Are you debating between a Cancun or Cabo vacation? Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about choosing a trip to Cabo vs Cancun.
This comparison of Cancun vs Cozumel was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Are you trying to decide between Cabo vs Cancun for your next family vacation? Trust me; you aren’t alone. These are two of Mexico’s premier family destinations, with many activities for everyone.
Let’s look at Cabo vs Cancun to help you get some ideas for your upcoming Mexican holiday.
Both Cancun and Cabo have a lot to offer. They are world-renowned for beautiful beaches, great food, and unique culture. However, there are slight differences. For example, Cabo is located on the Baja Peninsula, and Cancun is on the Yucatan Peninsula.
But once you see these comparisons side-by-side, your decision between Cabo vs Cancun should become easier.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know for your next trip to Mexico, whether Cabo or Cancun!
Overview of Baja Peninsula and Yucatan Peninsula
The Baja Peninsula is a distinct region along the Pacific coast in the northwestern part of Mexico. It stretches approximately 1,250 km (775 miles) from the northern border with California to the tip of the peninsula where the Pacific Ocean meets The Sea of Cortez.
The Baja Peninsula is split into two states: Baja California in the north and Baja California Sur in the south. It also has popular tourist spots in Los Cabos, like Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
The Yucatan Peninsula is located in the southeastern part of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico bounds it to the west and north and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
The Yucatan Peninsula is most known for its rich archeological history. The region was once the heart of the Mayan civilization, so some critical archeological ruins are around the Riviera Maya, like Chichen Itza and Coba Ruins.
Certain hot spots in the Yucatan, like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, are becoming increasingly popular amongst spring breakers. But beyond the party, there’s so much for everyone to do.
When to Visit Cabo vs Cancun
The best months to visit Los Cabos are April, May, June, and November. And the best months to visit Cancun are April, May, October, and November.
Cancun and Cabo are popular Mexican getaways with white sand beaches and luxurious hotels. And even though both dry seasons run from December to April, there are some notable differences in climates.
Cabo is known to have a more desert-like climate, with hot, dry winters and warm winters. The dry season is from December to April, with the least rain and humidity. The wet season is from June to September, with August and September being the worst month for rain.
That being said, the wet season isn’t even that bad in Los Cabos. Cabo has about 300 sunny days yearly, ideal for sun-seekers regardless of peak season.
Cancun’s dry season, with the slightest rain, is also from December to April. However, Cancun does have more distinct seasons. The dry season feels much dryer, and the wet season feels much wetter (and more humid).
Cancun is at risk during hurricane season, with the highest hurricanes and tropical storms risk in September and October.
Getting to Cancun vs Cabo
Los Cabos International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional de Los Cabos) is the central airport hub for those traveling around Baja California Sur.
The Los Cabos International Airport has convenient access to San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, and other spots on the peninsula’s southern point.
It takes around 35 minutes to get from Los Cabos Airport to downtown Cabo San Lucas. And it takes about 2 hours to get from Los Cabos airport to La Paz, another popular tourist destination in Baja California Sur.
Cancun International Airport is the main airport for the Yucatan. It’s located just outside the city center of Cancun and is about a 30-minute drive from Cancun’s hotel zone. It’s also well-connected to other popular destinations around the Mexican Caribbean.
Cancun International Airport is about one hour from Playa del Carmen and two hours from Tulum.
Because Cabo vs Cancun are such popular tourist destinations, both Cancun airport and Los Cabos airport are well-maintained, and transportation to and from the airports is well-established.
After all, Cancun is the #1 largest airport in Mexico, while Los Cabos is the #3 largest.
Where to Stay in Cabo vs Cancun
Here are some family-friendly resorts for Cabo vs Cancun. Whether you’re looking for private plunge pools, rooftop bars, or all-inclusive resorts, you can easily find something for the whole family.
Best Kid-Friendly Cabo Resorts
One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos
They have villas and suites with stunning views of the swaying palm trees and a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Ocean.
One&Only is also an excellent place for children. This hotel offers a special kids’ pool, a kids club, a playground, and even babysitting services.
This is the best option for families who want to splurge on excellence and high-end accommodation. Check the latest rates and availability.
Hilton Los Cabos
Hilton Rooms are spacious, with comfortable beds that could fit the entire family. As a beachfront resort, many rooms also have great ocean views.
Hilton Los Cabos is the perfect place for families to get away from a busy life and enjoy the luxuries that can only be found in the Baja California Peninsula. Check the latest rates and availabilities.
Villa del Palmar Beach Resort Cabo San Lucas
Although it doesn’t have a private beach like the previous resorts on the Mexican west coast, it’s still a popular choice for families. It has a great kids’ pool, a waterslide, a playground, and a kids club.
Additionally, it’s only an 8-minute walk from Medano Beach and a 4-minute drive from Plaza San Lucas.
Villa del Palmar Beach Resort is the perfect choice for those visiting Los Cabos and seeking an affordable and comfortable Mexican getaway. Check the latest rates and availabilities.
Best Kid-Friendly Cancun Resorts
Wyndham Alltra Cancun All Inclusive Resorts
Wyndham is a 15-minute walk from Chac Mool Beach and a 20-minute walk from a few upscale shopping malls in Cancun. It’s also about 12 miles (20 km) from the infamous Playa Delfines.
Families love this hotel because of the kids’ pool, free waterpark access, kids club, and playground. Additionally, an upscale restaurant has world-class fresh seafood and excellent service. Check the latest rates and availabilities.
Hotel Casa Maya
Hotel Casa Maya is another notable choice for those looking for Cancun’s best family-friendly resorts. Hotel Casa Maya is located right in Cancun’s hotel zone, with an excellent location. Check rates.
You and the family are within walking distance from the best art galleries, a swimmable beach, and restaurants that cater to international tourists.
Families love Hotel Casa Maya for the kids’ pool, playground, and excellent babysitting options. Check the latest rates and availabilities.
Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla
While it isn’t in the center of the hotel zone, it’s only a few minutes walk from the Cancun Interactive Aquarium inside the shopping mall.
Here, the family can learn all about the marine life and tropical fish found in the region.
Families love Canopy by Hilton because they have multiple outdoor pools for the whole family, a playground, a nearby beach, and bicycle rentals. Check the latest rates and availabilities.
Best Things to Do in Cancun and Cabo
Los Cabos and Cancun are romanticized as the best beach destinations in Mexico, but there’s so much more to these tropical locations.
Of course, you can spend the day on the beach, but you can also go out and enjoy various family-friendly activities.
Here are some of the best things to do in Cabo vs Cancun with the whole family.
Things to do in Cancun with Kids
Chichen Itza is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It’d be a shame to miss this attraction if you’re in the region.
Besides, visiting ancient Mayan ruins with children is a great way to encourage learning, curiosity, and compassion toward different cultures and histories.
This makes it one of the best activities in Cancun with kids.
Unfortunately, Chichen Itza is about 122 miles (196 km) from Cancun, so it’s a bit of a trek. A tour is the easiest way to get to Chichen Itza and make the most of it.
Captain Hook Pirate Show And Cruise
The Captain Hook Pirate Show is a dinner cruise that departs from Cancun on traditional-looking pirate boats.
The entire experience is a full-on show targeted toward younger children. The waitstaff is dressed up, and everyone remains in character from start to finish.
This is a unique experience that the children are sure to enjoy.
You can find out more information and purchase tickets here for the show, which includes lunch and an open bar (for the parents).
Spend a Day at Xcaret
Xcaret is one of Mexico’s most prominent adventure parks, with over 50 attractions that include different water sports, underground rivers, the Coral Reef Aquarium, and so much more.
This adventure park is unlike any other, and just how much there is to do here is a little overwhelming. So, it’s the perfect place to take the family.
You can reserve the entry tickets here, which include a visit to Jaguar Island, most of the top attractions, and the night show.
Isla Mujeres Catamaran Tour
If you’re planning a trip to Isla Mujeres, consider a catamaran tour for the whole family. Isla Mujeres is only about 45 minutes by boat, and a catamaran tour makes this journey fun and exciting.
This Isla Mujeres Catamaran tour includes a snorkel stop with a guide, transportation to and from your hotel, and an open bar.
Visit Tulum and/or Coba Archeological Ruins
If you can’t make it to Chichen Itza or want another day exploring some ancient Mayan ruins, you can’t miss either Coba or Tulum Archeological Ruins.
Tulum Ruins are only about 80 miles (130 km) from Cancun, and Coba Ruins are just past that. Both of these spots make for a great day trip.
The Tulum Mayan ruins are unique because they are situated right on the Tulum cliffs, overlooking the beautiful Caribbean sea, with a small path that brings you straight down to the beach.
And Coba is unique because some believe it was one of the most archeological sites in the Yucatan peninsula.
Things to do in Cabo with Kids
Take Surf Lessons
Unlike Cancun, Los Cabos is a world-class surf spot. And fortunately, they have different sets of waves for all levels of surfers. That means it’s a great starting point for the children.
You can either take some lessons as a family or watch the kids have the time of their lives in the warm, salty Pacific Ocean!
If you’re family like a bit of adventure, you might want to consider a day for horseback riding at one of the local nearby raches.
Los Cabos has such unique geography in that you can be right on the beach and mere miles away from a stunning desert landscape.
Most horseback riding trips take you deep through the surrounding area, where you can feel truly immersed in the exotic fauna.
This tour from Cabo San Lucas limits groups to 15 people max and allows you to choose your horse based on experience level. It’s the perfect place for both beginners and experienced riders. Check rates here.
Try a Glass-Bottom Kayak
Cabo San Lucas, and the entire east coast of Mexico, is an excellent spot for kayaking. You see a lot of incredible wildlife and truly explore the ocean with the family.
Snorkel Tour From Cabo San Lucas
While a glass-bottom kayak is a fun way to spend a day, it might not be for everyone. I don’t know about you, but some days my kids are not in the mood for an entire day of paddling!
So, your next best bet is a snorkel boat tour that takes you to all the best spots near Cabo San Lucas.
This boat tour leaves Cabo San Lucas and goes past Playa del Amor and to the famous El Arco, Santa Maria Beach, and other points of interest.
They even have paddleboards and kayaks onboard for anyone that wants a shortened paddle experience. Check rates here.
Go Whale Watching
If you happen to be in Cabo San Lucas during whale season (officially from December to April), you should consider a whale-watching tour. Several species can be found in the water of Cabo San Lucas, including:
- Humpback Whales
- Gray Whales
- Blue Whales
- Fin Whales
- Bryde’s Whales
- Sperm Whales
It’s not like visiting Cancun, where you can only glimpse whale sharks a few months out of the year after taking a long boat ride (you can dive with whale sharks in La Paz, near San José del Cabo).
If you are traveling to visit the whales, you may prefer Cabo.
Scuba Diving in Cabo vs Cancun
There’s no clear winner regarding Cabo vs Cancun and who has the better scuba diving. The diving experience in these two Mexico destination locations is entirely different.
The underwater world near Cabo San Lucas is filled with underwater canyons, drift diving, and encounters with sharks and other exciting marine life. In San Lucas, most people stick to ocean dives, as they are the real prize.
The underwater world in Cancun is a little different. The reef diving right off of Cancun is not that special, but diving in nearby Cozumel, or in one of the thousands of cenotes, is an entirely different experience.
When it comes to diving, Cabo vs Cancun are both incredible experiences. You won’t be disappointed.
Beaches in Cancun vs Cabo
Whether deciding on Cabo or Cancun, you may be curious about the beaches. The good news is the western and eastern coasts have beautiful beaches for the whole family.
Cancun beaches are calmer, more relaxing, and better for children. Although, in hot months, the seaweed (sargasso) can get out of hand in some areas. Whereas Cabo’s beaches have more rugged coastlines.
Some of the best beaches in Cancun include:
- Playa Delfines
- Playa Caracol
- Playa Chac Mool
- Playa Langosta
And the best beaches in Cabo include:
- Medano Beach
- Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amor)
- Chileno Beach
- Santa Maria Beach
Day Trips from Cabo and Cancun
Popular Cabo Day Trips
If you want to get out of the main square of Cabo San Lucas, you can simply look into one of these fun day trips.
Todos Santos is about an hour from Cabo San Lucas, and it’s the perfect little escape from the bustling tourist hub. Todos Santos is a charming town known for its artistic atmosphere, historic buildings, and relaxed vibe.
The journey to Todos Santos only takes about an hour from Cabo San Lucas. You can rent a car and drive around the small town, take a local bus, or book a full-day tour of Todos Santos with a local guide.
Cabo Pulmo Marine Park
Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is a protected marine reserve with fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving experiences. Here you can encounter colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and even the chance to spot sharks and rays.
Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is about two hours from Cabo San Lucas. One of the easiest ways to get the whole family to the Marine Park is by tour.
La Paz and Espirit Santo Island
You can head to La Paz, the capital city of Baja California Sur, to experience the vibrant Malecon (boardwalk) and soak in the sun at some new sunny beaches.
You can also take a short boat ride from La Paz to Espirit Santo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its breathtaking landscapes and unique opportunity to snorkel with sea lions.
Cabo San Lucas is about a 2-hour drive from La Paz, making it an easy day trip for the family.
San Jose del Cabo
San Jose del Cabo is about 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Cabo San Lucas. San Jose del Cabo is less developed and known as a more traditional Mexican getaway.
If you want to escape the hustle of downtown Cabo, consider a quick day trip to San Jose del Cabo for a more laid-back and relaxed atmosphere.
Popular Cancun Day Trips
While everyone loves to lay on the beaches in Cancun and enjoy a life of luxury, it’s also nice to escape the big city for a day.
Puerto Morelos is a small town known for deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, and a chilled, laid-back atmosphere.
The pace is slower here, and the beaches are equally beautiful, so it’s a great place to escape on a day trip.
Puerto Moreles is only 23 miles (38 km) from Cancun, and it’s easy to get to by bus, car, taxi, or tour.
Isla Mujeres is a small island famous for some of the best beaches in the Riviera Maya. You can hop on a 40-minute ferry from Cancun and spend an entire day exploring the stunning island.
The best way to get around Isla Mujeres is to rent a golf cart, which is very prominent throughout the island.
Alternatively, like this Snorkel Tour Adventure, you can tour the island, which is perfect for the entire family.
Not many people make it out to Rio Lagartos, home to the stunning salt-pink lake, because it’s a bit more off-the-beaten-path.
However, Rio Lagartos is a beautiful area unique from the traditional idea of a Mexican getaway.
This full-day tour from Cancun takes you to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas with a local guide. All transportation and planning are taken care of, as well.
Cancun vs Cabo FAQs
Los Cabos is more expensive than Cancun. Although, depending on your travel style, Cancun can also get relatively expensive.
Whether to go all-inclusive or not in Los Cabos will depend on your travel style, budget, and personal preferences. All-inclusive resorts are much more convenient, as you don’t have to handle too much planning. All-inclusive resorts also tend to be more family-friendly, as they tend to cater to families.
No, Cancun and Cabo are not the same. Cabo vs Cancun is two different tourist destinations. Los Cabos is on the east coast of Mexico, on the Baja California Peninsula. Cancun is on the western coast of Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Cabo or Cancun Wrap Up
When it comes to Cabo vs Cancun, there’s no easy answer. Both are stunning beach destinations with tons of family-friendly activities, kid-friendly resorts, and day trips for everyone!
If you’re visiting Cabo, you can walk around downtown Cabo, snorkel around the stunning reefs, El Arco, the deep Mexican desert, and so much more.
If you’re visiting Cancun, you can jump into fresh cenote waters, spend an afternoon at your hotel’s private pools, learn about the culture of some ancient ruins, and discover other hidden secrets of the Riviera Maya.
You certainly won’t be disappointed no matter what you decide, Cabo vs. Cancun.