Plan Your Budget Escape to Cabo San Lucas

The famous arch is an iconic landmark in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
(c)Mark D. Kahler

Cabo San Lucas is a favorite budget destination that has had a run of bad weather in recent years.

In September 2017, Tropical Storm Lidia hit the area with heavy rain and strong winds, resulting in fatalities and more damage.

Three years earlier, Hurricane Odile hit Cabo San Lucas and its neighbor San José del Cabo. Recovery took time, and it wasn't just the smaller resorts that were shuttered. Large resorts required many months to resume normal operations. Damage was extensive.

Lidia only closed a few resorts, and unlike Odile, recovery was measured in weeks rather than months. 

The storms showcase a spirit in this area that is admirable. After Odile, the business community adopted the social media hashtag #unstoppable. Hospitality is the lifeblood of Cabo, and everyone from your waitstaff to the people who clean the swimming pool are committed to providing a good experience. The storms reminded people that they should never take the tourist trade for granted.

The good news: innkeepers have renovated many rooms and common areas. There are bargains to be found. Take a closer look at how to plan for the basics of a Cabo getaway.

  • 01 of 04
    Dusk along the Sea of Cortez near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    For starters, you'll need a budget guide to Cabo San Lucas. Find ways to maximize time and resources. Find the best flights, considering the best times of year for your visit and thinking about hotel options are all top priorities. Get advice on your entry into Mexico and even some thoughts on beach conditions. Use this article in the early stages of your planning, so that you can establish a good budget and a strong itinerary.

  • 02 of 04

    Review: Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar

    Sheraton Hacienda in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

     Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar Golf & Spa Resort at Cabo del Sol was among the among the first large properties to reopen after Hurricane Odile swept through the area. That quick recovery was made possible in part by a large staff that takes pride in the place. At this full-service resort, visitors can play a round of golf, take a spa treatment, or enjoy a gourmet meal without leaving the property. For most budget travelers, it's a splurge to be sure. But rooms at this full-service resort are sometimes available for less than $200 USD/night.

  • 03 of 04

    More Cabo Hotels

    An infinity pool at Sheraton's resort near Cabo San Lucas.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo offer a fairly wide selection of accommodations -- you can spend $50 USD/night in a place that provides the basics, or many times that amount in resorts that will cater to a wide array of travel needs.

    Here are a few additional suggestions that will match a number of budgets. They are offered in descending order of room rate:

    The Bungalows resort is located close to Land's End, the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. So you'll be close to the iconic arch (El Arco) formation, Lover's Beach and Las Californias Museum. This place is back from the beach by a block or two, but you'll take a step back in price as well. Rooms here off-season are in the low $100s/night.

    Hotel Casa Natalia caters more to art lovers than beachgoers. This adults-only property is located in the town of San José del Cabo, in the artist district. Despite the word hotel in its name, the property is styled more as a B&B or boutique inn,  Guests have access to a heated pool and grill area, and some of the rooms are decorated with the work of local artisans. This is another fairly quiet place that's removed from the party scene, at a price point that is attractive to budget travelers. 

    La Marina Inn is for serious fishermen. Coolers are available in the room to store your catch, and the location is close to an area where there are many pangas (small fishing boats) for hire during the day. 

    Cabo Inn Hotel is a budget property where nightly rates are sometimes $50 USD or less (not including a 19 percent tax). It is located in town, and although you won't enjoy resort-style amenities, a short walk provides access to a host of bars and restaurants. A budget favorite for more than a generation, Cabo Inn Hotel maintains 21 guest rooms on three air conditioned floors. 

  • 04 of 04

    Cabo Dining

    Enjoy the cuisine of Baja California in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
    (c)Mark D. Kahler

    When dining in Cabo San Lucas restaurants, you'll encounter some great seafood options. This long been known as a great place for deep sea fishing, and the catch of the day is a safe order in most of the better restaurants. 

    Sea Bass is a local favorite, but you'll also want to try yellow tuna, mackerel, and snapper. Another seafood favorite enjoying a growth in popularity in Mexico is ceviche, a raw fish salad cured in citrus juices that's already popular in Peru and other parts of South America.

    If you're not thrilled about raw fish, another delicacy is flash-fried shrimp on a stick for your snacking pleasure. These are great as you sit by the pool or watch the surf crash in on the beach.

    What Americans commonly call a rib-eye steak is known as cowboy steak in Mexico. Much of the beef you'll order in the Cabo San Lucas area comes from the Mexican state of Sonora, where there are scores of ranches with a reputation for producing the nation's best beef. In a place where you'd think seafood dominates, steak houses also thrive. They're serving meals at a variety of price points.

    Be sure to plan ahead if you'll be dining in Cabo San Lucas or San José del Cabo, as many restaurants will fall into the splurge category.

    Many of us associate chocolate with Switzerland or the United Kingdom. But chocolate has played a role in Mexico's history, and finding quality chocolate here at a decent price isn't too difficult.

    Mexican chocolate was a prized commodity long before Europeans discovered its uses. It has a slightly spicy taste. This makes Mexican hot chocolate a popular beverage, but you'll also see restaurants creating elaborate desserts with this unique ingredient. Best of all, sampling Mexican chocolate can be done on a limited budget.