Ultimate Cancun Packing List: 30 Key Items You Must Not Forget!

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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

Divergent Travelers - Lina & David Stock in Cancun, Mexico

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.

David Stock at a cenote near Cancun, Mexico

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!

Bathing Suits

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:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Bathing Suits:

Lina Stock in Cancun, Mexico - Cancun Packing List

Swimsuit Cover-up

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:

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:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Sun Hats:

What to Pack for Cancun, Mexico


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:

Our Top Recommended Men’s 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:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Sandals:

Walking shoes

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:

Our Top Recommended Men’s Walking Shoes:

Don’t let laundry be a hassle overseas. Read our Guide For Doing Laundry While Traveling

Barcelo Maya Beach in Cancun, Mexico

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:

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:

Lina Stock snorkeling in a Cenote near Cancun, Mexico

Snorkel Mask

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:

Baby Powder

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:

Aerial Beach shot in Cancun, Mexico - Cancun Packing List

Beach Bag

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:

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:

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:

Drink Koozies

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:

Beach palapas - Cancun Packing list

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:

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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