It can be difficult to decide between Cancun or Cabo San Lucas for your next Mexican vacation. Both are beautiful beaches with lots of things to offer tourists.

We’ll be comparing Cabo and Cancun below, as well as which destination is best for families and hotels.

Cabo vs. Cancun basics

It’s helpful to have some background information before making a decision.

Cabo San Lucas, also known as Cabo, is located at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. The main airport in Cabo is the San Jose del Cabo International Airport. It is located approximately 35 minutes from Cabo San Lucas. Cabo’s climate is tropical and desert. It receives an average of less than 10 inches of rainfall per year. The rainiest months are typically August and September span>

Cancun, Mexico’s east coast, is facing the Caribbean Sea. Cancun’s main airport, Cancun International Airport is approximately a 30-minute drive away from Cancun’s hotel zone.

Cancun enjoys a tropical climate. It receives an average of 52 inches of rain per year. The rainiest months are September and October.

Now you’ve got the basics down, let’s dive deeper into the differences between the destinations.

Cabo vs. Cancun for families

Winner: Cabo

You should consider the distance from your home when deciding whether Cabo or Cancun is best for your family. If you fly from Los Angeles, the flight time to Cabo takes 2.5 hours, while it takes 4.5 hours to get to Cancun. The same applies to New York City. A direct flight from there to Cabo takes approximately 6.5 hours, while Cancun takes approximately 4.5 hours. If you are flying with children younger than 10, it might make sense to choose Cancun or Cabo based on the fastest flight.

Both destinations offer many family-friendly resorts. In Cancun, these resorts include

  • Club Med Cancun.

  • Iberostar Cancun.

  • Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts, Riviera Maya (about 40 minutes south from Cancun in Playa del Carmen).

Cabo’s family-friendly resorts offer the following:

  • Westin Los Cabos Resort Villas & Spa.

  • Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas Resort

Cabo’s family-friendly resorts, such as the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, are often located near San Jose del Cabo. This is an important advantage for families because San Jose del Cabo is known for being more laid-back and less party-centric than Cabo downtown. San Jose del Cabo can be reached in 20 minutes by car from the airport. This means that you will have less time to drive around with your kids after your flight.

We’ll discuss below which destination is best for partying. However, Cancun’s reputation for being party-heavy all year (especially during spring break) makes it not ideal for family vacations. Cabo is a great choice for family trips because of Cancun’s party reputation and the laid-back San Jose del Cabo.

Cabo or Cancun? Partying

Winner: Cancun

Cancun and Cabo have many hotels that are exclusively for adults. Breathless Resorts and Spas is a well-known resort for its all-inclusive, adult-only atmosphere and club-like feel. It has locations in Cabo or Cancun that are ideal for those who want to drink.

You can also explore Cancun’s nightlife options if you look beyond your resort. Downtown Cabo is small. There are some bars and clubs that you can dance until the early hours of the morning in Cabo, but Cancun’s “party zone” (called Punta Cancun), is known for its music, club, and bar scene. U.S. News & World Report ranked Cancun the best spring break destination, with Cabo fourth.

Cancun vs. Cabo hotels

Winner: Cabo in luxury, Cancun in variety

Cabo offers a variety of luxury hotels, including

  • Four-night stay in Palmilla can be as high as $8,800.

  • Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal (a 4-night stay can run as high as $8,220)

  • Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort (a four-night stay can cost as much as $9,835).

Cabo is a popular choice for celebrities due to its luxurious hotel offerings, high price tags, and celebrity clients like Oprah Winfrey and Justin Timberlake.


You can use your Hilton free-of-charge night certificates at Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos to book a luxurious Cabo stay.

Cabo is more luxurious than Cancun, but Cancun offers more luxury hotels and has a wider range of accommodation options.

Cabo or Cancun recapped

Cancun and Cabo are the best options for your Mexican vacation. Cabo is the best option for families and luxury travel, and Cancun is better for partying and nightlife. You should also research non-stop service and flight time, especially if you are traveling with a family. Families on the West Coast might choose Cabo, while those on the East Coast might prefer Cancun.

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