A Look Back at our Trip to Mexico
Last year Hunter (my boyfriend) and I booked an exciting trip to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. You may be more familiar with “Cabo”. There are actually two parts to Cabo. Cabo San Lucas is more of the party scene whereas San Jose del Cabo is more chill and family oriented from what I’ve heard.
We booked this trip through Southwest Vacations. I highly recommend doing this or something similar. Trip planning, especially for out of the country, can be challenging. So the great thing about Southwest Vacations is that you can book the flight, hotel, and transportation all together. Plus, their search features make it super simple to compare prices, ratings, and amenities offered by each resort.
We knew we were going to spend a few thousand to pay for the flights, plus the resort, so we definitely wanted all inclusive (food and drinks included). After tons of browsing (and my indecisiveness) we selected Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos! for the middle of June. We were both so glad we did! We spent a total of $3000 to book the trip which we split in the middle.
Prior to the trip I was looking for more info via reviews and other blogs specifically in regard to the food with me being vegan. So I figured, I’d make a post about our experience in general along with the food options as a vegetarian or vegan.
We live in Georgia, so we took Southwest flights out of Atlanta to Denver, Colorado then connected on our flight to Los Cabos International Airport. Overall it was about 6 hours of travel for us. I personally prefer Southwest as an airline if it’s an option. Their service is wonderful. You get not only one, but TWO free checked bags that meet their weight and size restrictions.
The Los Cabos Airport was quite different than Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. First of all as we were landing, it looked like a dessert with mountains all over. It was funny because there was a Corona building right near the airport too. “Welcome to Mexico!” Right?!
We needed to exchange money so that we could have pesos although some places did accept US dollars. This is something I would have planned for more ahead of time. I think I only brought like $40 cash with me and I meant to get more while still in the states, but I forgot.
Also, I would’ve tried to understand the conversion rate better. The reason I say this is because of tipping at the hotel. It is definitely not required nor expected, but we felt like it was the right thing to do. A lot of their money is represented by coins whereas we use coins for only small amounts of money. I actually ended up having to use the ATM to get more cash and break some of the peso bills I had with the hotel front desk staff. So if you plan on tipping or shopping, I would suggest being more prepared with money in advance!
So much good stuff to say about this place! This resort is absolutely gorgeous. The views of the beach and landscaping are incredible. When we first got there we got a little tour of the resort. There was SO much. There is an adult only pool (yes please!), a main pool, and a pool with a swim up bar and jacuzzi. There is also a kid’s pool with a water slide, but obviously we had no interest in that!
We didn’t really spend much time on the actual beach. The currents are actually dangerously strong, so it’s not recommended to swim in those waters. However, we did walk the shore of the beach one day. The sand was SUPER hot, so you may want to protect your feet before having to run across it screaming like we did!
There’s so much to explore on the resort shops and restaurant wise. At night they would light these bonfire pits near some outdoor couches that was near still water and fountains. I loved those because it was so peaceful and the view looking out was great!
There is also an onsite gym and it’s a legit gym! You know how most hotel gyms have a few benches, free weights, and maybe some cardio machines. This was a spacious gym with a view of the beach! Most days it was fairly empty of course, so we took advantage of it. It was a great way to stay on track with exercise while on vacation since we both value that. There’s also a spa (which costs extra) that looks pretty nice, but we didn’t utilize it this time.
**Click the links to open up the videos.**
In regard to the room, it was awesome! Our room was called the Ocean View Master King. We had a balcony view that faced the main pool and part of the beach. We were able to see beautiful sunrises and sunsets right from our balcony. My favorite part was the fact that we could leave our balcony doors open overnight. There were no bugs coming in, the temperature was perfect, and it was so peaceful to hear the waves.
There was even a jetted tub, a mini fridge with alcoholic beverages that they refilled daily, and the room was just very clean and cozy.
Service was one of our favorite things. Everyone was extremely friendly all the time. I mean seriously, you lay pool side and someone constantly asks you want you want to drink…for FREE! Plus, they helped us with anything we needed, always smiled, and worked very hard.
Like I said before, tipping isn’t required, but let’s be real. They are out in the heat and constant sun catering to you with margaritas and guacamole. On top of that they are super nice and have cheerful vibes. If you’re worried about the language barrier, we barely had any issues. A lot of the staff actually spoke decent enough English to have a conversation. However, it was also fun to try and speak minimal Spanish with them. Hunter got really good at saying “uno mas Dos Equis”!!
One other great point to bring up that I’m kind of embarrassed to share! On our last night we had to move rooms because there was a water issue in the room above us, so they gave us the room next door. I did so well the entire trip keeping up with important belongings especially…the passports. In between the moving of rooms I guess I put them passports in the nightstand drawer without thinking about it.
When we arrived at the airport to check in to come back to the US, I could not find the passports. I was freaking out, but thankfully the staff at the resort helped us! We had already returned our rental car, so they got our passports and sent them over via taxi. So thankfully we made it to our flight on time and got home safely!
Food & Drink
This was the thing I was the most nervous about, but I did find one blog which reviewed the resort pretty well. He had pictures of a lot of the food and menus, so it made it easier for me to think ahead. In my checked baggage, I also packed some snacks from home just in case. However, I think I was able to manage pretty well as a vegan. Hunter stuck to a vegetarian diet which is obviously a bit more manageable.
The awesome thing about the dining is that there were so many restaurants and food shops on site, so you never had to leave the resort for food. The only difference is that it wasn’t the same place or food unless you wanted it to be. For the various types of restaurants there’s: French, Italian, Asian, American, Spanish, buffets, coffee shops, and general snack/food stores. By the way, if you’re a tequila person, there’s even a tequila bar! We actually only stuck to the Italian and buffets because we knew that’s where we could get more variety for ourselves.
Breakfast was always exciting because we would go to the buffet and we didn’t have to wake up and worry about what to eat! There were so many options and you could easily fill up before starting your fun day!
Also there was even a 24 hour ROOM SERVICE option…for FREE! We didn’t make use of it mainly because of the limited options, but that’s awesome otherwise!
Drinks at the resort were really good and they had lots of options. Hunter primarily got XX (Dos Equis) and I got mainly mixed drinks like the Miami Vice. The swim up bar was fun because you could just grab a drink while in the pool.
Transportation was my least favorite part of the trip and a learning experience. Here’s my advice: DO NOT RENT A CAR!! We did not realize that when we booked the rental car that we would have to consider other expenses. We paid for the daily rental, but when we got to Mexico, we had to pay for insurance and taxes! I guess we are used to the fact that we have our own insurance in the US that it didn’t cross our minds that we were going to have to pay almost $300 more when we actually got the car. So as soon as we got to Cabo, we kind of started with a buzz kill. We were trying to think of what other options we had like getting a taxi or calling the hotel. Hunter even haggled them a little to lower the price. However, we still ended up just having to pay a hefty amount for a car that we drove maybe 20 minutes total. We literally only used the car to drive from the airport to the hotel and then back when we were heading home.
Other than that, all of our excursions provided a taxi service. The main reason we got the car was because it seemed to be cheaper than paying for transportation through the hotel. It looked cheaper when we booked it online, but after the extra fees in Mexico, it was actually way more expensive. So that was a lesson learned.
By the way, the roads there are VERY different. I think we saw 5 total traffic lights our entire trip. We never once saw cops out patrolling the streets. The only time we passed by police was when we went through the toll booths. There’s not a whole bunch of traffic signs, but a lot of round about type things. Some roads are a bit like dirt/sand roads, so it can be confusing as to if it’s really a road or not.
Bottom line…just don’t rent a car in Mexico!
We had three excursions booked online prior to going on the trip. Our plan was to swim with dolphins, dune buggy riding, and snorkeling. At Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos there is actually an excursion department that helps you book adventures. You even have the option to pick them the day of as long as you go to the office early enough.
As I said before, the excursions typically include taxi transportation. Just keep in mind it is likely you will be with a few other people. However, we had a few car rides where it was just us two and the driver.
Our first adventure was swimming with dolphins. I was a bit nervous for this because dolphins are pretty big sea creatures. The water was pretty cold, but you eventually get used to it. We went with a group of people (about 10 or so). We had an instructor and a specific dolphin (his name was Merlin). We were taught different hand signals and movements to guide Merlin on specific actions. It was pretty incredible how smart (and food motivated) Merlin was while swimming with him.
I do somewhat feel on the fence about dolphins in captivity. It’s hard to tell if they are happy or not. They appeared to be treated well, but then again they are pushing or pulling people around (with their nose or fins) some of which are pretty overweight. I loved being able to pet and interact with Merlin, but I did feel somewhat guilty. That just goes back to the animal lover/advocate in me.
Our second excursion was dune buggy riding. We had to drive quite a while in the taxi to get to the dune buggy location (it was about an hour drive). I think I was actually more nervous for this one. I definitely was okay with Hunter being the only one driving because I did not trust myself driving pretty much a go-cart through tons of sand. Plus, Hunter is experienced with motorcycles, so figured he could have a pretty good handle. We brought the Go-Pro and got tons of footage of the ride, but of course so much of it is bumpy. One crazy part was when Hunter decided to gun it up a steep hill so we went flying and landed so hard. I screamed so loud! It was hilarious though!
We drove behind one of the guides (Jose) and would stop to take breaks. We stopped first at this huge mountainous area that Jose said was made of granite, but it’s a protected area. We saw quite a few creatures too. It was amazing how quiet and peaceful it was out there.
**Click the links to open up the videos.**
Then we stopped again on the beach. We climbed a bunch of rocks that were off the shore. The waves would splash pretty high. He also showed us this awesome blow hole type thing where the waves would create a loud sound. It actually startled us the first time. Riding on the beach sand was even bumpier than the dry desert sand. It was so fun, but we were exhausted afterwards, so it was great to get back to the resort to relax!
Unfortunately our third excursion got canceled because the ports were closed due to dangerous tides. It was a really windy day, so it wasn’t safe. We were really excited for snorkeling though because we wanted to see all the unique sea creatures. Plus, we could have taken the Go Pro to capture some of it. Anyway, at least we had the fun at the two other excursions.
So as you can see, Cabo was an adventurous and relaxing trip for us. We both really loved the weather, the service, the resort, and our time there. I’d definitely go back in the future. If you are looking for a great all inclusive tropical trip, I would definitely recommend Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. If you have questions about the trip, I’d be glad to help you out.