A once marshy island in an almost forgotten region of the Caribbean, Cancun was a string of sand dunes in the shape of a number “7”. The coast along the Yucatan peninsula was a mix of marshes, jungle and beaches, but with the Cancun Project in the 1970’s, the area burst onto the radar and started attracting travelers to take flights to Cancun. Today, its white-sand beaches, crystal-clear seas and nightlife make it a popular destination for spring breakers as well as couples and families.
Cancun is perfectly located for ecotourism and adventure holidays. More than 20% of the land in Quintana Roo is protected making the area ideal for kayaking, hiking, snorkeling with whale sharks, zip lining, rappelling or diving. The resort area may not be all that old but there are traces of the once mighty Mayan civilization nearby. Ruins and archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Tulum and Coba are all within easy reach.
Once you step off your cheap flight to Cancun, you’re in paradise. Teeny-weeny bikinis and buff beach boys fill the beaches of Cancun. Trips to Cancun are packed with Spring Break travelers ready to ditch their books for a day on the white sand beaches and a dip in the blue waters. The night scene in Cancun is so exciting, it’s barely talked about the next day. Cancun is the reason people travel to Mexico; just ask the three million people who visit here annually.
Cancun is so welcoming, even the apprehensive traveler will book a cheap flight to Cancun for vacation. English is spoken, U.S. dollars are accepted, malls are filled with dozens of duty-free shops, there are numerous restaurants and nightclubs, and it’s one of the easiest cities to get around. For the tamer traveler booking Cancun flights, downtown is the more “cultural region” of the city. There are Cuban-style restaurants and more locals hang out in this area (mainly because the Hotel Zone is pricey).
From snorkeling to jet-skiing, visiting ancient Maya ruins, or just lounging poolside at one of the five-star beach resorts after a wild night in “the Zone,” this Mexican city has something for everyone. Here are some tips to help you in planning your trip to this happening destination.
Cancun’s climate appeals to the year-round traveler. Cheap airline tickets to Cancun are available during the rainy season, which typically runs from late August through early October. Rain is rare however, and travelers can still bet on a few good days of sun and surf, and plenty of warmth, during this season. Flights fill up fast in the spring, but you can’t beat the beach weather in this resort town. The average temperature in Cancun is 80 degrees and there are more than 240 days of sunshine every year. The hottest weather is experienced between mid-May and August, and while the temperature drops in the winter months, they are still quite balmy with temperatures ranging between 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The peak season typically sits somewhere between February to April. Here, the weather is hot but not unbearable and there is little rainfall. This is also an extremely popular time for students who take their Spring Break, so cheap flights to Cancun will be a little difficult to come by. You’ll notice accommodations increase their prices too. Spring Break in Cancun is incredibly popular and the place gets overrun with partying, celebrations and lots of drinking. There are some resorts which pop up specifically for students who come to celebrate, whereas other hotels refuse entry altogether to people celebrating Spring Break. If you do plan to visit between February and April, expect to love the constant partying or expect to hate it and feel like you should have booked your flights to Cancun at a different date.
If you decide to visit but not to party, then every year on either the 20th of March or the 21st of March is the Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza. It should not be missed as thousands of people gather to witness the ‘serpent of Kukulcan’ engulf a side of the pyramid. Those living in cooler climates also tend to visit the area in December and January in order to escape to warmer temps than what they are experiencing back home, but good deals on flights can be had considering the weather is not as hot as it is in the summer in Cancun.
Late November moving up to early February tends to be the quietest time to visit as the weather can be a lot cooler than the rest of the year. That said, you can find the cheapest flights to Cancun and the weather does warm up towards the middle of January. Late April and May are good times to snap up a bargain and book cheap flights to Cancun. Temperatures are in the upper 80’s and Cancun gets humid, but the breezes off the Caribbean should keep the weather manageable. June sees the start of the hurricane season with Cancun usually feeling the brunt of a few hurricanes, although usually they are not large or too damaging. The hurricane season typically runs through November. The weather in Cancun is hot and humid during this time.
You’ll tend to find the cheapest flights to Cancun around December and January since the weather is a lot cooler than it is in other months of the year, so aim to secure your flight tickets a few months earlier. Use this general rule for whenever you plan to travel, allowing at least 3 months between booking your flights to Cancun and when you want to visit to find better prices. Despite being the hurricane season, you’ll notice July and August can still be expensive, purely because the weather is at its warmest. You should factor this in when looking for your flight tickets. However, great deals can still be found, especially all-inclusive packages. Try to sit on the left-hand side of the plane if you can for the best chance of views. That said a lot of it comes down to the wind and which route the airline is taking, so either side could have stunning views of either the forest to the west or the hotel strip and the sea.
Situated just across the Gulf of Mexico from Florida, Cancun is a close neighbor with direct flights to major U.S. cities. Flying from New York takes around three hours and thirty minutes, and flight times from Chicago are just a few minutes less. If you leave from Los Angeles, you would arrive in Cancun in just under four hours while flights from Dallas land in just two and a half hours.
As one of the busiest airports in the Caribbean, Cancun International Airport offers plenty of airline flexibility. It hosts all major airlines from the United States and Canada, such as American, United and Delta. LAN Argentina, Aeromonterrey and some European airlines also fly to this vacation hotspot. Best of all, you can find direct flights to Cancun from all major hubs in the United States.
Swimsuits, flip-flops, shorts and tank tops are a few must-haves for enjoying Cancun’s famous beaches and year-round balmy weather, which averages around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cancun is sunny most of the year, so remember to bring plenty of sunscreen (placing it with your checked luggage if the containers are over 100 milliliters.) If you do travel during the rainy season from late August to early October, be sure to pack a rain jacket or poncho to stay dry. If you plan to adventure to the Mayan Ruins, come prepared with hiking sandals. While most businesses in the Cancun hotel zone accept U.S. currency, you may also want to exchange your dollars for pesos if you plan to travel beyond the major touristic area.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a train service from Cancun International Airport (CUN). However, there is a reliable bus service which runs between the center of Cancun and the airport throughout the day. You can also jump on a bus to Playa del Carmen too, so if you’re not staying in Cancun itself there’s a handy bus for a cheap price. Official taxis aren’t allowed to pick up passengers at the airport, so do not interact with any taxis as soon as you land in Cancun. There are authorized transportation services available which are permitted at the airport, but watch out for scams as you find your way. The best idea would be trying to get your hotel to provide a transfer for you to and from the airport.
Once you settled into your hotel and are ready to explore, it’s easy to walk around Cancun. And if your vacation has made you too relaxed to walk, you can always get a taxi. Be aware that prices are supposed to be set by zone. The reality is that locals pay far less than tourists, and guests at expensive hotels are always charged more. One popular way to get around the city is by bus. You can take them to nearby beaches and even to catch a ferry to Isla Mujeres. They run every day, from early morning to late at night. Watch out for private buses that go to the same places, but charge a higher fee. For a little more adventure, you can also rent a moped, but be safe and wear your helmet.
Cancun doesn’t attract 3 million visitors each year for nothing. It boasts crystal-clear Caribbean waters where you can enjoy snorkeling with peaceful whale sharks as well as water sports such as jet-skiing. You also find beautiful white-sand beaches, including Playa Chac Mool, Playa Delfines and Playa Langosta. For a little more adventure, test your courage on a zipline tour, or enjoy the waterfront beauty while spotting wildlife on an eco-boat tour. Cancun is also home to several eco parks and enticing aquariums, some of which offer the chance to swim with dolphins.
For a taste of history, marvel at the ancient Mayan structures of El Rey Ruins, conveniently located at the heart of Cancun. The Museu Maya de Cancun is another must-see attraction, detailing the rich history of the area with ancient artifacts. If you want a stress-free option to soak in all of the historical hot spots in and around Cancun, consider booking a Yucatan Peninsula multi-day tour.
When you’re done relaxing by the pool of one of the five-star hotels and resorts, head downtown for affordable Cuban-style eats. The city boasts more than 350 nightclubs and restaurants offering diverse options for evening entertainment. Between adventures, don’t forget to get some shopping in at La Isla Shopping Village. Book your flight in February to party with tourists and locals alike during Carnival, or fly in during the holiday season to participate in Cancun’s International Marathon.
If you’re based in Cancun looking to venture to other destinations, Cheapflights has you covered. Alongside flights to major U.S. and other international destinations from major airlines, such as American Airlines and United, you also find flights with Aerocaribe, AeroMexico, Aircomet and other smaller airlines.
Getting to Cancun International Airport takes around twenty minutes by car or taxi from downtown Cancun, and buses from the Cancun Bus Station to the airport leave every thirty minutes during the day. Once you’re there, you can enjoy free shuttle service among the three terminals to get to your gate.
Check out the flight deals on these popular routes from Cancun:
If you’re heading to the U.S., be sure to arrive at the airport early as increased security can cause some delays. For a shorter wait time, you may even consider checking your carry-on luggage.
For more detailed airport information, our Cancun airport guides include all the information you need to know before you go.