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This is the best time to visit Cancun

When is the best time to visit Cancún? (Spoiler: It really depends on you)

Cancún is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, thanks to the region’s spectacular beaches and rich history. A relatively short flight away from most U.S. locales, it offers the best of both worlds: an international trip that you can do in a long weekend if you don’t have the time or budget for anything longer.

Is there ever a bad time to go? There’s no specific “worst time” or “best time” to visit Cancún, but there are some things you should factor into your decision on when to travel here.

Between the region’s weather patterns and the fluctuating airline and hotel prices, it might seem difficult to figure out the ideal time to head to Cancún. Let’s clear the air and figure out when you really want to book that next trip to Mexico’s ultimate coastal paradise.

What is Cancún’s weather like year-round?

An aerial drone shot of Cancun's Hotel Zone.
Photo by Dronepicr, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Wikimedia Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though Cancún and Puerto Vallarta both have tropical climates with abundant warmth year-round, Cancún’s location along the Caribbean Sea makes it more vulnerable during hurricane season. Though large hurricanes rarely make direct landfall on Cancún, Hurricane Gilbert notoriously landed here as a Category Five hurricane in 1988, followed by Hurricane Dean as another Category Five storm in 2007, and Hurricane Wilma came dangerously close to Cancún when it reached the Yucatán Peninsula as a Category Four storm in 2005.

Even if no hurricanes show up in the local forecast, keep in mind that Cancún typically gets its most rain during September and October. On the flip side, February, March, and April tend to be the driest months of the year. Cancún is still prone to some heavy rainfall during the winter holiday season, but at least the hurricanes are all gone by then. Moving to the water, Cancún’s beaches tend to get the most seaweed during summer, whereas the beaches have slightly cooler but much clearer water during winter.

If you don’t mind spending quality time inside your hotel, or if you don’t mind going out in the rain, late summer or early fall may be your best time to visit Cancún. But if you prefer ample sunshine and fun days at the beach, you’re probably better off scheduling a late winter or early spring trip to Cancún.

When is Cancún’s high season for travel?

A group of sculptures at the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA) off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.
Photo by Andy Blackledge, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Flickr Image used with permission by copyright holder

Cancún’s high season for travel spans from December to March: The big crowds usually start pouring in for winter holiday trips, and there’s usually a final rush of maddening crowds for spring break. On the flip side, Cancún’s low season with the thinnest crowds runs from June to October, as that’s the bulk of the Atlantic and Caribbean hurricane season (see above). April, May, and November tend to be Cancún’s shoulder seasons, when the tourist crowds are noticeably large but not too hot and heavy.

Typically, high season means high prices. Therefore, Cancún hotel rooms and flights are almost always most expensive during the winter holidays, spring break season, and the winter weeks in between. On the other end, flights and hotel rooms are usually at their very cheapest during the summer and for most of the fall, when Cancún gets its most rainfall and humid heat.

So when is the best time to visit Cancún?

The beach at Cancun, Mexico.
Photo by Next Voyage, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Pixabay Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re seeking a “Goldilocks Time” of great weather, more manageable crowds, and lower prices, your best time to visit Cancún may fall between Halloween and Thanksgiving, or you may want to book a trip for April or May. If you insist on the best weather for outdoor activities, go during the winter months, but prepare to pay more. If you want to save the most money, do a summer trip, but pack your umbrellas and raincoats, and be ready to change your plans in case the weather forecast turns wetter. Whenever you decide to go, enjoy your trip, and check out some fun towns off the beaten path that you may want to add to your itinerary.

The cover photo was taken by Michelle Raponi, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Pixabay.

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Andrew Davey
Andrew Davey is a writer who has spent a long time in "hard news" journalism, but who has also pursued interests in food and…
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