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Best Time to Go to Cancun: 5 Helpful Tips

Updated on July 27, 2017
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Scott Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean.

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Finding the Right Months to Visit

Ah, Cancun. Fun, festive, and easy to reach by air from any parts of the U.S. and Mexico. It's a wonderfully convenient vacation destination, but it's one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean for other good reasons. The hotels are big and beautiful, the nightlife is as good as anywhere, and the outdoor restaurants are lively and authentic.

It also has one of the most popular attractions in the Caribbean at the world-famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.

Visions of Cancun might automatically bring the impression to many people that it's warm and sunny throughout the year because of its location. But go at the wrong time of year and run the risk of water too cold for swimming or, even worse, torrential downpours of rain.

The best time to visit Cancun is March and April when temperatures are in the 80s Fahrenheit and rainfall is lowest. The worst time is September and October during hurricane season.

Best Time to Visit Cancun

How can you avoid the hurricane season and the cooler winter weather but also avoid the crowds? Multiple visits and plenty of research provide some useful insights on both the best and worst months to go.

  1. The hottest months— when temperatures can reach above 90 degrees— are May through September. June is usually the hottest.
  2. The lowest temperatures are December through February (January is typically the coolest).
  3. The lowest rainfall is February through April.
  4. The peak tourist season is November through April; March sees a spike in visitors because of college spring breaks.
  5. Airline prices peak from mid-December to mid-January, and the cheapest tickets are usually available in September and October (the wettest months).

Worst Time to Visit

The worst time to visit Cancun is during the Caribbean hurricane season from June through November. It hits Cancun hardest in September and October.

Average rainfall spikes in June, drops back down in July and August, then goes up to more than eight inches over the next two months. The number of days with rain is 14 in September and 16 in October.

Read on to get the average rainfall and temperatures by month to help plan for the best possible vacation weather.

The Cheapest Time to Visit Cancun

The cheapest time to go to Cancun also is the least popular time— in September and October during the high point of the rainy season, when hotel prices drop and crowded beaches are non-existent.

Why would anyone go in September and October for low prices if it rains too much? The answer lies in last-minute vacations.

Tip: Check the weather forecast for the next seven to 10 days, especially in the east Atlantic, for approaching storms and hurricanes. If the forecast looks good, check major travel sites for last-minute deals.

Cancun beaches are empty during the rainy season and packed in the spring.
Cancun beaches are empty during the rainy season and packed in the spring. | Source

Air and Water Temperatures in Cancun

Average air temperatures are plenty warm during the summer. High temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit from May through September, but winter is another story. High temperatures from December through February average in the low 80s.

Those temperatures sound comfortable enough, but another factor comes into play— cold trade winds that create a wind chill effect that cools the water and beach to uncomfortable temperatures. This is when resort guests often spend more time in heated pools than on the beach or in the seawater. Important tip: Anyone who plans to go during the winter should ask the resort or hotel if they heat their pool and how much.

Average low temperatures, which take place mainly at night, also have an impact. They lower the seawater temperatures, which tend to hover midway between the high and low of the day's air temperature.

The best swimming time during the winter is mid to late afternoon— if it's possible to swim at all. During the hot summer months, just about any time will do.

© Scott Bateman
© Scott Bateman

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Cancun's Hurricane Season

The annual Caribbean hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Cancun usually experiences the worst of the hurricanes in September and October.

But the season is not as scary as it sounds. The average season experiences six to eight hurricanes and a small number of tropical storms, but because the region is so large, few Caribbean destinations get directly hit by hurricanes or tropical storms, although quite a few of them— including Cancun— experience plenty of rainfall as a result.

When the weather is cooler, shopping malls like La Isla get crowded.
When the weather is cooler, shopping malls like La Isla get crowded. | Source
This chart shows two bars each month: blue for rain days (the average number of days it rains each month) and red for rain inches (or average inches of rain for the month).
This chart shows two bars each month: blue for rain days (the average number of days it rains each month) and red for rain inches (or average inches of rain for the month). | Source

Average Rainfall

It is normal for most Caribbean destinations to have about eight to 10 rain days each month and see a climb during the fall, which is the peak of the Caribbean hurricane season.

For Cancun, 16+ days of rain in October is normal (and one of the highest in the region).

Most destinations also average about three or four inches of total rain each month, although it varies by season.

Cancun receives more than eight inches on average in September and October, again among the highest in the region.

But it is not as high as some of the rainforest destinations such as Dominica and Grenada.

One reason to consider going there in September or October is to take advantage of lower prices and smaller crowds. If that's tempting, try to make it a last-minute vacation and review the long-range weather forecast before buying tickets and booking your hotel.

These statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization show the number of visitors to Cancun by month for the most recent available year.
These statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization show the number of visitors to Cancun by month for the most recent available year. | Source

Cancun's Busiest Months and Seasons

  • Because of rain, it is no surprise that the least popular time to visit Cancun is during September and October.
  • The three least favorite months are September through November, while the most popular months are December, March, and July followed by January and February.
  • Visits spike in March partly because of college spring breaks. Families might prefer another month because of the party atmosphere.
  • December through February are popular months throughout the region because people want to escape from winter. But that time has a downside because temperatures are not ideal.
  • Visits drop during May even though the odds of rain in June are higher than May.
  • Another spike takes place in July because children are out of school and families are more likely to visit.

Cancun beaches fill with people during the spring but not during the cooler winter months.
Cancun beaches fill with people during the spring but not during the cooler winter months. | Source

Cancun Weather by Month

January

The average high temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 28 Celsius may sound good to a vacation planner. But the average low of 69 Fahrenheit or 21 Celsius brings the ocean water temperatures down to an uncomfortable level in January. Rainfall is moderate at nearly four inches.

February

Cancun temperatures in February increase about 1 degree but leave the ocean still cool for swimming. The dry season has arrived with average rainfall of less than two inches.

March

Beach lovers will find better temperatures for sunning and swimming. Rainfall still hovers about two inches. It rains only five days on average this month. The weather in March is one of the best of the year.

April is even better than March. It is the best month of the year for low rain and warm temperatures.

April

April is even better than March. It is the best month of the year for low rain and warm temperatures. It also has rain only four days on average.

May

It's still the dry season, but average rainfall increases to nearly four inches per month. It also is the first month when average high temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 Celsius.

June

The rainy season arrives in June with an average rainfall above five inches. The number of days with rain increases to 11. Temperatures stay hot.

March and April are some of the best months to visit Cancun for good weather.
March and April are some of the best months to visit Cancun for good weather. | Source

July

It's even hotter with an average high of 92 Fahrenheit or 33 Celsius. Rainfall is usually lighter this month than in June.

August

The hottest month of the year often has a small increase in rain versus July. It is a good month for people who like their beaches steaming hot.

September

Cancun in September has some of the worst weather with as much as 10 inches or more of rain. It also is the last month with temperatures above 90 Fahrenheit. Vacation planners should avoid Cancun in September unless it is a last-minute vacation with a clear weather forecast.

Cancun in September has some of the worst weather with as much as 10 inches or more of rain.

October

October is only slightly worse than September. Average rainfall still hovers around 10 inches for the month. It has the highest number of days with rain for the year at a total of 16. Like September, vacationers should avoid October unless the short-term forecast looks good.

November

The rainy season starts to decline in November with average rainfall of more than five inches per month. Average high temperatures are comfortable at 85 Fahrenheit or 29 Celsius.

December

Cooler with average highs of 83 Fahrenheit or 28 Celsius. Ocean temperatures are uncomfortable at times, especially on days with strong trade winds. Still, people flock to Cancun this month to escape from northern winters.

Cancun in Winter

A popular time to visit Cancun is December through February because it is a quick and convenient getaway from the northern winter.

But as someone who visited there in late February, I can say from personal experience that the weather was cool enough to keep most people out of the water or from even sunning on the beaches. Strong trade winds made it feel even cooler.

That didn't stop us from finding other things to do. The best part: far fewer crowds than other months of the year.

Why Location Matters

A markerCancun -
Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
get directions

The map above shows that the real tourism area of Cancun is not in the city but along Boulevard Kukulkan on the outer edge of Nichupte Lagoon.

Many hotels and resorts lie along Kukulkan facing the waters that form the boundary between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. That narrow strip of land adds to the uniqueness of the resort area, but it also exposes the area to stronger trade winds and cooling sea temperatures during the winter.

© 2014 Scott Bateman

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      Lynda 7 months ago

      Hi, my family and I have booked an all inclusive vacation at the Ocean Coral Riviera Maya. This will be our first time vacationing at a resort. Could you tell us a little about the hotel rooms, food and drinks. I've heard they water down the drinks on resorts.

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      Lena 7 months ago

      Hi There! Great post. I am currently planning a trip to Cancun sometime in August as a surprise to my boyfriend - it is for our 6 year anniversary. I'm wondering what your thoughts are travelling there for the 2nd week of August?

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      Scott Bateman 8 months ago

      Hi, Kelly. I can tell you that Cancun gets pretty hot in May. The average high temperature is about 91 degrees Fahrenheit. You might want to go earlier than May if possible. If your heart is set on May, then something farther north such as the Bahamas might be better.

      I can't comment on the resort because I'm not familiar with it. I assume the $299 for five nights is just for all-inclusive food and beverages and not for the room. If that's not the case, then I suggest asking more questions or looking elsewhere.

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      Kelly 8 months ago

      Hello Scott, I hope you are still on here. I really need your help. I'm trying to surprise my husband for Valentine's Day and take him to Cancun. Everything I do turns into a disaster. I have a lot of medical problems because I was paralyzed years ago but did regain the use of my legs back. So when we vacation temperature location everything comes into play. Especially money because I will be paying medical bills for the rest of my life. I am really bothered by the heat but would like to go soon on this trip. We have to get new passports because they expired and that takes a couple of weeks. So I was giving that enough time so I figured the earliest we could go to be safe would be May 5,2017 and staying 5 nights 6 days. Do u think I will be ok or will it be really hot. Plus I want to go when it's not crazy busy. I have points to travel so that's free and this is the biggest question I have. Cancun Bay Resort is offering a deal for the time we want to stay for an all inclusive deal for $299.00 per couple. It almost sounds to good to be true. The only thing I read is that you can swim there on the beach but it didn't say why. Any suggestions and is this a dive place? I'm trying to find a safe, cheap all inclusive place that we are not to far away from things that we have to pay to much if we want to go somewhere. We don't need a five star place. I do need a shaded area when on the beach. My husband would be disappointed if he couldn't go in the ocean me not so much. I would appreciate any suggestions if you have any. Thanks so much

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      Joann 8 months ago

      I'm going to Cancun May 29 thru June 5. Will the waters be warm enough to swim in?

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      Scott Bateman 9 months ago

      Hi, Lea. Unfortunately, I don't know of any source that can predict Cancun tide strength weeks or months in advance. It really comes down to luck more than anything. I haven't run into any problems myself, but I know they can be rough.

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      Lea 9 months ago

      We went to Cancun in November and it was wonderful. I tried to enjoy the ocean, but the tide was too strong. Red flags on the beach every day. What is the history on tide strength? Is there a better time for a calmer ocean? I am planning a wedding and this would help me pick a date.

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      Scott Bateman 13 months ago

      Hi, Dameshia. Thanks for your comment! The farther south the better. I don't recommend Cancun in winter if you like swimming in the ocean. I suggest St. Lucia, Barbados or Aruba. If you want really quiet and out of the way, try Grenada or St. Vincent.

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      Dameshia 13 months ago

      Hi, My boyfriend and I would like to go to the Carribean for my New Years Eve (Dec 31 to Jan 4). Can you suggest a great warm destination? Thank you so much for this informative and awesome blog!

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      Scott Bateman 14 months ago

      Hi, Matt. If you go just by the averages, the beach should be fine and the ocean probably comfortable enough for swimming, especially in the mid afternoons on sunny days. If trade winds pick up, it could make things a bit more chilly. Have a great trip!

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      Matt 14 months ago

      Hi, just wondering what the ocean temps are like for a mid- November visit to Cancun? Is it still warm enough to swim in the ocean and lay out on the beach? Have a 5 year old so don't want it to be to cold.

      Thanks, Matt

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      Scott Bateman 14 months ago

      Hello, Hayley. I wouldn't say it's a bad time at all. It depends on what you want to do when you get there. It's a better month for land activities than water activities compared to March through May.

      February water may be too chilly for swimming much. It was too chilly during our February visit and for everyone else we saw.

      But weather that week had lower temperatures and more wind chill than normal. So you might have better luck than us.

      Cancun has great weather in February for land excursions and plenty of the shopping, dining and entertainment venues that pack Cancun. February also is one of the best months of the year for low rainfall.

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      Hayley 14 months ago

      Hi- We booked our trip at The Vine Cancun Feb 2-5th 2017. Would you say this is a bad time to visit?

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      Scott Bateman 14 months ago

      Hi, Mariel. Over many years, November has been an average month for rain and temperatures. It's also just before the start of the busy season, so crowds should be moderate. Good luck!

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      Mariel 14 months ago

      Hi we're planning to go first week of November as its my husbands 40th bday. Is this the best time of the year? I got 4 yr old and a 7 yr old kids

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      Scott Bateman 14 months ago

      Howdy, Mike. We found the Cancun water too cold for swimming in February. So if you like the beach, I definitely suggest going farther south. If you haven't been to the Caribbean before, a good bet is Aruba. Water will be warmer there.

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      Scott Bateman 14 months ago

      You are correct, you probably won't get rain every day. You might not get any at all. No one can predict the weather this far out. Good luck to you!

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      Scott Bateman 14 months ago

      Even though Cancun usually gets hit hard in October, there are no guarantees of it. You could just as easily have bad rain the week before you arrive and sunshine while you are there. Regardless, I would recommend a day trip to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza (with a tour guide) and another day trip down to Playa del Carmen's Fifth Avenue (renting a car). You also could do the dolphin swim at Isla Mujeres. Good luck!

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      Mike 15 months ago

      Howdy, I am seeking to vacation in early February. Other than Cancun would you suggest a different location in the Caribbean? Thanks!

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      BeeGee 15 months ago

      I booked a trip in Cancun from October 15-21st. The way I look at it is, if it rains I'd rather be at an all inclusive with unlimited drinks and food and live entertainment than be at home bored. I've also read lots of reviews that typically you wont get rain every day, and when it does rain, it doesn't last long at all. Good luck!

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      EGlass 15 months ago

      So I just booked a trip from 10/11-10/14 and now I'm terrified that it will be rained out. Are there still things to do in the event that it rains?

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      Scott Bateman 15 months ago

      Well, that's a tough one. August is usually a transition month for that area between the dry and wet seasons. Riviera Maya usually gets hit the hardest in September and October. I don't want to raise your hopes too much, so I would guess your odds of good weather are decent but not great. I hope you have good weather!

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      Rachel 15 months ago

      We are going to Hard Rock Riviera Maya 8/10-17. Will we get rained out? I still want a tan and sun!

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      Scott Bateman 15 months ago

      Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell if what to expect there this year in October. What I can tell you is that, on average, October is the wettest month of the year. So you are taking a pretty big chance going then.

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      gweng 16 months ago

      Hi, I have a trip planned October 22-29, I don't mind some rain if the temps are warm, I just don't want to get rained out, I know this is hurricane season as well and last year Mexico had one of the worst, What is the likelihood of a repeat this year. Would it be best to postpone. The beach would be nice but is not a requirement. Thanks.

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      Scott Bateman 16 months ago

      ELLEN, summer in Cancun is definitely not September through April because it is located in the northern hemisphere.

      She may have been trying to say that it is the high season with the most visitors, but even then the high season doesn't start until December after the heavy rains have passed.

      Personally, I would lean in favor of April through June, especially if you like beaches. I have been to Cancun twice during the early months of the high season, and the water was too cool for swimming both times.

      June probably will be fairly hot, so April or early May would be my recommendation.

      LISA, I don't think you should go to Cancun in September because of how much it rains there during that time of year. No one can predict if this September will have a lot of rain or not, but the risk is too high.

      If your heart is set on going to the Caribbean in September, the best location that usually has the least amount of rain is Aruba. It averages about three inches that month. But again, it could be more or less than that amount this September.

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      Lisa 16 months ago

      I was going to go to cancun in September but now I'm really not sure, I went to the Maldives in May which was packed and was their rainy season but it rained for maybe 20 mins and cleared back to hot weather. Would you recommend another destination as me and my mum like to get a tan. Thanks in advance

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      ellenS7 16 months ago

      Hi

      we are currently looking to get married in moon palace cancun next year and when speaking to the travel agent she informed us that there summer runs september through to april. We have our daughter doing exams in the april/may next year so to marry then was not an option hence we mentioned going in the september to the travel agent. After doing some more research it appears that sept/oct is probably the worst months to go as hurricane season and so i was wondering when you would suggest is the best months to travel give the fact it will be for our wedding. We are now considering booking for the very beginning of june next year as her exams will be finished. What are your opinion on the weather in june? any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you

      Ellen

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      Scott Bateman 19 months ago

      Kathy, November is much better than October or September. You will face higher risk of rain than some other months. Rainfall tends to be heavy at times and not go all day. Good luck!

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      kathy 19 months ago

      looking to go to play golf november at le blanc spa resort

      what would be the best time

      not wanting to swim in ocean

      is it just a little downpour then ok or can it rain all day

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      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      Hi, Nomad. Sorry I couldn't respond immediately. I was not online over the weekend.

      When we visited during the winter, the pools were heated but the ocean was uncomfortable in part because of strong trade winds. So at least make sure your hotel pool is heated.

      As you can see from the charts, November has somewhat higher rainfall but also higher temperatures than December. Personally, I would take a chance with early November if swimming is an important factor in your trip. Good luck!

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      nomad 2 years ago

      Trying to decide on Cancun, Nov 17 to 23 or Nov 27 to Dec 2. Those are the two options I have. I have two kids ages 5 and 8 . Will they be able to swim in the resort pools and the ocean during those weeks. Is it better to go in early Nov or end of November. Nov is end of Hurricane, but Dec is winter and swimming may not be good. Please advise, trying to book tonight

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      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      I'm glad you found it useful, Greenmind. I learned the hard way to research weather before going to the Caribbean. Getting rain all week on a Caribbean island is a real bummer.

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      FCM 2 years ago from USA

      I really like this hub -- really cool idea. Really useful and I have been to the Caribbean many times and I didn't even know I needed this guide!

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      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      Yes, definitely, PeachPurple. Just don't go during the winter if you like to swim!

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      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wow, great place to relax and rewind

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      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      No one can predict the weather this far out with any accuracy, of course, but the risk of rain in late August is higher than earlier in the month because it's bumping up against a very wet September.

      You can see from the chart above that August averages four inches of rain historically while September averages eight. September is the most active month of the Caribbean hurricane season.

      If you have to go on vacation during late August because of personal schedules, I would again recommend Aruba as I mention in my other post above.

      If you do have some flexibility with your schedule and have your heart set on going to Cancun, I would recommend going earlier in the summer. July usually has better weather than August.

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      May 2 years ago

      Would it be a gamble if we went to Cancun during the last week of August?

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      Scott Bateman 2 years ago

      If you said September through November, I would definitely suggest that you rethink. Most of your visit will take place during August. August averages four inches of rain, which is slightly worse than July's two inches of rain.

      Four inches is only a little higher than the average for many Caribbean destinations during most of the year.

      Keep in mind that the numbers are just historical averages. One time we went in July and had great weather. So if that's the only time you can go, then so be it.

      August is part of Cancun's low season when prices drop. But if you don't mind spending a bit more or traveling a bit farther, you might consider Aruba, which usually has less rain than Cancun during that time of year.

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      Debbie 2 years ago from Scotland

      Oh dear was about to book to go to Riviera Maya on 28th July for 2 weeks till I read this! Unfortunately it's the only time we can go due to school & work commitments. Should we rethink?