What to pack for Cancun, Mexico – packing list for beach holiday

Image: Anete Lusina

Packing and getting ready for a vacation in Cancun, Mexico is not as easy as throwing in a couple of bathing suits inside your suitcase and catching an airplane.

It requires a little more thinking and planning.

Cancun is a tropical beach holiday destination with a lot of cheap beer, attractive youngsters, and scintillating beaches and you don’t want to be found wanting in any department.

We have divided the list of things you need to pack for your Cancun beach holiday into three types – essentials for any beach holiday, clothing and accessories and the required medicines.

Besides these, your Cancun trip also requires some documents.

Essentials to pack for Cancun holiday

1. Water bottles

Some tourists are known to have fallen sick after drinking non-safe water in Mexico.

Not all water you get in Cancun is safe to drink, so we suggest you take a few water bottles just to give you a head start.

Most good hotels and resorts will provide you with safe drinking water, but when you are outdoors it is best to carry your own water.

It is better to be safe than be sick during your holiday.

2. Sunscreen with high SPF

This is why you need to pack sunscreen for every beach holiday – be in Cancun or be it any other beach destination. Image: Badgerbalm.com

Mexican sun is significantly closer to the equator than you think and hence it can get hot outdoors.

SPF 15 sunscreens won’t cut the ice (pun intended!) and you will need an SPF 50 sunscreen lotion to keep the sun burns away.

Don’t just keep this sunscreen in your bag, use it every single day.

3. Insect Repellent spray

Tropical countries have a lot of insects because the weather is suitable for their survival.

Besides, a Cancun holiday is mostly outdoors.

This means, you need to pack an insect repellent spray for your trip.

Make sure your repellent has enough DEET, because you want it to work.

In case you didn’t know DEET is an ingredient in every insect repellent spray and provides protection against mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, ticks, leeches, and other insects.

4. Water proof mobile pouches

You may be in Cancun for a spring break, or a family vacation but you won’t be far away from the water and therefore waterproof mobile pouches become important.

You can use these pouches to keep your money as well, as you get into the water for a quick swim, or a snorkeling session etc.

It even makes sense to have one extra, just so you can help a new-found friend.

5. Lip Balm with SPF

Here are some of the finest lip balms out in the market. Choose one from this list, so that you don’t have to worry about cracked lips during your Cancun holiday. Image: Styleofsport.com

Folks who haven’t had a lot of beach holidays don’t know that their lips can also get sunburnt.

Yes, lips do take a toll under the Cancun sun and hence need protection.

We suggest you buy a lip balm with high SPF (something more than 15) and ensure it is with you whenever you step out in Cancun.

If you are holidaying during the summer, we suggest you keep applying it on your lips at regular intervals.

In fact, if your vacation is a bit longer we suggest you place an extra lip balm in your suitcase.

6. After Sun Cooling Lotion

One of the problems with spending time in a tropical country’s beach is the warm irritated feeling on the skin in the evening.

Since we have been through this during our visits to Cancun, we suggest you include an after sun cooling lotion to apply all over your exposed skin in the evening.

Helps you feel relaxed, as a bonus you will smell great for your Cancun nightlife.

7. Anti-frizz spray

Like any beach destination, Cancun’s weather is also humid. We all know what humidity does to our hair – it wreaks havoc.

As if the humidity wasn’t bad enough, the sun, the salt water and the chlorine will also contribute to messing up your hair.

You can try all your grandma’s tricks but nothing can fix your hair in humid weather as an anti-frizz spray.

So, pack one right away.

8. Wipes or hand sanitizers

Keep a small sanitizer in your bag while on your Cancun vacation. It helps to be safe than sorry. Image: Insiderindian.com

Some of us are germaphobes and some of us aren’t but no harm in being careful when you are in unknown territory.

We strongly recommend you carry at least one packet of wipes and one bottle of hand sanitizer for your beach holiday in Cancun.

Depending on your level of paranoia you can use it from the armrest on your airplane to the TV remote in your hotel room.

9. Power Bank

When you are on a vacation in a different, unknown country, far out of your comfort zone, it is heartening to know that your mobile is charged.

Unfortunately, it is on a vacation that your mobile loses its charge the fastest – maybe because of a large number of photographs being taken, all the Internet you use for research, being in touch with your relatives, or due to the network connects etc.

Now, imagine you are stranded in a place you don’t know and your mobile gives up on you – neither can you call an Uber nor can you walk back because you don’t know the directions.

Since a holiday in Cancun is all about outdoors fun, we strongly recommend packing a power bank so you are always connected.

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Clothing and accessories to pack for Cancun vacation

10. Bathing suits

Cancun is a beach destination and if you aren’t jumping into the sea water you must be jumping into a swimming pool – so pack a few bathing suits.

Of course, you can always land in Cancun, Mexico and buy a few bathing suits but why do you want to start off by getting ripped off.

Bathing suits sell at a high rate in this beach destination.

11. Sneakers

While packing for a beach holiday we seldom forget to pack our sneakers but Cancun is different.

This beach holiday also offers you an opportunity to explore the Mayan ruins for which the best footwear is a sneaker.

Cancun also offers you a great nightlife after you have spent your day at the beach – and for that too you need real comfortable sneakers.

Of course, you can replace your sneakers with your party shoes…but then what will you wear for the visit to the Mayan ruins?

12. Coverups – pareos or sarongs

Sarongs are a huge hit in Cancun, Mexico because they can protect you from the sun and yet are stylish.

If you have ever been on a beach holiday you will know that you need to pack pareos or sarongs.

Most of us go on beach holidays for that lovely sun-kissed glow, but too much of the sun is also bad and these sarongs or coverups are a stylish way to protect yourself from the sun (over and above the sunscreen, that is).

If your these cover-ups can layer with other clothes, you got yourself a winner.

In fact, there is an interesting collection on Pinterest called Cancun outfits, which you shouldn’t miss.

13. Sunglasses

A holiday at this beach destination means a lot of sun because Cancun is sunny all through the year.

While the sunscreen and your coverups will protect your skin, you do need sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Your fashion quotient which will go up when you wear your shades will be a bonus.

We suggest you pack polarized sunglasses which are known to save the eyes from the glare of the water and sand as well.

We also recommend light weight sun glasses for your beach vacation in Cancun because you are going to wear it all through the day.

14. Hats

Unless you are used to the sun, you won’t be able to handle the day-long sun at Cancun without packing a hat and a pair of sunglasses.

Make sure it doesn’t feel like an add-on for you will be wearing your hat a lot – at the beach, at the swimming pool and even during your visits to see the Mayan ruins.

15. Beach Towel

If you are booked in a luxury resort or an all-inclusive resort for your Cancun break, you don’t have to worry about beach towels but if you are booked in a smaller hotel or are traveling on a budget you may want to pack one.

No harm in carrying an extra, especially since it comes in handy if you decide to go to a beach not associated with your hotel, where you may have to carry a beach towel of your own.

16. Comfortable sandals

A comfortable pair of beach sandals will make your holiday in Cancun that much more fun. Don’t forget a hat as well.

We don’t plan a Cancun holiday to sit inside our hotel room.

This means, there is going to be a lot of walking around, a lot of outdoors activities during your this vacation at the world’s best beach destination.

For Cancun nightlife, you can pack whatever you want – pointed high heels, twist sandals, point-toe flats, slice heel sandals etc or if you are a guy then sneakers or comfortable leather shoes but for rest of the day you need comfortable sandals.

Something in which you can walk long distances without complaining.

17. Hair Ties

We also recommend that you carry enough hair ties with you.

Cancun is hot and humid all through the year and this means your hair needs some intervention.

You will want to keep it up, off your neck, and shoulders.

You need lots of good hair ties to get through your Cancun break – ones which won’t tangle your hair and yet look good on you.

18. Snorkel & Mask

We all know that one can always rent snorkeling equipment.

If you are booked in an all inclusive resort in Cancun, you will get your snorkel and mask for free from your hotel.

But do remember that hundreds before you must have worn them.

Besides, a poor fitting mask can ruin your snorkeling experience – if you wear contact lenses, even so.

If you frequent beaches and love snorkeling there is no harm in buying your own snorkel and mask and keeping it in your baggage.

19. Ear Plugs

You may be booked anywhere in Cancun – all inclusive luxury hotels, large resorts or small shacks…Cancun is bound to be noisy during its peak seasons.

That makes it just the right place where earplugs can be useful. Not to mention all the noise from the hundreds of parties going on in Cancun.

You may also want to pack one in your suitcase for your time in the water.

Medicines to pack for Cancun holiday

20. Motion Sickness Reliever

It would be a crime if you come to Cancun for a layoff and don’t experience the boat rides, sunrise and sunset cruises etc.

But when you get onto a boat or a cruise during any beach holiday, it is best to have motion sickness reliever with you.

Do ensure it is a non-drowsy formula so that you can enjoy your trip rather than dreaming of your hotel room bed.

Despite what you read, please don’t assume that the Mexico seas are calm and the boat rides are easy.

21. Prescription drugs

In their hurry or in their excitement many people forget their prescription drugs when they pack their suitcases, backpacks of bags for their holiday.

Do make a note to not miss them out. In fact, bring a few doses extra – what if you extend your trip voluntarily or your holiday gets extended because your flights get canceled?

We also strongly recommend that you carry them in original prescription bottles, so replenishing them is easier.

22. Pain relievers

Cancun is a very active holiday and there may be days when you need to get some pain relief. Don’t forget to pack your pain relievers.

After a long day of swimming in the seas, or walking on the beaches or exploring the ancient Mayan ruins in Cancun…you may need some pain relief.

Besides, these pain relievers can also help you get out of a hangover after an amazing night out.

23. Antacids

Authentic Mexican food is tasty and nobody can keep a watch on what and how much they are eating – especially during a holiday.

If you are from Europe or from the Americas this is bit of a risk because your stomach isn’t strong enough to stomach a lot of Mexican food.

Enter: Antacids. We also suggest you carry some Immodium, just in case you end up accidentally drinking not-so-good water.

More about Cancun

# Cancun Nightlife
# Cancun Hotel Zone
# Cancun for couples
# Cancun for kids
# Resorts in Cancun
# Mexican Menu
# Cheap Cancun holidays
# Cancun Airport Transfers
# Cancun Weather
# Cancun Airport

Jamshed V Rajan: He is a two-faced traveler, who enjoys both the hustle-bustle of an urban holiday and the serenity of a break from the rest of the World. During some of his vacations, he is a resort hopper, and on others, he barely spends time in his hotel. He loves to try mouth-watering local cuisines, especially non-vegetarian dishes. Favourite Cities: Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Dublin, Prague, Vienna

View Comments (4)

  • Thank you for the tip on packing sneakers. If it weren’t for you, we would have landed in Cancun with our flip-flops thinking it was purely a beach destination. Good article!

    • Rhea, you may also want to pack a water shoe. There are handy while visiting Cenotes, Snorkeling, Beaches with rocky water and even boat trips.

  • thank you for the list.. have most on mine already except the bug repellent and sneakers.. good call..

  • Thank you for putting this article together.
    I would like to offer two thoughts, though. Please don’t recommend people travel with bottles of water, bottle water is available everywhere for a minimal charge. I can seriously image someone traveling for the first time to Cancun with a suitcase of water. Consider the cost of additional luggage weight. Bad advise.
    And second, please don’t stereotype. Buying a bathing suit in Mexico doesn’t not constitute being ripped off. If you don’t like the people where your traveling to, simply don’t go.

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