Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, México
“When people hear about México, they tend to think about the crime problems our country has right now,” says Los Cabos mayor Oscar Rene Núñez Cosío. “And when they think about the Baja, all they can picture is Tijuana. But there’s much more than that.” Indeed, Los Cabos, with its year-round good weather, endless beaches, restaurants, and activities, is the ideal destination for adventure seekers, gourmets, golfers, sun worshippers, and spa enthusiasts.
Contrary to many people’s fears, there is no reason for a sensible tourist to avoid travel to Los Cabos. México is an extremely large country, and Los Cabos, which is located at the southernmost point of the Baja Peninsula, is far removed from the violence affecting other parts of the nation; Tijuana is roughly a thousand miles to the north, and there’s an entire sea between Baja and mainland México. To call off a trip to Cabo because of recent news would be the equivalent of canceling a shopping excursion to Seattle or sightseeing in Portland because of violence in Las Vegas.
Since the U.S. State Department first issued a travel alert for México back in October of 2008, both American and Mexican government officials, tourism professionals, and travel journalists have gone to great lengths to ease people’s fears and counter the misinformation that has led some potential travelers to scrap their vacations to México. A recent Travel + Leisure story recommended exploring the northern Baja town of Ensenada and its surrounding wine country, while a February Budget Travel article by Travelocity’s senior editor declared, “It’s a prime time to visit Mexico.” And according to a report released in April, the tourist zones in México are up to 26 times safer than many tourist zones in the United States. Baja California Sur, the state that is home to Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo as well as other tourist favorites like Loreto and La Paz, has, according to the study, a homicide rate 12 times lower than Honolulu, 18 times lower than Miami, and 26 times lower than Orlando.
Last year Baja California Sur also was named as the buy second safest state in the entire country. This was due in large part to the government’s 2008 overhauling of the public safety policy and technology system. There were improvements to the security infrastructure at all points of entry (air, land, and sea) as well as new training for those working in the field of public safety. (Travelers wishing to steer clear of problematic areas can fly directly into the San José del Cabo airport, some 45 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas.) This year, the federal, state, and municipal governments have continued efforts to further improve the safety of Los Cabos. Police comandante Daniel Rodriguez and Mayor Núñez Cosío have spoken of plans to revamp the training program for officers, restructuring the process so that Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo police officers are better prepared for any incident. And the Mexican navy, which under the direction of Admiral Rommel Ledesma already polices and protects the waters surrounding the area, has now established a search-and-rescue team in Cabo San Lucas.
“Those of us who have been [to Los Cabos] know what a wonderful experience it is,” said Secretary of Tourism Alberto Treviño Angulo at the recent grand opening of a multimillion-dollar project in San José del Cabo. “We need to share that experience with others.” That sentiment was echoed by Los Cabos’ mayor: “Maybe the best testament to how safe Los Cabos is, is that when people come, they always come back.”
Open Salon blogger Karl Eysenbach, who has lived part-time in Southern Baja for years, explains, “We feel safer here than just about anywhere in the United States. If you want to drive a big flashy car in Tijuana in a bad neighborhood at 2 a.m., you’re asking for trouble. But the same thing is true if you’re near Nickerson Gardens in Los Angeles.” He continues, “Unfortunately, the American news media gets ratings by getting eyeballs. The school of ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ produces a lot of propaganda, and we know many people who’ve been scared away from México just by watching television. Get the facts. Talk to the people who know, and when you visit México, for God’s sake, use common sense! I can guarantee that if you go to México to buy dope, you’ll get in trouble pretty quick.”
It is impossible to guarantee that all travelers to Los Cabos will have an incident- and crime-free experience. To do would be foolish. But what is apparent to those who live in, visit, and love Los Cabos and its surrounding towns is that this is a safe area that is getting even safer. As long as vacationers act responsibly and remember their common sense, there is no reason they shouldn’t expect to enjoy a relaxing and problem-free time in Los Cabos.
For more tips, go to travel.state.gov.