Being one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, people are likely to visit Cancun at all times of the year. Because the climate in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera is semi-tropical, you can visit at nearly any time of the year and expect to have a great time. But when exactly is the best time to visit?
If you’re looking into taking a trip to Cancun in January, you’ll want to consider a few things. You’ll want a good understanding of the weather, hotel/flight deals, crowds and more to find out whether Cancun in January is right for you.
To help you plan your Cancun vacation, we’ve compiled this post to help you learn more about whether visiting Cancun in January is right for you.
This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!
What Are Cancun’s Travel Seasons?
There are three distinct travel seasons for Cancun: high season, low season, and shoulder season. Before we dive into Cancun’s travel seasons, here’s a quick breakdown of how the weather fluctuates throughout the year in Cancun.
- WET SEASON: The wet season runs from May to October and tends to be actually hotter than the dry season.
- HURRICANE SEASON: Hurricane season spans June to November, with a higher likelihood of storms from August to October. Actual hurricanes are rare though, so it’s still a decent time to visit if you don’t mind periodic rain showers here and there throughout the day. (The area has seen only two hurricanes in the past 30 years.)
- DRY SEASON: The dry season is from December to April. Travelers will find cooler, more pleasant temperatures.
High Season In Cancun
Cancun’s high season typically stretches from late December to April.
This is peak season across the world’s sunbelt—especially in Mexico! From Christmas onward, expect Cancun and the rest of Mexico to be very busy. Cancun’s pristine white sands will be covered with flocks of tourists ranging from kids on their winter break, party-goers flocking in for Cancun’s infamous Spring Break events, and more.
Because of the increase of tourism during the high season, you can expect a similar spike in airfares, hotel rates, and all-inclusive resort costs as well. Especially around Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Spring Break!
Pro Tip: To get around this, visit Mexico in early December, before all the mayhem begins!
Low Season In Cancun
Cancun’s low season runs from May through October because this time period coincides with Mexico’s main rainy season. You can expect super hot, sticky, and sweltering days with frequent downpours and unpredictable weather. Cancun’s hurricane season also falls within the low season.
While it is the rainy season, rest assured you likely won’t be rained in during your entire vacation. The rain typically comes in short bursts–a downpour for a few days followed by sunny skies the next.
Also during the summer months, the shorelines of Mexico tend to draw in a lot of seaweed (sargasso). Hotels and resorts do their best to clean up the seaweed but do expect to see more seaweed than normal during the low season.
Since tourists tend to avoid Cancun during this time, you can often find the best hotel deals in the low season. You’ll get crowd-free beaches, cheaper airfare and hotel rates, and better hospitality. The is often considered the best time to visit Cancun if you’re traveling on a budget.
Shoulder Season In Cancun
In our opinion, the best time to go to Cancun is the shoulder months of April, May, November, and December. During these months, you’ll experience lesser crowds and more mild weather conditions, and pretty reasonable rates.
We especially love going towards the end of November/first week of December right after Thanksgiving. We’ve been three times during this timeframe and have always been met with nearly perfect weather!
Cancun In January: What To Expect
With January comes the dry season, where Cancun experiences near-perfect weather. Days are warm and nights are cooler. What that means is that you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor activities with sunshine and enjoy evening strolls without sweating the whole time.
January is one of the coolest and driest months of the year in Cancun with the least chance of rain and no hurricane risk.
The days are generally beautiful, warm, and sunny! And while it’s not possible to say there will be no rain in January, if it does rain, it will only be light passing showers.
Nights are usually still pretty warm, with nighttime averages hovering around 72°F (22°C). You may want to bring a light cardigan or sweatshirt, but chances are you’ll be pretty warm already.
Packing a long sleeve, a light pair of long pants, and your normal beach clothes will be perfectly fine in January.
I am someone who is always cold (even when my friends are perfectly fine in the same weather) and in January, I usually don’t need to bring a jacket or coverup with me. That there alone tells you how gorgeous the weather is in Cancun in January.
In terms of how Cancun in January will impact your wallet, hotels and resorts are usually at their maximum occupancy and therefore rates will be higher during January compared to any other time of the year. If you do plan on traveling to Cancun in January, be sure to make your hotel reservations as soon as possible.
With the exception of Spring Break, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, January is one of the more expensive times of the year to visit Cancun.
You may be able to find some deals during the second week of January (after the holidays and New Year’s celebrations), but don’t expect to find the same amazing travel deals you would during the low season.
And because of the ideal beach weather, expect slightly more crowded beaches, restaurants, and pools at your resort.
Cancun Weather In January
Temperature: Highs of 82°F (28°C), lows of 70°F (21°C). Skies are most of the time clear and sunny. It’ll be sunny and hot (but not too hot) during the days, and cooler in the evenings. Very rarely will you need a long sleeve at night.
Humidity: Humidity is lower than June through November, hovering around the 86% max and 75% min range. Humidity is pretty darn low for Cancun in January which is great because you won’t get that hot sticky feeling on your trip.
Rain: January has 7 rainy days on average. Hurricane season has passed, so chances of you running into a hurricane on your travels are extremely slim to none. There could be rain, but it happens usually during the night and are only passing showers.
Hours of Sunshine: 8 hours
Sea Temperatures: 81°F (27°C)
January Events In Cancun
New Year’s Eve / New Year’s Day – As with many other party destinations around the world, Cancun turns into a major party city for New Year’s Eve. Expect huge parties at the clubs and bars and lots of fireworks! On New Year’s Day itself, everything is relatively quiet as many businesses are closed and the parties have passed. Restaurants and bars will still open.
El Día de los Reyes (Kings’ Day) – January 6 is a day of celebration in Mexico. Kings’ Day features a round-shaped bread called Rosca de Reyes. A baby Jesus figure is baked into the bread, and whoever finds it in their slice must commit to making tamales for everyone during El Día de Candelaria (Feb 2)!
Is January A Good Time To Visit Cancun?
January really is one of the best months to visit Cancun, so the answer is an astounding yes!
It’s one of the best winter months to visit Cancun due to lesser crowds (if you avoid the first week of Jan) and low chances of tropical storms.
This is a great time to visit if you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation where you can spend some time on the beach, relax, and enjoy Cancun at your leisure.
It’s not the best time to go if you’re looking for those vibrant nighttime vibes, or if you’re looking for warm summer nights.
Is Cancun Cold in January?
While it might be cold in January for many other cities/destinations in the world, Cancun is not one of those places. In fact, January is one of the best times to visit Cancun, Mexico!
Days are warm, nights are cool and comfortable, and skies are almost always sunny and clear. Average highs are around 82°F (28°C). Average temperatures rarely fall below 73°F (23°C).
Get ready for some near-perfect weather in January!
Is Cancun Rainy in January?
No, not really. January sits in Cancun’s dry season. This is one of the driest months in Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula which means there is a low chance of rain.
Best Time To Visit Cancun For Perfect Weather
Cancun has great weather for much of the year, but for the best weather, you should visit between the months of December and April. The average temperature stays around the mid-80’s, with little to no rain on most days.
It’s important to keep in mind around March and April the spring breakers will start to visit Cancun, which can lead to high crowds and busy areas.
So while the weather might be amazing, if you’re looking to avoid these groups of rowdy travelers, you’ll want to travel closer to the December, January or February months.
This time is great as the temperature is extremely comfortable, without having to worry about hurricanes or too much rain in general. It’s ideal weather to spend time on the beach, while not feeling too hot or cool.
Best Time To Visit Cancun For The Best Deals
Cancun has a peak tourist season, as well as a low tourist season during the year. Due to the great weather during the summer/spring seasons, November through April are typically the busiest months in Cancun.
Beyond the weather, though, these times are most popular due to the holidays. Lots of people go on vacations to Cancun in November and December for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
On top of that, it is also particularly common for people who live in cooler areas to visit and escape the cold winter weather.
The popularity of these times of the year generally leads to a more expensive trip overall, with higher flight prices, hotel rates, and resort costs.
So, if you’re looking to snag a deal on your Cancun vacation, you’ll want to look into visiting between May and November.
This time of year brings fewer tourists due to the higher likelihood of rain and some inclement weather. Hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and airlines will usually lower their prices to attract tourists.
However, if you wait until the sweet spot between September and October, you can enjoy some of the more comfortable temperatures with a lower likelihood of bad weather (and still take advantage of those great deals).
Best Time To Visit Cancun For Avoiding Crowds
If you’re looking to avoid crowds, you’ll want to keep a few details in mind while planning your visit to Cancun.
As we discussed before, the holidays are a popular time for people to visit Cancun – specifically in November and December, and March and April for spring break. If you’re looking to avoid massive crowds, you’ll want to make sure you visit outside these months at the very least.
For the least amount of tourists visiting while you’re on your trip, you’ll want to look into visiting sometime in October or September.
Lots of people flock to Cancun for their summer vacations throughout June, July and August, leading to lower crowds than the holidays but still a sizable amount of tourists.
September and October lie in the sweet spot where you’re just out of the summer, but the holidays haven’t come up yet.
Best Time To Visit Cancun For Swimming, Snorkeling and Diving
Cancun is a great place to visit if you’re looking to spend some serious time outdoors and in the water! There are a lot of opportunities to swim, snorkel, go diving and engage in other activities during your vacation.
If you want to do any of these things while in Cancun, you’ll want to visit during a month where the water is warm, and the weather is beautiful.
To have the best time on the beaches while in Cancun, you’ll want to go during the summer or early fall months. July, August, September and even October guarantee the warmest water of the year, allowing you to enjoy long periods of time swimming and snorkeling.
For the lowest likelihood of rain and bad weather, you can avoid hurricane and rain season by going closer to June and July. This is also a great time to see the most amount of marine life, including turtles and sharks.
Best Time to Visit Cancun for Whale Sharks
Speaking of sharks, did you know whale sharks are some of the most popular marine life people come to see when visiting Cancun? Don’t worry, despite them being in the shark family, they’re actually docile and friendly, and love to feed on plankton (not people).
To maximize your chances of seeing a whale shark when on vacation, you’ll want to visit Cancun during shark season. This season primarily takes place in June and July when the water is warm and the weather is at its best.
Sometimes, though, shark season extends past these couple months and can span anytime between mid-May and mid-September.
It’ll be hard to plan your trip around the potential for an extended season, so it’s best to just book your trip near June/July.
Best Time To Visit Cancun For Nightlife
Beyond visiting Cancun to enjoy the beautiful beaches and resorts, many people go to take part in the vibrant nightlife. Cancun is infamous for its party life and lively nighttime entertainment, with tons of restaurants and nightclubs you can visit each night to guarantee a fantastic time.
If partying is one of your vacation priorities, you will want to visit Cancun either during March and April, or during the summer months.
March and April are when many people come out to Cancun during spring break–you can find lots of beach parties during the day, and packed nightclubs later on in the evenings.
The summer is another popular time for the younger crowd to come out to party, as the weather is at its best and it stays warm late into the night.
If you’re looking for a lively crowd to party with, but don’t exactly want to deal with all the craziness of spring break, you can also visit Cancun during October, November or December.
A lot of people (us included) tend to visit during this time to visit the various clubs and other attractions Cancun has to offer. And unlike the spring and summer months, this time of year the people visiting tend to be older and more relaxed.
If that sounds more like you, I’d skip March/April and visit towards the end of the calendar year!
Does It Rain All Day in Cancun During the Rainy Season?
Yes and no. While there is a possibility it could rain all day, there’s also the possibility that it could rain for 30 minutes during the day with nothing but sunlight the rest of the time. It could also rain overnight with no rain in sight in the daytime.
The rain can be heavy at times in Cancun, but it is unlikely to rain for the whole of your trip. Usually, if it does rain, it will only last for 1-3 days.
Rest assured, if you do vacation during the rainy season, you will not be rained in during your entire vacation!
Essential Travel Tips For Cancun In January
- To avoid eye-gouging prices in Cancun, avoid going to Cancun during the week of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Prices tend to come down slightly for the second week of Jan, but don’t expect to find crazy good deals in Jan.
- To make sure you bring all the right travel gear and have all your bases covered, always check the weather forecasts before you leave on your trip to Cancun. No matter the season, it’s smart to bring a windproof umbrella and light rain jacket with you.
- There’s been sort of a seaweed problem in Cancun. Want to make sure you’re going to be getting crystal clear waters? Check the latest seaweed conditions report before heading to the beaches on Cancun or Isla Mujeres.
- The most popular times to visit Cancun range from June to early August and November to March (high season). If you’re looking for a quieter experience, plan your trip for mid-August to October.
- Cancun hurricane season runs from August through November. Most weather experts recommend purchasing travel insurance if you plan on visiting during hurricane season.
- Bring pesos with you just in case you need to pay with cash. Pick up pesos from an ATM wherever you depart from before heading to Cancun. Not all places accept credit cards on the island (small shopfronts, food vendors, etc.), and ATMs are few and far between.
- When using a credit card, choose to pay in the local currency instead of your home currency. You’ll get a better exchange rate and will be paying less than the home currency option. (In my case, I would pay in $MXN instead of in $USD.)
- The tap water in Mexico is not safe to drink. Instead of spending your money on plastic water bottles, bring a reusable water bottle and a rechargeable Steri-Pen (the way more environmentally friendly option).
- Cancun is extremely tourist-friendly. If you can’t speak a lick of Spanish, you’ll be okay. Cancun largely caters to English-speaking visitors, and you’ll find that English is spoken by most locals, hotel/restaurant staff, and tour guides.
- Cancun is pretty safe, but always practice self-awareness and caution. Certain areas of Mexico have long held a reputation for being unsafe due to cartel violence, but resort areas and tourists are not targeted. Just exercise increased caution as you would anywhere–avoid being flashy, don’t walk around alone at night, be wary of your surroundings, and you should be just fine.
- No matter what you’re budget is, you’ll find tons of accommodation options in Cancun. Most budget accommodations and hostels are located in downtown Cancun, while luxury and resort options are largely found in the Hotel Zone or more remote areas nearby such as Playa Mujeres or Puerto Morelos.
- Taxis in Cancun are costly, and buses are cheap. Taxis in Cancun follow a set price (Ex: ~$45 from Playa del Carmen to Cancun’s Hotel Zone; ~$26 from Cancun International Airport to the Hotel Zone).
- Many travelers opt for local bus transportation, which is reliable, frequent, and inexpensive (under $1/ride) to ride between the Hotel Zone and downtown Cancun.
- Looking for transportation priced somewhere in the middle? A private transfer booked ahead will be your best bet.
Essential Packing List For Cancun In January
- Lightweight Packable Day Bag | Inside my larger travel backpack, I always bring a lightweight, packable backpack to use for day-to-day exploration. The Fjallraven Kanken Mini is perfect for carrying a few snacks, a lightweight jacket, cameras, phones, a water bottle, and whatever else I need for the day.
- Packing Cubes | Start packing the smart way. The key to smart packing is going to be compartmentalization, aka your packing cubes. This set comes with a bunch of different sizes, so you can create a separate compartment for undies and socks, one for clothing, one for toiletries, and one for anything else you may want to organize. By using packing cubes, it’s so much easier to pull out only what you need, rather than dig through all of your luggage to find that one thing you’re looking for.
- Laundry Bag | Summer = lots of sweaty, smelly worn clothes. Don’t soil your entire bag by mixing worn clothes with your unworn clothes! Definitely bring a laundry bag to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes to maintain the utmost freshness.
- Clothing | Pack your usual summer clothes for Cancun, as well as a few layers for unexpected cooler temperatures. This includes tanks, shorts, swimsuits, and swim coverups!
- Light Rain Jacket | Traveling to tropical areas does not necessarily mean there won’t be rain or wind. Packing a light rain jacket will definitely come in handy in unpredictable tropical climates. This one for men and this one for women are some of the best jackets for any kind of travel. They’re ultralight, wind and water-repellent, and take up virtually no space so they’re easy to carry wherever you go.
- Portable Umbrella | You’re going to be in a destination with tropical weather. If you’re going to bring an umbrella during Cancun’s wet season, make it a compact, wind-proof umbrella like this one!
- Adventure Sandals | Tevas and Chacos are my go-to brands for multipurpose summer sandals. If you’re planning on having an adventurous day or two, you should definitely consider getting adventure sandals — comfortable for long-distance walking, safe for submerging in water, and super durable.
- Walking Shoes | One pair of closed-toed shoes (walking shoes or running shoes) is always crucial for any trip. These ones that I’ve been traveling around with are super light and breathable. I can even walk 15+ miles in them before getting sore feet.
- Cooling Facial Mist | When you’re faced with mid-day humidity, it can be very hard to deal with. Keeping a small bottle of facial mist in your purse or backpack on a hot day will save your life. This mist takes all the cooling, soothing ingredients you can think of—aloe, cucumber, and green tea—and combines them into one refreshing spritzer for your face.
- Dry Shampoo | Bring some dry shampoo to use in between washes to instantly revitalize and freshen your semi-dirty hair.
- Leave-In Conditioner | I recommend bringing a leave-in conditioner to help nurture your hair after spending time in pools and the salty ocean. As someone with naturally frizzy hair, my hair tends to get tangled, coarse, and even more frizzy after it’s submerged in water. This leave-in conditioner is a cult favorite – just put it in your damp hair after your shower and comb it through.
- SPF 30+ Sunscreen (For Face) | COOLA sunscreen is my new go-to facial sunscreen. My face doesn’t feel sticky or goopy, which is so important for feeling comfortable when you’re out and about in humid areas. If you’re going anywhere in the tropics, you’ll be close to the equator so you really want to use a high SPF – I don’t go below SPF 30 in hot and sunny climates. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reef-friendly!
- Sunscreen (For Body) | Applying sunscreen to your body is absolutely necessary for tropical destinations. Even if it’s overcast and cloudy, the UV index can be very high, so be sure to apply whenever you’re outdoors. If you plan on snorkeling near the reefs, choose a coral reef-safe brand like Coola or Sun Bum, as traditional sunscreen contains chemicals that damage and even kill the precious reefs.
- After Sun Cooling Spray| Let’s be real– you’re probably going to be spending the majority of your vacation outdoors under the sun. Chances are, you’re going to get a nice tan, and maybe even a sunburn or two! Even if you don’t get sunburned, you should still treat your exposed skin to some much-needed hydration with an after-sun cooling spray or after-sun lotion.
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Oil Blotting Sheets | On a typical day in a hot and tropical place, your makeup will slide/sweat off your face in exactly three seconds after stepping outside. Rather than layering on more makeup, first, focus on tackling your shiny, sweaty glow. The solution? Use blotting sheets whenever your face starts getting sweaty.
- Cooling Face Mask | After a long day of exploring, nothing will feel better than propping your feet up and slapping on a cooling face mask for 10-20 minutes. Lay back and relax!
- Emergen-C packets or Liquid I.V. Hydration Packets | These are a great way to support your immune system and overall health on a trip. They are light, take up no space, and are very easy to pack!
- Insect Repellent Lotion | Mosquitos love hot climates, so I would definitely recommend packing insect repellent with a high DEET percentage, no matter the season you’re traveling. Sawyer makes some really great bug repellent products, and they’re travel-friendly too!
- Permethrin Insect Repellent Spray for Clothing | This clothing insect repellent spray is a game-changer. If you’re going to be outdoors in areas where mosquitos are prevalent, I’d highly recommend preparing your clothes with this fabric spray!
- How does it work? This is a treatment spray for clothes that adheres only to fabrics, leaving no smell or residue on clothes and doesn’t harm human skin. Permethrin spray lasts for up to 6 machine washes, which is more than enough for most tropical trips. Real life story– I hiked Machu Picchu after treating my hiking clothes with this, and I only got a total of 2 mosquito bites after the 4-day trip, whereas some of my friends got 20+ bites. Worth it.
- Pro Tip: Buy and use before you leave for your trip. A few days before departure, spray all of your clothes, plus anything else made of fabric that you’d like treated.
- Insect Repelling Lightweight Pullover | Too lazy to treat your clothes with insect repellent? I know, it’s a process. The ExOfficio BugsAway pullover is the next best thing– it’s super lightweight too.
- Hat, Bandana, or Buff | Keep the sun off your skin with a fancy sunhat, bandana, or a Buff. All three can be used to shield your neck or forehead from the sun. As a bonus, bandanas and Buffs can be used as headbands to keep hair and sweat off of your face. Soak your bandana or Buff then put it on your head, face, or neck for a quick cool down.
- Cooling Towel | Perfect for working out, a day at the beach, or simply sitting there baking in the sun—you’ll feel Chill Pal‘s cooling effect as soon as you take it out of the package. To activate the cooling towel, just soak it in water and wring it out, then wear it as a bandana or use it as a towel. Another hot weather game-changing travel essential.
- Travel Towel | These are light and quick-drying, which is exactly what you need in hot, humid climates. Super useful if you plan on having beach days or staying in hostels. This one is a great option.
- Travel Clothesline | This is a small and portable clothesline that allows you to hang up your wet clothes almost anywhere. I’ve found that it’s really handy whenever I have wet bathing suits or towels that need to be air-dried. I love it for its multi-purpose functionality!
- Dry Bag | Another multi-purpose item on the list! Dry bags are completely necessary for keeping your dry belongings (clothes, electronics, money, etc)… dry. Don’t set foot on a kayak, boat or canoe without putting your stuff in a dry bag. Trust me, it’s better than ending up with a phone or camera submerged in water in the case where the boat tips or something. It’s also super handy for carrying around wet bathing suits and towels. Or even doubling as your laundry bag!
- Underwater Smartphone Housing | Don’t want to invest in an underwater camera? That’s fine, just stick your phone in the AxisGo’s underwater housing! It’s designed to protect your phone from the harshest weather conditions while offering the freedom to safely capture those special moments underwater.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures, GPSing to all the great food spots… the last thing you want is to be stranded with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated in the warm weather with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Snorkel Set | If you plan on snorkeling a lot, bring your own set to save on rental costs.
- Medicine | If you get motion sickness, consider bringing a motion sickness reliever like Dramamine for various watercraft adventures or even the ferry ride over to Isla Mujeres. If you need other meds, don’t forget your pain killers, antacids, etc.
Other Popular Destinations Near Cancun, Mexico
We hope you found this post useful and now have a better idea of whether Cancun in January is right for you. Happy vacationing!