A Comprehensive Guide for Families Travelling to Cancun Mexico
Cancun is one of Mexico’s most visited tourist destinations. Located along the Yucatan Peninsula, the city is right at the heart of the Mayan Empire, home to ancient ruins and cenotes (swimmable deep-water wells). It’s also famous for its pristine beaches sitting on the Caribbean Sea and a vibrant nightlife scene.
Here’s an ultimate guide to visiting Cancun, including the top places to visit, best dining places, and more.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Cancun
1. Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is the best place to visit in Cancun if you want to escape the bustling beaches in the main town. It’s a small island about 30-min ferry ride away from Cancun. But despite being small, it has many beautiful sites worth checking out.
Rent a golf cart and make your way to Punta Sur at the southern tip of the island. It’s where you will find the ancient temple that honours the Mayan moon goddess. The atmosphere here is very relaxing, and the landscape is absolutely stunning, surrounded by rugged cliffs and idyllic bays.
Isla Mujeres is also famous for its sea turtles. It’s home to a turtle farm, and if you visit between August and October, you could witness baby turtles hatching. The best way to get to the farm is to take a taxi from the town of Isla Mujeres. And if you’re looking to relax and work on your tan, head to Playa del Norte, where you’ll find a beautiful, pristine beach.
2. Chichen Itza
Cancun is also home to fascinating archaeological sites, and the Chichén Itzá is the most popular. As one of the most recognized landmarks in the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichén Itzá is the main hub of the ancient Mayan Civilization. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was selected to be one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
The focal point of the Chichén Itzá ruins is the “El Castillo,” a pyramid-like structure once used by the Mayans as a temple dedicated to the god Kukulkan. But because of its popularity, the site is often crowded with tourists. To avoid crowds, visit early in the morning before the tourist buses arrive.
To make the most of your visit, consider hiring a guide who can explain the site’s history and significance. It’s possible to hire a guide on-site, although it is best to book in advance. Some tour companies offer travel packages to Cancun that include a guided visit to the Chichén Itzá.
3. El Rey Ruins
Another popular archaeological site worth checking out in Cancun is the El Rey Ruins. While they may not be as popular as the Chichén Itzá ruins, they are definitely among the top places to visit in Cancun. Plus, they are much easier to explore since they are within the Hotel Zone. What’s more, the area is not too big, allowing you to explore it in a short time.
El Rey used to be a centre for maritime trade, dating back to 1200 AD. However, the ruins themselves are not the main attraction. Many tourists would come here to witness the hundreds of iguanas that have lived in this ancient Mayan village.
The El Rey Ruins is open from 8 AM to 5 PM. Like Chichen Itza, it is best explored with a local tour guide who will share the history of the ruins and other interesting things about the Mayan Civilization.
4. Coco Bongo Cancun
Cancun is famous for its vibrant nightlife. If you want to experience a unique nightlife scene in the city, head to Coco Bongo. This place is not like your usual nightclub or beach bar. It’s where you can witness incredible performances of acrobats, live bands, conga lines, and impersonators. A typical night in this nightlife spot involves lots of balloons, bubbles, confetti, and projected videos.
Coco Bongo may not offer the conventional nightclub experience many tourists would expect, but it will make your visit to Cancun even more unforgettable. It’s where you can witness amazing performances and stage antics you may not find somewhere else.
The club is open from 10:30 PM to 5 AM daily. Be prepared for the long queues, especially during the peak tourist season. There will also be long lines for food and drinks, so it is best to come with a full stomach.
Many tourists visiting Mexico are often confused between Cancun and Tulum. Both are in the Yucatán Peninsula and are home to stunning beaches. If you can’t decide where to go, consider visiting both places. Tulum is less than two hours drive from Cancun and can make for a perfect day trip.
What makes Tulum popular is the 13th Century Mayan archaeological site within the Tulum National Park that overlooks the glistening sea. The park is only 10 minutes from the downtown area of Tulum, right at the northern end of Tulum Beach.
Compared to the other Mayan ruins, the Tulum ruins are much smaller, so it’s much easier to explore. But what makes it stand out is the view surrounding this famous area. It’s sitting on a cliff that opens to stunning views of the Caribbean Sea and the beautiful white sand beaches underneath it. Make sure you check out Templo del Viento, the most popular of all the ruins in Tulum.
6. Xcaret Park
Xcaret is an amusement park that’s also home to some Mayan ruins. It’s located within the Mayan jungle amidst cenotes and underground rivers and faces the Caribbean Sea. Here, you can discover flora and fauna, swim on the stunning beaches along the Caribbean, and marvel at the archaeological sites.
Located along Riviera Maya, Xcaret Park has more than fifty different attractions waiting for you to explore. Make sure you visit the Pole Mayan ruins, considered the best Mayan ruins in Playa del Carmen. Dating back to about 1400 AD, it was once home to a Mayan village involved in the maritime trade, thanks to its strategic location along the Caribbean Sea.
The other attractions you should check out in Xcaret are the Voladores de Papantla Flyers and the Xcaret Nighttime Show, featuring an elaborate series of cultural performances centred around the Mayan Civilizations.
7. Playa Tortugas
Playa Tortugas is a popular spot for locals in Cancun, mainly due to its clean beaches and relaxing vibe. The area is in the northern part and is one of the top places to visit in Cancun. It boasts several beachside restaurants offering excellent dining experiences.
Playa Tortugas is also home to a pier where visitors can bungee jump and take ferries to Isla Mujeres. Many tourists would visit Tortugas to enjoy the laidback atmosphere and beautiful beaches. The beaches are also free to visit, and the water is calm on most days, so it’s perfect for those tourists with little kids.
Getting to Playa Tortugas is easy as it’s in the northern area of Cancun’s “7”, within the famous Hotel Zone. It can be reached by bus or a rental car. There are umbrella and chair rentals available at the beach.
8. Cancun Golf Courses
Another reason why many visitors would flock to Cancun is to play golf. It’s home to world-class golf resorts offering luxury golf holiday experiences. But given the various options, deciding which golf resort to visit can be daunting.
One of the most popular destinations for golf in Cancun is the 18-hole Playa Mujeres Golf Club, which offers an exciting mix of challenging tee times and scenic landscapes. While it’s somewhat expensive to play, especially if you are not a guest at the Dreams or Secrets resorts, the experience is well worth it.
Another popular golf resort worth checking out in Cancun is the El Camaleón Mayakoba, which offers 18 holes on a course winding through natural features, such as mangroves, cenotes, and jungles.
9. Playa Delfines
If you want to venture out of the Hotel Zone and visit a quieter beach, head to Playa Delfines, a largely undeveloped area close to El Rey. The beach here is not as crowded as the beach along the Hotel Zone, allowing you to enjoy peace and quiet as you frolic in its crystal-clear waters.
There are not too many cafes or beachside restaurants in Playa Delfines, so don’t forget to bring drinks and snacks. Also called the “Dolphin’s Beach,” Playa Delfines is also famous for dolphin sightings.
Visitors to Playa Delfines must be mindful of the heavy currents and riptides. To get here, you can take a bus or taxi. But if you have a rental car, you can take advantage of the free public parking in the area.
10. Avenida Kukulkan
Avenida Kukulkan is the main street in Cancun, stretching from the Hotel Zone towards the downtown area and into the airport. So even if you do not intend to visit this area, you will most likely come across it during your holiday to Cancun.
Avenida Kukulkan is lined with pathways and numerous shops and restaurants. If you love walking, you’ll enjoy strolling through this famous avenue, especially during sunset. But it’s also possible to ride a bus through it since most local buses would pass this area.
Top 10 Places to Eat Out in Cancun
1. Señor Frog’s Restaurant
Señor Frog is a Mexican-themed chain of restaurants famous for their conga-dancing staff. It’s a bar and grill restaurant with branches not only in Mexico but also in South America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Of course, there’s also one in Cancun.
As one of the top places to eat out in Cancun, Señor Frog’s offers a variety of International and Mexican dishes. They also have a variety of drinks and loads of entertainment. Here, you don’t just sit and eat. The staff will ask you to dance and may even shoot tequila straight into your mouth!
2. La Habichuela
La Habichuela has been serving delicious meals and drinks in Cancun for more than 40 years. It’s housed in the home of the owner, Armando Pezzotti. Featuring a delightful ambience, including interesting Mayan sculptures, the restaurant is definitely worth checking out for an excellent dining experience in Cancun.
The restaurant menu features high-quality food made from the finest ingredients. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the Cocobichuela, a delicious mixture of rice, lobster, and shrimp served with curry sauce and some tropical fruits. Cap off your meal with the delectable Chichen Itza dessert and a cup of Mayan coffee.
Find yourself craving steak on your Cancun holiday? Head to Cambalache, an Argentinean Steakhouse famous for serving delicious cuts of steaks in large portions. Diners praised the restaurant’s top-notch service, making it a real crowd-pleaser.
Cambalache is owned by the same company behind Puerto Madero, another famous restaurant in Cancun. Both restaurants have a reputation for serving excellent quality dishes. You’ll find Cambalache in Plaza La Isla, home to several eateries and where people would go for late-night snacks in Cancun.
4. Harry’s Prime Steakhouse
Another restaurant to visit if you’re craving steak is Harry’s Prime Steakhouse and Raw bar. Its speciality dishes include USDA prime steak and Kobe beef, all cooked to perfection. Of course, you will also find delectable appetizers on their menu and other meat-based dishes, such as ribs.
If you’re not into steaks, you can order a selection of seafood, sandwiches, hamburgers, and more. Aside from its top-notch service, diners love the restaurant’s homey ambience reminiscent of the Great Gatsby movie.
If you want to indulge in authentic Mexican cuisine, head to Porfirio’s. Definitely one of the top places to eat out in Cancun, the restaurant serves delectable Mexican specialities, such as enchiladas, tortilla soup, and more. Its menu also includes a hundred varieties of tequilas and mezcals served from a cart that goes from one table to another.
Porfirio is located within the Hotel Zone, along the Nichupte Lagoon. It offers indoor and outdoor settings with a lively ambience accompanied by traditional performances featuring local dancers and mariachi bands.
6. Cenacolo Zona Hotelera
Located along the famous Avenida Kukulkan, Cenacolo Zona Hotelera is an upscale Italian restaurant housed in a European building and opens to the majestic views of Nichupte Lagoon. The restaurant’s famous specialities include a variety of seafood dishes and handmade pasta, freshly made every day.
As one of the best places to eat out in Cancun, Cenacolo is famous for its excellent service, cosy ambience, and interiors featuring chic and modern decor. Its menu also features a wine list of more than a hundred varieties of wine. Take note – this is a fine dining restaurant, and guests are expected to dress up.
7. El Oasis Mariscos
Mariscos is the Spanish word for seafood, which means that El Oasis is a restaurant specializing in seafood dishes. This restaurant is right across the street from Costco and serves authentic Mexican delicacies along with refreshing and creative cocktails. Known for its excellent service, El Oasis is a great place to dine out in Cancun.
Its interiors feature cool artwork and twinkling lights. You can also choose to dine outdoors and enjoy the open-air ambience. Aside from the delectable seafood and refreshing drinks, El Oasis also serves mouthwatering desserts, such as baked plantain with ice cream.
8. Ilios Greek Estiatorio
There are several Greek restaurants in Cancun, but the Ilios Greek Estiatorio stands out due to its beautiful interiors. Located along the Nichupte Lagoon in the Hotel Zone, Ilios features a contemporary concept, with a menu featuring authentic Greek and Mediterranean flavours.
Your dinner at Ilios will be accompanied by DJ performances, dancers, hookahs, and other entertainment, and diners will be attended to by friendly and attentive staff. Some dishes to try are lamb skewers, baked octopus, spinach pies, eggplant chips, and other Greek favourites.
9. Peter’s Restaurante
Peter’s is a quaint, European-style restaurant in the downtown area of Cancun. This family-run restaurant is well-loved by both tourists and locals. Run by Peter along with his wife Claudia and son Eder, the restaurant serves different kinds of meals, including beef, fish, shrimp, veal, pasta, and desserts.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly restaurant in the Hotel Zone area, come to Peter’s. Foods here are cheaper compared to the other restaurants in this area. Yet, you are guaranteed good quality meals, which you can enjoy in the restaurant’s cosy dining room.
10. Puerto Madero
Arguably, one of the best places to eat out in Cancun, Puerto Madero is an upscale restaurant named after a port district in Buenos Aires. The restaurant’s stylish decor exudes an industrial feel reminiscent of that Argentinian district.
Puerto Madero serves premium steaks cooked to perfection and a variety of fresh seafood. Their menu also features delectable salads and pasta dishes. The restaurant ambience is great, and the service is excellent.
Things To Do as a Family
1. Stroll Around El Parque De Las Palapas
Cancun is home to a few beautiful parks, such as the El Parque De Las Palapas in the downtown area. It’s right next to the oldest Catholic church in the city and is a great place to stroll around with your little ones. The park has a lively vibe, lined with restaurants, bars, and street food stalls selling delectable Mexican cuisines, from tacos to empanadas and huevos rancheros.
El Parque De Las Palapas has been the central hub of activity in the downtown area of Cancun and can get busy on Sundays when locals would gather around after attending mass at the church.
Aside from food stalls, there are also stalls selling arts and crafts, clothing, and more. It’s one of the most family-friendly places in the city and strolling around the park is one of the best things to do as a family.
2. Swim with the Whale Sharks
If your holiday to Cancun falls between July and September, one of the best things to do with the family is to swim with the whale sharks! While there are whale sharks in the waters of Cancun as early as March, you’ll have higher chance of seeing them when you visit during the summer months.
You can easily book a tour for swimming with the whale sharks, as it’s one of the most popular activities in Cancun. You can book before you arrive or even when you’re already in the city. There’s a good chance that the hotel you will be staying at in Cancun will be offering this tour, so you can try to book it through them.
The whale shark tours in Cancun will usually leave from Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, and you’ll be taking a ferry or boat for this activity. This activity is one of the best experiences in Cancun, especially for families with kids.
3. Take a Day Trip to Isla Mujeres
A day trip to Isla Mujeres is one of the top things to do as a family in Cancun. This beautiful island is only a 15-minute ferry ride from Cancun’s famous Hotel Zone. Renowned for its powdery white sands and idyllic beaches, Isla Mujeres would be a great place to spend quality time with your kids.
Isla Mujeres has a laidback atmosphere and stunning Caribbean coastline, loved by both tourists and locals. The island is also home to great restaurants serving delectable food and drinks, which you can enjoy under the swaying palm trees.
Isla Mujeres is an ideal destination for families because it offers numerous activities for kids of all ages. Rent a golf cart and drive around the island where you’ll discover a variety of wildlife, ancient Mayan ruins, and colourful murals. You can scuba dive in an underwater museum or go on an exhilarating zipline adventure!
4. Dinner Cruise in a Galleon Ship
Treat the family to a sumptuous dinner cruise in a traditional galleon ship called the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship. While onboard, witness a pirate show featuring incredible theatrical performances, hilarious entertainment, and fun pirate games guaranteed to delight both adults and kids.
The Jolly Roger ship is a replica of the famous galleon ship called the Santa Maria, which Christopher Columbus sailed on during his first voyage to the Americas in the 15th Century. For your comfort, it features modern luxuries and amenities, including an air conditioning system in the dining rooms, elegantly decorated restrooms, and professional sound and lighting effects.
Before the action-packed pirate show, enjoy a delicious gourmet dinner of international and Mexican dishes. The Jolly Roger Pirate Dinner Cruise is suitable for everyone, especially families with little kids. The ship departs from the pier of Playa Linda along the Hotel Zone area.
5. Check out the Kid’s Club at Villa del Palmar Cancun
Villa del Palmar, a family-friendly resort in Cancun, has a Kid’s Club where kids of all ages can enjoy various fun activities. Here, they can play, explore, make new friends, or learn new skills, making for a truly unforgettable family holiday in Cancun.
The Kids Club of Villa del Palmar is equipped with modern playground facilities and security cameras for your kids’ safety. Here, your kids can take part in fun hand-making activities that could bring out the inner artist in them. They can also participate in some fun games. Best of all, professional nannies are on-site to watch and attend to your kids, so you can leave them there while you go on with your activities.
The Kid’s Club is available for use for all guests staying at Villa del Palmar. Make the most of your stay by booking a 2-bedroom loft to accommodate everyone in the family. The Kid’s Club is a wonderful opportunity for parents to spend quality time without worrying about their little ones.
6. Visit the Parque Xel-Ha
Parque Xel-Ha is one of Mexico’s most beautiful parks, and visiting this park is one of the top things to do as a family in Cancun. Aside from having the most beautiful natural wonders, the park offers the best cultural experiences to delight your little kids.
Parque Xel-Ha is home to an enchanting marine park with crystal clear waters surrounded by beautiful tropical flora and idyllic landscapes. As you snorkel through the waters, you’ll discover diverse species of exotic marine life. Xel-Ha is also home to freshwater rivers, mystical cenotes, and a natural cove.
Aside from snorkelling, you can enjoy many other fun water activities at Parque Xel-Ha. You will also find several restaurants within the park that serve the most delectable Mexican dishes that even the pickiest kids will love.
7. Experience Fun Adventures at Ventura Park
If you’re looking for an amusement park to embark on some fun adventures with your little ones in Cancun, Ventura Park is the best place to be. It’s one of the most popular amusement parks in Mexico and the best place to go if you’re looking for some thrilling water adventures.
Ventura Park offers something for everyone. It has different themes and worlds, such as the Grand Prix, Dolphinaris, Fun World, AahVentura, and more. You will find different kinds of entertainment in each theme – from waterslides to rides and fun games.
There’s also an area in Ventura Park dedicated to little kids, such as rides and playgrounds. After all the adventures, head to one of the restaurants and cafes dotted all over the park. These eateries serve delicious foods, including foods that little kids will love.
8. Play in the Waters of Langosta Beach
Cancun is home to many family-friendly beaches. One of these is Langosta Beach. If you’re looking for fun things to do with the family in Cancun, visit this beautiful beach, which is only 5 km from the Hotel Zone.
Langosta Beach is ideal for families because its waters are low and calm with almost non-existent waves, safe enough for your kids to swim. Your little ones can walk deep into the beach without swimming, so it’s great for those kids who cannot swim yet.
While your kids are playing, look for a quiet spot at the beach, lie down, and relax as you enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. When your kids are hungry after playing in the waters, take them to one of the beachside stalls selling traditional Mexican delicacies. Langosta is a public beach, and there is no entrance fee to pay to get to the beach. It’s open all day long, although it can get crowded on weekends.
9. Marvel at the Wax Figures at Cancun Wax Museum
Take your kids to the Cancun Wax Museum, where they can marvel at the life-sized wax figures of famous personalities, celebrities, and historical figures. There are more than a hundred wax figures in the museum – such a joy to explore with your curious little kids!
The Cancún Wax Museum is located within La Isla Plaza and has more than 20 exhibition rooms, although you can easily explore the place in an hour or two. Some of the famous personalities you will find in the museum include Madonna, Amy Winehouse, and David Beckham.
After spending some time at the wax museum, visit the nearby La Isla Shopping Village. It’s an upmarket shopping mall home to hundreds of retail stores, boutiques, and tourist shops. There are also great cafes in the mall, where you can grab snacks and refreshing drinks.
10. Learn History at the Museo Maya de Cancún
Visiting the Museo Maya de Cancún is one of the best things to do as a family, especially if you and your kids are into history. Surrounded by a lush forest, the museum is a welcome respite from the bustling beaches of Cancun. It features engaging exhibitions about Mayan history and art, including significant collections of Mayan artefacts.
Behind the museum, you will find a jungle path that will take you through the forest and into San Miguelito, a once-thriving Mayan community now home to ruins of stone temples, dwellings, and pyramids.
Both the Museo Maya de Cancún and San Miguelito are a great introduction to the ancient Maya civilization and a reminder of the community that once lived there.
Safety and Security in Cancun
Cancun is generally a relatively safe city. The crime rates here are lower compared to the many other places in Mexico.
As much as possible, the Mexican government tries to make Cancun safe for tourists since tourism is the region’s main source of revenue. But this does not mean you should not take any precautions when going on a holiday in Cancun.
There are certain things you should be aware of to ensure a safe visit to Cancun.
Warnings and Dangers in Cancun
Scammers, price inflation, and petty crimes are more widespread in Cancun. Moreover, the party vibe and rise in tourism have attracted more drug trafficking in the area, leading to an increase in cartel activities. Still, the crime rate in Cancun is significantly lower compared to many other parts of the country.
Since tourism is the main source of revenue in Cancun, the local government makes every effort to keep the city as safe as possible for visitors. Because of this, several police forces are patrolling various tourist areas in Cancun to drive criminals away. Overall, the risk of crime in Cancun is pretty low.
Transport and Taxis
Taking public transportation in Cancun is relatively safe. In addition, many resorts and hotels offer free shuttle services to and from the airport.
When taking public transport, such as a taxi, it is best to do so within the hotel zone. Try to book ahead if you can, since you may have to discuss with the driver where to meet and some other details about the trip.
Ask your hotel to book the taxi on your behalf and negotiate the price in advance. Otherwise, drivers could demand outrageous sums when you get to your destination, resulting in a rather unpleasant experience.
The risk of pickpocketing is common in many tourist places, which is the case in Cancun. Thieves would often take advantage of a large number of vulnerable foreign visitors. Thus, pickpockets are common throughout the city, especially downtown.
The key is to avoid presenting yourself as a wealthy tourist. When going out and about, avoid carrying valuables, such as expensive watches and jewellery. Better leave them at your hotel. Also, avoid displaying your expensive gadgets while in public.
Thieves have quick fingers and will easily distract you and remove your valuables from your possessions without you realizing it. Keep all your valuable items in a secure location, such as the safety deposit boxes in your hotel. As long as you apply proper common sense and be mindful of your surroundings, the risk of getting pickpocketed in Cancun is low.
Natural disasters can be a concern in many parts of the world, including Cancun. Flooding and mudslides are a possibility during the rainy season and could disrupt public transportation. The hurricane season in Cancun runs from June to November, with more significant chances of storms between August and October.
Thankfully, hurricanes are not common in Cancun. So far, only two hurricanes have occurred in the last 30 years. Therefore, the risk of being affected by a natural disaster while holidaying in Cancun is quite low.
Violent Organized Crimes
Tourists are rarely a target of violent organized crimes. However, you could be affected if you are in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Terrorist threats are unlikely but cannot be guaranteed. Also, violent crimes due to cartel drug trafficking disputes could occur, although they do not often involve tourists. You must always exercise increased caution and be mindful of your surroundings when exploring public places.
Health and Medical
In general, Mexico’s healthcare system is decent enough, and hospitals have highly qualified medical workers who speak good English. Despite this, not all hospital personnel in Cancun can speak English.
Mexico has achieved universal healthcare coverage, and the country’s public healthcare system is reliable. There are also private hospitals to provide care for foreign patients, but this comes with an added fee. Some private hospitals in Cancun specialize in specific ailments, such as heart conditions, diabetes, etc.
Healthcare System in Mexico
Healthcare in Mexico is generally excellent, and the quality of medical care in tourist areas like Cancun is exceptionally high. The majority of Mexican doctors and dentists have undergone training in the US, Canada, or Europe.
The World Health Organization ranks Mexico as “61st” when it comes to the best healthcare system. All things considered, healthcare and hospitals in Mexico are pretty decent.
Private Health Insurance in Mexico
Numerous insurance companies in Mexico can provide private health coverage for a monthly premium. If you get ill or suffer an accident in Cancun, the insurance will cover your medical expenses.
How much the insurance can cover depends on the healthcare plan you choose. The more coverage you need and the older you get, the more expensive the premiums will become. Other factors, such as existing illness, can also influence the cost of your insurance premiums.
Private health insurance policies are more suited to foreigners who reside in Mexico. If you are employed at a local company, your company may be able to provide health insurance that can cover you and your family. Foreign visitors going to Cancun for a short holiday can get travel insurance that can cover the cost of medical expenses if they get ill or meet an accident.
Can Foreigners Get Healthcare in Mexico
Foreign visitors can use the healthcare system of Mexico. However, as a foreigner, you may not be able to use the insurance from your home country to get free healthcare.
For instance, US visitors cannot use Medicare since it is not recognized in Mexico. It is for this reason that it’s important for foreign visitors to have travel insurance when travelling to Cancun. The insurance will cover any medical expenses incurred if you become ill or get involved in an accident and requires urgent treatment.
Medical Insurance for Cancun
Foreign visitors to Cancun will not be required by law to carry medical insurance. However, it’s highly advisable for all foreigners going to Cancun to carry travel medical insurance. Anything can happen during our trip, and you can’t avoid the possibility of getting sick or injured while travelling. Having medical insurance in Cancun can avoid the financial burden that comes with getting ill while on vacation outside the country.
Like the rest of Mexico, there are two seasons in Cancun – rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season starts in May and lasts until October, while the dry season begins mid-October until April.
To help you plan your trip, here’s a month-by-month breakdown of Cancun’s weather conditions.
The weather in Cancun in January is warm, dry, and sunny, with an average daily temperature of 28°C. At night, the temperature drops to a more comfortable 20°C.
Since Cancun is on the edge of a tropical jungle, the city is always humid. However, the humidity level in January is low, especially by the end of the month. Because of this, January is the perfect time to explore the outdoors and visit jungles and ruins.
January is also a great time to swim at the beach or explore downtown Cancun. Although there’s an occasional rain shower, with average rainfall at 46 mm, the rain eventually clears up after an hour. Meanwhile, the sea temperature is relatively colder, averaging 27°C, allowing you to enjoy a refreshing swim.
In January, the visibility is also at its highest, making it the perfect time to dive, snorkel, and enjoy other water sports.
January’s beautiful and balmy weather carries over into the next month. Thus, February is slightly warmer and drier, with fewer chances of rainfall. The humidity will also increase slightly but still comfortable to explore the outdoors.
Visibility is still good in February, while the sea temperature remains more or less the same as in the previous month. Therefore, it’s still a great time to enjoy swimming, snorkelling, or diving.
In March, Cancun enjoys an average temperature high of 29°C. Nights are more comfortable, with an average rainfall of 37 mm. March is the second driest month in Cancun, with light and quick showers that will only hit once a week with bright skies for the rest of the month.
Although the humidity level will increase this month, you can still enjoy outdoor activities in comfort and explore Cancun’s ruins and jungles. The sea temperature hovers around 26°C, while visibility remains good until the end of the month.
April is one of the driest months in Cancun. There will be light and quick showers but only three days out of the 31 days in a month. The days will start to get warmer, with an average temperature of 31°C, especially by the end of the month.
The humidity level in April is high but still comfortable enough for outdoor exploration and visiting ruins. Beach lovers will love visiting Cancun in April. Most days have near-perfect beach conditions, with gloriously sunny weather and comfortably cool ocean breeze.
May is the third-driest month in Cancun, bringing with it the possibility of short storms, especially by the end of the month. High humidity and heavy cloud coverage mark most of the days in May, although there are still plenty of clear skies, hot afternoons, and warm mornings.
In May, Cancun enjoys a daily average temperature high of 32°C with an average rainfall of 52 mm. Thanks to the cool ocean breeze, the high humidity level will not bother you that much. If you want to visit adventure parks or explore the ruins of Cancun, it is best to do it in the morning, when the weather is comfortably cool.
The sea temperature will start to heat up in May, averaging at 28°C. Nesting turtles and whale sharks will make an appearance this month.
In June, Cancun enjoys an average daily temperature of 32°C, while the average rainfall will almost double to 115 mm. After all, June is the onset of the rainy season in Cancun. Thus, the city receives the highest rainfall during this month.
Tropical storms have only one out of four chances of hitting in June. And when they do, it’s usually brief and quick. Cloud coverage will increase in June, marking the start of the hurricane season.
Beaches are still comfortable enough to swim in, with a constant ocean breeze keeping you cool and comfortable. Venturing inland is not ideal. But if you do, carry enough water with you to stay hydrated. Take a dip in a cenote to cool yourself down.
Cancun experiences fewer rainy days in July but storms are heavier. It’s hot and muggy during this time, with the hottest weeks of summer starting in the latter half of the month and going on until the first half of August.
Swimming in a cenote is an ideal way to cool off in July. During this month, the average daily temperature can go as high as 32°C, with 103 mm of rain. As for the water temperature, it remains constant at 28°C.
When exploring inland, bring plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. It is best to spend your days at the beach on most days to cool off. July is also a great time to catch a glimpse of the first baby turtles breaking out of their shells and making their way into the water. Meanwhile, the whale sharks have already fully arrived.
August in Cancun is hot and extremely humid, especially during the first two weeks. By the end of the month, the temperature will start to go down.
The daily temperature in August can go as high as 33°C, while rainfall is at 136 mm. Water temperature will also increase, up to 29°C.
Most days in August are a mix of gloomy skies and sunshine, and the temperature tends to fluctuate as the month ends. As usual, rains will only last a couple of hours on most days.
August is the perfect time to visit cenotes and lounge at the beach to beat the humidity and heat. Wildlife enthusiasts should visit Cancun in August, as it’s the time when whale sharks and nesting turtles start to appear.
September is the rainiest month in Cancun, with approximately ten days of rainy days in the entire month. Rainfall averages at 185 mm in September and is usually heavy and frequent. However, it always clears up pretty quickly.
There’s a higher chance that hurricanes will hit Cancun in September, although it’s a rare occurrence. Days are less hot during this month, with an average high of 32°C. The humidity level is lower than the previous month, although it’s still muggy.
The sea temperature will increase slightly, while the beach is the most comfortable place to relax this month. Whale sharks will start to say goodbye and are almost gone.
Although the average rainfall in October comes down to around 157 mm, the number of rainy days will increase. There will be cloudy days with rain at the start of the month.
The weather will improve with the passing of the weeks and the month ending in gentle temperatures with beautiful beach conditions and spotless skies.
The sea temperature will start to go down to an average of 28°C. October is also the last month that hurricanes will appear if any.
In November, the average daily temperature hits 29°C. The skies will be clear and rainy days will be infrequent. The average rainfall will go down to 95 mm, while humidity is still present at the start of the month.
As the month progresses, the temperature will improve, with days becoming perfect for outdoor exploring and relaxing at the beach. Take this opportunity to visit Cancun’s adventure parks and explore the ruins and jungles.
Sea temperatures remain the same as in the previous month, so it’s a great time to take up water activities.
December is an ideal time to visit Cancun and even the rest of Mexico. The weather at this time of the year is absolutely fantastic, characterized by cool nights, warm days, and clear skies. Most days are gloriously sunny, although there will rain on some days, it will suddenly disappear!
The dry season will restart in the latter part of the month and go on until March. In December, the daily high temperature is a comfortable 28°C while the rainfall is at 70 mm and the sea enjoys a deliciously cool temperature of 27°C.
In December, make the most of your visit by enjoying Cancun’s stunning beaches. There will be excellent visibility in the water, making it a popular time for diving and snorkelling. The last few baby turtles will be out of their shells and make their way back into the ocean.
Best Time to Visit
Winter is the best time to visit Cancun and enjoy its pristine white sand beaches and sparkling ocean waters. However, since it’s a high season for tourists, everything tends to be more expensive. Also, the beaches will be filled with tourist crowds. Cancun’s famous attractions, such as the Chichen Itza, will also be filled with tourists.
If you want to escape the crowds and enjoy better hotel deals, consider visiting Cancun in summer or fall. While the humidity is high and there’s the occasional rain, prices are lower, and the beaches are quieter.
Here’s everything you need to know about the best time to visit Cancun.
Popular Time to Visit Cancun
The most popular time to travel to Cancun is between December and April. The weather is generally clear and warm this month, but not extremely hot. Therefore, you will find it comfortable to spend time at the beach and explore the outdoors. There will be little rain, but it will not last long. Cold fronts occasionally blow in chillier weather but only for a few days.
The only downside to going to Cancun in winter is the surge in the tourist crowd. Since it’s a popular time to visit Cancun, thousands of tourists will be heading to Cancun, and the beaches can get crowded. Hotel rates will be at their highest, as well as the cost of tours and activities. If you want to visit Cancun in winter, book your hotel and activities as early as possible to enjoy better rates.
Cancun will get busier between March and April, as spring breakers from the nearby United States will start arriving. These include families with kids who are on school break. High school and college students will also come to Cancun to party. As a result, hotel rates are still high this time, and the more affordable accommodations will sell out quickly.
Nigh clubs and beach bars are full of revellers with DJ performances and drinking contests. If you love the party vibe, it’s a great time to be in Cancun. But if you prefer a quieter atmosphere, better avoid Cancun during this time of the year.
Best Time to Visit Cancun for Good Weather
The beautiful beaches are the main reason why tourists would come flocking to Cancun. If the weather is your main priority for coming to Cancun, visit between December and April. The temperature in the winter will fall between 21°C and 32°C. The weather in May will get hotter and more humid just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Most days will be hitting the mid-thirties and will go on until September.
The hurricane season in Mexico is between June and November. Hurricanes in Mexico do not always land, although there will be several days of rainy and overcast weather. September to November are the stormiest months, but you are guaranteed to snag great hotel deals during this period.
When To Avoid Visiting Cancun
Cancun enjoys pleasant weather between March and April, but you could run into a thick crowd of tourists, mostly spring breakers. If you’re someone who loves the party atmosphere, this is the best time for you to visit Cancun. During this time of the year, you’ll find DJ performances, bikini contests, and foam parties all over the place. And because it’s a busy season in Cancun, prices tend to be expensive.
If you’re visiting Cancun mainly for the beach, one of the issues you could face is the seaweed that’s been washing up on the many beaches in Cancun and has been a major issue in recent years. The seaweed could show up throughout the year. However, it tends to be more common during spring and summer.
The staff of luxury beachfront resorts would shovel up these clumps of seaweed, revealing pristine white sand. However, some of the larger patches of seaweed could affect your swimming experience and may limit boat access.
Hurricanes are another factor to consider when deciding when to visit Cancun. The hurricane season of Cancun falls between June and November, with the peak season running from September to November. So, if you come to Cancun during this period, expect a hurricane to strike. Even if there is no direct hit, there will be several days of rainy and overcast weather, which could prevent you from enjoying some activities.
If you decide to travel during the hurricane season in Cancun, consider getting travel insurance that will reimburse your travel expenses in case of cancellations.
What To Wear
You will find many fun activities to enjoy in Cancun, so deciding what to wear on your holiday will mainly depend on the activities you plan to do. It would be a shame to miss out on some fun activities just because you do not have the right outfit.
If you need ideas or suggestions on what clothing to pack for your Cancun holiday, check these out.
The beach is often the main reason why people would come to Cancun. Therefore, when it comes to deciding what to wear in Cancun, a swimsuit is a must. If you plan on swimming or taking up water activities, you should pack clothing suitable for these activities. Some of the most popular water activities include scuba diving, snorkelling, and sailing. Make sure to wear the type of swimsuit that will allow you to do these activities comfortably.
Depending on how long you will stay in Cancun, consider bringing more than one swimsuit. That way, you will not have to miss out on any water activities while you dry out the swimsuit you wear from the previous adventure. If possible, wear a long-sleeved swimming suit or a Lycra shirt over your regular swimsuit to protect yourself from the harmful sun rays. If you can find a swimsuit with SPF 50, that would even be better.
You should also bring a hat to protect yourself from the sun while in Cancun. The hat will also protect your skin and eyes from damaging sun rays and sunburn. Opt for a straw hat made from materials that breathe easily, so you’ll feel comfortable going around with your hat on.
When travelling to Cancun, you may have to bring different kinds of footwear. Of course, this mainly depends on the activity you plan on doing. Aside from a pair of flip-flops or sandals to wear on the beach, bring a pair of water-resistant shoes for walking. These are very useful when you need to explore the jungle and the ruins that the Yucatan Peninsula is known for. You may also need to pack a pair of water shoes and dress shoes for when you need to go to a fancy dinner.
Sunscreen protection is one of the most important things to bring to Cancun. Even if visiting during the wet season, you should keep your skin protected when going out and about in Cancun. The area is warm and sunny on most days, and you could be spending most of your time outdoors. Remember that sunscreen is just as important as clothing.
When going to and from the beach or anywhere in Cancun while wearing a swimsuit, consider wearing a pair of shorts, a shirt, or a cover-up to protect yourself from the sun. You may also need to wear sunglasses and a hat. More importantly, make sure you lather up in sunscreen.
When it comes to the type of sunscreen to use, keep in mind that some sunscreens may not be allowed in the oceans due to their harmful ingredients. Always choose the sunscreen that’s chemical-free and reef-safe.
The type of clothing to wear on your holiday to Cancun can also vary depending on the weather. In the wet season, which runs from May until October, Cancun will receive more rain and is pretty humid on most days. As such, you may want to bring along an umbrella.
When visiting Cancun during the dry season, which runs from November to April, you may need to wear a pair of long pants and a light sweater since the weather can get a little colder.
Here’s a list of recommended clothing to pack for your holiday to Cancun.
- Swimsuit cover-up
- Clothing for formal dinner and night out
- Tee shirts or tank tops
- Rain jacket
Try to balance the type of clothes to wear on your trip to Cancun. Avoid bringing anything too cool or warm. It is best to stick to flexible clothing made from breathable fabric and easy to layer when the temperature suddenly goes down.
Aside from clothing and sunscreen, there are other items you should bring to Cancun for a more comfortable holiday experience. These include a water bottle, bug repellant, a waterproof case for your mobile phone, medication, and a tote bag to carry your beach essentials.
About Cancun and the People
It’s worth knowing a bit about the local culture and traditions when travelling to Cancun. As you explore Cancun and visit historical sites and museums, you will discover that the local culture is quite intriguing. Mexican cultures and traditions are mainly influenced by ancient civilizations, mainly the Mayans, and some of these traditions still exist today.
About Mexico and Cancun
Home to more than 128 million people, Mexico is one of the most populous countries in the world. The country has several ethnic groups, and mestizo accounts for about 60% of the population. Mestizos refer to those with mixed indigenous European and Central American heritage. Meanwhile, about 20% of the Mexicans are indigenous Central American People, while about 10% of the population has European background. These different ethnic groups form a culture that is unique to Mexico.
Home to more than 800,000 people, Cancun was established in 1970 but was only officially recognized in 1974 as Quintana Roo became a Mexican state. Cancun is a planned city developed to foster tourism in Mexico. Only three people were living in the area when it was first established. They are all caretakers of a coconut plantation nearby. Because of the reluctance of foreign investors to gamble in the area, the Mexican government financed the first nine hotels in Cancun.
Nowadays, Cancun is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations for foreign visitors, receiving about six million tourists each year. The crystal-clear Caribbean waters of Cancun are home to an abundance of underwater wildlife, making it a popular spot for divers and snorkelers.
The Mexican People
What most tourists love about the Mexican culture is its people. The locals’ warm and welcoming nature always makes tourists feel at home. They make sure to adhere to this famous Mexican phrase – “mi casa es su casa”, which means my house is your house. They are good-hearted and courteous and are always ready to mingle with foreign people despite the language barrier.
The customs and traditions of the Mexican people are diverse and varied. Locals are proud of their native heritage, and each region has its own cultural celebrations and practices. Many of their ancestors’ ancient traditions are still practised today, and you could experience this during your visit to Cancun, especially if you explore areas outside of the tourist zone.
Mexico has several indigenous groups, which include the Mayans, Nahuas, Otomis, Zapotecs, Tzotzil, and Tzeltal. They all have influenced Mexican culture, especially in terms of the language, cuisine, and rituals.
Religions in Mexico
Much of the culture of Mexico is influenced by religion, and Mexican values often revolve around the church, especially on the concept of inclusiveness. About 78% of Mexicans are Catholic, although some have incorporated pre-Hispanic Mayan rituals as part of their faith. Their religion dates back to the first colonists who aim to introduce Christianity to the region.
Public rituals have always been essential to Spanish Catholicism. During the colonization, priests introduced religious music, plays, and festivals to the aboriginal parishioners, especially Easter and Corpus Christi.
Even though Mexican traditions vary from region to region, festivals and celebrations are a significant part of the local tradition, including in Cancun. Every neighbourhood in Mexico has its own patron saint who is honoured with processions, feasts, and celebrations on a certain day each year. From the most sophisticated neighbourhoods to the remote villages – Mexicans devote at least one day each year to honouring their patron saint. If you want to experience the vitality of a Mexican festival, then try to plan your visit during this time of the year.
One of the most popular local festivals is the Day of the Dead, known locally as “Dia de Muertos.” It is the Mexican’s way of celebrating Halloween, which takes place on the first two days of November. Like the other cities in Mexico, Cancun celebrates the festival by organizing large parades, painting their faces and bodies, and wearing colourful costumes.
Locals will honour their dearly departed by offering food and drinks and gathering around their graves. Despite being a local tradition, many foreign tourists would come to Mexico during this time of the year to join in the celebration.
Folk dance and rituals are also some of the most important aspects of the Mexican tradition. For instance, the Mexican hat dance, or Jarabe Tapatío, is a popular Mexican dance that has been around since the 18th Century. It’s a courtship dance where men would dress up like Mexican horsemen and women wear china poblano as they dance to the local music.
Music in Mexico
Music plays a significant role in Mexican culture and tradition. You will find a variety of regional music genres all over the country, but Banda or Ranchera is famous in most regions. In the north, norteño music is more popular. Ranchera is performed with just a guitar or a Mariachi, a local band composed of five people. The band will play the violin, guitar, trumpet, trombone, etc.
During your holiday to Cancun, there will be nights when you will wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a mariachi band. As you peek at the window, you will find men hiding under the windows of their beloved while performing a song for her, usually along with some musicians. Mariachi is significant to Mexican celebrations. In fact, locals would often say that if a wedding does not have a Mariachi, it’s not a real wedding.
Food Culture in Mexico
Many countries have one thing they are famous for – food. And in Mexico, food is a big part of their culture. Tacos are the most popular Mexican dish you’ll ever come across, and you’ll find taquerias all over Cancun. But there’s more to Mexican cuisines than the tacos. The other popular Mexican dishes are enchiladas, tamales, burritos, chilaquiles, pozole, and more.
What’s interesting about Mexican cuisines is that each region has its own versions. Mexican recipes are usually passed down from generation to another. If you travel to several different areas of Mexico, you’ll find a distinct taste of the cuisines from each region.
Many foods originating in Mexico can now be found worldwide, especially tacos. In fact, Mexican food is one of the most popular cultural exports of the United States.
Mexico is also famous for its tequila, an alcoholic beverage made from agave cactus, and is well suited to the climate of Mexico, especially the central region. You can order tequila from almost every bar and restaurant in Cancun. Soda is also a popular drink in Mexico since the country has a thriving beverage industry.
You already know that Cancun is one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, home to long stretches of sandy beach and many great attractions. But the question is – how do you get to these spots?
Cancun consists of two distinct areas – Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) and El Centro (downtown area). The Zona Hotelera is the main tourist strip by the beachfront, lined with luxury resorts, bars, restaurants, shops, etc. Meanwhile, El Centro is just a few miles from the Hotel Zone area and where you can experience a more authentic Mexican life.
Luckily, there are various ways you can get around Cancun and explore at your own pace, depending on your plans for the day. Here are some tips to help you get around Cancun and visit different beaches and attractions.
Taxi and Ride Sharing Apps
The most popular and convenient way to get around Cancun is to hail a cab or a ride-sharing app. Local cabs in Cancun can take you anywhere you wish to go in the city and some areas outside Cancun. Ride-sharing apps like Uber are available in Cancun, so you can also use that to book a taxi or private car.
But the downside of taking local taxis in Cancun is that it can be expensive, and negotiating with the driver can sometimes be challenging due to the language barrier. And like any tourist destination in the world, some taxis in Cancun tend to overcharge foreign tourists. If you need to take a cab, ask your hotel to book and negotiate the price on your behalf.
Always go for licensed cabs. The drivers will display their permits in highly visible areas, so it’s easy to spot which taxis are licensed. Double-check if the plate number matches what’s on their permit. Ask the front desk in your hotel to schedule pickups. Take your driver’s information and make arrangements for your return trip.
Fares coming from the airport to the Hotel Zone area should cost you around $40 to $50, while rides between the Hotel Zone and downtown area costs around $10 to $15 each way. Taxis in the downtown area cost around 1.50 per ride. Always pay in Mexican pesos because they won’t give you a chance if you pay in U.S. dollars.
Taking the Bus and Going for a Drive
Taking the public bus is the cheapest way to get around Cancun. The buses are comfortable enough to ride, especially since most public buses have recently renewed their fleet.
Most of the shuttles and public buses around the Hotel Zone and Downtown area follow two main routes passing through the city’s many hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, plazas, beaches, and some popular tourist attractions. Many of these buses are air-conditioned, and others even have a Wi-Fi connection. The ride should cost around $1 and is considered safe.
Taking the bus is a great way to move around Cancun, especially from the Hotel Zone to another area in the city. The bus stops are directly in front of the Le Blanc Spa, Sun Palace, and Beach Palace.
· Car Rental
If you want to move around conveniently and at your own pace, rent a car to drive around Cancun. Having a rental car will also allow you to visit places outside the city, such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, and Cozumel, although you still need to take the ferry to some of these islands.
Most of the roads and highways in Cancun are well maintained, and parking is not an issue in most places. Just make sure to apply some common sense to ensure your safety and always follow the local laws on driving, and you will be okay.
Bikes, Scooters, and Other Options
Visitors who love to bike might want to consider renting a bike to get around Cancun. But be warned – not many places have bike lanes, so you have to exercise utmost precaution, especially on main roads and highways. You will find many bike rental services all over Cancun, and some offer delivery and pick-up service at your hotel or resort for your convenience. It should cost you around $10 to $15 per day, and they will provide you with a helmet if you do not have one.
Biking around the busy Hotel Zone area can be tricky. It is often chaotic and a challenge for most bike users. However, the streets are laid out in a simple grid that should not cause any real problems if you are at least familiar with using GPS. The best time to go biking in Cancun is on a day trip to Cozumel since the roads in this area are well-suited for biking. In fact, Cozumel is host to the Ironman triathlon race.
A much better option for a bike is a scooter, and you will find many reputable scooter rental services all over Cancun. Before you rent one, map out the areas you plan on visiting and research the driving conditions of these areas. Find out the heavy traffic hours, public works, and other things that could affect your driving schedule. Driving a scooter around Cancun is generally safe, especially in the Hotel Zone area. But it may not be the case elsewhere. So, do your research, especially if you plan on driving long distances.
· Other Options
Aside from those mentioned above, there are many other alternatives for getting around Cancun, including passenger vans, private car services, shuttle from your resort, and even golf cart rentals. In Isla Mujeres, for instance, you will find numerous golf carts on the streets, which tourists use to travel to and from their hotels.
It does not matter if you are the type of traveller who likes to be driven around or prefers to explore the local way- getting around Cancun should be easy. It’s a popular tourist destination with well-built tourism infrastructures, so navigating around should not be that much of a challenge.