Cancun vs Hawaii: Where should you go on a vacation?
When it comes to planning a tropical getaway, many people are torn between Cancun and Hawaii. So I thought I would list the main differences between these two equally gorgeous beach destinations.
Although I won’t be able to make the decision for you, I am sure this post will shed some light on both places and help you decide whether it’s Cancun or Hawaii that is calling your name!
Both destinations offer stunning beaches, plenty of activities and adventure, and all the sunshine one could ask for. However, they also have many differences including the location, climate, beaches and the territory.
So, how does one choose between the two?
In this post, I’ll help you do just that. Below, we’ll compare all the key factors that you’ll need to make your decision. By the end of this article, you’ll have enough info to settle on the destination for your next dream vacation.
We have tons to cover so let’s get started!
Cancun vs Hawaii | Best Time to Visit Cancun and Hawaii
Best time to visit Cancun
The best time to visit Cancun depends on your individual preferences and what you hope to get out of your trip. Here are a few things to consider when deciding when to book your vacation in Cancun.
If you want the best weather as well as the most activities and events, you’ll want to visit between December and April.
This is when Cancun has the perfect weather for all activities. From music festivals to culinary celebrations, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this time of year.
However, as you might have already guessed, there’s a catch. The town is very crowded with tourists who also want to experience Cancun at its best.
Especially around spring break (from March to April) Cancun is absolutely packed with tourists as well as college students who come here for the infamous spring break parties.
Due to all of this, you’ll have to make your bookings months in advance, for everything from tickets to accommodations to events. And, due to overwhelming demand, you’ll be paying noticeably more compared to other months.
If you are looking to visit Cancun on a budget, the best time to go is during the shoulder seasons of April-May and October-November.
The weather is still warm and sunny during those months, but there are fewer crowds and prices are lower.
Best time to visit Hawaii
Surprisingly, the answer for the best time to visit Hawaii is very similar to Cancun’s. The high season lasts from December to March. The period from late December to the end of February is especially busy, with hotels and flights booked to capacity.
Summers are also quite busy in Hawaii. The season is very popular with families, with kids being off for summer vacations.
If crowds don’t bother you, those would be the best times to visit Hawaii.
Those of you who are on a budget or don’t like crowds would love to visit in either the spring or the fall months. You can still find great deals on hotels and flights during these seasons. Best of all, you don’t have to deal with nearly as many crowds.
Keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June to November, so you may want to avoid travel during those months.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Cost Of Visiting
The average cost of a vacation in Cancun will vary depending on your travel dates, the type of accommodation you choose, and how many people you are traveling with.
For example, a family of four can expect to spend around $4,000 for a 7-day stay in Cancun during the peak season. This includes airfare, lodging, food, and activities.
However, if you travel during the off-season or shoulder season, you can find deals on accommodations and bring your overall vacation costs down quite a bit.
To get an idea of how much your Cancun vacation will cost, start by researching airfare and lodging options.
Vacationing in Hawaii is often thought of as an expensive endeavor, but how much does the average vacation in the islands actually cost?
The average cost of a weeklong vacation in Hawaii is around $2,000 to $3,000 per person. This includes airfare, lodging, food, and activities. As you can tell, Hawaii is a lot more expensive than Cancun.
Of course, there are ways to reduce the cost of a Hawaiian vacation. One way is to stay in condos or vacation rentals instead of traditional hotels.
Another way is to eat at local restaurants and cook some meals yourself. And finally, choosing less expensive activities can help keep costs down.
I always recommend checking on Expedia for flights only or, even more conveniently, packages with flights+hotels.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Connectivity (easy to reach)
How to get to Cancun
By air, Cancun is well-connected to major cities in the US, Canada, and Europe. There are direct flights from most major airports, so you can be sipping a margarita on the beach in no time. If you’re coming from within Mexico, there are also plenty of domestic flights to choose from.
Of course, there are also thousands of people in the US who just take a road trip to Cancun. So that might be an option for you as well.
Once you’re in Cancun, getting around is pretty easy too. The main tourist area, known as the Hotel Zone, is only about 20 minutes from the airport by taxi or shuttle bus.
Hawaii is extremely well connected by both air and sea. There are direct flights from all over the US to the main Hawaiian Islands, including Honolulu on Oahu, Kahului on Maui, and Lihue on Kauai. And if you’re coming from further afield, there are plenty of flight options with just one or two stops.
Cruising is also a popular way to reach Hawaii. Many major cruise lines operate routes to the islands, meaning you can enjoy a relaxing vacation while still ticking Hawaii off your bucket list!
Cancun vs Hawaii | How to move around
In both cases, the best way to move around is by car rental, without a doubt.
In Cancun, you have transfer options to take you from the airport to your hotel, but if you are anything like me and love exploring, the best way to do it is by car.
Driving in Cancun is very easy and pretty much straightforward, especially if you follow my advice in the above link 🙂
Driving in Hawaii shouldn’t be much different than driving anywhere else in the US, and it’s the best way to explore the spectacular beaches or sunset lookouts and the many restaurants scattered around the islands.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Best Hotels and Resorts
Before I get into the recommendations, it’s worth mentioning that both destinations offer a wide range of choices when it comes to accommodations. You get a ton of options ranging from luxurious to some more affordable ones.
I’m only giving a few recommendations here, as multiple articles can be written about the hotels and resorts in each location. This is far from an exhaustive list of hotels and resorts in Cancun and Hawaii.
Best Hotels and Resorts in Cancun
One of the top hotels in Cancun is Secrets The Vine. This adults-only all-inclusive resort offers elegant accommodations, gourmet dining, world-class spa services and much more.
Guests can also enjoy unlimited access to the nearby golf course and fitness center.
Another great option is Dreams Sands Resort & Spa. This luxurious resort features spacious suites with private balconies, oceanfront dining, a full-service spa, and more.
For families, Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach is an excellent, all-inclusive choice. The property features an impressive array of amenities, including a spa and a fitness center.
Guests can enjoy stunning views of the Caribbean Sea from their room or suite, and the resort’s restaurants offer a variety of international cuisine.
Best Hotels and Resorts in Hawaii
The Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island of Hawaii is a beautiful resort that sits on 32 acres of land overlooking the ocean. It features stunning gardens, waterfalls, an award-winning spa, and several excellent restaurants and cafes.
The Waikoloa Beach Marriott is another great option for those looking for a top-notch hotel in Hawaii. The Marriott is located on the Kohala Coast and offers breathtaking views of the ocean.
The hotel offers a variety of amenities for guests, including three outdoor pools, a fitness center, and a spa.
Hawaii vs Cancun | Average Hotel Rates
Average hotel rates in Cancun
The average hotel room in Cancun costs about $150 to $300 per night. However, there are many variables that can affect this rate. The type of hotel, the location, and the time of year all play a role in setting the price.
The peak season for travel to Cancun is December through April. If you are looking to save money on your hotel room, it is best to avoid traveling during these months.
Average hotel rates in Hawaii
The average hotel rates in Hawaii can range from $280 to $400 per night. However, this number will vary depending on the island you’re visiting and the time of year. Rates are typically higher during peak travel seasons like summer and winter holidays.
If you’re looking for a bargain, consider staying on Kauai or Maui, where average rates are around $200 to $250 per night.
Hawaii vs Cancun | Things to Do in Hawaii and Cancun
Things to do in Cancun
There are many things to do in Cancun, but here are some of the best:
- Visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
- Swim with the whale sharks.
- Go bathing in the crystal-clear waters of one of Cancun’s many beaches.
- Visit the underwater museum.
- Party at one of Cancun’s world-famous nightclubs.
- Go snorkeling or scuba diving in the Great Mesoamerican Reef.
- Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres or Cozumel and explore these stunning islands.
- Shop for souvenirs at one of Cancun’s many markets or shops.
Things to do in Hawaii
Here are some of the best things to do while you’re on the islands:
- Visit Honolulu and see the world-famous Waikiki Beach.
- Take a stroll down Kalakaua Avenue and enjoy the many activities available there.
- Shop at luxury boutiques.
- Dine at world-class restaurants.
- Drive out to the North Shore of Oahu and find a secluded spot to relax and enjoy the incredible views.
- Head over to Maui and explore Haleakala National Park. Hike through the crater, or take a scenic drive down the Hana Highway.
- Be sure to check out Lahaina town before leaving Maui.
- Take a hike. From easy nature walks to challenging multi-day treks, hiking is a great way to explore Hawaii’s stunning landscapes.
- Go snorkeling or diving in the stunning waters around the Hawaiian Islands.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Tours
Tours in Cancun
👉 The Cancun Underwater Museum is a must-see for any visitor. This tour takes you through the museum and lets you see all of the amazing sculptures up close. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 The Mayan Ruins Tour is a great way to learn about the history and culture of the area. This tour takes you to some of the most famous ruins in Cancun and lets you explore them at your own pace. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 One of the best ways to see Cancun is from the water. There are many tour companies that offer boat trips in the turquoise waters around the town. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 Speaking of tours, if you visit Cancun during the right season, you can take a tour to swim with whale sharks! Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe and these creatures are completely harmless. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 While you’re in the area, you can also take a tour of the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park. The park features ancient Mayan ruins, as well as natural underground rivers, cenotes, and many caves to explore. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 The Cancun jungle tours are perfect for those who want to explore the natural beauty of the area. You will get to see some of the wildlife and plant life that make the area in and around Cancun so special. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
Tours in Hawaii
👉 The Big Island volcano tours take you to see the active volcano Kilauea as well as lava tubes, steam vents, and other geological features. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 There are many different trails to choose from, all with different levels of difficulty. This is a great way to see some of the most beautiful scenery in Hawaii. You’ll also get a bit of a workout in as well! ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 The Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is a great place to learn about Hawaiian culture and history. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 The Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park is another great option for history lovers. This park is home to the Captain Cook Monument, which commemorates the famous explorer who was killed in Hawaii. You can also learn about the Battle of Kealakekua Bay, which was fought between the British and Hawaiian forces in 1779. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
👉 A whale-watching tour is a great option for families visiting Hawaii. These tours typically take place on Maui or Kauai, where you can see these majestic creatures up close. ↳ BOOK IT HERE
Cancun vs Hawaii | Safety
Safety in Cancun
Yes, Cancun is a safe place to travel to. In fact, it’s one of the safest tourist destinations in Mexico. There’s a very low crime rate and the majority of crimes that do occur are petty theft and non-violent.
In order to safeguard the tourists, the Mexican government has also invested heavily in security, with police presence throughout the city.
However, like any destination, it’s always important to take some basic precautions. You don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary, just stuff you would do anyway, like not leaving your valuables unattended.
Safety in Hawaii
The island of Hawaii is the most isolated state in the US, which some might say makes it one of the safest places to travel to.
The crime rate in Hawaii is significantly below the national average and violent crimes, especially those targeting tourists, are practically unheard of.
In addition, there are no dangerous animals on the island and, apart from the hurricane season, the climate is stable year-round. The islands are also home to a number of world-class resorts and hotels that offer unparalleled safety and security for guests.
As long as you stay aware of your surroundings and take some common-sense precautions, you’ll have a very safe vacation in Hawaii.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Food Options
Food options in Cancun
Cancun is a foodie paradise, with options to please every palate. From fresh seafood caught daily to traditional Mexican dishes and international cuisine, there’s something for everyone in Cancun.
For those who love seafood, the options are endless. Fresh fish and shellfish are served up daily at the many restaurants dotting the coastline. For a truly unique experience, head to one of the beachside eateries where you can enjoy your meal with your toes in the sand.
For those craving something more familiar, Cancun’s restaurants offer international fare like Italian, Japanese, and even Indian cuisine.
And of course, no visit to Mexico would be complete without indulging in some traditional Mexican dishes.
Tacos al pastor, enchiladas, and tamales are just a few of the delicious options available.
Food options in Hawaii
When it comes to food, Hawaii is no slouch either. From traditional Hawaiian dishes to American favorites, there are a ton of options. Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is home to a variety of restaurants that offer both local and international cuisine.
If you’re looking for traditional Hawaiian food, there are plenty of restaurants that serve dishes like poi, laulau, and Kalua pig.
On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for something more contemporary, Hawaii also has some great fusion cuisine that combines elements of Hawaiian and other Asian cultures.
And of course, no trip to Hawaii would be complete without indulging in some fresh seafood. Whether you’re looking for a casual meal or a fine dining experience, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for in Hawaii.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Best place to visit as a family
Is Cancun or Hawaii better for a family vacation? That’s a tough question to answer because it depends on what kind of family vacation you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation with plenty of activities for the kids, then Cancun is probably your best bet. But if you’re looking for a more adventurous vacation with hiking and exploring, then Hawaii is probably a better choice since hiking in Cancun is practically non-existent..
Cancun has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, and for good reason. The beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and abundance of activities make it a great place for a family vacation.
There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in Cancun that offer everything from kid-friendly amenities to adults-only pools and restaurants.
Another thing to consider is the weather. Cancun has warm weather all year round, while Hawaii has more moderate temperatures. Hurricane season is a factor for both locations but it’s usually much less severe in Cancun.
Cost can be the driving factor for most families. This is where Cancun will win in most cases, it is typically cheaper than Hawaii, although this may vary depending on the time of year and the specific location in Hawaii.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Best place to visit for honeymoon
When deciding on the perfect honeymoon destination, it can be difficult to choose between the paradisiacal beaches of Cancun and the stunning natural beauty of Hawaii.
Both destinations offer plenty of romantic activities and stunning scenery, so it really comes down to personal preference.
If you’re looking for a party atmosphere with plenty of nightlife options, Cancun is the place for you. The resort town is packed with bars and clubs, and there’s always something going on. If you’d rather spend your days lounging on the beach or exploring ancient ruins, Cancun has that covered too.
On the other hand, Hawaii offers a more laid-back vibe where you can truly relax and enjoy each other’s company.
Which ones are best for honeymooners? In short, Cancun is a great choice for couples who want to party and enjoy the nightlife.
There are plenty of bars and clubs to keep you entertained, as well as a wide range of activities during the day.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more intimate and relaxed, but also adventurous and outdoorsy, Hawaii is the better choice.
With its lush landscapes and laid-back atmosphere, Hawaii is the perfect place to unwind after your wedding and enjoy some private time together.
Cancun vs Hawaii | Best place to visit as a solo traveler
Both destinations have their pros and cons for a solo traveler, so it really depends on what you’re looking for.
Cancun offers more opportunities for an active and social vacation. Especially during the peak season (from December to April), when the weather is at its best, you’ll find the town filled with tourists from all over the world.
Hawaii, on the other hand, is ideal for those who want to enjoy some peace and quiet. With its beautiful scenery and laid-back atmosphere, Hawaii is the perfect place to unwind and recharge.
Even during the peak seasons in Hawaii (winter and summer), it’s pretty easy to go to a less populated and visited island to get some much-needed peace and quiet.
Tips for traveling to Cancun
- Read this blog 😜 which is all about Cancun! In particular start from my Cancun Travel Guide.
- Do your research before you book your trip. There are many travel websites that offer discounts on hotels and airfare. My favorite one is Expedia for hotels, flights, or even better, packages.
- Once you’ve booked your trip, start looking for deals on activities and attractions. Many tour companies offer discounts if you book in advance.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance before you depart. It never hurts to be careful.
- When packing for your trip, be sure to pack light and comfortable clothing. Cancun is known for its warm weather, so you won’t need to bring too many heavy items.
- Be sure to pack enough sunscreen! The sun can be quite intense in Cancun. In case you have a lot of outdoor activities planned, you might also want to bring plenty of insect repellant.
- If you’re looking to save some money while in Cancun, eating at local restaurants is a great way to do so. The food is delicious and you’ll get a true taste of Mexican culture.
- While you can easily get by with speaking English in Cancun, it might come in handy to learn a few key phrases in Spanish.
- To avoid the crowds, plan to visit during the shoulder season of April-May or October-November.
Tips for traveling to Hawaii
- The peak season in Hawaii is from mid-April to early June, or from September to mid-December. Prices will be higher during these times.
- Start by researching which island(s) you want to visit. Each island has its own unique culture and activities. For example, Kauai is known for its lush rain forests and dramatic cliffs, while Maui is a popular destination for surfing and snorkeling.
- Once you’ve decided on an island, book your flight and accommodations well in advance. Due to Hawaii’s popularity as a tourist destination, flights and hotels can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons.
- Get travel insurance before you catch your flight. It’s affordable and can come in very handy should you need it in case of sudden cancellation, lost luggage, or other unpleasant mishappenings.
- Research the local customs and culture before you go, so you can be respectful during your stay.
- Pack light clothes and sunscreen, as the weather is usually warm and sunny.
- Be prepared for the cost of living in Hawaii. It is one of the most expensive states in the US, so save up before your trip!
- Those of you who are looking to save on accommodations should consider a Vacation rental instead of a hotel. You can often find great deals on VRBO.
Which is Better Hawaii or Cancun? Final thoughts
To summarize, when deciding between Hawaii and Cancun, it is important to consider what kind of experience you are looking for.
If you want a more laid-back vacation with plenty of time to relax on the beach, surrounded by thriving nature and outdoorsy experiences, Hawaii may be the better choice. However, if you are looking for a party atmosphere with lots of nightlife options, Cancun is the place to be.
Cancun has a clear advantage when it comes to affordability. Hawaii can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to accommodation and food. Cancun offers much more bang for your buck, with plenty of all-inclusive resorts that won’t break the bank.
It’s also worth noting that Cancun is easier to get to from most US airports than Hawaii, so you can save on travel costs as well.
Ultimately, both Hawaii and Cancun have a lot to offer visitors. The decision comes down to personal preference and budget. Whichever destination you visit, rest assured that you’ll have a grand time either way.
All in all, I hope this post has helped you to decide which one is best for your next trip.