Located on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is a popular tropical destination for luxury vacationers, beach lovers, and spring breakers. It has a hot and humid climate year-round, never going below the low 70s. Meaning you need to put some thought into your Cancun packing list.
For the most part, Cancun is a resort destination but you can find more local flavor in surrounding towns such as Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Isla Mujeres.
For a trip to Cancun, it is important to know what items are necessary to bring, but also to not overpack. So we’ve made this handy list so you know exactly what to wear in Cancun!
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Mexico (Travel Guide)
Ultimate Cancun Packing List + What to Wear in Cancun
Cancun Packing List Essentials
- Passport/Driver’s License: It’s obviously necessary to bring proper forms of identification and to make sure you can board the plane! It’s even a good idea to have a scanned copy of your passport just in case it gets lost or stolen. Easy and small to pack and can be a lifesaver!
- Cash: It’s a good idea to bring ten to twenty dollars in $1 bills for tips.
- Credit Cards: Make sure you tell your credit card company that you will be in Mexico so you don’t run into any problems while you’re there.
- Pens: A small item that will make sure you’re ready to fill out those customs forms!
- Basic Medical Kit: No matter where you travel, you should always carry a small medical kit just in case. For Mexico, some of the key items to remember are seasickness tablets, Tums, Band-aids, Imodium, eye drops (the days are dry), and I always advise a baggie of candied ginger which really helps settle the stomach if you’re hungover or not feeling well.
- A filter water bottle or water purification tablets: The water in Mexico is not safe to drink so it is necessary to have a backup plan. Everyone knows someone who’s been to Mexico, drank the water they thought was safe and later, got sick. So it may be a good idea to bring a few bottles of water to use for brushing your teeth and safe drinking throughout your stay. If you don’t have enough room, you may try water purification tablets or a travel water purifier.
- Waterproof Sunscreen: Bring lots of it! The sun is no joke in Mexico. You should have sunscreen with at least SPF 50 to be safe. Bring After-sun cooling lotion to help soothe skin after a long day in the sun and a bit of Aloe Vera in case you do get a sunburn.
- Insect Repellent: Who knows what diseases you could contract these days! There are bugs in Mexico and you don’t want them biting you, so bring a travel insect repellent.
What to Pack for Cancun – Main Items
The style in Cancun is rather casual, so it’s not necessary to pack anything too fancy. Casual shorts, tank tops, and a few t-shirts should be enough to get you through the week.
If you want to bring something a little dressier for the evening, a nice sundress or collared shirt should be enough. Bring a light sweater or jacket just in case and you’ll be set for clothing!
Most any trip to Mexico is sure to include some time spent on the beautiful beaches. Beyond sunbathing, Mexico offers many water sports and activities as well. Deciding what type of activities you will be up to will help ensure you pack the most comfortable swimsuit for the occasion.
I am a big fan of one-piece swimsuits if I will be participating in some more adventurous activities to ensure comfort and mobility without the fear of an accidental peep show.
Another must-have for my beach days is a rash guard. Rash guards are great for providing a little extra layer of protection while in the water and they also provide sun protection.
Be sure to purchase a rash guard with UPF to ensure sun protection is there. This will give you one less area of skin you will need to keep lathered in sunscreen.
Our Top Recommended Women’s Bathing Suits:
- CUPSHE Women’s Wish You Well Lace One-Piece Swimsuit
- BALEAF Women’s Adjustable Strap One Piece Swimsuit
- Women’s Retro Two Piece High Waisted Swimsuits
Our Top Recommended Men’s Bathing Suits:
- Kanu Surf Men’s Barracuda Swim Trunks
- Amazon Essentials Men’s Quick-Dry 9″ Swim Trunk
- O’Neill Men’s Santa Cruz Solid 2.0 Boardshorts
Swimsuit cover-ups are a must-have for my trips to Mexico when my time will be spent along the coast on the water. They are great for transitioning from the beach to a hotel or a bar/restaurant.
Make sure they are comfortable and quick drying so it will be ready for the next day when you need it. You may even want to add more than one to your Cancun packing list.
Our Top Recommended Swimsuit Cover-Ups:
- Harhay Women’s Summer Swimsuit Beach Swimwear Cover-up
- Ekouaer Women’s Beach Bathing Suit Cover Up Dress
- Speedo Women’s Aquatic Fitness Robe with Hood
Cute Sun Hat
The sun in Cancun is pretty brutal, so break out that cute sun hat you’ve been dying to wear to make sure you’re covered! The areas a sun hat covers are often the most forgotten areas for applying sunscreen on our bodies, our ears and back of the neck.
To make absolutely sure you are protected, ensure that your sunhat includes UPF 40+.
Our Top Recommended Women’s Sun Hats:
- Women’s Wide Brim Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard UPF 50
- Eddie Bauer Women’s Exploration UPF Wide Brim Hat
- prAna Women’s Living Dora Sun Hat
Our Top Recommended Men’s Sun Hats:
- Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Hat
- Quiksilver Men’s Bushmaster Sun Protection hat
- Eddie Bauer Men’s TrailCool UPF Cooling Sun Hat
Sunglasses are a very important must-have for us. Since we spend most every day out exploring we need the sun protection our sunglasses provide us.
In addition to buying a pair of sunglasses with UV protection, we also make sure to buy polarized lenses as well. Polarized sunglasses cut through the glare and reflection from the sun. Making your view much crisper on those full sun days.
Our Top Recommended Women’s Sunglasses:
- Oakley Women’s Drop-In Polarized Rectangular Sunglasses
- Oakley Women’s Caveat Aviator Sunglasses
- Merry’s Polarized Aluminum Sunglasses
Our Top Recommended Men’s Sunglasses:
- Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses
- Oakley Men’s Fuel Cell Rectangular Sunglasses
- Ray-Ban New Wayfarer Sunglasses
Sandals are on the top of every packing list that involves the beach. They are simply the easiest shoe to wear when you will be around water and sand off and on throughout your day and vacation.
We choose sandals that can double as water shoes for activities such as kayaking, white water rafting, hiking, snorkeling, etc. Some favorite brands of ours are Merrell and Chaco for their comfort and stability while being used in the water.
Our Top Recommended Women’s Sandals:
- Chaco Women’s Zcloud X2 Sport Sandal
- Skechers Women’s Reggae-Happy Rainbow Sandal
- KEEN Women’s Bali Strap Hiking Shoe
Our Top Recommended Men’s Sandals:
- Merrell Men’s Sandspur Lee Sporty Sandals
- KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal
- Crocs Men’s Swiftwater River Sandal
Regular sneakers are a great addition to your bag when you will be seeing sights, shopping in the local markets and hiking ruins. They add a little extra protection to your feet and add much-needed comfort some sandals do not provide.
Opt for a well worn in sneaker or shoe you know you love, so you won’t be surprised by discomfort or blisters on your first day exploring. Adding these to your Cancun packing list is essential if you plan to visit any temples.
Our Top Recommended Women’s Walking Shoes:
- Skechers Sport Women’s Ultra Flex Statements Sneaker
- TOMS Women’s The Cabrillo Sneaker
- TOMS Rose Gold Metallic Woven Women’s Avalon Slip-Ons
Our Top Recommended Men’s Walking Shoes:
- Skechers Men’s Classic Fit-Delson-Camden Sneaker
- Sperry Mens Striper II CVO Sneaker
- TOMS Men’s Paseo Sneaker
Don’t let laundry be a hassle overseas. Read our Guide For Doing Laundry While Traveling
Packing List for Cancun – Extras
The following items are optional, but are sure to improve your trip if you’ve got the room!
Camera/Cheap Underwater Camera
With beautiful beaches to see and an abundance of marine life, it’s a great idea to bring both a regular camera and a waterproof camera.
If you don’t have something like the GoPro and don’t want to invest in one, you can also look into buying or renting a cheap disposable underwater camera so you don’t miss out on memories of underwater adventures.
Our Top Recommended Cameras: How to Decide Which GoPro to Buy
Waterproof Phone Case
There’s nothing worse than going on vacation and accidentally dropping your phone in the water. Invest in a waterproof phone case or at least bring some plastic baggies to seal it from the sand and water while you’re hitting the beach!
Our Top Recommended Phone Case: Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch
Portable Phone Charger
You’re in a foreign country and your phone is a major lifeline. Put it on power-saver mode and bring a portable phone charger to make sure you’re never without an emergency line or music!
Our Top Recommended Portable Phone Chargers:
- Anker PowerCore 10000, One of The Smallest and Lightest 10000mAh
- Anker Portable Charger Anker PowerCore 20100mAh – Ultra High Capacity Power Bank
- LanLukPortable Charger Power Bank 25800mAh Huge Capacity External Battery
Small Bottle Opener
Most Mexican beers do not have a twist-off cap so a small bottle opener is an easy thing to add to make sure you’ll be able to have a nice cold one while you’re lounging on the beach.
Our Top Recommended Bottle Openers:
- Xthel Titanium Keychain Beer Bottle Opener with Stainless Steel Key Ring
- keychain Bottle Opener Multi Tool, 100% Stainless Steel edc Gadget, 9 Tools in 1
- Thirsty Rhino Timor Bottle Opener
Vendors will be selling snorkeling masks by the water and some hotels offer them for free but if you’re a germaphobe like I am, you’ll want your own so you’re not using a hastily washed mouthpiece that’s been used by hundreds of other vacationers.
Our Top Recommended Snorkel Masks:
Lip Balm with SPF
This is a Cancun packing list essential. I can’t emphasize enough how intense the sun is. Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that can get burnt so it’s a good idea to buy a lip balm with SPF to prevent your lips from getting chapped or dry.
Our Top Recommended Lip Balm: Sun Bum Lip Balm SPF 30
Hand Sanitizer, Travel TP & Seat Covers
Mexico isn’t the most sanitary of places, so a little handbag with travel toilet paper is never a bad idea! In addition to the travel TP is doesn’t hurt to also pack some hand sanitizer and toilet seat covers, just in case.
Our Top Recommended Necessities kits:
- Flushable Wet Wipes for Travel by Go on the Go
- Charmin To Go Toilet Seat Covers, 4-Pack (5 Covers Each Pack)
- Toilet Tissue to go-6 pk
- PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel
This is a surprisingly easy method for getting sand off your feet when it’s time to put your shoes back on. Who knew right!
Our Top Recommended Baby Powders:
- Johnsons Baby Powder Original Travel Size 1.5oz (Pack Of 3)
- Gold Bond Cornstarch Plus Baby Powder, 4 Ounces
- Burts BBY Bee Dusting Powder Size 4.5z (Pack of 2)
Getting a large bag that can be folded or compressed down is a handy thing to have while on vacation and won’t take up a lot of extra room in your suitcase! Your purse isn’t going to be enough to take all the things you need to the beach, so make sure you plan ahead.
Our Top Recommended Beach Bag:
- Waterproof Large Tote Beach Bag For Women Top Zipper Closure Cotton Handles
- Acrodo New Waterproof Dry Bag Transparent Arctic Blue 10 Liter Floating Bag
- Mesh Beach Bag for Women -Extra Large Beach Tote Bag with 9 Oversized Pockets
High-quality Ear Plugs
Cancun is a frequent spring break destination and can get noisy. No one wants to be totally restless on vacation, so invest in a pair of high-quality earplugs (or at least invest in the cheap foam kind) to make sure you remain undisturbed when it’s finally time for bed.
Our Top Recommended Ear Plugs:
- EAROS ONE High Fidelity Reusable Acoustic Filters for Noise Reduction
- Foam Ear Plugs for Sleeping, 40 Pairs Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs with Aluminum Carry Case
- Concert Earplugs 2 Pairs of 3-Layer Noise Reduction
Blow up Float to Use in the Ocean
This is totally optional but as Mexico is super warm, a blow-up float is a nice thing to make playing in the ocean more relaxing. You can even give it to a local before you go home and make their day!
Our Top Recommended Float Options:
- Outerdo Water Hammock Pool Lounger Float Hammock
- Miaboo Inflatable Pool Floats, Portable Floating Lounger Chair Water Hammock
Really enjoy a leisurely day of drinking and pack a couple of drink koozies in your bag to make sure those beers stay cold.
Our Top Recommended Drink Koozies: Tahoebay 12 Can Sleeves for Standard Cans Blank Poly Foam Beer Insulator Coolers
Extra Hair Ties
If you’ve got long hair, make sure you pack the extra hair ties and bobby pins because you are not going to want it down. It’s sticky and hot so you’ll want to keep it off your neck and we all know how easy it is to lose hair ties, so make sure to bring extra.
Our Top Recommended Hair Ties: Goody Ouchless Women’s Hair Braided Elastic Thick Tie, Black, 27 Count
Small Purse for the Evening
If you plan on going out, pack a small purse that you can bring all of the essentials in. It’s best to have one with a shoulder strap or wrist strap so you can keep it with you at all times but still leaves you free to dance the night away.
Our Top Recommended Purses:
- Milisente Evening Bag for Women, Suede Envelope Crossbody Shoulder Clutch Bag
- Befen Women’s Genuine Smartphone Leather Wristlet Crossbody
- Travelon Luggage Anti-Theft Cross-Body Bag
Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.
- Shop Columbia – The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts and travel pants.
- Shop REI – They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a one year return policy. Love it or hate it no questions, guaranteed.
- Shop Moosejaw – Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.
More on Mexico:
- 8 Amazing Things to do in Cancun
- Best Time to Visit Cancun: Month by Month Breakdown
- Swimming with Whale Sharks in Cancun
- Ultimate Packing List for Mexico
- 10 Awesome Things to Do in Playa del Carmen
- 9 Incredible Things to do in Cozumel
- 8 Things to Do in the Riviera Maya for an Epic Vacation