The choice of which one to visit really comes down to the type of Mexico vacation you’re looking for. While both areas have a lot of similarities, there are key differences to consider before booking the flight or finding the right accommodations.
Here’s a comparison of Cabo and Cancun to help you make the right decision for your dream vacation to Mexico.
Cabo or Cancun Quick Takes
- Cabo vs. Cancun When to Visit: Cabo is best in May, June, October, and November. Cancun is best from December through April.
- If you want sandy beaches, choose Cancun
- Cabo is best for relaxing and luxury, and Cancun is known for its party atmosphere.
- The cost depends on your taste, but Cancun has more affordable options.
Cabo vs Cancun: When to Visit
The peak travel season for Cabo is from December to February. Visitors during this time can experience the best weather and the most activity in the surrounding waters. For those looking for less crowds, you can still visit Los Cabos without meeting a crowd between May and June. This time period is hurricane season, however, so you’ll want to be aware of that potential when booking.
Another great option for a Cabo vacation is October and November. But you can pay a little more for accommodations and activities during this time frame because of the area’s big fishing events. Just remember to book your hotel a bit earlier to not overpay.
If you want to observe whales in Los Cabos, the best time to choose is mid-December and mid-April.
When it comes to visiting Cancun, you’ll want to aim for December through April. It’s the peak season but the flights are very cheap. The perfect weather makes it a great spot for a winter beach getaway. Between mid-March and early April, the place is packed with tourists because of spring break, so you should avoid traveling here at that time.
Cancun vs. Cabo: Weather
Even though Cabo and Cancun are part of the same country, they can and do experience very different weather patterns. It’s important to consider not only the weather for the season you are traveling but also how different the weather may be in two different places.
Los Cabos is much drier, and there are more sunny days than in Cancún. With 10 inches of rain per year, you can be sure that you won’t spend your holiday time in a hotel because of showers. The annual average temperature is 27 degrees Celsius. Between May and October, tropical storms and hurricanes can occur.
Cancún has a tropical climate with 250 sunny days per year. The rain falls mostly in the wet season, between May and October. During the year, the average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius.
Cabo or Cancun: How to Get There
Getting to Cabo and Cancun is much the same. For both destinations, you’ll need to book a flight from your destination city. Flying into Cabo can take a little extra time because there is additional travel time from the airport into the city. Cancun, on the other hand, has its own international airport.
Cabo vs. Cancun: Resorts & Accommodations
In Cancún, the most popular place to stay is the so-called Hotel Zone. The area includes over 100 hotels and resorts that range from 2-5 star hotels. Many are resorts with extra amenities with several all-inclusive options.
Cabo also has a pretty great choice of hotels and all-inclusive resorts but not as extensive as in Cancún. The level of luxury in Cabo tends to be higher.
If you’re looking for something a little homier or more culturally immersive, then you might consider an Airbnb. In both Cabo and Cancun, you can easily find Airbnb villas and apartments.
Cancun vs. Cabo: Beaches
Paradise beaches are what make both Cancun and Cabo such desirable destinations. But the beaches aren’t equal. There is a significant difference in how they look, and you’ll want to consider that before making a decision.
Cancun has beautiful, sandy beaches that stretch for miles along the shore. As it’s located in the place where the Gulf of Mexico connects with the Caribbean Sea, the water is warm and has a turquoise color. It’s a perfect place for those who enjoy swimming and fancy water sports.
Los Cabos beaches are rougher in comparison to Cancún. The sandy beaches are decorated with various rock formations. The Sea of Cortez, which surrounds Los Cabos, has water with a deep blue color.
The waters of Los Cabos are famous because of powerful undertows. Because of that, you need to be careful when choosing a beach. The main swimming beach is Medano Beach.
Cabo or Cancun: Things To Do
Los Cabos has a lot to offer. The various landscapes allow for enjoying mountain hikes, leisurely rests on sandy beaches, and trails through the desert. One of the main attractions of this place is observing blue whales that migrate from Alaska. There are also multiple options for water sports amateurs, such as snorkeling, surfing, or visiting an underwater waterfall.
Cancún offers a vivid nightlife and great shopping experiences with upscale shopping malls such as La Isla and Luxury Avenue. It’s worth visiting two paradise islands located nearby, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. Chichen Itza is a place located two hours from Cancún. It used to be the capital of the Mayan civilization. The other city worth a visit is Tulum.
Lovers of water sports can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving at the Caribbean Sea coral reef.
Cabo vs. Cancun: Food
Cabo San Lucas offers a lot of touristy food spots. If you have a car, you can also check out towns nearby to try genuine Mexican cuisine from the region. San José del Cabo is a perfect place to savour local tastes. To connect with nature, you should visit two organic farms located nearby: Flora’s Field Kitchen and Los Tamarindos.
Some of the most popular foods from Los Cabos are:
- Smoked marlin
- Mexican chocolate clam
- Shrimp and Fish Tacos
As Cancún focuses mostly on all-inclusive experiences, most hotels offer breakfast and lunch. In the area, you can savor dishes from Mexican and international restaurants. Local spots open after 2 p.m. and serve meals until midnight.
While savouring Cancún’s cuisine, don’t forget to pick typical food from the region:
Cabo vs. Cancun: Nightlife
Cancún is famous for its vivid nightlife. In nightclubs, you can purchase an open bar bracelet that gives you entry to the club and unlimited drinks. If you like bar crawling, you should choose one of many bar hopping tours on which you can visit various nightclubs in one night. Coco Bongo, Señor Frogs, and Mandala are the most popular spots for tourists.
Los Cabos is a perfect place for those who want to hide from the party lifestyle. You can experience calmer romantic attractions here, such as Mexican guitar concerts, rooftop bars, or wineries. Colonial architecture and old cobblestone streets give this place a unique charm both day and night.
Cancun vs. Cabo: Which is safer?
Both Cancun and Cabo are considered relatively safe vacation destinations. Each city has safer areas, and these are usually the areas that are heavily traveled by tourists. If you venture outside of “safer” areas, you could run a higher risk of being a victim of petty crime. Generally speaking, Cabo is considered a bit more risk-free than Cancun.
Regardless of which destination you ultimately choose, just remember to practice basic safety protocols and you should have a great time.
Cabo or. Cancun: Which is cheaper?
Both places have similar prices when it comes to accommodation and food. However, they can vary depending on the time of the year, peak season, and so on. In both cities, you can spend hundreds of dollars a night for luxury accommodations or find more modest rooms if you are on a tighter budget.
You can also expect to pay more when you are in the heaviest touristy areas on your trip. The cost of your plane ticket will vary based on your starting point which may make a big enough difference for you.
Cancun vs. Cabo: The Verdict
The final choice comes down to just a couple of questions. Do you want sandy beaches and the ability to experience some exciting nightlife? Then Cancun is the best spot for you. The beaches are sandy, the water is warm, and there are tons of nightly hotspots.
If you’re looking for a quieter place to relax and recharge, then you’d probably be happier in Cabo. The beaches are a little rockier, but they are still worth exploring. Plus, there are dozens of other activities you can enjoy.
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.