The Federal Maritime Terrestrial Zone (ZOFEMAT) department of Los Cabos, which is responsible for the area’s coastal safety and governance, has announced the deployment of yellow and red beach flags this week due to consistent high winds.
The already difficult natural conditions seen at many of Los Cabos beaches means even the relatively low winds pose a threat to travelers who enter the water. The forecast for this week predicts consistent gusts of between 11-14 mph.
The Affected Beaches
The following 8 beaches have been designated the yellow flag, which means “danger, enter the water with extreme caution”. Although these beaches still allow swimming, it is not advisable in the current conditions as the situation can change faster than the flag:
- El Médano.
- El Chileno.
- 8 Cascadas.
- Las Viudas.
- El Corsario.
- Santa María.
The following beaches have been designated the red flag, which means “swimming is strictly prohibited”. Under no circumstances should travelers enter the water at these 3 beach areas:
- La Gaviota.
- La Ribera.
- All beaches in the tourist corridor.
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The Danger Explained
Even in good conditions, many of Los Cabos beaches are not deemed swimmable due to the extreme ocean-floor drop-off. This aggressive feature of the coast creates strong waves and highly dangerous undercurrents, which have proven fatal to tourists and locals in the past.
While Los Cabos does have plenty of fantastic swimmable beaches, they also hold dangers of their own. The steep ocean-floor drop-off is still present on these beaches, although in a much more random manner. For example, El Médano, which is one of Los Cabos’ most popular beaches, has areas where a swimmer can walk 20-30 meters out to sea before needing to swim. While on other sections of the same beach, a swimmer can be waist-high in the water after just a few steps.
All of these dangers are present in Los Cabos beaches on even a calm day, but with the addition of this week’s consistent winds, the already unpredictable swells step up a level in risk.
How To Escape An Undercurrent
Even on a green flag beach, it’s important for all swimmers to know the basics of escaping an undercurrent. While the situation can be scary, the following actions can massively reduce the risk of a fatal outcome:
- Remain calm and don’t fight the current. Panic is the worst use of energy in this situation, which is easily escapable under calm action for swimmers of most levels.
- Swim parallel to the shore. Undercurrents are normally narrow, so swimming parallel to the shore for just 40-60 feet in most cases will take a swimmer out of danger.
- If unable to swim parallel, floating on your back and calmly calling for help is an effective method of survival. Los Cabos beaches have trained lifeguards who are constantly scanning for swimmers in distress, so help is close by.
- Under no circumstances attempt to rescue another swimmer. Many fatalities occur from people attempting to save another and getting into difficulty themselves. Throwing flotation devices, such as inflatable rings, to those in distress is safer for both parties while the lifeguards are notified of the situation.
What To Do Instead Of Swimming
It can be an unfortunate situation for travelers when the beaches become too dangerous for swimming, although it is still safe to relax on the soft white sands so long as a black flag (beach closed) isn’t present. Additionally, the fantastic resorts of Los Cabos almost always have multiple clean pools for guests to take a cooling dip without safety concerns.
Furthermore, the two cities that make up Los Cabos (San Jose Del Cabo & Cabo San Lucas) are bursting with activities, restaurants, bars, and cultural experiences. Meaning no matter the conditions in the water, travelers are never denied an enjoyable and boredom-free vacation!
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