If you’re planning a trip to this Mexican beach resort town and wondering what to pack for Cancun, then this Cancun packing list should help you with your planning.
I’ve been to Cancun a handful of times (I live in Mexico City). I’ve also headed south to Playa del Carmen and Tulum (arguably one of the most beautiful beach towns in Mexico!).
If you’re also headed to Tulum, you may want to check out my post about what to pack for Tulum, too!
If you’re headed to Cancun though, you’re no doubt going to be enjoying time in one of their gorgeous resorts.
If you’re still trying to choose which destination to choose for your Mexico vacation, be sure to check out our comparison guide between Cancun and Playa del Carmen here.
The resorts in Cancun can be as fancy or casual as you want them to be. It’s your vacation, after all, so while you may want to have evenings filled with fancy dinners, you can also have plenty of sandy toes and swimsuit meals around the area, too.
I spent a little bit of time in the town of Cancun outside of the hotel zone and really enjoyed exploring the restaurant and street food scene there.
What’s the Weather Like in Cancun?
The weather in Cancun doesn’t change much throughout the year.
It is mostly always hot and humid. The driest months tend to be between October and May.
The whole country experiences a different version of the wet season in Mexico. Lucky for you, Cancun doesn’t tend to get a very bad wet season, but it’s worth noting that it can rain more between June and September and it can experience the off tropical storm or hurricane during this time period.
The wet season also happens to be the hottest time of year Cancun. Expect temperatures well into the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celcius). It drops only a few degrees when the sun goes down.
The coolest months are January and February. It’s still definitely beach weather at this time of year, but it’s usually in the 70s or 80s (high teens into mid-20s Celcius).
In the evenings it can sometimes get into the 60s, but that’s really only in January.Now that you know what the temperatures will be, let’s get to what you should pack for Cancun.
What to Pack for Cancun Mexico
1. Bathing Suits
The most important thing to pack for your trip to Cancun is a bathing suit (or 4).
If you’re going to be there for a week, I recommend taking at least three bathing suits. There are really no rules when it comes to skimpiness on these beaches, so wear whatever you like.
I say at least three because of the humidity. Something to keep in mind in general when figuring out what to pack for Cancun is that it is incredibly humid, so nothing dries very quickly.
My personal favorite bathing suits are usually from JCrew.
I usually love the cute one-pieces they have on the JCrew website. I also love to shop locally when I visit Mexico (Lovera Bikinis are the best!).
2. Bathing Suit Cover Ups
If most of your time is going to be spent at the beach, you don’t need to pack a ton of day-time outfits. You can simply pack a few lightweight and colorful coverups to take you from breakfast to beach to poolside bar and back out to the beach again.
If your cover-ups can double as dresses, even better.
I tend to head straight for the swimwear section of the Nordstrom website and scroll through there. I think they always have great options year round like this gorgeous Grecian-style dress.
This flowy option is more affordable and comes in several different colors (I may have just ordered it in two of them!).
Simply wearing cotton dresses that you already have will work perfectly, too. You don’t necessarily need to add more to your wardrobe if you already have cute dresses that you don’t mind getting sandy.
3. Comfortable Sandals
Beach sandals should be comfortable. You shouldn’t be worried about getting them sandy or wet.
You should be able to easily slip them on and off and be able to walk in them around the pool and rest of the hotel.
My absolute favorite sandals are Rainbow Sandals. I think they are cute and comfortable and they come in different styles and colors to keep them interesting.
If you just want something cheap and easy, Havaianas or similar rubber sandals in fun colors are great for both beach and pool and they will last for plenty of beach vacations to come.
They come in fun colors like pink leopard print or plain black and everything in between.
4. Multi-Purpose Dresses
By multi-purpose, I mean dresses that you can wear during the day and by night.
The temperature doesn’t change much between day and night, so you don’t need to worry much about wanting something thicker for evenings.
Some of the dresses I mentioned above that work as both beach dresses and day-wear are a great place to start, but I also love cute maxi-dresses that I can wear out into town during the day and again at night for a casual dinner.
I find that maxi-dresses tend to be the most multipurpose because you can dress them down with flip flops or dress them up with a pair of cute wedges.
Anthropologie always has great cotton and linen dresses during the spring and summer.
JCrew also usually makes really cute midi-length dresses like this one that is perfect for day and night. I like to pair shorter midi-dresses with sandal wedges.
5. Shorts & Skirts
No list for what to pack for Cancun could be complete without some cute cut-off denim shorts and flowy skirts.
I usually just make a pair of jean shorts out of my old jeans when they’re starting to fray too much. I prefer high-waisted styles at the minute so that I can wear cute cropped t-shirts with them or simply go with just my bikini top. I opt for the same when it comes to skirts, too.
My absolute favorite jean shorts usually come from either American Eagle or Madewell.
It’s gotten so much easier in the past few years to find high-waisted jeans thanks to the fact that they’ve come back into fashion, so just find a brand that you love and invest because they will last you a lifetime.
Just make sure to hang them to dry in your hotel room where you’ve got air conditioning because if you hang them on your balcony where the humidity is, they’ll never dry.
6. Loose and Light Shirts
You’ll of course, need shirts to go with your shorts and skirts.
Between the heat and humidity, you’ll want to make sure that you are wearing lightweight and light-colored shirts.
I usually go for cream, white, and pale pink t-shirts when I start to think about what to pack for Cancun. Linen is my favorite material for the humidity there just because it’s so sticky, but cotton or other lightweight material will work well, too.
The other reason I like light-colored clothing is because, well, it hides your sweat. Avoid grey, blue, or other colors that will show off your sweat marks. I promise you, there will be plenty of sweating.
7. Cute Sandals, Wedges, or Espadrilles
Is there anything more fun to pack for a beach vacation than cute shoes that you usually don’t get to wear at home?
Beach vacation shoes are my favorite. I love super-high wedges, cute strappy sandals, and flat French-style espadrilles. I try to search for these types of shoes when I travel.
Cancun isn’t the best place for shopping, but if you get a chance to head down to Tulum, there are some great locally owned boutiques with gorgeous shoes and handbags like Josa Tulum and Hoki Poki Kana. Don’t even get me started on the hat selections they have, too.
I digress. If you want to pack for Cancun without worrying about finding cute boutiques along the way, then I highly recommend checking out places like DSW if you’re in the US (I believe they also ship to Canada now!) and Nordstrom (both in-store and online).
Those are my go-to stores when it comes to finding great shoes, especially for summer.
Good sunglasses are vital when you’re going somewhere with sun as strong as Cancun.
I’ve been living in the Mexican sun now for almost four years and I quickly learned how important it was to protect my eyes.
I try to make sure that I only buy sunglasses that have UV protection and are polarized. This usually means a good pair of Ray-Bans.
While at first, I was horrified to pay over $100 for a pair of sunglasses, I quickly realized that by taking care of them, they would last me a lifetime (and therefore so would my eyes!).
You can’t go wrong with the classic Wayfarers, but I also love their newer slightly more feminine styles, too.
9. A Hat
I highly recommend shopping for a cute hat while you’re in Mexico. There are seriously gorgeous styles at the different markets around the Riviera Maya.
There are a few cute boutiques on the strip in Cancun, but I think they are overpriced for the quality that you get. Check out somewhere like Merida on a day trip or Valladolid.
If you also want to have a cute beach hat to start wearing as soon as you arrive, you can pick up plenty of cute ones on Asos that don’t break the bank.
10. Kindle or Book
It’s a real vacation when you can lay on the beach and read a book cover to cover.
However, if you read as quickly as I do on vacation, you’ll want to pack a Kindle instead so that you can get another book as soon as you finish with the last one.
I recently upgraded to the newest Kindle after having my old one for more than five years and I’m loving the new style. As much as I love real books, when you travel, it’s so much easier to keep up with reading a ton if you have a Kindle.
If you don’t already have one, get yourself the basic one here which is less than $60.
11. Natural Sunscreen
I have recently transitioned over to using natural sunscreens, both for my health and for the health of the ocean.
Chemical sunscreens have been proven to be terrible for the sea life and coral in the oceans and there’s plenty of both off the shores of Cancun.
It’s also better for your skin, the largest organ on your body.
My two current favorites are the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc which I use on my face and their roll-on stick which I use on my body.
12. A Waterproof Bag
After many trips to Cancun and other beach towns around Mexico, I realized that I really needed to invest in a waterproof bag.
If you plan to take any sort of boat trips or head out snorkeling on a boat, you’re going to want to protect your phone and camera and probably your towel, too.
I hate when I take off my t-shirt and shorts, jump into the water, and when I get back in the boat my clothes are soaked. I also always want to bring my camera on these sorts of day trips, but end up leaving in the hotel because I’m so scared that it will get wet.
Now that I have a waterproof bag, I don’t have to stress about it and I can get really great photos of my day trips without ruining my equipment.
My favorite bags are these from Earth Pak, which comes in a few different colors and also comes with a waterproof phone case which is nice for when you’re at the beach.
I don’t advise leaving your valuables on the beach while you’re in Cancun simply because there are so many people walking up and down the beach. I usually put my phone and cash in a waterproof phone case and geekily wear it around my neck or wrist when I go into the ocean.
The nice thing about these bags as well is that if you go kayaking or paddleboarding, you can wear it across your body without worrying about things getting wet.
13. Lightweight Sweater or Shawl
If you are traveling to Cancun during January or February, you may want to pack a light sweater for the evenings.
You’ll definitely want a sarong or a shall that you can wear when you go from hot and humid into ice-cold air conditioning.
You’ll also want it in case you get sunburn. If you get sunburn and then head into air conditioning at night, you’ll really feel that cold on your skin.
No need to pack anything too thick, though. It will still be very hot.
14. Filter Water Bottle
The last thing I think you may want to consider when thinking about what to pack for Cancun is a filter water bottle.
You cannot drink tap water in Mexico.
This means that you will be relying on bottled water or filtered water.
A bottle like a Grayl or Lifestraw will allow you to fill up from any tap anywhere in the world (or any stream or river if you like camping) and then have clean drinking water.
It saves tons of plastic on all of your travels around the world and the filters usually last for quite a while (up to a year if you use them once or twice a day).
Have a look at the Grayl bottle here and the Lifestraw Bottle here.