Beautiful Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and Problems with the Police

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After our incredible day of snorkeling off the coast of Loreto we pushed on to La Paz, a few more hours to the south, so we could also do a little bit of reconnaissance about the ferry service to Mainland Mexico.

Beautiful Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and Problems with the Police travel, mexico, central-america

We found a cheap hotel in the suburbs for only 500 pesos per night.

Nothing special, but conveniently located beside a Mega supermarket and a movie theater.

The following day we pushed on to the tip of the Baja Peninsula to arrive in Cabo San Lucas… We’d just driven more than 1,000 miles through Mexico!

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We decided that we were going to stay at the Hotel Santa Fe, since we enjoyed our stay so much with them in their Loreto hotel and since they had kitchenettes included.

Unfortunately, the Hotel Santa Fe in Cabo San Lucas was extremely difficult to find. The one way streets and road closures for road work downtown also caused numerous problems.

Mexican Cops

We found ourselves lost downtown in Cabo with swarms of police officers driving around with nothing to do in the daylight hours.

I accidentally turned down a vacant one-way street going the wrong way, but I quickly noticed the oncoming traffic a few blocks ahead and turned off down a side street.

A few seconds later I saw the lights flashing behind my truck… They got me.

My first run in with the infamously corrupt Mexican Police. The officer approached and introduced himself in a friendly manner.

I immediately apologized and started off by saying we were lost and confused—looking for the hotel we couldn’t find. He was helpful and went on for a few minutes giving us detailed directions and then finished off by pivoting back to my infraction…

I tried to play the dumb tourist and made note that the streets aren’t well marked. He mentioned how we could resolve the problem here and now (a bribe, seemingly) or go down to the judge to make my case, though the infraction would “certainly be more expensive” if he ruled against me.

In the end we said we didn’t have much money on us right now and wanted to go to the office. The officer took my drivers license (he insisted it was either that or my license plate) and gave me directions for how to get there, but said he had to make another stop first.

I insisted that I would follow him, because I didn’t want to let my license out of my sight. We sped off down the marina to pick up his colleague, and I continued following as we headed back toward the city.

I swear he was trying to lose me.

I finally get stuck at a red light as he sped off ahead.

I tried to catch up but there was no sign of the car, nor my license.

We saw a cop car on the opposite side of the median filling up with gas and figured we would have to ask them how to get to the police station. I pulled a u-turn and managed to catch them at the pump… Turns out it was the same cop who stole my license.

I waited in the truck behind his car until he finally approached and just said “let’s not waste any more of your time, or mine,” “give me 200 pesos or something and we can take care of this now…”

After the game we just played, we quickly forked over the money (200 pesos) just to get the license back and be done with it.

Welcome to Cabo San Lucas!

Hotel Santa Fe

We finally found the Santa Fe Hotel, situated right in the middle of a few closed one way streets that made it almost impossible to find. We parked the car and walked in to the reception.

As we walked back to the truck, I kid you not, Andrea looked down and found a 200 peso bill crumpled up on the ground!

God must have been smiling on us… We just forked over 200 pesos to that cop and got it right back! We were ecstatic.

The Hotel Santa Fe staff was kind enough to offer up a complimentary continental breakfast for all our trouble finding the place (and the run-in with the police), though we got a bunch of static trying to reclaim it the next morning from a different staff member who said they didn’t make a note of the free breakfast.

Cabo San Lucas Nightlife

We spent two nights in Cabo San Lucas, including a night out at some of the famous bars and clubs—Cabo Wabo, Squid Roe, and La Vaquita.

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My one and only trip to Mexico was for a week-long trip in college, right here to Cabo.

Now I’m back… But this time we drove all the way to Cabo!

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We finished off the cape by driving through to San Jose del Cabo and heading back up to La Paz via the gulf side.

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Be sure to stop in Los Barriles for another incredible beach in a sleepy little town.




Traveling to Cabo San Lucas on your next trip? Book the perfect room on today!

Metropolitan Cathedral beside the Zocalo in Mexico City.

Mexico Travel Tips

Important tips and resources for planning an amazing trip to Mexico, based on my extensive experience traveling across the entire country.


  1. Book a cheap flight to Mexico with Momondo, or better yet, start travel hacking so you can fly for free.
  2. Plan a rough itinerary and how long you will spend in each destination. Pick up Lonely Planet Mexico to help with this.
  3. Work every day to teach yourself Spanish, you want to know as much as possible before you arrive.
  4. Book your cheap accommodation in advance, at least for the first destinations -- For hostels use: Booking, for cheap hotels use:, for apartments use: Airbnb.
  5. Reserve your on the ground tours and activities through Get Your Guide.
  6. Purchase travel insurance for Mexico with World Nomads to protect yourself from illness, injury, and theft while in Mexico.
  7. Check out my comprehensive guide about traveling to Mexico with information on cities, things to do, places to see, and more.
  8. Learn more money saving tricks with my top budget travel tips if you want to get more bang for your buck.
  9. Put together your Mexico packing list.
  10. Enjoy this incredible country!


I hope this helped you plan your travels in Mexico! I know it can be a struggle to find accurate and on the ground information when traveling to a new place like Mexico, which is why I started writing so extensively about it!

If you have any questions about Mexico, budget travel, or anything else shoot me an email at

(I love getting questions! That is how I get ideas for my blog posts and what to write about!)

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Beautiful Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and Problems with the Police travel, mexico, central-america


Head Writer and Adventurer at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out truck camping to road trip across the American West, and then across all of Central America and South America. When he isn't on the move, you can find him living as an expat in Colombia. He is also the author of the best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget that will help you travel more for less. Follow the adventures on social media or read more.

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Comments 10

  1. It’s unlikely to save you any money, but one thing people might consider doing at home before driving in a country with sketchy police is to “lose” their license and get the Dept of Motor Vehicles to issue a replacement. Sure, you have to pay for the replacement, but you now have a spare license that you can just allow the sketchy cop to keep if things get uncomfortable.

    1. Post

      Yes, this is a very good tip — one that I was aware of but didn’t make the time to do before departure. I highly recommend this!

  2. We’re you ever worried about cartels driving through Mexico? I’ve often thought about making that drive, but am somewhat worried as a solo traveler. Are there any places in Baja that should be avoided?

    1. Post

      I mean maybe like “first time driving in Mexico scared of the cartels” type of thing, but not really. Generally sound advice is to just get past the border area quickly, like away from Tijuana. Cross in the morning and head at least to Ensenada or beyond. While the drug violence was gotten worse in parts of Baja, it is still a pretty tranquilo place and there isn’t a whole lot to worry about if you take common sense precautions.

  3. Hi Ryan!
    We are flying into Cabo the end of May. My mom, myself and my 2 daughter’s (10 and 1). Do you think it’s safe for us to rent a car or should we stick to shuttles? Thanks!

    1. Post

      Yeah, I think it’s probably safe… The only thing I would really consider is whether you really need to rent a car given the extra hassles of it. Many times I just stick to Uber while getting around (when I don’t have my truck or don’t want to drive in a big city). If your hotel has parking and you’ve got a good sense of what it is like driving in Latin America, then go for it.

  4. I go to Mexico frequently. I’ve really had one issue with cops in Mexico. I was driving down a small road when this guy jumps out from behind some bushes and waves me down. He walks up to the car, say’s that he’s a police officer, and tells me that he flagged me down because I was speeding. After a bit of back and forth, I just asked him how much and handed him a $20 USD bill.

    My experience with the police in Peru is worse. We were driving back to Lima from Cusco, to catch a flight. We had been driving all night and were on the Pan American highway, about an hour south of Lima. We noticed several people in the highway, flagging down random cars. We got flagged down. The person driving didn’t have a license on him and the cops were threatening to take him to jail for not having a license and speeding. This cop ended up gouging us for about $200 USD.

    1. Post

      Ouch, that’s terrible about Peru. I’ve heard the cops can be pretty problematic there. Mexico was certainly the worst in all of Central America. In the three months we spent driving all the way across, we got pulled over a handful of times. This time in Cabo was the only time they got money out of us. Once got pulled over twice in one day, for absolutely nothing. Another time got pulled over for way outside of town for supposedly not yielding in a pedestrian walkway back in town. I just argued with them since it appeared totally bogus. For one, I was driving in traffic and at least as cautious if not more than all the other local drivers, for two, I saw him behind me for at least a minute outside of town before he decided to pull me over… Why would he wait that long for my supposed infraction?

  5. are you KIDDING ME! That story is straight out of a movie. I didn’t know it was THAT bad. How scary is that when the people who are supposed to keep you safe are the ones scamming you. Wow what a read. Glad you got your license back and found the cash 😉

    1. Post

      Yeah pretty wacky experience really. Gotta say that it wasn’t ever scary–it’s all part of the game that they are known to play down here. You just have to be prepared and play the game as well. In total we got pulled over 5x on the road through Mexico. The time I talked about here where I was at fault, three times for doing nothing except having a foreign license plate, and another for what I swear was an invented infraction–supposedly passing through a pedestrian walkway and not yielding.

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