How much money do you need for Cabo? | Cabo San Lucas Budget Guide

Why is Cabo expensive? I also asked the same thing when I decided to live here. However, the cost of traveling in Cabo vs. the cost of living in Cabo is different, and in this post, I will share everything you need to know to plan your Cabo travel budget.

Simple answer: this is an American’s favorite destination. There are many direct flights coming from the USA. Almost all major airports in the US fly straight to Cabo!

Tourists who travel to Cabo only stay for a weekend. Honestly, it’s still cheaper than most US cities but I feel like it’s slowly becoming similar to the prices in Los Angeles, CA.

Look, Cabo is expensive by Mexican standards. If you are living in New York, LA, or San Francisco, you’ll still find Cabo cheaper.

is cabo expensive

‘Expensive’ is also subjective and personal because you’ll definitely get what you pay for in Cabo. Beaches and nature surround us. From living in many places, these things come with a price.

You can eat quality street tacos for US$1, then stay in an all-inclusive hotel for US$500 the next. It really depends on your travel style and what you want to do during your vacation.

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💵 Can you use US dollars in Cabo?

ABSOLUTELY! When I first moved here, I felt like I am in a completely different country. Coming from mainland Mexico, I’ve never seen restaurant menus or tour prices that are written in US dollars.

In Cabo, everything is in US dollars; even locals use it in the busses or supermarkets. I was amazed and shocked, but I still use the Mexican peso in Cabo.


There are many USD ATMs in all corners of Cabo San Lucas. All-inclusive resorts also have their own machines. Withdrawing cash here is not as difficult as the small towns in the south.

You won’t have to worry about it! However, please know that if you use US dollars in Cabo, the conversion rate is lower. If the current conversion rate is 20 Mexican pesos per USD, they will only exchange 17 pesos per USD if you choose to pay this way.

🤑 Is Cabo more expensive than Cancun?

The costs in Cabo are about the same as Cancun however, it varies. Food in Cancun is more expensive than Cabo. You can eat out in Cabo for US$7.50 while in Cancun, it’s US$12.

is cabo expensive

Since the spending is about the same, tourists often opt to vacation in Cabo because the flights are shorter. As you know, Cabo is in the north of Mexico and super close to California while Cancun is in the far south of the country.

I see very little difference with the flight prices from the US (to both Cabo and Cancun) but the flight time to Cabo is shorter.

💰 How much money do you need for Cabo?

I honestly can’t say anything about this because your budget for traveling to Cabo is up to you. However, my only piece of advice is that you only need to worry about accommodation expenses.

It doesn’t matter if you are a budget traveler, a honeymooner, or traveling with family. You will pay the same for food and tours. When it comes to accommodation options, this is where we all differ.

is cabo expensive

In this post, I will also share the different price points of accommodations and what you will get for every accommodation type. To give you a gist, all-inclusive resorts in Cabo start at US$585 (2 people), hotels are at US$108 (2 people) and hostel dorms are at US$19 per person.

Overall, how much money you need for Cabo will depend on the accommodation that you will choose. For food, expect to pay US$15 – US$25 per meal in restaurants. A street taco is US$1 and the tours start from US$25.

☀️ When is the best time to visit Cabo?

Personally, Cabo is good for me all year round. I didn’t see a lot of difference between the low and high seasons here. I feel like Americans always go here no matter what!

But anyway, let’s talk about some facts. It may be a favorite destination for many Americans but June to October is extremely hot here.

It’s not hot for me since I live here but for many of my American and European friends, they hate coming to Mexico during the summer! The only good thing about visiting in the summer is that everything is cheaper than usual.

is cabo expensive

The high season is from November to May when we experience great weather and the sun is always out. Cabo is a famous destination for big American holidays like Thanksgiving.

These months won’t be hot for you, I promise! It’s actually cold for me so I wear a jacket and pants during the evening. December, January, and February have chilly nights so bring a jacket just in case!

💸 Is Cabo expensive? Let’s discuss the prices

🛏️ Accommodation costs in Cabo

Hotel prices in Cabo can range from US$30 to US$500 per night. It really depends on where you want to stay so I am going to discuss them one by one.

For all-inclusive resorts, they are usually in the San Jose del Cabo (SJC) area about 30 minutes via Uber to Cabo San Lucas (CSL). Many vacationers opt for this type of accommodation. Not to mention that SJC is also super close to the airport.

However, if you want to enjoy and experience the Cabo nightlife, you have to go to Cabo San Lucas. Uber works and you only pay US$10-US$15 per ride.

best hotels in cabo for bachelorette party

Unfortunately, if you choose to stay in San Jose del Cabo, the nightlife and activities are very minimal. SJC is also not as walkable as CSL. You need a car to get around the town of SJC. The layout is very different.

San Jose del Cabo is home to the resorts. If you are traveling with family, it’s way easier to opt for an all-inclusive. I have a lot of clients who hire me to arrange their trips to Mexico because they don’t want to be the leader of the band organizing everything!

There are also a few resorts in Cabo San Lucas that are located in the marina so I will share each location of the recommended all-inclusive resorts here. The only difference is that resorts in SJC have their own beaches while in CSL, not all of them have it.

To give you an idea of the all-inclusive prices, here are some of the resorts I have experience in. Please note that the prices below are for the high season.

Hacienda Encantada: from US$549 per night (3 people)

👉🏽 Check prices at Hacienda Encantada

Hacienda Encantada has the option for an a la carte. You don’t have to avail the of all-inclusive access. After all, this is in Cabo San Lucas and is only a 10-minute drive to the city center. They also have hourly shuttles that go downtown for free.

This is a good option if you want to stay in an all-inclusive but still see downtown. Hacienda Encantada has its own beach view where you can see the famous arch of Los Cabos.

best hotels in cabo for bachelorette party

A Master Suite for 3 starts at US$549 per night for an all-inclusive stay. This accommodation only has 1 king bed and 1 sofa bed so this is a great price for a family of 3.

A basic room for 3 that is also all-inclusive starts at US$336 per night. This is the room without the ocean view and is a very basic hotel room but has 1 king bed and 1 queen bed.

Another bonus that I like about staying in Hacienda Encantada is that you can also get free meals in the restaurants they own in the Marina! They have a full list and you can access all of them for free!

Hotel Tesoro Los Cabos: from US$585 per night (2 people)

👉🏽 Check prices at Hotel Tesoro Los Cabos

This hotel is right by the Marina Cabo San Lucas so if you stay here, you will be super close to the center – no need to take an Uber! The Marina is the most famous landmark in Cabo San Lucas where all the bars, restaurants, and nightclubs are.

is cabo expensive

The all-inclusive rate at Hotel Tesoro Los Cabos is higher than Hacienda Encantada but take note that you are also paying for accessibility here. When you stay in this hotel, you can walk everywhere!

A room for two that has the marina view starts at US$585 per night (all-inclusive). This resort also has a pool that is overlooking the marina. It’s one of the best spots in town!

Studio at Marina Los Cabos: from US$108 per night (4 people)

👉🏽 Check prices at Studio at Marina Los Cabos

Now this one is for those who are traveling Cabo on a budget but still want to have the best location. This condo is right in the Marina (like Tesoro) but it’s only studio space good for two people.

If you ask me, this one is the best in value. I stayed here for a month and the owner gave me a discount! This studio has 2 full king beds and they said it can house 4-5 people.

is cabo expensive

Honestly, there’s only one bedroom so even if there are 2 king beds, I wouldn’t really stay here with 4 people. 2 is enough. However, if your group is really on a budget and opts to spend money on other things. this is a great option for you!

Hotel Los Patios: from US$54 per night (2 people)

👉🏽 Check prices at Hotel Los Patios

Okay, do not be shocked. US$54 for 2 people seems to be really cheap for Cabo but if you know where to look, you can definitely travel here for cheap. You just need to know the right contacts!

Hotel Los Patios is super famous for budget travelers because it’s right in the heart of Cabo San Lucas and it has a pool, too! This is most popular with travelers who are always out and about and are only in the accommodation for sleeping.

is cabo expensive

It’s actually very decent and highly rated for this price. Whenever friends visit me in Cabo, I don’t really host them in my house because I work at home – it’s hard for me to host even friends!

I always send them to Hotel Los Patios because it’s cheap and really amazing for what it is.

Super-saver for backpackers: from US$19 per person

Now I also have friends who are traveling by themselves. These are not vacationers or short-term travelers. As a digital nomad, I meet a lot of people who ask me if it’s possible to stay in Cabo San Lucas on a budget. Nobody believes it is!

There are a lot of decent hostels in Cabo San Lucas for solo travelers. My favorite is Cabo Inn. I stayed here for a week and actually ended up moving to the apartment in front of it because I was looking for a long-term.

Cabo Inn is also just a 3-minute walk to the marina! There are dorms in Cabo Inn but they are popular for their cheap private rooms at US$40 per night.

is cabo expensive

Sofia Hostel is also popular with backpackers. A bed in an 8-person dorm costs US$19 per night. These dorms are super nice and are very private.

Young people love this type of accommodation where there are many opportunities to meet other people. Unfortunately, these are the only cheap accommodations in Cabo since budget travel is not really popular here (yet).

Food prices in Cabo

I love Cabo’s food scene! It’s one of the best in Mexico! Of course, I go to the supermarkets because I live here but I also eat out at least twice a week.

I had this goal of trying all the restaurants in Cabo but it will take me a year for sure. There’s a lot! To give you an idea of the food prices in Cabo, below are ideas:

is cabo expensive

Restaurant prices in Cabo

The average cost per meal in Cabo is around US$15 – US$25. I love eating steaks so a great steak in Cabo (USDA approved) is about US$35 – US$50.

For popular Mexican seafood dishes like ceviche and tostadas, you can get them for US$12 in a beach bar but some restaurants sell them for US$20. Another favorite is fresh oysters which are priced at US$1- US$2 per piece.

is cabo expensive
My friends who visit me in Cabo always want seafood!

Street food and taco prices in Cabo

To be honest, Cabo is not very big on street food. The taquerias are actual restaurants, not like the normal food stands you see in Mexico City.

A taco in Cabo costs US$2 per piece. Lazaro Cardenas is the street where you will find all the best taquerias in Cabo. I don’t have a favorite in that street but I love going for birria tacos at Los Paisas (in front of Cabo Land).

Beer prices in Cabo

Some days, you just want to lay on the beach without going to a beach club. What you need to do is simply buy a 6-pack beer at the Oxxo which costs US$6 (Corona, Pacifico, Victoria or similar).

If you order a beer at a beach bar, it costs US$4 per bottle. In super local places that are not on the beach, a bottle beer is half the price (US$2).

is cabo expensive

Alcohol prices in Cabo

A glass of wine in a beach bar (beach front with view) is around US$5 and this is the cheapest. For wine, really, expect to pay US$10 per glass and about US$50 per bottle.

I know you all love tequila when going to Cabo. Your favorite Don Julio at a bar costs US$7 per shot and it’s not very strong so most people I know take double shots.

Transportation costs in Cabo

Uber is widely used in Cabo. If you are staying in San Jose del Cabo, you can go to Cabo San Lucas downtown for US$15 – US$25 (one-way). The busses are less than US$5 per ride and cost US$4 to go all the way to the airport (1.5h ride from downtown Cabo San Lucas.

is cabo expensive

We also have a pedicab in Cabo which is a tourist trap since they cost more than the Uber. But foreigners and tourists like to take it for the experience. It could be a great way to see the city.

Tour prices in Cabo

Now, for the tours, it really varies. The most popular tour in Cabo are those that involved water activities. A private catamaran for 3 hours can fit 14 people and costs US$1,500.

If you want to do an ATV tour in the desert, the price is US$130 per person. Some cruises that include snorkelling and lunch costs US$89 per person. The famous camel ride is at US$95 per person.

As for tours to the arch, a glass-bottom boat costs US$35. For those who want to parasail, it’s US$60 per person. There are many things to do in Cabo and you can check that in my other Cabo posts where I also included the prices.

Flight prices to Cabo

The average flight price from the US to Cabo is US$300 but it depends on the season. Last month, I was trying to book a flight from Houston to Cabo (a week before Thanksgiving) and it was US$500 one-way!

It still depends where you are from but the following cities have direct flights from the US to Los Cabos:

  • Atlanta via Delta Airlines (3h 42m)
  • Dallas via Delta Airlines (2h 51m)
  • Denver via Frontier Airlines (3h 31m)
  • Houston via United Airlines and Spirit Airlines (2h 58m)
  • Las Vegas via Frontier Airlines (4h 28m)
  • Los Angeles via Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines (2h 28m)
  • New York City via American Airlines, United Airlines, and JetBlue Airways (5h 21m)
  • Minneapolis via Sun Country Airlines (4h 29m)
  • Phoenix via American Airlines (2h 11m)
  • Salt Lake City via Delta Airlines (3h 06m)
  • Seattle via Alaska Airlines (4h 38m)

💲 Cabo money and costs

Currency, budget, cash, etc

The currency in Mexico is called the Mexican peso. To date, US$1 is equivalent to $20 MXN.

Please note that Mexico also uses the dollar sign for their peso so when you look at prices in Cabo, they always put “US” at the end.

💰 Money exchange in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo uses USD so you don’t have to exchange money for Mexican pesos. But if you feel like your USD will go a longer way when exchange in USD (it really does) you can exchange money at Los Cabos International Airport upon arrival.

is cabo expensive

If you want to physically exchange USD in Cabo (to peso), you can go to Sterling Money Exchange in Plaza Gali and San Jorge Casa de Cambio which has many branches in Cabo.

Many friends of mine prefer to exchange in actual banks but the lines are super long and the rates are so low. Believe me, I have 3 banks in Mexico and it’s always a lot of work to do bank errands! Mexican banks are not so efficient.

🏧 ATM withdrawals in Cabo

There are many USD ATMs in town and you can also take out in Mexican peso using your debit card. The usual withdrawal fee is US$5 but it depends on your bank.

This is super crazy but withdrawal fees in all airports in Mexico (even if the bank is the same as downtown) costs double! Don’t withdraw at the airport if you don’t want to be charged double (unless you really have to).

The USD ATM machines in Cabo are in every corner and they’re literally just machines. My brother visiting me from Sacramento found it so sketchy to withdraw USD in a freaking machine in the middle of the street but I told him it’s safe and it’s the Mexican way.

is cabo expensive

If you want to withdraw from a real Mexican bank, they don’t dispense USD. They don’t even dispense USD for USD account holders like me.

I always need to go to the counter to withdraw USD in BBVA and Banorte. Mexico has a difficult banking system but I live here so I need to adapt.

These Mexican banks will dispense Mexican peso and the best ones are BBVA, Banorte, HSBC, and Santander. You will easily spot them all over town.

💳 Credit/debit cards

Credit and debit cards are accepted everywhere in Cabo. Even the taco restaurants accept them so don’t worry. They will always ask you if you want to be charged in MXN or USD.

I always put the local currency for my US credit card since it has better rates and conversions. In Mexico, they will also ask you if you want to use the “tap” option but I still go old school and use the ‘insert card’ option.

I’ve had very bad experiences with tapping (my card number was stolen and was used without asking for a passcode) so since then, I avoid using tap and asked my bank to deactivate it.

💵 Tipping in Cabo 

If you didn’t like the service, 15% will do but if you liked the service, you can tip up to 25%. Honestly, service in Cabo is top class. You’ll never see anything like it in Mexico.

The servers are well-trained and even with that training, they are still paid a crazy low US$7 per day salary. Their livelihood is very dependent on tips!

🇲🇽  Cabo Travel Guide

  • For thrill-seekers, Cabo’s ATV Adventure is a must. Ride across the desert landscapes for an exciting and unique way to sightsee.
  • Jump in and explore Cabo’s underwater world. See bright fish and beautiful reefs when snorkeling in the clear waters.
  • Relax and enjoy Cabo’s stunning sunset from a cruise. See the changing colors over the sea and coastline! Meals are included in some tours.
  • Cabo’s vibrant nightlife hits the high seas. Join the party boat for a full day of dance, music, and ocean-side revelry. Live it up, Cabo-style!
  • Join a Cabo food tour and unveil Cabo’s rich culinary scene, featuring local cuisines and flavors that are not only delicious but educational.

  • Visit Cabo’s most iconic natural landmark, the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. Boat tours offer a close-up view of this unique rock formation and the sea lions basking nearby.
  • A must-visit for beach lovers, Medano beach is the main swimming beach in Cabo. Its gentle waves and crystal clear waters are perfect for water sports, while beachside eateries serve up local flavors.”
  • Go on a leisurely walk or boat ride to Land’s End. This captivating landscape includes dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches, and panoramic ocean views, ending at El Arco.”
  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cabo Pulmo is home to one of the oldest living reefs. Snorkeling and diving here offer an extraordinary glimpse into vibrant marine life.”
  • Explore the vibrant art scene of the nearby town, San José del Cabo. This weekly art walk showcases a variety of galleries, with local artists often present to discuss their work.”

  • Experience luxury at Villa La Valencia, offering stunning ocean views and state-of-the-art amenities. This resort combines comfort and style, with spacious suites, pools, and on-site dining, for an unforgettable stay in Cabo.”
  • Perfect for travelers wanting to be at the heart of the action, Medano Suites provides modern comfort steps away from Medano Beach. Each suite is fully equipped, offering a homely setting with the convenience of nearby eateries and nightlife.”
  • Nestled in Cabo’s marina, Hotel Tesoro combines charm and value. Its comfortable rooms, outdoor pool, and easy access to local attractions offer a welcoming base for exploring the best of Cabo.”
  • Cabo San Lucas is a resort city, so you may consider booking an all-inclusive resort. Some of them also have a la carte options.

  • Cock’s Cantina: This lively bar in Cabo’s downtown offers an array of drinks and classic Mexican eats. With its friendly atmosphere and live music, Cock’s Cantina ensures a fun-filled night.”
  • Rooftop 360: Offering stunning panoramic views of Cabo, Rooftop 360 is a perfect spot for cocktails at sunset. Their menu features a blend of international dishes and creative drinks.”
  • Pancho’s Restaurant: A classic spot for traditional Mexican cuisine. Pancho’s Restaurant serves a variety of flavorful dishes and boasts one of the largest tequila collections in Cabo.”
  • Mi Casa: With its colorful décor and vibrant ambiance, Mi Casa provides a truly authentic Mexican dining experience. Their extensive menu offers regional favorites and house specialties.”
  • Chamuyo: This Argentine steakhouse is known for its quality cuts of meat and cozy atmosphere. Chamuyo is a top choice for those looking for a hearty meal in a warm, rustic setting.”
  • Funky Geisha: A fusion of Japanese and Mexican culinary traditions, Funky Geisha offers an exciting menu of sushi rolls, tacos, and teppanyaki. Its modern, stylish décor complements its innovative cuisine.”

  • Plaza Artesanos: A true gem for unique handcrafted souvenirs, Plaza Artesanos hosts over 100 vendors offering a variety of local crafts, from ceramics and leather goods to silver jewelry and traditional textiles.
  • Luxury Avenue Boutique Mall: For high-end souvenirs and designer brands, head to this exclusive shopping mall. Besides international luxury brands, you’ll also find Mexican designers, adding a local twist to your shopping spree.”
  • Puerto Paraiso Mall: Located in the heart of Cabo San Lucas, this sprawling shopping complex is home to a mix of international and local shops. Pick up traditional souvenirs, beachwear, or local art to remember your Cabo trip.

  • Cabo San Lucas is a walkable town. You don’t need any mode of transportation while there, especially if you are staying in the center. You must take an airport taxi service from San Jose del Cabo Airport, and that’s about it!
  • If you plan to drive around Cabo area or to nearby towns, a rental car is highly recommended when visiting Los Cabos.

  • You need travel insurance to Mexico! Ekta Traveling is the recommended insurance (for travelers ages 2 months to 100 years old).

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  1. There is so much incorrect information in this article, I don’t know where to start. “If you didn’t like the service, 15% will do.” What? The excursion prices listed here are just plain wrong. I am writing this from Cabo today, January 20th. Please look at a different source.

    1. Hi Dave! Thanks for the information. What “incorrect” info did you find? I live in Cabo for years now so I am sure these prices are updated. Would love to hear your thoughts, though! Maybe I am talking from an expat’s perspective and not a tourist’s perspective. All comments are welcome to improve this article.

    2. @Trisha Velarmino, that part of
      “If you didn’t like the service, 15% will do.”

      If the service is so bad, do I have an option to not pay tipping? that’s what I do in the States, tipping for only $1 or $2, much lower than 10% to mean that,
      Why do I have to pay 15% to mean no like the service?

  2. Cabo seems to be a must visit destination for me. I like how you have given details about all types of hotels and their room charges. The views are killer, so I can understand how the prices are justified. The food prices are also fine, I guess Cabo is for all. True that, it depends on what you exactly prefer.

  3. I just visited Cabo for the first time in February while on a cruise. It is so beautiful and the snorkeling and whale watching are great! I liked your tip about staying in Hotel Los Patios as it is very affordable. I’d love to return someday and I’ll remember your advice.

  4. I always thought you can only find resorts in Cabo, and I’m not a kind of resort traveler. You know, swimming and sunbathing by the pool. I like to move and explore around. After I read about Hotel Los Patios, you kind of change my mind a bit. Now I know there’s a place for me in Cabo that I will enjoy the place.

  5. I’ve been to Cabo before as a cheap holiday to escape the Canadian winters. This is a good round up of info and places to stay. I think Hacienda Encantada gets my vote for those beach views.

    1. Cabo is an amazing beach destination with affordable accomodations. I can’t believe you can have tacos for as cheap as $2 and use US currency.Thank you for sharing the details of all inclusive resorts and the rates for adventure activities like parasailing and ATV rides.

  6. It looks like Cabo can be a destination for all types of budgets, and I like that. I am surprised that you can use US dollars in the country. Coming from Europe, where still a lot of countries have their own currencies and not the euro, it’s strange to learn that you can pay in a country with another country’s currency. I find the all inclusive accommodation prices to be quite high, but it’s good to know that you can find offers in the centre of Cabo as well, if you are travelling on a budget.

  7. I have no intention of going to Cabo in the near future. But I always find it super-interesting to read about avarage budget needs in different countries. I visited Cancun more than ten years ago and it was the most expensive place in Mexico I visited. Cabo seems similar.

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