Finding free or cheap things to do in Mexico's Los Cabos is challenging, but it's not impossible. From hole-in-the-wall taco joints, to hotels that offer rock-bottom shoulder season rates, and unparalleled natural beauty that is free to everyone, you might be surprised at the budget deals and experiences available.
So don't write Los Cabos off as a luxury destination for wealthy wallets only. Our guide can help you look beyond the gilded gates of its many five-star resorts to build the perfect budget trip.
Take the bus from the airport to town
Private airport transfers are certainly an option in Los Cabos, but they can do some heavy-duty damage on the wallet. Fortunately, there is a convenient bus system running every 15 minutes that shuttles passengers to and from the airport. From Terminal 1 you can jump on the public bus to downtown San José del Cabo, the Tourist Corridor, and Cabo San Lucas. The operator is Ruta del Desierto, and you can buy tickets at the Ecobajatours stand in Terminal 1. Buses run from 4:30am to 11pm.
Travel during shoulder season for the best rates
Accommodation prices tend to soar in Los Cabos over the holidays and in the early spring. Booking travel during the shoulder season is a great way to get the best deals. Typically May through June or August to September have the best rates, though beware that August to September can be very hot, humid, and rainy.
Take advantage of the free and cheap things to do
Not every activity in Los Cabos is tailored for those with lots of money. For absolutely nothing, you can snorkel from shore at Chileno Beach, watch for whales from nearly all the beaches and sometimes hear them singing underwater. Or, you could take a hike up Mt Solmar for great views of Land's End. Every Thursday, San Jose del Cabo hosts a weekly Art Walk, where galleries open their doors to guests, and music, food, and entertainment spills into the streets of the Gallery District.
Stick to street food at the local restaurants
Los Cabos has some of the hottest tables in town, complete with champagne terraces and epic sunset views, but you'll be paying a pretty penny to dine in any of these establishments. Ask around to see where the locals eat and you're likely to taste some mind-blowing foods and flavors for a fraction of the cost. In Cabo San Lucas you'll find street food restaurants behind Squid Roe and Avenida Cardenas. Head inland away from the marina where the taquerias cater to the local crowd. Tacos Gardenias is a beloved local restaurant serving seafood and tacos at wallet-friendly prices of 45 MXN or less.
Go to the beach
One of the many wonderful things about Mexico is that the beaches are always free. The waves and currents of the Pacific mean not all of the beaches are suitable for swimming, but they are all beautiful and expansive enough for sunbathing, a game of beach volleyball, or long, leisurely walks. Some of the swimmable beaches include Medano Beach, Chileno Beach, Palmilla Beach, and Lover's Beach.
Hire water taxis instead of private boats
A quick scan of the Cabo San Lucas marina will reveal a veritable treasure trove of luxury yachts and catamarans. But you don't need to sail with the millionaires in order to enjoy life on the water in Los Cabos. Water taxis are much more affordable, and readily available, to take you out to spot whales, see the rock formations, or simply take in the views from the water, running at around $10 each way.
Take the bus or rent a car
Taxis are readily available in Los Cabos, but you'll find that they are the most expensive way to get around. For more flexibility and a lower cost per ride, renting a car is a great option. Check if your credit card offers any type of rental car insurance, which can also save you from extra security add-ons at the rental counter. Los Cabos has a bus system that runs the 20-mile tourism corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
A guide to daily costs in Los Cabos
Hostel room: MXN $373–449 (dorm bed)
Basic room for two: MXN $1630–2672
Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): From MXN $954
Public transport ticket: MXN $12.50
Tacos: From MXN $45
Dinner for two: From MXN $300
Beer/pint at the bar: From MXN $49