The Los Cabos region conjures up images of wild, wind-swept beaches and craggy cliffs dotted with mountainside mansions and decadent luxury hotels. While it's primarily regarded as a five-star destination – and for good reason – this stretch of Baja coast isn't out of the question on a shoe-string budget.

There are plenty of activities here that don't require a wallet. Here's our list of the best free things to do in Los Cabos.

 A white-sand beach with rocks in the distance on a sunny day
All of Mexico's beaches are free, including the ones in Cabo San Lucas © Shutterstock / Grey82

Hit the beach

One of the best things about Mexico is that all the beaches – every single one of them – are free. While many of the beaches in Los Cabos are considered too rough for swimming, there are a handful that are absolutely perfect for paddling around. 

Playa Chileno, for example, is a Blue Flag beach known for its calm waters, golden sand and excellent snorkeling conditions. Those in the know also adore Palmilla Beach for its powder-soft sand and almost Caribbean-style waters. Medano Beach is yet another swimmable option, and is often considered to be the main beach in Cabo San Lucas. Expect to find crowds here, but for good reason.

The top beaches in Los Cabos: snorkeling, sunbathing and family fun

Stroll San José del Cabo’s artsy streets

The weekly Art Walk in San José del Cabo is one of the most beloved traditions in the region, and it's one of the best ways to soak up the flourishing art scene without having to spend a dime. Held every Thursday between 5pm and 9pm between November and June, the free walking tour is certainly one of the most unique things to do in Los Cabos. 

Guides meet at the Main Square in San José del Cabo and take art lovers on a leisurely stroll through the colorful Gallery District. Popping in and out of art galleries, chatting with curators and meeting artists and other art lovers is a lovely way to spend a warm evening. The Gallery District is also perfectly positioned near the best bars and restaurants, just in case you want to keep the conversations going.

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Whale watching in Cabo - adults on snorkel trip aboard Pez Gato, near Cabo San Lucas
You could book a whale-watching boat tour, but there's a high probability they'll be visible from the Los Cabos shore, particularly around Magdalena Bay © Stuart Westmorland / Getty

Scan for whales

High season in Los Cabos is about more than perfect weather and festive events – January to March is also peak time for whale watching. Each year from December to April, late pods of whales migrate down from the cold north to breed in the warmer waters around Los Cabos, both in the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez.

While you could certainly book a boat tour to see these majestic beasts, there's a high probability they'll be visible from the shore. Humpbacks are the largest population of whales to pass through Los Cabos, but you might spot gray whales too, particularly around Magdalena Bay.

Where to spot gray whales along the Pacific coast

Take a garden walk at Flora Farms

San José del Cabo is championing a farm-to-table culinary scene, with many of its restaurants and boutique resorts sourcing their menus as locally as possible. One of the spearheads of this slow-and-local movement in Los Cabos is Flora Farms, a gorgeous 25-acre working organic farm tucked at the base of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains.

The farm is a culinary destination with a restaurant, bar and event space, as well as a few cottages for overnights and a spa to boot. But you don't have to shell out the big bucks to learn about the movement – free walking tours of the farm help give visitors a deeper understanding of the land and how it's used to benefit the local economy. Tack on a tour either before or after your reservation to help make the meal that much more meaningful. 

Hike Cerro de la Z 

Los Cabos is blessed with both beautiful beaches and the rocky mountains of the Sierra de la Laguna range. As such, you can expect some really lovely hiking highlighted by sweeping ocean views.

Overlooking Cabo San Lucas and the Sea of Cortez, the Cerro de la Z trail is a rite of passage in Los Cabos. Less than a mile and a half out-and-back and perfect for both sunrise and sunset, the trail and its bird's-eye perch give uninterrupted views from El Arco to the Pacific-facing beach. If you do one hike in Cabo, this is the one to do.

Two rows of boats in the turquoise water of the Cabo San Lucas marina with buildings in the distance
At the Cabo San Lucas marina, you don't have to spend a dime to be entertained © emperorcosar / Shutterstock

Visit the marina

The marina at Cabo San Lucas is one of the destination's thriving hubs, where much of the action goes down. Stroll around  to marvel at the mega yachts. This is also the spot from which most of the water excursions depart, whether it's a whale watching trip or a luxurious sunset cruise.

Around the entire marina are busy restaurants, bars and shops, and you don't have to spend a dime to be entertained here – it's some of the best people watching you can get. But there's nothing like ordering up a drink from one of the open-air bars and watching the local fishing boats zip in and out, or the mega-rich saunter across the decks of their million-dollar vessels.

Bike the botanical cactus gardens

One of the most mesmerizing outdoor spaces in Los Cabos, the Wirikuta Botanical Garden looks almost otherworldly. A 12-acre park packed with thousands of cacti and other succulents from around the globe, the garden's three pyramids, explosive bougainvilleas and maze of desert plants will give you the impression that you've either stumbled back in time – or to another planet entirely. Rent a bicycle to see as much of the place as possible.

Discover Mexico away from the crowds

Surf at Playa Los Cerritos

Even if you've never touched a surfboard in your life, you know that the Baja peninsula is one of the top surf capitals in the world. You can find the heart of Los Cabos' surf action at Playa Los Cerritos.

This small surf beach, not far from Todos Santos, is known for its consistent year-round waves, and it happens to be one of the best spots for beginners to learn the ropes. After a thrilling sesh, venture to the small town of Todos Santos to suck back fresh oysters and cold beer at any one of the beachfront open-air shacks, or class things up with a visit to La Oystera, a chic, renovated sugar factory that has been transformed into a luxurious seafood-and-cocktail bar meets art gallery.

Enjoy Viva La Plaza

While San José del Cabo has its weekly Art Walk, Cabo San Lucas has Viva La Plaza, a weekly cultural celebration is staged in and around the town square, Plaza Amelia Wilkes. You'll get the best glimpse into Cabo San Lucas' cultural side here: the city doesn't have a defined gallery district, so the event acts like a street festival, with artists and artisans showcasing their work and regional folkloric performers singing and dancing on the stage in front of the Natural History Museum. 

See the parroquias

Starting in San José del Cabo's historic downtown, the Parroquia de San José del Cabo is one of the most historic and beautiful churches in the region. The church was originally founded as a mission in the 18th century by a Jesuit priest. While the current church had to be rebuilt in the 20th century, it is still one of the most important cultural icons in Los Cabos.

Afterward, head over to Cabo San Lucas to explore the Parroquia San Lucas Evangelista. This is one of Cabo San Lucas' historic buildings, located not far from the town square.

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