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

Edited by: Rekha Rajan
Fact checked by: Jamshed V Rajan


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 lots of cheap beer, attractive youngsters, and beautiful 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. Sunscreen with high SPF

Why to pack sunscreen for Cancun holiday
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.

2. Insect Repellent spray

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

Since a Cancun holiday is primarily outdoors, 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 protects against mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, ticks, leeches, and other insects.

3. 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 essential.

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 so that you can help a newfound friend.

4. Lip Balm with SPF

Pack lip balms for Cancun holiday
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 many 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.

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

5. After Sun Cooling Lotion

One of the problems with spending time on a tropical country’s beach is the warm irritating 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.

It helps you feel relaxed. As a bonus, you will smell great for your Cancun nightlife.

6. 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 saltwater, and the chlorine will also mess 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.

7. Wipes or hand sanitizers

Pack a sanitizer for Cancun holiday
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.

8. Power Bank

When you are on 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 – it may be because of a large number of photographs being taken, all the Internet you use for research, being in touch with your relatives, or the network connects.

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 outdoor fun, we strongly recommend packing a power bank, so you are always connected.

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Important: Not all water you get in Cancun is safe to drink, so be careful. Most good hotels and resorts will provide you with safe drinking water, but it is best to carry your water outdoors.

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, 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 by spending unnecessarily (or 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 great nightlife after spending your day at the beach – and for that also, you need real comfortable sneakers.

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

12. Coverups – pareos or sarongs

Sarongs for Cancun beach holiday
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.

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

There is an exciting 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 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 known to save the eyes from the glare of the water and sand.

We also recommend lightweight sunglasses for your beach vacation in Cancun because you will wear them 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 bring a beach towel of your own.

16. Comfortable sandals

Pack beach sandals for Cancun holiday
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.

There will be a lot of walking around, many outdoor activities during 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, or if you are a guy, then sneakers or comfortable leather shoes.

But for the 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.

It would help if you had lots of good hair ties to get through your Cancun break – ones that 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 have booked 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 poorly 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 snorkel and mask and keeping it in your baggage.

19. Ear Plugs

All-inclusive luxury hotels, large resorts, and small shacks – every place is bound to be noisy during Cancun’s peak seasons.

Not to mention all the noise from the hundreds of parties going on in Cancun.

That makes it just the right place where earplugs can be helpful.

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

Sickness medicines for beach holiday

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 a 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 excitement, many people forget their prescription drugs when they pack their suitcases, backpacks, or bags for their holiday.

Do make a note not to miss them out. 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 more straightforward.

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, 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 a fantastic night out.

23. Antacids

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

If you are from Europe or the Americas, this is a 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

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6 thoughts on “What to pack for Cancun, Mexico – packing list for beach holiday”

  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. Do you need to watch out for water contamination in Mexico; safety regarding drinks with ice cubes and mixed drinks with water?

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