Skip to Content

Cancun vs Cabo – Which is the Better Vacation in Mexico?

Last updated on January 26th, 2023 at 10:14 pm

Cancun vs Cabo – While both are incredible beach vacations, Cancun offers white sandy beaches and blue waters paradise, and Cabo gives you a more activity-based beach trip.

You can’t go wrong with either, however, Cancun is the way to go if you want a more lounge-beach trip, while Cabo is better if you want to get a little bit more greenery and nature and get some activities injected into your beach vacation. Which one between Cabo vs Cancun is better for you? Let’s look into the comparison further. Read here Puerto Vallarta vs Cabo, Cancun vs Acapulco and Cancun vs Puerto Vallarta

Related Travel Guides on Cancun and Cabo

Comparing Cancun vs Cabo

Both Cancun and Cabo are Mexico’s top vacation spots. Honestly, both are an experience you’d love and if you can visit both of them – it’s definitely good. Based on what you’re looking for in your beach experience, one will be better than the other. Cancun is the better choice for laidback days in the sun with an active nightlife, while Cabo has more nature and activities during the day. Cancun has more blue swimming beaches because of the Caribbean compared to Cabo’s clean and rocky beaches because of the Pacific. While Cancun’s beaches are bluer and picturesque, Cabo’s beaches are warmer.

Cancun is more popular for spring breakers and has many all-inclusive resorts. For extra activities in Cancun, you can also do snorkeling, scuba diving, and visiting ancient Mayan ruins.

Cabo San Lucas, also known as simply Cabo, is on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula. Cabo is more known for its luxury resorts and high-end restaurants, as well as its famous Arch and beautiful beaches. Cabo is also more popular for sport fishing and water sports.

Getting a SIM Card at Cancun Airport – Cancun vs Cabo

I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at Cancun airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in Cancun. Read here best Mexico eSim and best Mexico sim card for tourist

You can buy the cheapest eSim in Mexico with Nomad eSim Mexico prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. And with Airalo eSim Mexico prepaid with similar data packages (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%).

BUY AIRALO ESIM MEXICO (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%)

Holafly Mexico eSim for less than $60 USD if you use our code GAMINTRAVELER you will have unlimited internet in Mexico for 30 days for just $2 USD per day.

Where to Stay in Cancun vs Cabo

A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Cancun vs Cabo. There are hotels mid-budget for $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN CANCUN OR CABO BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH BOOKING

Book Your Travel Insurance – Cabo vs Cancun

You can read Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review

You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included

Pros and Cons – Cancun vs Cabo

Let’s look at Pros and Cons between Cancun and Cabo. Please remember that these pros and cons are for comparison purposes. Both Cancun and Cabo are proven to be touristy and spectacular vacations and each has their own merits.

Cancun Pros

If you’re leaning more to Cancun, the pros are:

• Cancun is a well-established tourist destination and has a wide range of accommodations and activities to offer. This includes all-inclusive resorts, vacation rentals, and boutique hotels.
• Cancun is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, with white sand and crystal clear waters.
• The area is known for its nightlife, with many bars and clubs to choose from.
• Cancun offers many opportunities for adventure activities, such as snorkeling, diving, and visiting Mayan ruins.
• There are many options for food and dining, with a mix of traditional Mexican cuisine and international options.

Cancun Cons

• Cancun can be quite crowded, especially during peak tourist season.
• The area is heavily developed, so you may have to travel a bit to find more secluded beaches.
• The prices for accommodations and activities can be higher than in other parts of Mexico.
• Cancun is known for its party atmosphere, which may not be suitable for everyone.

Cabo San Lucas Pros

If you’re leaning more to a vacation in Cabo San Lucas, the pros are:

• Cabo is known for its luxury resorts and high-end restaurants, making it a great option for those looking for a more upscale vacation.
• The area is famous for its sport fishing and water sports, such as sailing and jet skiing.
• Cabo is home to the famous Arch, a natural rock formation that is a popular spot for photographs and boat tours.
• The area has a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere compared to Cancun.
• There are many beautiful beaches in the area, with clear waters and great swimming and snorkeling spots.

Cabo San Lucas Cons

• Cabo can be more expensive than other parts of Mexico, with higher prices for accommodations and activities.
• The area is quite dry, so if you’re looking for more lush vegetation, it may not be the best option.
• Due to its luxury resorts, Cabo may not be as suitable for budget travelers.
• The beaches can be rocky and not as suitable for swimming or lounging as the ones in Cancun.

Beaches and Activities – Cancun vs Cabo

Cancun Beaches – Cancun vs Cabo

Cancun is home to many beautiful beaches, each with its own unique features. Here are a few of the most popular beaches in Cancun and some top hotels to stay in each area:

Playa Delfines

Playa Delfines - Cabo vs Cancun Which is Better Vacation, Cancun vs Cabo
Playa Delfines – Cabo vs Cancun Which is Better Vacation?

This beach is located on the southern end of Cancun’s hotel zone and is known for its clear blue waters and long stretches of white sand. It is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Some top hotels in this area include: The Ritz-Carlton Cancun, The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort, and The Grand at Moon Palace.

Playa Marlin

This beach is located in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone and is known for its lively atmosphere and water activities. It is a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and parasailing. Some top hotels in this area include The Grand Fiesta Americana, The Royalton CHIC Suites Cancun, and The JW Marriott Cancun Resort.

Playa Tortugas – Cancun vs Cabo

Costa Rica vs Cancun - Which is the Better Vacation?, Playa Tortugas Cabo vs Cancun Which is Better Vacation, Cancun vs Cabo
Playa Tortugas in Cancun

This beach is located on the northern end of Cancun’s hotel zone and is known for its clear waters and family-friendly atmosphere. It is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. Some top hotels in this area include: The Hard Rock Hotel Cancun, The Hyatt Ziva Cancun, and The Paradisus Cancun.

Playa Langosta

Cancun vs Cabo - Which is the Better Vacation in Mexico?
Playa Langosta in Cancun

This beach is located on the eastern end of Cancun’s hotel zone and is known for its calm waters and secluded atmosphere. It is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. Some top hotels in this area include: The Le Blanc Spa Resort, The Live Aqua Beach Resort, and The Beloved Playa Mujeres.

Other Top Things to Do in Cancun – Cabo vs Cancun

Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a great way to explore the coral reef and tropical fish in Cancun’s clear waters. You can rent equipment or take a guided snorkeling tour to some of the best spots. Popular snorkeling spots include the Underwater Sculpture Park, located just off the coast of Cancun, and the MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), an underwater art museum.

Scuba diving

Cancun is home to some of the best scuba diving spots in Mexico, with a variety of dive sites to choose from. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, located just off the coast of Cancun, is home to a wide variety of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even sharks. You can take a guided dive tour or enroll in a certification course if you’re new to diving.

Parasailing

Parasailing is a popular activity in Cancun and allows you to fly above the water while being towed behind a boat. It’s a great way to get a bird’s-eye view of the area and the beaches. Most parasailing companies offer single or tandem flights, and the activity is suitable for all ages.

Jet skiing

Jet skiing is a popular water sport in Cancun, and it’s a great way to explore the coast and see the beaches from a different perspective. Jet ski rentals are available at many beaches, and you can usually rent them by the hour.

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore the coast and mangrove swamps of Cancun, or you can also do it in some of the lagoons in the area. You can rent equipment or take a guided tour to explore the area.

Windsurfing and kitesurfing

Cancun offers some of the best conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing, with steady trade winds and calm waters. Many beaches in Cancun offer equipment rentals and lessons for these sports.

Fishing

Cancun is a great destination for sport fishing, with a variety of species to catch, such as sailfish, marlin, and tuna. You can take a fishing charter to explore the waters and try your hand at catching some of the local species.

Boat tour

Take a boat tour to explore the coast and some of the nearby islands. You can take a sunset cruise and enjoy the view of the Caribbean. Some boat tours include snorkeling or diving stops, or even lunch or dinner on board.

Cabo Beaches

Cabo San Lucas is located on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico, not the Caribbean Sea. The beaches in Cabo are known for their clear waters and rocky coastline. The water is generally warmer than the Caribbean, and the beaches of Cabo are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and other water sports. Some of the most famous beaches in Cabo include Medano Beach, Lover’s Beach, and Santa Maria Beach.

Medano Beach

Medano Beach - Cabo vs Cancun
Medano Beach – Cabo vs Cancun

This is the most popular beach in Cabo and is located in the heart of the town. It’s known for its clear waters, lively atmosphere and is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. You can also find many vendors on the beach selling food and souvenirs. The beach has plenty of options for water sports like jet skiing, parasailing and banana boats. Some top hotels in this area include: The Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas, The Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos and The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort

Lover’s Beach / Playa del Amor

Playa del Amor - Cancun vs Cabo
Playa del Amor – Cancun vs Cabo

This beach is located on the southern end of the Cabo San Lucas Bay and can only be accessed by boat. It’s known for its clear waters and secluded atmosphere, and is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing. Lover’s Beach is also a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, as the waters are home to a wide variety of marine life. Some top hotels in this area include: The Montage Los Cabos, The One&Only Palmilla, The Cape, A Thompson Hotel

Santa Maria Beach

This beach is located on the Pacific side of the peninsula, just a short drive from Cabo San Lucas. It’s known for its long stretches of white sand and calm waters, making it a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. You can also find many vendors on the beach selling food and souvenirs. The Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, The Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa

Chileno Bay

This beach is located on the Pacific side of the peninsula and is known for its clear waters and variety of marine life. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. The beach offers rentals for kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and snorkeling equipment.

Palmilla beach

Located on the Pacific side of the peninsula and is known for its peaceful atmosphere and clear waters. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. The beach offers rentals for kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and snorkeling equipment.

Other Top Things to Do in Cabo San Lucas

While Cabo San Lucas is known for its beautiful beaches, there are also many other things to see and do in the area. Here are some other top things to do in Cabo San Lucas:

Visit the Arch

Cancun vs Cabo - Which is the Better Vacation in Mexico?
The Arch in Cabo San Lucas

The Arch is a natural rock formation located at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, and it is one of the most iconic landmarks in Cabo. You can take a boat tour to see the Arch up close or take a walk along the beach to see it from a distance.

Take a sunset cruise

A sunset cruise is a great way to see the beautiful coastline of Cabo and watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Many cruise companies offer dinner and drinks on board, making it a perfect way to end the day.

Go on a desert safari

Cabo is home to a beautiful desert landscape that can be explored by taking a desert safari. These tours can include activities such as ATV riding, camel riding, and even zip-lining.

Visit the Cabo San Lucas Marina: The Marina is a popular spot for shopping, dining, and people-watching. You can take a walk along the marina, browse the shops, or enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants.

Visit the Mision San Jose del Cabo

Cancun vs Cabo - Which is the Better Vacation in Mexico?
Nightlife in San Jose Cabo

This 18th-century mission church is one of the oldest buildings in the area and is a great spot to learn about the history of Cabo.

Visit the Art Walk

Cabo San Lucas has a vibrant art scene, and the Art Walk is a great way to see it. It takes place on Thursdays, and you can see art exhibits, live music, and street performers.

Take a day trip to Todos Santos

Todos Santos is a charming town located about an hour’s drive from Cabo San Lucas, known for its art galleries, restaurants, and colonial architecture.

Nightlife – Cancun vs Cabo

Cancun is known for its bustling party scene, and is particularly popular among college students and young adults. The hotel zone in Cancun is home to many bars, clubs, and discos that stay open late into the night. Some of the most popular nightlife spots in Cancun include The City, Coco Bongo, and Dady’O.

Cabo San Lucas, on the other hand, has a more laid-back nightlife scene. While there are still plenty of bars and clubs in the town center, the atmosphere is generally more relaxed and casual. The Marina area is known for its night life in Cabo.

Cost of Travel – Cancun vs Cabo

How much is Cancun for One Week for One Person

Accommodation: A one-week stay in a budget hotel in Cancun can cost around $300 to $500, while a one-week stay in a mid-range hotel can cost around $500 to $1000. A one-week stay in a luxury hotel can cost $1000 or more.

Food: The cost of food in Cancun can vary depending on where you eat. Eating at street vendors or local restaurants can cost around $5 to $10 per meal, while eating at mid-range restaurants can cost around $15 to $30 per meal. Eating at high-end restaurants can cost $30 or more per meal.

Activities: The cost of activities in Cancun can vary depending on what you choose to do. A day trip to the Mayan ruins can cost around $40 to $60, while a snorkeling or diving excursion can cost around $50 to $100. Water sports such as jet skiing or parasailing can cost around $50 to $100 for a few hours.

Transport: Taxis and buses are the most common form of transportation in Cancun, and they are relatively cheap, with prices ranging from $5 to $15 for most rides.

All in all, a one-week vacation in Cancun for one person could cost anywhere from $800 to $2000 or more, depending on the factors mentioned above. It’s recommended to have a budget in mind and plan ahead, to make the most of your vacation and avoid overspending.

How much is Cabo for One Week for One Person

Here is an estimate of the cost breakdown of a one-week trip to Cabo for one person:

Airfare: Round-trip airfare from the US to Cabo can cost anywhere from $300-$800 depending on the departure city and time of year.

Accommodations: The cost of a hotel or resort in Cabo can vary depending on the location, amenities, and time of year. On average, a one-week stay in a mid-range hotel or resort can cost anywhere from $600 – $1000.

Food and drink: The cost of food and drink in Cabo can vary depending on your dining choices. Eating at local restaurants can cost around $10-15 per meal, while dining at more upscale restaurants can cost $25-30 per meal.

Activities: The cost of activities in Cabo can vary depending on what you choose to do. Some activities, such as visiting the Arch, are free, while others, such as a sunset cruise, can cost $50-60 per person.
Transportation: The cost of transportation in Cabo can vary depending on how you choose to get around. Taxis and shuttle services are the most convenient options, while renting a car or taking public transportation can be a more budget-friendly option.

All in all, a one-week trip to Cabo for one person can cost anywhere from $1000 – $2000, depending on the factors mentioned above. It’s always recommended to check prices, schedules and book in advance to get better deals. Keep in mind that this is a rough estimate, and actual costs may vary depending on your specific travel plans.

Which one is Better for Family Trips – Cabo vs Cancun

If your family is interested in adventure and outdoor activities, Cancun may be the better choice. If your family is looking for a more laid-back vacation with a lively atmosphere, Cabo San Lucas may be the better choice.

Cancun is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters and a wide variety of activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and diving, as well as adventure activities like zip-lining and ATV tours, and cultural activities such as visiting ancient Mayan ruins. Cancun also offers a wide variety of family-friendly hotels and resorts with amenities such as kids’ clubs and activities.

Cabo San Lucas is known for its beautiful beaches and clear waters, as well as its lively atmosphere. It’s also a great destination for water sports like jet skiing, parasailing and snorkeling. Cabo San Lucas also offers a wide variety of activities such as visiting the famous Arch, a natural rock formation, and desert safari and also great spots for fishing. There are also many family-friendly hotels and resorts in the area with amenities such as kids’ clubs and activities.

Which one is Better for Couple Trips or Romantic Getaways – Cancun vs Cabo

Cabo San Lucas offers a variety of dining and nightlife options, making it a great choice for couples looking for a romantic getaway with a bit of adventure and excitement. You can also find romantic spots for couples like “Lover’s Beach” and “Playa del Amor” as well as luxurious resorts like The Montage Los Cabos, The One&Only Palmilla, The Cape, A Thompson Hotel.

On the other hand, Cancun also offers a wide variety of romantic accommodations, including luxurious resorts and intimate boutique hotels, many of which offer spa services and couples packages.

In both destinations, you can also find many activities to do together, such as boat tours, sunset cruises, and romantic dinners.

If you are looking for a romantic getaway with a bit of adventure and excitement, Cabo San Lucas may be the better choice. If you’re looking for a more traditional romantic beach vacation with plenty of opportunities for relaxation and pampering, Cancun may be the better choice.

Which is Better for Budget Travel – Cancun vs Cabo

Both Cancun and Cabo San Lucas can be great destinations for budget travel.

Cancun offers many budget-friendly accommodations, including hostels and budget hotels, as well as food options like street food and local restaurants. Additionally, Cancun offers many free or low-cost activities like visiting ancient Mayan ruins and temples.

On the other hand, Cabo San Lucas offers a variety of dining and nightlife options, making it a great choice for budget travelers looking for a romantic getaway with a bit of adventure and excitement.

In both destinations, you can find budget-friendly accommodation options, such as hostels, vacation rentals, and budget-friendly resorts. You can also find many affordable activities such as visiting the famous Arch, a natural rock formation, and taking a sunset cruise.

Cancun is a great choice for budget travelers looking for a beach vacation with plenty of opportunities for relaxation and adventure activities. Cabo San Lucas can be a great option for budget travelers looking for a romantic getaway with a bit of adventure and excitement. Both destinations offer a wide variety of budget-friendly options, so it’s important to research and compare options to find the one

Final Thoughts – Which One is Better?

While each is spectacular on its own, for our type of travel, Cancun is better. With blue Caribbean beaches, chances of having more affordable accommodations (at least compared to Cabo), and the proximity to the Mayan ruins, Cancun is the winner for us.

Cabo San Lucas is definitely the better choice if you’re happy to spend a little bit more and enjoy more nature and see the famous Arch.

How about you? Let us know which destination between Cabo vs Cancun did you end up choosing and til our next guide!

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.