Are you debating between a Hawaii or Mexico vacation? Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about choosing a resort in Hawaii vs Mexico all-inclusive.
This comparison of Hawaii vs Mexico 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.
Wondering if a Hawaii vacation is right for you?
We know that making the decision to take a vacation can be tough. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you decide whether a trip to the islands is right for you.
Check out our list of pros and cons for both Hawaii and Mexico vacations and see which destination is best for your needs.
Both destinations offer incredible resorts, stunning beaches, and delicious food. So how do you choose? We’ve done them both and we’re here to help!
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about Hawaii vs Mexico all-inclusive resorts. Once you’ve made your decision, we can help you create the perfect trip for you and your family.
Want a Hawaii travel guide? I’ve got detailed guides and 7-day itineraries!
Mexico vs Hawaii Pros and Cons
Mexico has many places similar to Hawaii. I think that’s the main reason why people compare the two when trying to figure out their next trip.
The easiest way for me to talk about Mexico and Hawaii is to focus on resort vacations. That way we can compare apples to apples.
All-Inclusive Mexico Resorts
One of the biggest appeals of a Mexico vacation is the idea of all-inclusive resorts. This is something that we don’t have many of in the United States, so it’s a bit of a novelty.
The number one reason why people pick all-inclusive resorts in Mexico is that food and alcohol are included in the price. If you plan on eating/drinking a lot on vacation (including your morning latte), this can save you money.
They also offer a lot of scheduled entertainment and all kinds of activities throughout the day. There’s enough to do that you don’t need to leave the resort.
One of the biggest perks of all-inclusive Mexico resorts for families is that there’s usually complimentary child care in the form of a kids club.
It’s great for multi-generational travel. There are plenty of things to do for all ages/abilities. And everyone can usually find something to eat.
Typically, the food isn’t amazing. So you might find yourself eating a lot more (and more frequently) in order to feel satisfied.
Dinnertime can be tricky. There are a certain number of restaurants and those fill up as soon as they open. So, you either need to get in line 15-20 minutes before they open, or you’ll need to wait 90 minutes or so for a table to open up.
Also, if you stay longer than 4-5 days, the entertainment/activities and menus start rotating again. It doesn’t feel “new” anymore and you might start feeling a bit bored.
Finally, it’s easy to feel “trapped” at the resort. It’s a bit more cumbersome to leave and sometimes it doesn’t feel safe to walk around outside of the resort gates.
Many resorts in Hawaii are on beaches that are “swimmable.” So you can hang out at the pool or enjoy some saltwater.
It’s easy and hassle-free to leave the resort and explore the area. There are often lots of restaurants, shops, and activities nearby. And it’s convenient to do excursions or explore the island.
While you’ll have to pay extra to eat at Hawaii resort restaurants, the food is WAY better than at an all-inclusive resort.
Resorts in Hawaii are often the same price as an all-inclusive in Mexico, but they don’t include food or drinks.
Most entertainment (like going to a luau) is an extra cost. And even if you listen to free live Hawaiian music in the bar, you’ll probably order a drink or pupu platter.
Typically, families will have to pay an extra fee to enroll their children in a resort kids club (except for Disney Aulani, where it’s complimentary).
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Things to Consider: Hawaii or Mexico
1. Do you have a passport?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of people don’t realize that you’ll need a valid passport to visit Mexico. Yes, this includes babies and children. Find out how to apply for a child’s passport.
If you don’t have a current passport, you’ll want to factor in the time it takes to make an appointment, fill out all the paperwork, and receive your new passport.
And if you do have a passport, check to make sure it doesn’t expire for a few months after your trip. If it does, you’ll want to renew it before you go.
2. Flight time and cost
I want my vacation to start as soon as possible. So, I try to choose destinations where I can get a direct flight. That helps minimize potential issues with flight delays. And the shorter the flight the better.
Sometimes there are great flight deals, but not a deal on the resort. Or vice-versa. Make sure to factor both flight and resort costs into your vacation budget.
3. Are you planning on drinking alcohol?
Believe it or not, I see a lot of comments on Facebook about people wondering if an all-inclusive resort is worth it if they don’t drink alcohol.
I think it really depends on how many drinks you’ll consume during your stay. Yep, I’m asking you to do some math.
Cocktails in Hawaii are often $10-$20 per drink. So think about how many you might have during your stay and add that to your budget.
The drinks at an all-inclusive in Mexico are included, but they usually aren’t very strong. So, you’ll end up drinking a lot more of them if you want the same buzz. More drinks = more calories/sugar.
4. Are you a foodie?
I’m not sure how to gracefully say this, but all-inclusive resorts are famous for their quantity (not quality) of food. Since it’s geared toward the masses, there are a ton of decent options, but nothing you’ll crave and want more of.
All-inclusive resorts are great for people who are picky eaters (there are tons and tons of options for all palates). It’s also awesome for people who like to snack all day long.
However, if you consider yourself a “foodie” and are eager to try either authentic local food or farm-to-table dining, you’re better off booking at a really nice resort. Then, you can research restaurants and go there on your own.
5. Are you traveling with kids?
If you’re planning a family vacation, you might want to consider the cost of childcare and food. At a Mexico all-inclusive resort, you’ll most likely have free childcare and tons of food options for even the pickiest eater.
And many resorts offer free 24-hour room service in case your kids eat at non-traditional hours.
It’s also really freeing to not have to worry about where you’re eating or what you’re doing each day. At an all-inclusive in Mexico, there are tons of scheduled activities and lots of on-site dining options. And there’s no need to rent a car.
6. Are you doing resort excursions?
If you think you might want to leave the resort each day to do an excursion, keep in mind that you’ll probably eat/drink off-site.
So, if you’re staying at an all-inclusive in Mexico, you’re essentially paying twice for food/drinks those days. And you won’t be taking advantage of the free activities/entertainment at your resort.
Excursions in Mexico are a little trickier than in Hawaii because you need to pre-arrange your transportation and triple-check that it’s the right driver going to the right place.
In Hawaii, it’s much more relaxed and you can either rent a car and drive yourself or hop on a shuttle.
Book a Family Photo Shoot
Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND they guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
Hawaii vs Mexico: What’s the best option?
We personally love both options but it depends on the type of vacation we’re looking for. Mexico is great if we want sunshine, drinks by the pool, and time to completely unwind and relax.
However, Hawaii is a blast when we want to do some easy adventures, check out some nice restaurants, and swim in the ocean.