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Best Time to Visit Cancun: What You Need to Know

Best Time to Visit Cancun: What You Need to Know

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Are you trying to decide when the best time to visit Cancun is for your next trip to the area?

Once you’ve decided between Cancun vs Playa del Carmen or Cancun vs Tulum (it’s a tough choice!), and settled on Cancun, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into not only with the weather but with the events that take place here throughout the year.

The blue waters of Cancun, Mexico, are calling, and who can blame you for wanting to answer? With its stunning beaches, incredible resorts, and on par with Vegas nightlife, Cancun is the perfect paradise for a Caribbean escape.

But I’ll be the first to say that your experience can vary depending on what time of year you head to the sunny shores. After spending years living and traveling through Mexico, I’ve seen Cancun at its best and its worst (it’d probably say the same about me—the margaritas are strong, ok! 😉 ), and I’m happy to help you decide when is the best time to visit Cancun.

Whether you’re looking to spend your days with your toes in the sand or maybe you want to party the night away, this guide on when to visit Cancun will give you a look into the city’s weather, high and low seasons, as well as a few tips I’ve picked up over the years. Cancun is always a good idea, but there are definitely better times to visit than others.

So, let’s dive in and find out when is the perfect time for you to pack your bags and head to Cancun, Mexico!

Cancun’s Weather Climate

Cancun is located right at the very tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, along the Caribbean Sea, giving us beautiful blue waters and sandy beaches. With a tropical climate comes consistently warm weather all year long, but that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbows (although there will definitely be plenty of both!).

The coast experiences both rainy and dry seasons. Now that seems pretty obvious: go during the dry season and not when it’s raining, right? Well, not exactly. It all comes down to what you’re looking for from your Cancun itinerary

The dry season can come with beautiful weather but incredibly busy beaches. This also means high prices. Whereas during the rainy season, you’ll see fewer crowds but also a higher chance of rain. The rainy season also happens to be hurricane season.

What time of year you go will also determine what to wear in Cancun. You will have to pack a few different things depending on what month you plan to visit (and what parties you plan to attend!).

In this article, I’ll go into detail about what each season holds to make sure you know exactly what to expect for your trip to Cancun!

turquoise waters with empty chairs and a palapa umbrella on the beach.

Do you want to experience Cancun like this without many other tourists? Then the peak season will not be for you.

Peak Season in Cancun

In December, tourists start flooding Mexico by the thousands, signaling the start of high season. They tend to mark the official start of high season as the week just after Thanksgiving in the US. 

The beaches are full of vacationers escaping the winter and trying to get a tan before returning home.

The peak season lasts until early April, which means for four months, you’ll see Cancun at its busiest. 

And for good reason. The weather during the high season is pretty much perfect.

The sun is shining all day, and with the temperature in the low 80s Fahrenheit (25-30 C), you won’t be melting on the beach or needing to take a shower every time you walk outside.

The gorgeous blue waters are at their clearest during high season, perfect for swimming. You can snorkel or dive and see loads of thriving marine life, and the seaweed that can usually overwhelm the beaches is cleaned up during the high season, so you won’t have to worry about stepping over any piles of it (or smelling it—yuck!).

But what you will have to worry about stepping over is people! 

The Hotel Zone in Cancun literally becomes an anthill, with tourists and locals swarming every square inch of it. It’s also the most expensive time to be in Cancun. 

Hotels start booking up well in advance and don’t expect to catch too many deals on flights or resorts. If you do see one, I highly advise snagging it up before it’s gone.

The crowds and prices can be quite overwhelming for some people. If you don’t mind a busy atmosphere and are willing to pay top dollar for your Cancun experience, then high season in Cancun may be the best option.

busy beach with people swimming and laying on the sand.

This is a quiet day at the beach in Cancun. You can also see some of the sargassum seaweed which overruns the beaches during the hotter months.

Off-Peak Season in Cancun

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds and save some money, then visiting Cancun during the low season is definitely the way to go. The off-peak season in Cancun runs from late April until early December, with a short break for Thanksgiving week, Semana Santa (the week before Easter Sunday), and Day of the Dead.

However, during the low season, the weather is anything but ideal. Just one step outside, and you’re instantly sticky and sweaty. With the humidity often over 90% and temperatures in the high 80s or low 90s Fahrenheit (30+ degrees Celsius), it’s not exactly the most comfortable time to visit.

You’ll also find unpredictable rain showers. Sometimes, they’re just short bursts of rain, and then the sun comes back out, and sometimes, your whole vacation can be ruined by a week of straight downpours. Luckily, there are plenty of taquerias and bars to take shelter in if this happens!

However, the perks of off-peak season are certainly worth it for many travelers. You’ll find the beaches almost empty, prices are extremely affordable, and there’s a much more laid-back atmosphere in town.

If you decide to visit in the off-season, I highly recommend staying at a resort vs driving in from the center. 

The public beaches see a huge influx of seaweed from April to October, and most of the resorts do a great job of clearing out the seaweed every morning so guests can use the private beaches without smelling the rotting seaweed.

If you’re on the fence about heading to Cancun in the low season, I was in Cancun in June, and it was amazing! I managed to get a room at a discounted rate and enjoyed sunny days with occasional afternoon storms that cleared up just in time for breathtaking sunsets. 

And the best part? It doesn’t matter what the weather is when you are fully enjoying clubs and bars around the Hotel Zone.

swimming pool with the Caribbean sea in the background over a resort in Cancun.

Enjoy lower prices at resorts if you visit during the low season.

Shoulder Season in Cancun

The holy grail of travel for most people is the shoulder season. This is the time between peak and off-peak seasons when you can still enjoy good weather without the crowds or high prices. The shoulder season in Cancun falls during April, May, and November.

Personally, these are my favorite times to visit pretty much everywhere in Mexico. 

The weather is usually excellent. Either it’s just starting to get hot, or the heat is dying down. There is little to no rainfall, and for the most part, hurricanes are unlikely. 

You won’t find accommodation as cheap as you would during low season, but you can still snag great deals on hotels and flights.

The beaches are much less crowded during these times, and there is little to no seaweed. The water is warm and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving. 

And you can get into Cancun’s club without paying a $100 USD entry fee or waiting in an hour-long line.

flight over the Caribbean with turquoise waters below a plane wing which is the best time to visit cancun.

Flying into Cancun is always a good idea, not matter what time of year.

Cheapest Time to Visit Cancun

In today’s world, forking over thousands of dollars for a trip isn’t always doable, and I mean, why should you when you can have an equally incredible experience for a fraction of the cost?

If saving money is your main priority, then you’ll want to visit Cancun in August, September, or October. But I have to warn you, there is a reason these are the cheapest times to visit Cancun. 

It’s peak hurricane season, and within a day, a trip you’ve had planned for months can be canceled because Hurricane Whatever is about to hit Cancun. But if you’re willing to take the risk, you can have a luxury vacation for next to nothing.

During these months, hotel prices can drop by as much as 50%, and I’ve seen flights for $150 round trip from major airports in the US. Tours for day trips from Cancun also tend to reduce in price. But, please, please, please, purchase travel insurance. I know it’s frustrating when you don’t need it, but hey, that’s the name of the game.

I always book my trips with my Chase Sapphire card which has travel insurance included on any trips I book through the card. If you don’t already have a Chase Sapphire Card, I highly recommend signing up for one. It’s the best travel points card around.

lush green space over in front of turquoise waters after the rainy season in cancun which is the best time to visit cancun.

If you visit during the rainy season, sometimes referred to as the green season in some parts of Mexico, it will be very lush!

Hurricane Season in Cancun

Like any Caribbean coastal city, Cancun experiences a hurricane season. This runs from June to November, with September and October being the most active months due to the increase in the water temperature. Hence, they’re also the cheapest.

But I say this as a precaution, not as a “don’t go to Cancun during these months” warning. In the last 30 years, only two hurricanes have made landfall in Cancun. With that being said, I’ve seen many trips canceled over the years at the possibility of a hurricane.

The area does experience tropical storms and strong winds during these months, so it’s important to keep an eye on the forecast. But overall, hurricane season in Cancun is a pretty mild experience, and if you’re not typically a worrier, then it shouldn’t deter you from planning your vacation during these months.

The city is well-equipped to handle any potential hurricanes, and tourists are usually given enough warning to make changes to their travel plans if needed.

Best Time to Visit Cancun for Nightlife

Cancun has some of the best nightlife in all of Mexico. As you drive into the hotel zone, you will see Coco Bongo, Mandala, and Senor Frogs and immediately feel like you’re in the Caribbean Vegas. There are bright lights everywhere, booze flowing, and people having the time of their lives.

But when is the best time to visit Cancun to experience the best nightlife? This really comes down to how much money you want to spend. Because whether it’s high season or low season, the strip will be going off. Trust me.

But during high season, you’ll need to spend at least $100 USD to get into some of the clubs (even women, I know, I was SHOCKED). During the low season, you’ll find lots of clubs without a cover, but they aren’t nearly as full. And the bigger clubs can cost anywhere from $40 to $80 USD.

I tell you this because so many people talk about how cheap Mexico is, and in some cases, yes, but partying in the hotel zone in Cancun is not one of them.

So my recommendation, if you’re gonna go out, go big or go home. The best time to party in Cancun is during the high season. Spend the money on a table where you’ll get all you can drink and be able to jump back and forth between clubs (the $100 gets you into 3-4 different clubs). And don’t waste your time at Coco Bongo until after 2 am; that’s when it starts to get good.

You can get a VIP pass to Coco Bongo here in advance to save yourself time and money. Alternatively, check out the vibe at Mandala Club with this VIP pass that also includes $50 USD worth of food and drink credit to use, so you don’t have to carry cash or cards with you for the night.

drone shot of the beach with one person standing on the sand and the ocean crashing to the shore during one of the best time to visit Cancun.

Enjoy exploring other parts of the Riviera Maya while you are in Cancun as well.

Best Time to Visit Cancun for Events

If you’re looking for more than just a beach holiday and want to experience some of the more lively events or get involved with cultural celebrations, then the best time to visit Cancun will depend on which event you want to attend.

I’ve included a list of the most popular events and when to visit Cancun to experience all the city has to offer.

Carnaval

To experience the colorfulness of Mexican culture, Carnaval is the perfect time to visit Cancun. At the beginning of February, the streets are filled with locals dressed up in colorful costumes, carrying out parades, and dancing to traditional music.

It’s in the height of peak season in Cancun, so trust me when I say the streets are packed, restaurants are busy serving trays of cervezas and the city is buzzing with energy.

Just be prepared for higher prices during this time, as it’s a popular time for both international and Mexican tourists to visit Cancun.

Spring Break

Cancun is the hottest destination for American Spring breakers. The beaches are loaded with students looking to let loose and party from mid-March to mid-April.

If you’re a college student or just looking for a wild time, then this is the best time to visit Cancun. And on the flip side, if you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, this is the worst time to visit Cancun.

Semana Santa

If you want to experience some traditional Mexican culture, then plan your trip around Semana Santa (Holy Week). This week-long celebration leading up to Easter is filled with processions, ceremonies, and delicious food.

Be warned, though, this is a very popular time for domestic tourists, so prepare for people to be everywhere. Hotels are full, beaches are crowded, and waiting for a table at any of the best restaurants in Cancun can take over an hour.

These parties happen throughout all of Mexico. Another great city to experience this is San Miguel de Allende.

Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)

My favorite holiday in all of Mexico is Dia de Muertos. It takes place every year on November 1 and 2, and it’s to honor the dead. 

Families and friends gather to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away. The streets are filled with orange flowers, food, music, and colorful altars set up in homes and cemeteries.

There are lots of events going on in downtown Cancun, so it’s a great chance to leave the resort and see other parts of the city. The hotel zone will also throw loads of Halloween and Dia de Muertos parties. 

You’ll find locals offering face paintings and selling flower crowns to really help you get in the spirit. 

Oaxaca City and Mexico City are also great places to celebrate Dia de Muertos.

Independence Day

If you want to see Mexicans at their absolute best, then you have to visit Cancun during Independence Day on September 16th. 

The city has a huge parade of fireworks, and the streets are filled with people wearing red, white, and green.

Everyone is drinking, showing off their outfits, and having the time of their lives. It’s one of the most lively celebrations in Cancun.

turquoise waters in cancun with calm and quiet beaches - waking up early means it doesn't really matter when the best time to visit cancun is because the beaches are always quiet at dawn.

If you wake up bright and early for a walk on the beach, even during peak season, it will be a peaceful time. Most people are sleeping off their hangovers!

So When is the Best Time to Visit Cancun?

As much as I want to give you a definite answer about when to visit Cancun, I just can’t. There is no perfect time to visit Cancun. It all depends on your preferences and what you’re looking for in a vacation.

If you want to avoid the crowds and save some money, then visit during the off-season. If you want the prettiest waters, you gotta fork over some dollars. There are some serious pros and cons to every season.

But with that said, I believe the best chance at having the trip of your dreams in Cancun is to go during shoulder season, specifically in November. This is right before the big rush of tourists comes in. Businesses are ramping up for the high season, so prices won’t be as bad, and the weather is still great. But regardless of when you decide, Cancun will show you a good time.