Packing List for Cancun: Your Essential Vacation Guide

Heading to the white-sand beaches of Cancun and the Riviera Maya? This is your essential packing list to paradise!

Get ready to have a blast while you dance poolside! Before taking off, make sure that you pack everything you need! Put together your own personal Cancun packing list so that you don’t run the risk of forgetting any essential travel items. Prepare for all kinds of scenarios, so you can ensure a good time with no worries!

With this friendly advice you will be ready to embark on a sun-soaked adventure to the stunning Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum beaches in Mexico. Whether you’re looking forward to exploring ancient Mayan ruins, snorkeling in crystal-clear cenotes, or simply relaxing on the pristine beaches, one thing is certain: proper packing is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable vacation. In this guide, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive list of essential travel items and offer some handy tips to make your Riviera Maya getaway a breeze.

1. Comfortable Clothing
2. Footwear
3. Travel Essentials
4. Beach and Excursion Essentials
5. Miscellaneous Picks

Packing for Paradise - Cancun Vacation
Packing for Paradise – Cancun Vacation

1. Packing the Right Clothing for Cancun:

When it comes to clothing, think light, comfortable, and beach-friendly. Pack the following items:

Swimwear: Bring a few swimsuits or trunks to fully enjoy the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Lightweight Clothing: Pack breathable fabrics like cotton or linen for hot and humid days. Include shorts, skirts, dresses, and loose-fitting t-shirts or tank tops. We also recommend wearing Columbia PFG shirts and caps.
Evening Attire: If you plan on dining at upscale restaurants or attending evening events, consider bringing one or two dressier outfits.
Sun Protection: Don’t forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and reef-safe sunscreen with a high SPF to shield yourself from the strong Mexican sun. The best protection is a long sleeved sun shirt and a hat! Pack one or two so you can wear those at the pool, beach or snorkeling excursions!

Packing for Cancun Vacation
Packing List for Cancun: SPF snorkel shirt is a must!

2. Packing the Right Footwear for Cancun:

Given the diverse activities available in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, it’s essential to pack the right footwear:

Flip-Flops/Sandals: Ideal for beach days, poolside lounging, and casual walks.
Comfortable Walking Shoes: Opt for lightweight sneakers or breathable walking sandals for excursions and exploring.
Water Shoes: If you plan on visiting cenotes or participating in water activities, water shoes will protect your feet from sharp rocks or rough surfaces.

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Packing for Cancun Vacation. Proper packing is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable vacation.
Packing for Cancun: proper packing is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable vacation.

3. Packing list for Cancun – Travel Essentials:

To ensure a stress-free trip, consider packing these must-have travel essentials:

Passport: Ensure your passport is up to date and will remain valid for at least six months after your planned departure date.
Travel Documents: Carry printed or electronic copies of your travel itineraries, hotel reservations, and your identifications. Don’t forget your Drivers License in case you end up renting a car at the Cancun International Airport or a golf cart while visiting Isla Mujeres.
Travel Insurance: Protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances by purchasing travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings.
First Aid Kit: Include basic medications (like non-drowsy Dramamine), band-aids, and any prescription medications you require.
Power Adapters: Mexico uses Type A and Type B power outlets, same as in the United States or Canada, so don’t forget to bring suitable adapters for your electronic devices. Make sure you bring your phone charger and any other chargers for your devices (iPad, e-book, camera, GoPro, etc.).

Checkout this short article “Riviera Maya: Know Before You Go” for more information regarding travel essentials. 

Packing for Cancun Vacation
A valid passport, sunglasses and your favorite camera.

4. Packing for Cancun – Beach and Excursion Essentials:

As you’ll likely spend a significant amount of time in the sun and water, be sure to pack the following:

Beach Towel: Some resorts may provide towels, but having your own is always handy.
Snorkeling Gear: If you have your own snorkeling equipment, bring it along. Otherwise, some tour operators (like The Custom Tour) will provide quality gear for you. Looking for the best snorkel tour?
Waterproof Phone Case: Keep your phone protected while capturing those picture-perfect moments.
Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes can be prevalent in certain areas, so pack a reliable repellent to avoid bites.
Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated and minimize plastic waste by carrying a refillable water bottle or a Yeti cup.

Packing for Cancun Vacation
Sandals or Water Shoes are great for Cenote Tours in Riviera Maya.

5. Packing List for Cancun – Miscellaneous Picks:

Here are a few additional items that may come in handy:

Cash and Credit Cards: Ensure you have some Mexican pesos for smaller vendors or markets, but major establishments will accept credit cards.
Translator App: While many locals speak English, learning a few basic Spanish phrases will enhance your experience.
Entertainment: Books, e-reader, iPad, or portable music players can be great companions during downtime or long journeys. Don’t forget your earbuds and charging cables. 

Beach Bag and light clothes
Beach Bag and comfy light clothes at Tulum.

Vacationers also Recommend these Items:

A top contributor member on travel forum, just returned from a sunny vacation at the Hilton Playa del Carmen, and she shared the following list of items that usually we forget to pack.
“What I am thankful I packed”:
Oh yuk for the jetted tub (bathtub cleaner).
Sunscreen (especially face) and sun shirt.
Pool bag or a little bag for cash at the pool (and leave the rest in the safe).
Multiple sunglasses.
Hair conditioner.
Lots of swimsuits (4 or 5)
Aloe Vera Gel for sunburn relief.
“What I wished I packed”:
Sun hat (the visor I brought wasn’t cutting it).
Small Backpack for excursions.
Water shoes (for excursions).
Wet brush for hair.
“What did I pack that I didn’t use”:
Lots of underwear and bras, T shirts, Shorts – stayed in swimsuits during the day or a light dresses at night.
Flat iron.
Too many $1 bills (tipped with larger bills and stuck with the same person).
Most of the makeup I brought.
Cash is King. Bring Pesos and USD.

Other members of the travel forum added:

– “If you are planning to be out during the day (not at the pool) your clothing will be drenched and it doesn’t dry quickly this time of year (Summer). I brought a few extra tees/tanks and was thankful I did.”
– “My hubby’s musts are: a hat, trunks with pockets, and SPF Chapstick (lips were fried!)”. He buys a good quality flip flop and brings tennis shoes for travel. His shorts are the quick dry type too. And a koozie! We actually used our Bubba cups more for water and their cups for drinks.”
– “…also Liquid IV try Blowfish for hangover, worked awesome!”
Boutique Hotels? Family Friendly Resorts? Adults Only? All Inclusive?
Pack light and prioritize comfort.

Let’s wrap this up!

As you prepare for your exciting adventure to the Riviera Maya, remember to pack light, think ahead, and prioritize comfort. The tropical paradise awaits, ready to charm you with its natural wonders, rich history, and warm hospitality. So, pack your suitcase or carry-on bag wisely, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this slice of Mexican paradise!

Looking for Awesome Things to do in Cancun and the Riviera Maya?

Feel free to share your list of precious items for traveling in the comment section below! 

Bon voyage, and enjoy your time in Cancun and the Riviera Maya!

3 Responses
  1. Heather H

    My husband is a minimalist and travels regularly for work so take it for what it is and remember I was with him with two suitcases full of stuff that he used but doesn’t remember lol
    Hubby says glad he brought:
    multiple swimsuits
    Floppy hat
    Flip flops
    Linen pants — only need one pair of pants
    My wife for bringing other random stuff
    Hey dudes shoes to wear with pants
    Didn’t need:
    Too many clothes. Bought enough for 7 days and didn’t use half of it.
    Socks— maybe wore one pair on the way home!
    Tennis shoes (unless you have an excursion that needs them).
    Wish I would have brought:
    Light weight back pack for excursions!
    Gold Bond Lotion

  2. E. Crossman

    Ditch the liquid or pods. Detergent sheets, cut up a couple and put in a little snack bag. It dissolves into detergent when put in water. Less to carry or pack.

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