Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other, Cabo (or Los Cabos) is a sun-drenched paradise in Mexico’s Baja California Sur, rivaling Cancun and Puerto Vallarta as a winter holiday destination.
You can unwind on pristine beaches, go snorkeling and scuba diving, tee off on championship golf courses, marvel at the famous rock Arch and indulge in world-class spas.
And let’s not forget the amazing whale watching in winter, when humpback and gray whales migrate down from Alaska to Cabo’s warm waters!
But you already know this, right? That’s why you’re planning a Cabo vacation.
What you’re interested in – once you’ve organized your flights and trip itinerary – is how to get around Cabo.
How do you get from the airport to your hotel? Is it easy to walk places? Should you rent a car? What about tours?
We visit Los Cabos frequently. We’ve taken the local bus, hopped into numerous taxis, ridden Uber, enjoyed umpteen tours and walked pretty well everywhere in the two main towns.
Here in this guide, we share our insider tips about the best way to get around in Cabo. From Uber to local buses, there are numerous modes of safe transportation in Cabo.
How to get around Cabo, Mexico
1) Walking in town
The two main towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are very walkable.
You’ll find a variety of restaurants – from tasty taquerias to great Italian restaurants – all within a few blocks’ distance. In fact, if you like to walk, the best way to get around in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo is on two feet.
In Cabo San Lucas, in particular, you’ll want to lace up your sneakers and walk around its yacht-filled marina.
The waterfront walkway that winds around the marina’s edge is lined by numerous bustling bars, restaurants and shopping hubs like the Puerto Paraiso and Luxury Avenue interconnected malls.
About two miles long from end to end, the marina promenade is perfect for a jog or a stroll, especially in the cooler mornings. It’s how we (and lots of other vacationers) like to get some exercise combined with some interesting people-watching!
If you’re staying at a resort on Medano Beach (the most popular swimming beach in Cabo), you can easily walk to downtown Cabo San Lucas. It’s a 5- to 20-minute walk, depending where along the beach you’re staying.
Of course, as you would in any busy tourist spot, you’ll want to be careful if you’re out walking at night alone and not stray too far off the well-lit tourist areas.
And you shouldn’t venture into sketchy neighborhoods. Areas where you need to be careful include Los Cangrejos and Las Palmas in Cabo San Lucas and the Santa Rosa neighborhood in San Jose del Cabo.
But Cabo is generally safe – as safe as any other tourist hot spot. It’s a popular destination (especially for visitors from the United States and Canada), with lots of tourist infrastructure!
2) Public bus in Cabo
If you’re thinking of taking public transportation in Cabo San Lucas, you’re probably looking specifically at the bus that runs along the Tourist Corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
The bus service is called the Ruta del Desierto, and the buses are purple and orange.
We’ve taken the Ruta del Desierto bus from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo many times, for example, when we’ve wanted to attend the San Jose del Cabo Art Walk.
What the buses are like
Some buses are air-conditioned, others can get pretty stuffy. Yet others have lots of open windows, and the more adventurous rides involve traveling with a door open!
Some are newer than others too, so don’t be surprised if your bus is older and a little shabby looking.
If you’re lucky, you might get a freelance guitarist hopping on board to play and sing for the passengers – in the hopes of receiving a tip, of course! Locals usually oblige with a few pesos.
Admittedly, the Cabo San Lucas bus is not the fastest or most comfortable way of getting between the two towns, but it’s convenient and perfectly fine. It’s safe and the buses run regularly, usually every 15 to 30 minutes or so.
The local bus is also cheap – the cost is about 40 pesos (less than $2.50 USD a person). You can’t complain about that!
How to get around Cabo by bus (where the bus stops are)
The main bus stop in Cabo San Lucas is on the Transpeninsular Highway or Hwy #1 (the main highway), near the Puerto Paraiso Mall.
In San Jose del Cabo, the main stop is in front of the La Comer grocery store on Hwy #1, near the turn off to the Los Cabos International Airport.
There are bus stops along the way between the two towns.
But what’s nice is that the bus will drop you off wherever you want (not just at an “official” bus stop). And if you’re walking along the highway, you can flag the bus down and it will usually stop to pick you up.
3) Renting a car
Renting your own car always gives you more freedom and flexibility when you’re traveling.
If you’ve been wondering how to get around in Los Cabos easily, without having to rely on others, you might find it handy to pick up a rental car at the airport.
We always like to rent a car in Los Cabos for at least a few days that we’re there, each time we visit.
Location and car rental cost
You can get rental cars easily at the Los Cabos Airport (SJD) or from agencies in town.
We’ve used Discover Cars to find the best deals for car rental companies like Avis, Enterprise and National.
Prices vary pretty drastically depending on when you’re visiting.
In the high season months like January, you’re looking at paying about $100 USD a day ($50 USD for the rental plus another $50 USD for the insurance).
Be sure to bring your credit card for the deposit and payment.
Exploring with a rental car
With your own wheels, you can go on some great day trips from Cabo.
You won’t be short of options.
Visit the famously charming Pueblo Magico (magical town) of Todos Santos. Or drive to funky Los Barriles and try your hand at kitesurfing.
Another advantage of having your own rental car is that you can check out different sandy beaches, like Playa Palmilla, or go snorkeling on your own at Santa Maria Bay.
What are the roads like in Cabo?
Driving in Cabo is generally safe, though we’re not going to pretend that Mexican drivers are always the safest.
Some Mexican states require a practical driving test for getting a license, while others do not. So many locals learn to drive from their friends or family (and bad habits are easily picked up).
Another thing worth mentioning is that drunk driving is not entirely unusual in Mexico, so if you can, try not to drive at night just to be extra safe. This is particularly true for weekend nights and holidays like New Year’s Eve.
There’s one more, less known but very real reason for staying off the highways outside of the two towns (apart from the busy Tourist Corridor, i.e. Hwy #1) at night. It’s to avoid colliding with wandering livestock. Yep, cows wandering onto the highways after dark are a real driving hazard!
As for the road conditions, the highways are generally in good shape and you shouldn’t have any problems getting around in Los Cabos and the southern part of the Baja California Peninsula.
The main highway between the two main towns, Hwy #1, is well-maintained and offers stunning coastal views. However, it’s usually busy and the locals drive fast. Pay extra attention when merging onto it!
Road signs throughout the area are adequate but not great, so you’ll want GPS or a reliable map.
4) Taxis in Cabo
Taxis are a convenient way to get around in Los Cabos.
They’re plentiful and available 24/7.
You can’t miss them. In Cabo San Lucas, they’re usually blue or green (occasionally white) vans that can seat around 8 people. In San Jose del Cabo, taxi vans are red and yellow.
Taxis in Cabo are safe.
So for going to farm-to-table restaurants like Flora Farms and Acre Restaurant, they’re a good option.
The problem? Cabo taxi rates are pretty expensive.
For instance, a ride between San Jose del Cabo and the town of Cabo San Lucas, approximately a 35- to 40-minute drive, will cost you between $60 to $70 USD.
Here are some other things to know when using taxis in Los Cabos:
- You can phone a local cab company, flag a taxi down in the street or grab one at a taxi stand.
- The local taxis don’t take credit cards, only cash. They’ll accept U.S. dollars as well as Mexican pesos.
- Los Cabos taxis aren’t metered. Ask for the cost up front, and feel free to negotiate the price.
- Some cab drivers try to overcharge tourists, so be aware.
We personally try not to take taxis and use alternative Cabo transportation options instead.
5) Uber in Cabo
Back home, most of us city folk are used to being able to hail a ride with a few clicks. Hello Uber!
But is there Uber in Cabo and if there is, is Uber safe in Cabo?
Well, the answer to the first question is complicated.
You’ll read that Uber is illegal in Cabo. Then again, you’ll read that Uber is operating legally.
The fact is that Uber exists in Los Cabos. And for the most part, it works well.
We’ve found the Uber drivers to be super friendly in Cabo, and this ride sharing transportation option is a safe, cheap and convenient way to get around.
For example, when we stock up on groceries at the Selecto Super Chedraui grocery store in the Puerto Paraiso Mall, we regularly take Uber back to our Medano Beach accommodation – at a cost of about $5 USD.
Another example: A trip down the Tourist Corridor from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo costs about $40 USD.
Be aware, however, that the taxi drivers in Cabo don’t like Uber.
The taxi union has a mafia-like hold on transportation in Los Cabos. And there have been cases where visitors have been inconvenienced during their trip – where the police have stopped Uber cars to check on licensing and taxi drivers have hassled Uber drivers.
Also, there’s still a problem taking Uber to and from the airport. So if you’re looking at reliable airport transportation, for now, we’d suggest you take an airport transfer (discussed in #6 below), not an Uber.
But for getting around Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo towns (and between the towns and places on the Corridor), Uber is a great option.
6) Transportation from Cabo airport to hotel
Okay, so now you’re wondering how to get from the airport to your hotel and back…
One of our best Cabo travel tips is to pre-book one of the airport shuttle services. These Cabo transfers from the airport will be cheaper than a taxi and more comfortable.
You’ll have to decide between a shared shuttle (where you share the transfer with one or two other couples or a small family) or private transportation.
Rates vary, depending on the area where you’re staying in Los Cabos.
It’s cheaper, for example, if you’re going from the airport to San Jose del Cabo (which is the town closest to the airport) than if you’re going to Cabo San Lucas.
If you want more details, we’ve written a whole post on Cabo airport transportation on our other general travel blog. But here’s a quick rundown of the cheapest transport options:
Cheapest roundtrip shared shuttle to Cabo San Lucas
The cheapest shared roundtrip airport transfers to and from Cabo San Lucas that we’ve sussed out are offered by Gray Line Los Cabos.
The cost is $37 USD p.p. to/from your accommodation in Cabo San Lucas.
For a cost-effective transfer for a solo traveler or a couple, this is a great option.
Cheapest roundtrip shared shuttle to Pacific-side hotels
Resorts like the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal and Playa Grande on the Pacific-side of Cabo San Lucas are further away than hotels in Cabo San Lucas – so the airport transfers cost more.
The cheapest shared, roundtrip shuttle to the Pacific-side resorts is $43.08 p.p. with Epic Los Cabos.
This price doesn’t apply, however, to the Nobu Los Cabos and Hardrock Hotel (which are further away up the Pacific coast).
Cheapest roundtrip private transfers to Cabo San Lucas hotels
For a group of up to 7 passengers, Legacy Transportation charges $139 USD for this private ride (roundtrip transportation) between the airport and your resort in Cabo San Lucas.
7) Water taxis in Cabo
You’ve probably heard about Land’s End, right?
It’s one of the most famous landmarks in Cabo, sitting at the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula. A remarkable natural stone arch, known as El Arco, protrudes from the stark cliffs at Land’s End – right at the point where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meet.
It’s an impressive geographical wonder you don’t want to miss!
And the only way to see it up close is by boat (or kayak) – you can’t walk or drive to Land’s End.
Many wooden water taxi and glass-bottom boats take visitors to and from Land’s End on a mini-sightseeing cruise. You can hop on one at the Cabo San Lucas Marina or Medano Beach.
(Some services run between the marina and Medano Beach too. This is a fun way of getting to the beach from the cruise port, for example. The cruise terminal is at the far end of the marina.)
In general, a roundtrip ride to Land’s End from the marina will cost about $20 to $25 USD p.p. (But don’t be afraid to haggle a bit to get the price down.)
You can even ask to be dropped off at Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amor) at Land’s End if you want – and get picked up a couple of hours later. You’ll have to arrange this in advance though.
One of the cheapest roundtrip rides to Land’s End we’ve found is this water taxi ride aboard a 30-foot boat. It costs just under $20 p.p. (and it has many 5-star reviews).
(If you want to go from the marina to Medano Beach, expect to pay somewhere between $10 to $15 USD p.p.)
For a one-of-a-kind experience, you can enjoy a one-hour sightseeing tour on an all-clear boat that leaves from the marina.
It’s a particularly great way to get to Land’s End, especially if it’s your first trip to Cabo, as you can see all the tropical fish and sea life around you through the transparent bottom and sides of the boat!
8) Booking tours in Cabo
One of the most striking features of Cabo is its varied terrain and extraordinary blend of scenery, where the desert meets the ocean.
There’s the cacti-studded desert heartland, cradled by rugged mountains. But you also have the sun-kissed coastline, with long stretches of sandy beaches hemmed by crystal clear turquoise waters.
As a result, you can do a ton of fun and unique activities in Cabo.
So if you’re content to kick back at your resort most of the time (and go to a few nearby restaurants at night), you don’t really need to worry too much about how to get around in Cabo San Lucas or Los Cabos.
To experience some of Cabo’s activities, you can simply participate in a couple of tours which include transportation to from your hotel.
Looking for thrills? Enjoy an adrenalin-fueled day with a pass to the Wild Canyon Adventure Park. Think UTV rides, bungee jumping and ziplining.
Another fun tour option: Going horseback riding along the beach, a vacay highlight you won’t forget anytime soon.
More keen on visiting nature spots? Take a hiking tour in the Canyon of the Fox.
You may want to book your preferred tours in advance, especially if you’re visiting Cabo in peak season, as popular tours do get booked up quickly.
That wraps up our complete guide on getting around in Cabo!
Getting around Cabo isn’t all that difficult, is it?
With various Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas transportation options such as Uber, taxis, rental cars, private shuttles and cost-effective local buses, you can explore this vacation paradise quite easily.
So enjoy the journey – your Cabo ride awaits!
Photos: 3, 5, 8, © Janice and George Mucalov, Cabo Visitor