Cabo vs Cancun: Which Mexican Destination Is Right for Me?

If you’re hoping to spend some time at the beach during your trip to Mexico, there are 2 places you’re probably considering: Cancun and Cabo de Lucas.

Whilst in an ideal world you’d get to spend time at both these top seaside destinations, the reality is you’ll probably have to pick just one. You’d face a 40 + hour drive if traveling by car, or a 3-hour flight: well over 2,000 km separate the cities.

With this in mind, you might want to start thinking about which is right for you. Use this guide to Cancun and Cabo to help you make up your mind.

Before traveling to either place you’ll need to apply for a Mexican visa unless you’re from an exempt country. Check the visa policy and apply in advance so you can get on with planning your trip of a lifetime.

Where Are Cabo de Lucas and Cancun in Mexico?

The first major difference between the 2 resorts is their geographical location. Cabo de Lucas is on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, within the state of Baja California Sur.

Cabo is the best option if you’re also interested in visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Rock Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco or the Isla Espíritu Santo UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere. Both these fascinating sites are also situated on the Baja California Peninsula.

Cancun, on the other hand, is in southeast Mexico, on the northeast coast of the Yucatán peninsula. The Yucatán peninsula boasts some of the most fascinating ancient Maya sites in the country including Chichen Itzá and Mayapan. If that’s your thing, Cancun might be the best choice for you.

You might also want to consider where you are traveling from and see which is the most convenient. Cancun is slightly closer to Mexico City although both are well over 1,000 km from the capital.

Cancun, Mexico

Where Has Better Beaches, Cabo or Cancun?

Although both Cancun and Cabo lie on the coast, the beach experience offered is quite different. Cancun is famed for its beautiful turquoise waters, perfect for enjoying warm days relaxing on the sand. The water is warmer than in Cabo and the sea is generally fairly calm.

In contrast, the water in Cabo is darker blue and colder. Powerful undercurrents mean that swimming at many of the beaches is not possible for safety reasons. Nevertheless, the natural beauty is quite breathtaking.

How Does the Weather Compare?

Whilst sunny skies dominate in both Cancun and Cabo de Lucas, there are differences between the climate of each place.

The weather in Cabo is drier and cooler, much like that of Southern California. With an average of just 10 days of rain a year you’ll be unlucky to get caught in a shower.

The weather in Cancun is hot and humid in the summer and hurricanes and storms are not uncommon. However, most of the rain does fall during the wet season (May to October) so unless you’re traveling at this time of year you should stay mostly dry.

Does Cancun or Cabo Have Better food?

If you’re guided by your stomach, you won’t be disappointed by either destination. There are plenty of good dining options in the center of Cabo de Lucas, otherwise, take the car and discover nearby organic farms and try their fresh produce.

Most visitors in Cancun opt for all-inclusive accommodation and have most meals in their hotel. There are just a few seafront restaurants to choose from but you’ll find a good range of restaurants in Cancun city center.

What about Accommodation?

There are many excellent hotels in both Cabo and Cancun. Most hotels are situated overlooking the beach offering fantastic sea views, whichever destination you choose you’ll be sure to enjoy some rest and relaxation.

Cabo offers more luxurious options than Cancun. Some of the most exclusive resorts are situated in Cabo making it an ideal choice if you really want to treat yourself during your stay in Mexico.

If you’re looking for something more affordable, Cancun might be the way to go. You’ll find more budget-friendly options here than in Cabo that are still great quality.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Things to Do in Cabo vs. Cancun

For outdoor adventure activities, Cabo is a great choice. The mountains of Sierra de la Laguna and Cabo Pulmo National Park offer the opportunity to spend some time exploring nature and enjoying breathtaking views. You can also see marine life up close diving and snorkeling.

Cancun offers water activities off the shores of its beautiful beaches too. In addition, Cancun stands out for its luxury shopping; there are several malls including La Isla, a bustling open-air center.

And the Winner is…

So as you’ve probably realized it’s impossible to choose an outright winner. Whether Cancun or Cabo is the best option for you depends on many factors. If you’re still puzzled, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s my budget? What can I get for my money in each place?
  • What kinds of activities do I want to do?
  • When do I want to go? What will the weather be like?
  • Do I prefer turquoise waters or dramatic landscapes?

With your answers to these questions and the information above, hopefully, you’ll be at least a little closer to choosing between Cancun and Cabo de Lucas for your next vacation in Mexico.

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