Cancun, Mexico is known for its beautiful beaches with crystal blue water and sparkling white sand. People gravitate to this tropical paradise to soak up the sun in any of its countless glorious beaches. But when it the best time to visit Cancun in any given year?
After all, there are some times of year where you can experience Cancun to its highest potential. These includes great deals on its best resorts, beautiful weather, snorkeling and other activities, nightlife, and more. And we recommend those as the best time to visit!
The following article will walk you through each time of year in Cancun and more. It will help you determine which is the best time to visit Cancun for you. Do you want to experience authentic Mexico in El Centro or go to nightclubs on the Zona Hotelera strip?
Read on from here, and we’ll have your answer covered!
The 4 Seasons in Cancun
Let’s start off by describing each of Cancun’s seasons to help you determine which might be most ideal for you!
Winter in Cancun
Although it may seem surprising for such a famously beach destination, winter is actually the best time to visit Cancun! Of all the times of year, the average temperatures are actually their best in Cancun from December through February.
Highs tend to be low 80s, making it a perfect opportunity for a relaxing beach Christmas. And it’s a dry heat, with almost no unpleasant humidity. Many Americans in particular love it because it’s fairly close to home but provides an escape from the cold.
And beyond the temperature, the conditions on the beach are generally absolutely perfect. You can expect mild sun (meaning you can tan without burning, if you’re careful) and beautiful blue skies.
It’s a great time to walk on any of Cancun’s many glorious beaches. It’s also a great time of year to swim. The water is cooler than summer but not uncomfortably so. You could also take a boat tour, or explore the jungles and ancient ruins without the humidity of other times of year.
It’s also the best time of year for Cancun nightlife. It’s the time of year when the most restaurants, clubs, and spas are open, so there is plenty of opportunity for fun. All you need is a light jacket or sweater, since it can get slightly chilly.
Again, the weather will be ideal. What might not be as ideal will be the prices. Cancun is so popular this time of year that the prices for accommodations and flights sky-rocket. It’s no secret what a great time to visit Cancun winter is!
Along with this, you should prepare yourself for sometimes extreme crowding. This at its worst on Christmas as well as New Year’s Eve and Day. So you’ll be paying a lot, but if you can afford it, and don’t mind crowds, it’s definitely worth it.
Spring in Cancun
While in many ways, winter is the best time to visit Cancun, spring is pretty great as well! Running from approximately March through May, the weather remains overall mild throughout. The temperatures stay fairly low, as does the humidity, thankfully.
Around May you also get some great opportunities to view local wildlife. This is the time of year you can see sea turtles nesting and whale sharks in the waters. There are actually many whale shark tours you can go on. So, if you’re an animal lover, this is a great time to take in this beautiful nature.
We will say that April in particular is a bit more humid, but the temperatures are fairly mild. Spring offers opportunities for eco tours, in which you can explore the jungles. It’s also a great time to explore caves, Mayan ruins, and more.
And that’s not to mention all the water activities, with snorkeling and swimming tours galore!
Overall, spring is also much less crowded than winter, and the hotel and flight prices are much lower. So, although it isn’t the best time to visit Cancun, it more than makes up for it in those areas. For some people, it may be even better because of them.
With that said, when it comes to crowds, there are certain periods where it’ll still be busier. For example, March can still have some crowd spillover from the winter months, so be aware of that.
March is also Spring Break season, so expect loud parties on the beaches all day and night. On the plus side, however, these are relegated to specific places which can be avoided if you prefer.
Also the week leading up to Easter (Semana Santa, which translates to Holy Week) can get very busy. Families travel there for Easter holidays. So if you do go in Spring and want to avoid crowds, mid-April through May is probably your best best.
Summer in Cancun
Is Summer the best time to visit Cancun? Let’s put it this way. If you have a lower budget, it’s the best time to visit Cancun because the prices are low. If you hate crowds, it’s a great time to come, as there aren’t many. The beaches, attractions, and clubs are all relatively quiet.
So from this perspective, it may seem like the best time to visit Cancun. However, there’s a reason the hotels don’t charge as much and the crowds are lower. It’s because the weather is less ideal to say the least.
The temperatures from June to August can be unpleasantly hot with high humidity and regular rain. While there’s a lot of sun, it can be sweltering. And while the rain can cool you off a bit, afterwards it just adds to the humidity. Not to mention it can ruin a planned beach day.
Worst of all, summer is Cancun’s hurricane season, which can genuinely put the kibosh on your plans! In a worst case scenario, it can even threaten your lives! So the cheaper prices this time of year can be a bit of a cursed monkey’s paw scenario.
On the plus side, for animal lovers, there are great wildlife spotting opportunities this time of year. You’re more likely to see a whale shark on a tour, as well as a sea turtle than in Spring. You can even see the baby turtles going out to the sea in nighttime!
And again, fewer crowds means you’re able to enjoy things that might’ve been too slammed with people before. On the flip side, you might overheat too much to enjoy these things regardless!
It’s really a matter of assessing your comfort levels and the heat, and your willingness to risk either losing out on your vacation due to a hurricane, or putting yourself at risk.
Fall in Cancun
When figuring out the best time to visit Cancun, there are pros and cons to each of the preceding seasons. Fall, however, which runs from September to November, is probably the least ideal time for numerous reasons.
For one, Hurricane Season, which begins in June, is at its worst from August through October. That doesn’t mean a chance of a hurricane actually hitting when you’re there is high. The last two major hurricanes were in 1988 and 2005. But the potential is there.
And even without a full on hurricane, the weather is often rainy, hot, and extremely humid. Cancun is a place known for beaches, and they’re generally not a place you can visit reliably in Fall. September is Cancun’s rainiest month. Sometimes this just means a shower, but it is frequent.
Now, if you’re excited at the idea of a budget vacation, prices are very low and the hotels are empty. On days when it isn’t too rainy, you will likely be one of the only people at the beach and various attractions.
On the other hand, many of the attractions as well as the restaurants and clubs simply shut down this time of year. You’ll therefore have far fewer options to try out.
There is an upside, however, and that is by mid-November, the weather will start to move closer to Winter Cancun. Some people call that month the best time to visit Cancun.
You get most of the benefits of winter and the Christmas crowds haven’t yet descended. Because of this, the prices also haven’t yet gone up. The rain lets up by this point as well, and the temperatures start dropping a bit. They’re not pleasantly warm, not sweltering.
Even this has to have a caveat, however, which is that it again gets expensive and slammed on Thanksgiving Week. So, make sure you find out when it is and avoid that week. Any of the other three this month and you can have a great affordable vacation!
The Best Things to Do in Cancun
Though you know now that the best time to visit Cancun is approximately November through May, what are the best things to do when you’re there? Here are just some of our favorites!
Cancun is, of course, known for its beaches. One of the reasons you need to know the best time to visit Cancun is so you don’t miss out! A trip there simply wouldn’t be complete without fun in the sun, in the sand and water. And there are so many different options!
If you’re going with kids, we highly recommend Playa Tortugas. Its waves tend to be small, which makes it ideal for swimming, particularly for beginners. And it’s full of amenities that the whole family will love.
Unfortunately, it attracts a lot of people so can get very crowded. So that can be a drawback, but if you don’t mind that, it’s a blast. You also need to check out the scrumptious seafood at their beachfront restaurant.
Next up, there’s Playa Forum, which is a perfect blend of island escape and vibrant atmosphere. It feels secluded and magical but with all the excitement of a big resort.
Situated by Coco Bongo, Cancun’s most popular nightclub, this beach has lots of bar, restaurant, and nightlife options to explore.
Meanwhile, Chac Mool Beach has all of the beautiful cool Caribbean water and white sand you’d expect. But in addition it also has some of the best water sports equipment options. Dozens of companies rent them out, which makes it a great place for adventurous beachgoers.
And last but certainly not least is Playa Delfines. One of Cancun’s largest and most impressive beaches, it’s perhaps best known for its iconic sign reading CANCUN. It’s also particularly popular with locals, as it has no resorts or hotels attached.
This gives you the opportunity to soak up actual local culture, instead of just that of other tourists. Be warned, though, that it’s known for very strong currents, so you shouldn’t swim in these waters!
After beaches, the second thing Cancun is known for is nightlife. The best time to visit Cancun is when you can experience these vibrant, musical locations. And, again, since many of them are closed during Hurricane Season, you’ll want to go when they’re open!
Cancun’s nightlife is, of course, most famous for Spring Break season. That’s when the college and university students descend upon Cancun! And after a day partying on the beach, nighttime is when they hit the clubs to dance throughout the night.
There are a number of them we recommend. This includes, firstly, The City Nightclub. This popular spot is known for hosting celebrity DJs. Some of the regulars include Paul Van Dyk, Fergie, and Tiesto. This enormous place has a whopping 9 bars across 3 floors and can fit 5000 people!
If you’re a fan of house and techno music, you need to check out Dady O. This 2-floor club has 5 bars and is a great place to dance and party. It’s known for its jawdropping light shows and professional dancers. Don’t be surprised to see some glow-in-the-dark body painting here!
The best bikini parties in Cancun can be found at the Mandala Beach Club. An outdoor music club, this place opens every day at 9:30 PM. Sip refreshing tropical drinks while enjoying the thumping house music in this tropical beach atmosphere!
Lastly we come to Cancun’s most popular club, Coco Bongo. This absolutely wild place doesn’t only have professional DJs and live cover bands, but acrobats too. Think a nightclub crossed with Cirque du Soleil! It’s a fully unique nightlife experience that only Cancun can offer!
The main area where most of the resorts in Cancun are located is called the Hotel Zone. As fun and vibrant as that it is, however, it’s mostly for tourists. To experience authentic Cancun, you need to come to Downtown. The best time to visit Cancun is when this place is kicking.
By comparison, the Hotel Zone is Disneyland Cancun. Downtown, on the other hand, provides genuine local culture. Here’s where you can sample authentic street food while wandering lovely green parks and perusing small shops with local merchandise.
You can even experience some classic Mexican Wrestling here! It’s also Cancun’s major residential area. And so, again, here you get to mingle amongst the actual people who live here. If you prefer authentic local culture to just being surrounded by other tourists, come here.
And while you’re here, don’t miss Avenida Tulum. You won’t find a better place for great authentic tacos anywhere. Lots of street vendors all around sell them. And you can have a nice taco picnic at Pareque Las Palapas, a local park for the whole family.
Chicen Itza Maya Ruins
Although it’s located outside of Cancun, if you’re a fan of history, you can’t miss the Chicen Itza Maya Ruins. It’s an official world heritage site, noted by UNESCO, and it’s best known for its breathtaking pyramids. The oldest one goes all the way back to the fifth century CE!
The most visually impressive, however, is the Temple of Kukulkan or “El Castillo”. At 98 feet tall, this gorgeous pyramid has nine terraces. Each one represents a different level of heaven (which has 9 levels, according to ancient Maya belief).
What might be most remarkable about Chicen Itza today is how well preserved it is. By traveling here, you get a very vivid sense of how the ancient people of this area lived. So it’s a fascinating time machine back into history in many ways. It’s the most popular Maya site in Mexico.
If you want to shop till you drop, then Mercado 28 (in English, “Market 28”) is the place for you! Located in Cancun’s Downtown, this enormous shopping center isn’t the mall you might be expecting. It’s an absolutely massive flea market with over six hundred vendors!
If you can think of it, they probably sell it there. You can buy leathers, textiles, even maracas and other souvenirs. Mercado 28’s vendors are famed for their unique, handcrafted items. Which is why they make great souvenirs. You can give them as genuine Cancun gifts.
Much like famous Mediterranean markets, you can also try out your bargaining chops at Mercado 28. Just because the seller lists a price doesn’t mean they don’t love to haggle. You can often walk away from a stall with a much better deal than you expected.
The market also has delicious food just as good as at the best Cancun restaurants but much more affordable! So if you want a fantastic restaurant quality meal while spending only a fraction as much, come here!
Pro-tip: you can reach Mercado 28 by bus easily. If you go by car, things can get a bit more complicated. There are 4 very similar-looking entrances and parking lots, so make sure you remember where you park!
Swim in Cenotes
If you travel during the best time of year to visit Cancun, you can experience swimming in cenotes. Cenotes are natural sinkholes that are formed within limestone caves and filled with water. There are thousands of cenotes strewn about the Riviera Maya, many of which are available for swimming!
The ways cenotes are created is that the limestone collapses, which creates an opening into a famously large river system underground in the Yucatan. People swim in them, in addition to snorkeling and scuba diving.
You’ll find some great cenotes along the Cenote Route, or the Ruta De Centoes in Spanish. This is situated by Puerto Morelos, just outside of Cancun.
Some of the most famous cenotes here are Cenote Selvatica, Cenote Mojarras, Verde Lucero, and Cenote La Noria. Verde Lucero even has its own zipline! The best way to reach the cenotes is a special tour, the Xenote Experience, which takes off from Cancun.
If you want to experience a traditional party Mexican style, check out Xoximilco! They are full on parties that are held on boats travelling over the Cancun canals. It’s essentially a moving theme park inspired by Mexican history.
During Mexico City’s original Xochimilco, people rented out trajinera, special boats, and then sailed in them while live music played. And in addition to the music and dancing, the boats are full of mouthwatering food and tequila. You can soak up so much culture here, and have a ball doing it.
So again, it’s another great way to experience local Cancun culture in a unique environment and party atmosphere. And all on the water! So again, knowing the best time to visit Cancun is key here. Xoximilco certainly isn’t available during Hurricane Season when it isn’t safe on the water!
Conclusion On The Best Time To Visit Cancun
And that’s our complete answer of when is the best time to visit Cancun. Of course, any time you go will provide adventure, but avoiding hurricane season is best for your safety and availability of activities! We hope the advice has been helpful for making your best Cancun vacation possible.