According to Kristian Sandoval Villaseñor, president of the Surf Association in Baja California Sur, surfers in Los Cabos keep acting as lifeguards.
It is quite common for these athletes to rescue tourists and locals alike from drowning due to the high waves and currents present in the area.
Los Cabos’ beaches can be extremely dangerous, especially when weather conditions are responsible for riptides and strong waves.
Most people unfortunately do not have the proper training or knowledge to deal with such water conditions and often end up in dangerous situations.
This happens quite often in Los Cabos and its surrounding areas and is the main reason why lifeguards frequently place red and black flags on local beaches to warn tourists and locals alike.
Talking from personal experience, Mr Villaseñor said: “The most common mistake is the human ego saying: ‘nothing happens, I can do it, I’ll get involved’ and then, as surfers, we are rescuing people all the time.
“I won’t lie to you. I easily pull people out of the water every 15 days who are asking for help because they are being carried away by the current here in Costa Azul, so it is a very clear issue.”
However, unfortunately, at times surfers and lifeguards are not enough.
This September the 3rd, boxer and trainer Alfredo Bañaga, locally known as ‘La Hormiga,’ tragically lost his life on El Tule beach, located about 16 km northeast of Los Cabos.
Are Los Cabos beaches safe?
So, should tourists be concerned about the safety of Los Cabos’ beaches?
Los Cabos’ beaches can be a great place to enjoy an afternoon swim in tranquility but, at times, they can be extremely dangerous places.
This is why every visitor should exercise high levels of caution whenever entering the ocean, regardless of the weather conditions.
Authorities often close popular sites such as Santa María, Acapulquito, and Palmilla beaches to safeguard people’s safety.
In 2023, Hurricane Hilary and more recently, Hurricane Jova, brought heavy rain and wind, causing the closure of several beaches.
Earlier this week, a category 5 hurricane caused severe damage in Los Cabos. As a consequence, many beaches were closed to the public.
How can tourists stay safe?
Given the situation, should travelers planning a vacation to Los Cabos reconsider their holiday destination?
Surely not. For as long as people exercise the necessary level of caution, there is no reason to be afraid.
First and foremost, it is fundamental to know what exactly each flag color refers to.
In fact, lifeguards in Los Cabos often place flags on beaches as an indication of their safety status.
This allows tourists to always know whether they can swim in safety or if they should opt for another activity.
For instance, a green flag means that you can safely swim in the water. Despite this, always make sure to exercise high levels of caution.
Yellow flags indicate a risk. People are allowed to enter the water but they should be extremely cautious when doing so.
Visitors and locals alike should pay attention to the currents and waves and should only get in the ocean if there is a lifeguard close by.
Red flags mean that the sea is not accessible. Waves and currents are way too strong, meaning that the risk is too high for amateurs and experts alike.
Travelers can however access the beach for a picnic or other activities but should postpone their swim to another time or opt for another beach.
Lastly, black flags. These indicate extreme danger. It means that both the beach and the water are inaccessible.
Regardless of the color of the flag in front of you, it’s always important to avoid certain behaviors whenever approaching the ocean.
People are advised always to only swim whenever a safeguard is in sight and to avoid drinking alcohol.
Authorities also recommend every bather to stay within close proximity to the beach so that in case of emergency, lifeguards can act quickly.
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