What to Pack for Cancun, Cancun Beach View
By Destination

The Ultimate Cancun Packing List

Your swimsuit, strong sunscreen, and a straw hat—that classic beach trifecta is a must for Cancun. But you'll need other items beyond those beach-bag essentials. After all, Mexico’s southeastern-most point covers a lot of interests as part wild party town, part archaeological wonderland, part postcard-perfect beach escape with water sports galore. So you’ll want your suitcase to contain the right gear for Cancun’s multiple personalities. If your trip falls during wet season—between May and October—pack for rain, though be aware that even heavy showers are often followed by a sapphire sky, and they’ll rarely mean your day is a total wash. Below, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of our must-take items, including great outfit ideas for your Mexico vacation, a month-by-month breakdown of what to pack for Cancun, and more. De nada!

THE PERFECT LUGGAGE

When it comes to packing, it’s all about the right bag for the right job. If you’ve been making due with a beat up old duffle or an ancient carry-on with a sticky wheel, you’ll be amazed at how a new bag makes travel so effortless. Every smart traveler should have three key pieces of luggage: a weekender bag for quickie getaways, a carry-on suitcase for week-long trips, and a larger suitcase for longer stays or travelers that overdo it on souvenirs. (Guilty!) For a weekender, we’re fans of the Away Everywhere bag. This little dynamo has separate pockets for your laptop, pens, reading materials, and phone, plus a waterproof umbrella compartment—genius when you visit a rainy destination. For a one-week trip, it’s hard to beat Away’s Carry-On—it changed the suitcase game with an ejectable battery for phone charging, smooth spinner wheels, and a lifetime warranty. And for any trips lasting two weeks or longer, go for the Travelpro Platinum Elite. There’s a reason flight crews swear by this luggage brand. This checked bag has gliding spinner wheels, a telescoped handle, and two-inches of zippered expansion. 

THE PACKING GEAR

Every packing hurdle is made easier with this trio of travel gear. Got a hotel room or cruise ship cabin with little counter space? This hanging toiletry bag will give you elbow room at the sink plus provide dedicated pockets for all your creams, gels, and sprays. Hang it on the bathroom door or over the towel rack to keep everything upright, protected, and in place. If you have an issue with overpacking—who doesn’t?—then packing cubes are a game-changer. This four-piece set will keep all your things, from underpants to electronics, organized and condensed, saving you precious suitcase space. And rather than depend on the freebie toiletries at the hotel (that harsh hotel soap will zap all the moisture from your skin), bring your own tried-and-true toiletries in these TSA-approved squeeze bottles.

THE IN-FLIGHT ESSENTIALS

Only travel amateurs get on a flight without bringing the essentials. A sleep mask not only blocks out cabin lights—it provides the privacy you need to get some Zs. The Trtl travel pillow is a travel editors’ favorite for keeping your neck and head comfortable as you nod off. And Comrad compression socks’ moisture-wicking technology keeps feet comfy and protects you from deep vein thrombosis. (Yikes!) Fly like a pro with these packing essentials.

CANCUN OUTFIT INSPIRATION

Vibrant and versatile day-to-night looks—wide-leg palazzos and patterned maxi dresses for the gals, linen pants and hot-climate-friendly guayaberas (feather-light summer shirts popular in the tropics) for the guys—are the way to go in this coastal resort town. Locals proudly don embroidery and ruffles, so don’t be afraid to pay tribute to the regional style with bold, bright colors. Because you’re going to spend a hefty chunk of your time in the sun, bring extra bathing suits (we recommend at least two to three for a week-long jaunt). And be aware that specialty restaurants at Cancun resorts often enforce dress codes, so be sure to scope out the scene in advance.

Women’s Outfits

Men’s Outfits

THE 3 PAIRS OF SHOES YOU’LL NEED FOR EXPLORING CANCUN

Sure, it’s tempting to grab a pair of flip-flops and call it a day. But to face Cancun’s many sides—party paradise, seaside sanctuary, open-air Mayan museum—you’ll need a versatile mix of footwear that can handle everything from hot sand to even hotter nightclubs. We’ve zeroed in on three key styles, including a boat shoe that does double-duty, a much-loved wedge that’s as comfortable as it is flattering, and sneakers that can handle spur-of-the-moment kayaking trips and jungle trails leading to cenotes—or the occasional cloudburst.

Women’s Shoes

Men’s Shoes

A Packing Checklist for Cancun

Click items to view travel editor-approved options

WHAT NOT TO PACK FOR CANCUN

Cancun is hot and tropical year round, so you’ll never need a puffer coat, bulky sweaters, or even a pair of jeans, really. (That’s not to say you can’t bring a pair of pants—you should, especially if you’re a man who wants to sample Cancun’s legendary nightlife. Just make sure they’re made of lightweight material, like linen or pure cotton.) Temps may dip a bit after dark during the winter months, but even then, a lightweight cover-up should do the trick. Fellow tourists tend to dress casually and colorfully, so even if you’re hitting up CoCo Bongo, a flowy party dress or 100 percent cotton, short-sleeve button-down should do. And word to the wise: Leave the pricey jewelry at home. Pick-pocketing is not uncommon outside the Hotel Zone, and you shouldn’t announce yourself as a well-to-do tourist.

THE *ONE THING* WTP EDITORS ALWAYS BRING TO CANCUN

We love sun-soaked days on the sand (bonus points if there’s an icy pina colada involved), but not without full sun-protecting regalia—including lip balm with SPF. That one may be less obvious—you already knew about the strong sunscreen and wide-brim hat—but it’s important for preventing painful, throbbing sunburnt lips (and free-radical damage and an increased risk of melanoma). Throw a tube of Coola Liplux SPF 30 in your beach tote and do quick touch-ups throughout the day. Not only does it provide broad-spectrum protection against UV rays, but its organic beeswax and aloe vera-based formula conditions and cools. Plus, it’s unscented, so all you’ll taste is that sweet, rummy coconut drink. —WTP Editors

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CANCUN’S WEATHER AND SEASONS

While sunshine is almost always on the agenda here—the peninsula boasts about 340 cloudless days a year—temperatures can range from the mid-50s (December, January) to the low-90s (July, August). Rainy season stretches from May to October, but all that really means is fleeting showers and thunderstorms. Pack light layers for the cooler PM hours, and plenty of sunscreen and cover-up options to avoid sunburn. June through November is hurricane season, but note that Cancun is very rarely hit by significant storms. Our advice? If you’re booking this time of year, spring on trip insurance, just in case.

JANUARY

  • Plan for day temps between 71° F and 78° F
  • Temps will drop near 53° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.06 inches of precipitation in January

What to Wear in Cancun in January: Layer up for the Yucatan’s chilliest month—relatively speaking, of course—with lightweight layers.

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FEBRUARY

  • Plan for day temps between 68°F and 77° F
  • Temps will drop near 57° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.02 inches of precipitation in February

What to Wear in Cancun in February: Prepare for heaps of sunshine—February is considered the peninsula’s driest month, so take your pool and beach time to the next level with water-friendly accessories.

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MARCH

  • Plan for day temps between 68° F and 75° F
  • Temps will drop near 59° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.16 inches of precipitation in March

What to Wear in Cancun in March: Hello, spring equinox. March makes for something of a sweet spot, with temps averaging in the low 70s and hardly any rain at all. Whether you’re exploring Isla Mujeres or heading down to Chichen Itza to see the “serpent” dancing down the steps of the ancient temple, be sure to wear light knits and cotton.

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APRIL

  • Plan for day temps between 70° F and 78° F
  • Temps will drop near 60° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.04 inches of precipitation in April

What to Wear in Cancun in April: It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity—April can be especially muggy across Quintana Roo (Cancun’s home state). Stay comfortable with loose-fitting clothing and heat-busting accessories, like a travel fan and an insulated water bottle.

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MAY

  • Plan for day temps between 75° F and 79° F
  • Temps will drop near 64° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.13 inches of precipitation in May

What to Wear in Cancun in May: May brings the kickoff of rainy season and steadily increasing daytime temps. Keep your face and body safe from UV radiation with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a floppy straw hat.

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JUNE

  • Plan for day temps between 76° F and 81° F
  • Temps will drop near 71° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.10 inches of precipitation in June

What to Wear in Cancun in June: The sea is especially calm this time of year; it also happens to be when whale sharks and manta rays stop by the area’s reefs to fuel up on plankton. Bring along snorkeling accessories to make your underwater excursion extra memorable.

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JULY

  • Plan for day temps between 78° F and 82° F
  • Temps will drop near 71° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.15 inches of precipitation in July

What to Wear in Cancun in July: It’s a scorcher. Though you’ll likely just be shuttling between the pool and your hotel room, stay covered with breezy caftans, loose thin pants, and cotton tees to stave off an accidental sunshine overdose.

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AUGUST

  • Plan for day temps between 80° F and 82° F
  • Temps will drop near 73° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.10 inches of precipitation in August

What to Wear in Cancun in August: The sun continues to work overtime. The good news? The water is a balmy 90 degrees, so count on quality beach lounging—our swimsuit picks will get you seaside ready.

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SEPTEMBER

  • Plan for day temps between 76° F and 81° F
  • Temps will drop near 71° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.13 inches of precipitation in September

What to Wear in Cancun in September: Increasingly wetter weather comes with a swell in creepy crawlies—stay dry and bite-free with a travel umbrella and plenty of repellent. On the clothing front, stay cool with loose-fitting, breathable garments.

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OCTOBER

  • Plan for day temps between 76° F and 80° F
  • Temps will drop near 68° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.28 inches of precipitation in October

What to Wear in Cancun in October: October may be the area’s wettest month, but with the right gear in tow—like a handy pocket-sized rain poncho—even a downpour won’t dampen your plans.

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NOVEMBER

  • Plan for day temps between 70° F and 77° F
  • Temps will drop near 64° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.04 inches of precipitation in November

What to Wear in Cancun in November: Come November, the slightly cooler air brings relief from summer’s scorch and fall’s intense humidity. It’s still wet season in Cancun, but the raininess tapers off this time of year.

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DECEMBER

  • Plan for day temps between 78° F and 82° F
  • Temps will drop near 71° F at night and into the early mornings
  • Expect 0.15 inches of precipitation in December

What to Wear in Cancun in December: Cooler daytime temps and very little chance of rain make for optimal hiking conditions—explore the area’s inland jungles and caves with these outdoor essentials.

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Note: Below is a packing forecast, not a traditional forecast. A packing forecast focuses on how cold it’s likely to be in the early mornings and evenings based on historical data. We recommend using this together with a traditional forecast as you get closer to your departure date. This data comes from our friends at Weather Underground.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT PACKING FOR CANCUN

What travel documents do I need to travel to Cancun?

If you’re a U.S. citizen, you won’t require a special visa to travel to Mexico (as long as your trip length doesn’t exceed six months). But be sure your passport has at least six months of validity when traveling internationally, or else you may be denied entry.

What’s the ideal thing to wear for a day at the beach or by the pool?

Women can’t go wrong with a boldly hued one-piece (don’t forget a flowy boho dress to top it off!). Combine it with some sunnies with 100 percent UV protection and a floppy hat, and you’re armed for the blazing sun—and a killer selfie. For men, you won’t need much more than a pair of quick-drying board-shorts in blues and greens that take color cues from the Caribbean Sea itself. Throw on a breathable tank and cushioned flip-flops for trips to the pool bar, and a hat and shades for long strolls along the beach.

Can I drink the water in Cancun?

No. Stick to bottled and filtered water if you want to bypass tummy troubles. If you’re staying at a large resort, pack a stainless steel water bottle to fill with filtered water from the buffet restaurant or water stations throughout the grounds. SteriPen, a battery-powered device that kills bacteria with UV light, is a good option for purifying water. If your hotel room has an electric kettle, you can use it to boil tap water for brushing your teeth.

What should I pack if I’m going Snorkeling?

Of course you’ll need a swimsuit for exploring your underwater surroundings, but ladies could also bring along a slip-on cotton caftan and floppy hat for the boat ride there. Fellows should opt for mid-length swim shorts and a beachy cotton T-shirt. Toss in additional gear like sunscreen and sunglasses, and if you’re worried about your smartphone getting wet, think about getting a protective plastic case.

Do I need to bring a travel plug adapter?

The standard voltage in Mexico is 127V with a frequency of 60HZ. As long as your device has a two-pronged cord, you won’t need one. But devices with three-pronged cords (like laptops) may require an adapter. Many of the area’s higher-end resorts are outfitted with three-hole outlets; some properties will also let you rent adapters. But it’s always advisable to bring your own.

Ziplining is on my itinerary—what should I wear?

Opt for a pair of longer denim shorts for your slide down the wire, in addition to a top that can be tucked in. Feel free to wear your swimsuit underneath for a spontaneous cenote swim.

Can I bring medications?

No. According to the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico website, travelers are prohibited from bringing certain over-the-counter medicines and devices—like inhalers and some sinus/allergy medications—into Mexico. If you need Sudafed or Vicks, you’ll have to purchase it from a pharmacy in Cancun.

How should I dress to visit Chichen Itza Ruins?

Comfort is key when exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site. For navigating the grounds, crowds, and craft stalls in the heat, we suggest a pair of well-ventilated linen shorts, a breathable top and cover-up, and sturdy sandals for exploring this archeological wonder. Don’t forget a hat to ward off the rays.

I’m heading out dancing! What’s the dress code?

For the ladies, Cancun’s salsa clubs and confetti-filled dance floors are great places to have fun with bold lipstick and statement-making accessories. Nothing says bailamos like a fluttery floral frock and strappy stacked heels. For men, leave the cut-offs and tees for the beach and stick to dapper staples like slim-fit chinos, short-sleeve button-downs, and casual suede shoes.

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