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Christmas in Cancun: The Best Way to Spend the Holidays

by | May 6, 2024 | Featured, Mexico & The Caribbean | 10 comments

Are you thinking of spending Christmas in Cancun? Keep reading for the best information on where to stay and what to do. I’ll also share my top travel tips to have the best holiday season in Mexico.

The Best Tips for Christmas in Cancun

It seems that people prioritize memorable experiences over material items more and more these days, especially in our post-Covid era. As a professional travel advisor, I have noticed more and more people booking warm weather vacations instead of purchasing Christmas gifts. It’s not hard to see why- with beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s fun for the whole family!

If you have thought about escaping during the holiday season to some of the best beaches in the world then keep reading. This post is all about the top tips and recommendations so you can have the best Christmas in Cancun.

Weather in Cancun in December

One of the best reasons to head to Cancun during the holidays is because of the great weather. Hurricane season ends in November and December brings gorgeous sunny days with average temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is worth mentioning that this time of year is considered peak season. Many families head to Cancun and surrounding areas for their Christmas celebrations, so expect prices to be higher and the resorts to be busier than any other time of the year.

Where Should You Stay for Your Christmas in Cancun- The Best All Inclusive Resorts

Cancun resorts at Christmas

There are so many amazing all inclusive resorts in the Yucatan Peninsula. Some resorts are the perfect fit for families with young kids, others cater more towards teenagers while some resorts are adults only. With so many different resorts it can be hard to determine which one is the best option for your Christmas vacation.

Not only do you need to consider the type of resort and the amenities offered, but you also need to consider the location. When we say Cancun, we are often referring to the Yucatan Peninsula as a whole. This means we are including the areas surrounding Cancun, like the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Playa Mujeres, etc.

No matter which resort you choose you can expect to have a great time and be immersed in a festive atmosphere. The resorts go all out with holiday decorations, massive Christmas trees, Christmas lights and special live shows. Keep reading as I break down each region, the types of travelers who should stay there and some great resort options.

Cancun Hotel Zone

Cancun’s hotel zone is the best place to stay for vacationers wanting to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a very active tourist scene. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the shopping mall, days at the beach, and nightlife. Many popular tourist attractions can be found nearby, like Coco Bongo.

It’s important to know that the hotel zone is a long way from Tulum, where many of the archeological sites and cenotes are, so if a lot of sightseeing and excursions are on your list of must-do activities, I would not recommend staying in this area. It is also not the recommended place for people looking for quiet and relaxation.

Some great resort options for this area are:

  • Moon Palace Cancun: best for families with kids of all ages.
  • Secrets the Vine: best for couples.
  • Hyatt Ziva: best for families with teens.
  • Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach: best for families on a budget or traveling with pets.

Playa Mujeres

Just north of downtown Cancun is a beautiful, gated community Playa Mujeres. It overlooks the Caribbean Sea and is known for its natural beauty and luxurious resorts. Playa Mujeres is a great place to stay during Christmas time for travelers looking for peace and tranquility while being close enough to plenty of activities.

Golf lovers will also enjoy staying in this part of Cancun as the Playa Mujeres Golf Club is located here. This course is one of the best courses in Mexico. Staying in Playa Mujeres is also ideal for anyone wanting to take a day trip and explore Isla Mujeres.

Some of the best places to stay in Playa Mujeres are:

  • Dreams Playa Mujeres: Best for families and large groups. I highly recommend upgrading to the Preferred Club room category.
  • Atelier Playa Mujeres: Adults-only resort best for foodies and beach lovers.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is known for its coral reefs, which makes it a fantastic spot for your vacation if you’re into diving or snorkeling. However, the beaches here, while lovely, aren’t quite as pristine as those in Cancun. 

Playa del Carmen is also where you will find Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) which runs parallel to the beach and is full of shops, local restaurants, and nightclubs. It is the ideal place to stay if your perfect vacation includes lots of sightseeing and excursions, as it is located near many different cenotes and Mayan ruins.  

Some of my favorite all inclusive resorts in Playa del Carmen are:

  • Sandos Playacar: A great option for families who are also budget-conscious.
  • Secrets Moxché: A beautiful adults only resort perfect for couples.
  • Hotel Xcaret: Great for families with older kids who like to be active and entertained.

Fun Activities for Your Christmas in Cancun

Christmas activities in Cancun

There are so many great activities to do year-round in Cancun, and the Christmas season is no exception. I recommend getting off the resort property at least once and taking part in one of these unique experiences. Below are a few of my favorite excursions that the whole family will enjoy.

  • Xcaret Park: This is a water park, theme park and eco-park that will provide endless for everyone. You can zip line, swim in natural pools, explore underground rivers and walk through several different animal exhibits.
  • Kantun Chi Cenote Park: There are 5 cenotes to explore and 3 different types- open, semi-open, and cavernous. There are different tour options available. Only the cave cenote requires a guide. If you wanted to explore the others on your own, you could. Unless you get claustrophobic easily, I highly recommend swimming through the underground river, as it is truly magical.
  • Punta Laguna Monkey Reserve: This excursion is totally off the beaten path. It’s run by the Mayan locals and helps support 30 families in the area. You will be guided through the reserve and have the opportunity to see both howler and spider monkeys. The excursion includes canoeing across the lagoon, zip-lining into a cenote, and a Maya purification ceremony.

Travel Tips for Cancun at Christmas

Cancun airport at Christmas

Traveling during the holiday season can be overwhelming and sometimes stressful. The following tips will help you make the most of your holiday travels to Cancun.

Tips for the Airport

Expect the airports to be extremely busy this time of year. I always suggest my clients arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure. It’s better to get there early and have time to grab a coffee and walk around than it is to be rushing and stressed.

If possible, do not check bags. Last year, some travelers had to wait an extremely long time for their luggage to arrive in the Cancun airport baggage claim.

Packing Tips

Of course, pack the obvious stuff for your Christmas in Cancun- swimsuit, flip flops, and cover-ups. Don’t forget to check the dress code requirements at your resort. Some of the restaurants will have different dress codes for dinner, and you will want to pack accordingly. There might even be special Christmas dinners or New Year’s Eve parties for which you will need specific attire.

Another important packing tip is to be aware of what you can and cannot bring into Cancun. There are certain limitations for items, and if caught bringing in more than what is allowed you could be fined. For example, you cannot bring in a laptop and an iPad, only one device is allowed per person.

Tipping

Your all inclusive resort vacation is inclusive of your food and beverage, but please do not forget to tip the staff members. They work hard to make sure the experience we have exceeds our expectations. I think it’s important to tip to show appreciation for great service. 

US dollars are accepted, so there is no need to exchange money. I always recommend taking a couple of hundred dollars in small bills, a mix of $1, $5, $10, and some $20. When I get to the pool or beach for the first time, I tip a little bit extra and usually receive excellent service as a result. See below for a general guide on tipping.

Shuttle Drivers: This depends on how far your resort is from the airport, and how much luggage you have. Anywhere from $5-$20 is recommended.

Bellhops: A general guideline is $1-2 per bag.

Housekeeping Staff: $2-3 each time they clean your room. 

Room service: up to $5 per order. 

Bartenders: I always leave a really good tip for my first round of drinks and have found that by doing so I get speedier service. From there I will tip $1-2 per round of drinks.

Pool or Beachside Waitstaff: I follow the same rule as above. If I’m ordering a pool or beachside lunch, then I will tip anywhere from $3-5. 

Servers: $3-5 per person unless you are dining at an extravagant or specialty restaurant. Then consider what you’d tip back home and use your best judgment. 

Spa workers: $5-10 per service.

Tour operators: For a full-day tour, I recommend tipping $5-10 per person. Don’t forget to tip the driver too, $1-3 per person. 

Expectations

Christmas Season in Cancun

One of the most important tips I can give is to adjust your expectations. Yes, your all inclusive trip should be amazing and everything you dream of, and I am sure it will be. With that said, it’s important to be aware of a few things.

Sargassum

There is a good chance the beach will have sargassum on it. I mentioned it earlier in this post, but sargassum has become more and more of an issue in Cancun. Many resorts put up barriers in an effort to prevent it from encroaching on the beach, but these barriers can only do so much, and Mother Nature has a mind of her own. The resort staff will do the best they can to clean the beaches, but again there is only so much that can be done. Please remember this upon arrival and do your best to not be disappointed if the beach doesn’t look like the images online.

Food

I will say the food has gotten so much better in recent years, especially at some of the newer 5-star resorts, like Atelier and Secrets Moxche. But remember you are dining at a resort that is preparing food for hundreds if not thousands of people, so the quality of food might not be what you’d get at a restaurant back home. 

It’s also likely that your eating and drinking habits will be different and more indulgent than how they typically are back home. The food and beverages are included and, in most cases, unlimited. It’s important to stay hydrated and drink enough water, as well as fit in some food with nutritional value each day. Often upset stomachs occur because we’ve overindulged. 

In terms of water, most of the water on the resort grounds will be purified and safe to drink. The tap water in your hotel room, might not be, so please use the bottled water that is provided for you. 

Christmas in Cancun Final Thoughts

The Ultimate Guide to Cancun in December

Spending Christmas in Cancun will be a memorable experience and one you might want to repeat year after year. Have you spent Christmas in Cancun? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Do you need help planning your Christmas in Cancun? We’d love to help plan your holiday getaway. Schedule a complimentary consultation today!

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10 responses to “Christmas in Cancun: The Best Way to Spend the Holidays”

  1. Katherine McLee Avatar

    This is such a helpful post for anyone thinking of spending Christmas in Cancun! The weather sounds like it would be perfect for those not wanting the weather to be too warm either!

  2. Laurie Griggs Avatar

    Spending Christmas in Cancun sounds divine. Great ideas and information for a special holiday trip. Ahhh… someday! 🙂

  3. Elisa Avatar
    Elisa

    These are some helpful tips for a visit to cancun!

  4. Pauline Stephens Avatar

    I never thought of Cancun as a Christmas destination spot. Thank you for this roundup of information.

  5. Stephanie Avatar
    Stephanie

    I loved the tips you included. I will consider Cancun for my Christmas trip!

  6. Michelle Avatar
    Michelle

    Thanks for sharing your tips for visiting Cancun over Christmas. December is a nice time to visit Mexico.

  7. Lucia Avatar

    Such a beautiful destination to celebrate Christmas.

  8. Gallivanting Laura Avatar

    I’d never thought about spending Christmas in Cancun, but your post has made me rethink it! Sounds wonderful and such a beautiful destination.

  9. Syd Avatar

    Spending Christmas in Cancun sounds like a dream! What gorgeous photos.

  10. Rosemary Palmer Avatar
    Rosemary Palmer

    We have done trips at Christmas, but usually road trips. This sounds like a great idea for next year.

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