead of time – While this is especially true if you are traveling during the high season which is from December through April, booking your car in Cabo San Lucas before your trip is always good idea. This way, you will not scramble trying to find car rentals last minute.
- Learn to drive a stick shift – Sometimes, when car rentals in Cabo are in high demand, car rental companies have fewer vehicles available. Many of the leftover cars often have a manual transmission, and since fewer people know how to drive them, they tend to be cheaper.
- Rent at a small company – Bigger car rental companies like Budget, Hertz, and Avis tend to charge higher prices – ” target=”_blank”>I rented my car with America Car Rental and had a better experience with them than with several bigger companies.
- Take photos of your car – When you sign all the paperwork and go outside to pick up your car, take photos and videos of the interior and exterior. This is especially true if a car has scratches, dings, or any other visible damage, so you don’t get charged for them when you return the car.
Do I really need to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas?
Wondering if you still need to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas?
It depends on your travel plans and itinerary. There are plenty fo things to do in Cabo San Lucas to keep you busy, but having a car rental will give you a lot of freedom and allow you to visit many hidden spots and less visited beaches of Baja California that many tourists don’t get to see.
If all you want is to soak some sun, explore beaches around Cabo and maybe go on a taco tour, renting a car in Cabo is not necessary. Instead, you can get a round-trip transfer from Cabo San Lucas International Airport to your hotel or catch a taxi.
Is there Uber at Cabo San Lucas Airport?
No, there is no Uber at Cabo San Lucas Airport, and you can only get a regular taxi from the airport grounds if you are trying to get to Cabo San Lucas or to you car rental company.
Catching Uber from Cabo San Lucas airport could be tricky, since they can’t pick you up at the terminal, and the area around the airport is not walkable. If you are not planning to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas airport and want to get to Cabo San Lucas, you can book a transfer ahead of your trip.
Is there Uber in Cabo San Lucas?
Yes! There’s Uber in Cabo San Lucas and also San Jose Del Cabo. They can pick you up at any time, but unfortunately can’t drop you off at the airport terminal, but can do a curbside drop-off in which case, you will need to do some walking to the terminal doors.
What documents do I need to rent a car in Cabo San Lucas?
Renting a car in Mexico is a straightforward process, and it is no different in Cabo San Lucas. You will need to provide a standard set of documents and also fill out some paperwork when you arrive at the office.
Here’s what you will need:
A car rental company in Cabo San Lucas will ask you for your passport and they will also take copies of your documents for their record.
A driver’s license
You will also need to provide a valid driver’s license that should be in the Roman alphabet language. If you are traveling to Mexico from countries that don’t use that alphabet, you will need an international driver’s license.
Credit or debit card
To pay for your car rental in Cabo San Lucas, you will need a credit or debit card.
A car rental company will charge you for a car rental plus put a hold on your credit card that normally ranges between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. When you return your car rental with no damages, the hold on your credit card will be removed.
Mexico car insurance
Car rental insurance is mandatory in Mexico, and you will be asked to choose from basic, medium and full coverage when filling out your paperwork. Check my article about renting a car in Mexico to find out more about Mexico car insurance, since it’s a pretty big topic.
What cars can I rent in Cabo San Lucas?
There are a many car rental companies in Cabo San Lucas, and you will find many car companies that you can find in the United States. Some of the most makes and models among rental cars in Cabo are Nissan, Chevrolet, Toyota and Kia.
If you are renting a car through DiscoverCars you will be able to see its make and model and as well as transmission types. Sometimes, bigger vehicles as well as spots car and ATV’s have a manual transmission, so make sure you know how to drive it before booking a vehicle.
What places can I visit if I rent a car in Cabo?
Most travelers who end up renting a car in Cabo, visit Todos Santos and La Paz, the two most popular places within a driving distance of Cabo San Lucas.
If you have more time, I recommend visiting Loreto, a pueblo magico and a former capital of California’s about 4 hours north of La Paz.
Loreto is full of charm, and it’s also the gateway to the Bahia de Concepcion Parque Nacional, a gorgeous bay comprised of five islands where you can enjoy the pristine beaches and wildlife. Another 2 hours from Loreto is Mulege, home to the best beaches in Mexico that is a must-stop on your Baja California itinerary.
Renting a car in Cabo is the best way to visit these places, as they are located hours away from Cabo San Lucas and are somewhat off the beaten track.
Is Todos Santos worth a visit?
Yes, Todos Santos is worth a visit!
It’s a charming place and one of the few pueblos Magicos in Baja California where you can spend a day or two visiting the beaches and enjoying the atmosphere of this place. It’s also one of the most popular day trips from Cabo San Lucas, thanks to a relatively short drive and all the cool things to do in the area.
Check this awesome guide to some of the best things to do in Todos Santos 😃
How long is the drive from Cabo to Todos Santos?
The distance between Cabo and Todos is 76 kilometers and the drive from Cabo to Todos Santos is about 50 minutes.
What is the drive like from Cabo San Lucas to Todos Santos?
The highway from Cabo to Todos Santos takes you along the Pacific Coast of Mexico filled with beautiful desert scenery. This is a two-lane highway on both sides and you will not find any traffic here, as the highway passes above Cabo San Lucas, which is especially convenient if you are driving to Todos Santos from San Jose Del Cabo Airport.
Along the highway from Cabo to Todos Santos, you will pass several attractions like ATV trails, and the famous Cerritos Beach which is popular with surfers.
Is La Paz worth a visit?
La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur state and is one of the best places to visit in Baja California.
While Cabo is mostly known for its parties, La Paz is a gateway to the Sea of Cortez and a popular destination for eco-tourism. La Paz offers some of the best beaches in Mexico like Playa Balandra, and it is also the starting point for tours to Isla Espíritu Santo National Park where you can learn about the biodiversity of the region and even swim with the sea lions.
How long is the drive from Cabo to La Paz?
La Paz is another popular day trip from Cabo San Lucas that is often combined with a stop in Todos Santos.
To save time, do this trip clockwise, heading to Todos Santos first and spending a day there before visiting La Paz. The drive from Cabo to Todos Santos is a straight shot along the highway, the same as the drive from Todos Santos to La Paz.
If you decide to head to La Paz from Cabo San Lucas, you will have to drive along the mountain pass, and keep going up for a while. The direct drive from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz is close to 100 miles and takes about 2 hours to complete depending on the traffic.
You will also pass San Jose Del Cabo on your way, and you should fill up your tank, as there are few gas stations on the highway between San Jose Del Cabo and La Paz.
What is the drive like from Cabo to La Paz?
The first part of the drive from Cabo to La Paz is pretty straightforward – you drive along the highway and after you get through San Jose Del Cabo, the road becomes a two-lane highway and takes you through several small pueblos. It’s a scenic drive with little traffic and you can relax and enjoy the views.
Once you get to the outskirts of La Paz, you will have to slow down because of all the traffic and tons of stoplights along the way. Depending on where you are trying to get in La Paz, getting through this part could take you anywhere from 20-40 minutes.
The outer parts of the city are not that pretty, but you will be treated to the spectacular views once you get to Malecón (waterfront) where you will also find many stores and restaurants.
General tips for driving in Mexico
After renting a car in Cabo San Lucas, it’s time to get on the road. You might want to know that driving in Mexico is pretty straightforward but it does come with a few caveats.
Watch out for speed bumps (topes in Spanish)
Speed bumps are common in many parts of Mexico. Some of them are very tall and can damage your vehicle if you hit them at full speed. There are typically road signs warning you about speed bumps ahead, but always make sure to slow down when you drive around cities and towns in Mexico.
Don’t pump your gas
Mexican gas stations have attendants who put gas in your car when you get to the pump. Make sure to specify the amount of gas that you need and clarify the price before they begin doing it. Many people who work at gas stations make only minimum wage, so leave a little tip before driving off.
PRO TIP: Pay close attention to how much money you are giving to a gas pump attendant. A gas pump scam is one of the most common petty scams in Mexico, and if you are not paying attention, you could easily get ripped off.
Be prepared to stop at checkpoints
Checkpoints are not uncommon in Mexico, even around the country’s tourist corridors. Be prepared to stop and open your vehicle for inspection, if you are asked to do so. As a tourist, you will most likely be asked a few simple questions, unless you manage to draw some suspicion.
Learn some Spanish
Knowing basic Spanish is one of my top Mexico travel tips. Not only renting a car in Cabo San Lucas will become a much easier process, the whole trip so much easier!
It will help you communicate at gas stations, restaurants, and everywhere else. The further away you go from a tourist zone, the fewer people will speak English, so some Spanish skills could be a huge help.
Always carry cash
From tipping gas station attendants to giving a few coins to people who might come up to your car to wash windows while you are sitting in traffic, carrying cash is a good idea while you are driving around Mexico. Also, the street vendors who sell drinks and snacks on the side of the road accept only cash.
Mexico uses kilometers not miles
In case you are traveling to Mexico from the US, be aware that Mexico uses kilometers, not miles. One mile equals about 1.6 kilometers, but when it comes to driving, your best bet is to just follow the posted speed limit to avoid the trouble.
Use toll roads
Toll roads might be not the cheapest option (you will need to have cash in your car to pay for them), but they are the best option if you are traveling between major cities and want to get around quickly. They are also considered safer for traveling than smaller secondary roads and better, as they have fewer potholes.
When it comes to traveling around Baja, you have only one major highway, so you will not have a lot of options for secondary roads.
Be ready to pay a bribe … or not
If you have done a little bit of research on renting a car in Mexico, you probably read about instances of Mexican police asking motorists for money in exchange for getting out of a ticket.
As a rule, I say don’t cave in, if they say that you will get a fine unless you give them money. You can just take a ticket and pay for it later. But this depends on the situation (and what they stopped you for), so my advice is to follow your instincts and do what looks to be the best way to skip the trouble.
Follow the rules
Your best bet to avoid trouble is to follow the rules. Wear a seat belt, respect the signs, follow a posted speed limit and put down your phone. This will help to avoid any unwanted attention and not get pulled over by police in the first place.
Drive during the day
Depending on what region of Mexico you plan to visit, you might want to limit your driving to the daytime. Some parts of Mexico are considered less safe than others, and you should check the most up-to-date information before planning your trip.
If you are traveling to Mexico from the United States, check information on the U.S State Department ahead of your visit.
Most frequently asked questions about renting a car in Cabo San Lucas
Is renting a car in Cabo San Lucas safe?
Yes, renting a car in Cabo is completely safe.
Your best bet is to rent a car near San Jose Del Cabo International Airport (SJD). This will help you to save time and also skip public transportation or private transfers. You can find many good deals on car rentals in Cabo through DiscoverCars, one my my favorite websites for renting cars in Mexico and other countries.
How much will I have to pay for a car rental in Cabo?
Expect to pay anywhere between $45-60 per day for a car rental in Cabo. This price includes a flat rate plus basic to medium coverage. A car insurance is required in Mexico, so clarify if the rate you are seeing online includes basic coverage or if you would have to pay for it on the spot.
DiscoverCars offer some of the most reasonable rates for car rentals in Cabo
What if I get pulled over by police while driving?
So many travelers are scared of getting pulled over by police in Mexico.
This is one of the main concerns I hear over and over again when speakign with fellow travelers.
I think this fear goes back to the stereotype of Mexico in the American media, which is sad but not surprising given the amount of negative news about Mexico in the U.S. If you follow the rules and don’t exceed the posted speed limit, you are not likely to get pulled over in the first place.
If you get pulled over while driving in Mexico, answer questions, and be prepared to open your car for an inspection. Unless you have drugs or any other illegal things in your car, you have nothing to worry about.
The final word on renting a car in Cabo San Lucas
Although many travelers come to Cabo San Lucas to enjoy its beaches and party in all-inclusive resorts, you should get outside the tourist zone and explore Baja California. The best way to do it is by renting a car in Cabo after you land a car at San Jose Del Cabo International Airport.
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