The insider advice on this page is from one of Wendy’s Trusted Travel Experts for Cabo, Mexico: Julie Byrd of CaboVillas.
Julie Byrd is convinced that Los Cabos, at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, scores a traveler’s hat trick: stunning natural beauty, wide-ranging daytime activities and nightlife, and genuinely hospitable locals. Byrd’s portfolio of properties includes a range of more than 100 luxurious villas and condos suitable for families, couples, and party-hearty groups of friends. Her frequent trips to Cabo mean that she has deep roots and intimate connections there. Byrd and her Cabo-based concierge team are available 24/7 during every client’s trip. In addition to villa rentals, they can arrange fishing and yacht charters, ground transportation, destination weddings and other celebrations, and guided tours. A foodie at heart, Byrd has strong opinions on everything from locals-mostly taquerias to fine dining. (For a firsthand account of renting a house through Cabo Villas, read How to Find the Perfect Vacation Rental.)
Covid safety intel
Julie traveled to Cabo during the pandemic to check out protocols for herself. The concierges and caterers she works with have all passed health certifications; they wear masks, undergo daily temperature checks, and are Covid-tested at least once per month. As for dining out, she was impressed with the safety measures at SUR Beach House, NIKSAN, and Los Tres Gallos. For travelers who prefer to eat at their villa, she can arrange for anything from a pool party to a formal dinner. She can expedite your arrival at the airport (though flights are spaced out so that travelers are in line only with other people from the same flight).
Where to Rent
Most underrated locations
The smaller private developments along the Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. Many of these developments are just minutes to excellent golf courses and peaceful beaches, and offer a sense of tranquility, security, and privacy. The Fundadores area of Puerto Los Cabos is particularly outstanding, with gorgeous villas, great golf, and a convenient location close to charming San José del Cabo.
Most overrated location
A beachfront property where you cannot swim in the water. (A number of beaches in Cabo are not safe for swimming due to strong currents.) You’ll save money by selecting a villa higher on the hillside, where you’ll also benefit from a much better ocean view. Julie also think it’s not worth paying more just to be near one of the many five-star resorts. While their restaurants and spas are generally open to the public, the other facilities aren’t.
The Pacific coastline north of Cabo San Lucas is the area’s rising star. A number of great hotels have opened here recently—among them the Diamante Resort, which has outstanding private villas on site. The 3- to 6-bedroom villas come with access to three excellent golf courses, a 10-acre private lagoon, and other resort amenities. If you’re staying on this stretch of coastline, plan to have a meal at the Nobu Hotel’s restaurant, which is sure to become one of Cabo’s hottest reservations.
Best location for a beachfront villa
The Corridor, since the water is calmer here. For instance, Villa Cielito directly overlooks famous Chileno Bay, which is one of the best snorkeling spots in Los Cabos.
Best location for sporty travelers
Sport fishing is huge in Cabo—marlin, dorado, and tuna especially. Most fishing charters, snorkeling trips, and dive boats depart directly from the Cabo San Lucas Marina, plus there’s great hiking just outside town. For these activities, base yourself in or just outside Cabo San Lucas. (Julie likes to start the first day of every trip to Cabo by cruising out to the arch in Cabo San Lucas Bay on a stand-up paddleboard, then jumping off Pelican Rock into the warm water.)
Best location for a taste of village life
San José del Cabo offers charming historic architecture, courtyard restaurants, and many art galleries—though it can be hard to find a rental villa that is walking distance from this historic town. If you stay near San José del Cabo, don’t miss the Thursday Evening Art Walk that takes place from November through June, when galleries keep their doors open late, music fills the streets, and restaurants offer specials.
Best location for a family with young children
The end of the Corridor closer to Cabo San Lucas, so that you’re outside the party scene, but still close to Cabo’s main beach (Médano) as well a dolphin center and the departure point for snorkeling tours.
Best location for a big group
Hands down, Pedregal: This exclusive, gated community is the most prestigious area in Cabo San Lucas proper, with beautiful vacation homes and excellent proximity to Cabo’s marina, downtown, Médano Beach, and dining. Since you have the option of all things Cabo, it’s a great place to stay at any age.
Do’s and Dont’s
If you’re traveling at any time of year other than summer, make sure your villa’s pool is heated for those early-morning and evening dips; the midday gets warm, so you’ll also want air conditioning. If you need to stay connected, ask about Wi-Fi. And decided whether a Jacuzzi is essential. If you’re staying in a beachfront location, ask if the villa comes equipped with chairs, umbrellas, snorkel gear, and the like.
Worth splurging on
A multi-course meal from one of Julie’s gourmet private chefs feels decadent, but it’s cheaper than a blowout dinner at an upscale restaurant. Same for in-villa spa treatments: She can set up part of your villa to feel like a personalized spa, with infused water and glowing candles, but you’ll pay less than at a local resort. She can also pre-stock your fridge with groceries to your choosing—or just a few snacks and drinks so that you don’t have to run to the store as soon as you arrive.
Not worth splurging on
Pre-booking lots of activities. Julie says that many travelers—especially families—want to schedule outings for every day of their trip. And then they get to Cabo, fall in love with the view from a lounge chair at their villa, and never want to leave. Her advice: Don’t overbook yourself, or you’ll end up paying cancellation penalties. Unless it’s December or March, you can call her concierge in the morning and sign up for pretty much any activity later that same day.
Julie loves May, when the weather is mild and there’s minimal chance of rain. Plus, villa rates are lower than in high season (December through April), and it’s less busy. Another good time is November, when you have similar weather and thinner crowds, plus the big-game fishing is fantastic and the water is still warm. Families should consider Thanksgiving, when prices are considerably lower than Christmas.
Mid-August through September: It’s prime hurricane season and the weather is humid and hot. If you have to travel in September, stay in Pedregal overlooking the Pacific Ocean so that you get a nice sea breeze.
Making reservations without enough information about the beaches in Los Cabos (the collective term for the cities of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, plus the “Corridor” that runs between them). A number of beaches in Cabo aren’t safe for swimming, due to strong surf and undertows. It’s important to note that the main beach in Cabo San Lucas, Médano Beach, is where you’ll find the bustling sea and sand activities—parasailing, jet-skiing, open-air bars, and more—that many people associate with the area.
The most critical issue is location. Cabo San Lucas is where all the nightlife happens, and it’s the launching point for many land and sea adventures. San José del Cabo, on the other hand, is a quiet, charming city. The 30-mile Corridor between the two is composed primarily of gated communities without a central town. First, figure out what’s important to you: Do you want to be close to restaurants and bars? Do you need seclusion and privacy? Do you expect proximity to a swimmable beach? The answers will help narrow down the right location for your group.
Over Christmas and New Year’s, there is a seven-night minimum for each holiday (Saturday to Saturday). During the rest of the year, each rental’s requirements vary, from three nights to seven—but without a required check-in day.
Julie can arrange all sorts of special services—a private snorkel cruise, a customized cooking lesson, a salsa dancing lesson, a private yoga class at your villa, a special birthday celebration—but one of her favorites is a fireworks show after an elegant dinner party on the private terrace of your beachfront villa.
Your own tunes: Most villas have a sound system that you can plug your iPhone or other device into.