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What to Pack for Cancun & Yucatan Mexico

So you’re planning a beach vacation to Mexico? How exciting! We love Yucatan, Mexico and have spent many months there so we’ve got plenty of experience on what to pack for Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. We believe we have created the ultimate beach vacation packing list.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that packing for Cancun vacations doesn’t require much thought. Throw a couple of swimsuits and a sundress in a carry-on bag and good to go! However, we have found that is not the case.

First of all there are numerous important documents to remember when you travel out of your home country. Then there are the health concerns that come with traveling somewhere tropical.

Plus, if you want to partake in some of the awesome stuff there is to do in Cancun and the Yucatan coast you will definitely need more than just a swimsuit.

For example, what do you need if you want to swim in a Mayan Riviera cenote? Maybe a party night in one of Cancun’s hot nightclubs? How about dinner in Playa del Carmen or visiting Mayan ruins?

Then there is the fun and fabulous family of Xcaret Eco-Parks which require some special items.

Another thing that can make a difference to your Cancun packing list is where you’ll be staying. For example, if you’re staying at a 5-star all-inclusive resort there may be a dress code for some of the restaurants.

If the hotel you’re at has a gym you’ll want to be sure to have workout clothing. Maybe you love to cook and have decided to stay at a Cancun Airbnb so you have a kitchen and want to pack some special seasonings or utensils.

What to Pack for Cancun Beach Vacations

Documents Checklist for Traveling to Mexico

Documents to pack for Cancun

Of all the things to take to Mexico, documents and copies of personal information are without a doubt the most important things on your Cancun packing list.

Chances are your vacation will go perfectly smoothly and you will not have any need for some of the items on this Mexico vacation checklist. However, if something does go wrong you will be well prepared to deal with it having everything at your fingertips.

  • A passport with at least 6 months before expiry is required to travel into Mexico and actually for travel many places outside your home country.
  • Other government photo ID is good to have so you don’t have to pull out your passport when you need ID.
  • Travel documents and itinerary including all transportation and accommodations with contact information.
  • Travel insurance is essential and having the documents and contact info handy is important in case you need to use it.
  • Name and address of accommodations in Mexico should be written out so you can show it to your taxi driver who may not speak English.
  • It is better to bring a bank card and withdraw cash in Mexico rather than travel with a big wad of cash. Having said that, it is handy to carry some $1 bills for tipping.
  • Even if you don’t plan on charging anything it is always wise to travel with a credit card for unexpected expenses or just for deposits on rentals.
  • Having the contact info for your bank and credit card on hand will make things much easier if you have any issues with your cards while away. Also, notify your bank that you will be traveling in Mexico.
  • If you choose to get any immunizations before traveling to Mexico make sure you bring the card with you. It’s always a good idea to check with CDC on what immunizations they are currently recommending.
  • Carrying a list of medications is a good idea in case you run out or lose them. There is an abundance of pharmacies in Mexico and you should be able to find most things easily.
  • Carry physical and digital copies of all the above and also leave copies with someone at home in case you lose yours

Personal Things to Bring to Cancun, Mexico

Personal Items to pack for Cancun

You may look at the following list of what to take to Mexico and say you can get most of them when you’re there. While this may be true we have found through experience that having these items on hand makes life much easier.

The last thing you want to do on your Mexican vacation is waste time looking for a pharmacy that speaks English and can recommend a good anti-diarrhea medication.

Sunscreen is absolutely essential in Mexico at any time of year. The best sunscreen for Mexico, especially if you plan on enjoying one of the Eco parks is one that is reef-safe. This is generally considered to be lotion-free from Obenzone and Octinoxate. We have tried a few different brands but so far our favorite is Sun Bum. You will see us mention other Sun Bum products in this packing guide.

Bug spray containing DEET is recommended as mosquitoes can be an issue and may carry some horrible diseases. If you want to go natural try something like Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent. There are also wrist bands and patches that we’ve had recommended but have not yet tried ourselves.

Pepto Bismal or Imodium are good to have on hand when traveling to Mexico or really any new country. Although we have personally never had a problem with eating Mexican food some people do experience mild to severe stomach issues. Some people even swear by taking one Pepto dose daily as a preventative.

Sea-Bands are another good thing to have if you suffer from motion or seasickness. Again we’re blessed to not generally need this but there have been times on a boat or driving windy roads where we’ve felt it would have been a good idea.

Good sunglasses are a must when planning what to pack for Mexico. Protect your eyes and keep those frown wrinkles at bay by picking glasses with 100% UV protection. Also, consider Polarized lenses and oversized or wraparound frames for extra protection.

Learn more about this amazing country with these 80+ Fun Facts About Mexico

Prescription glasses or contacts, for those who need them, are a given but it’s a good idea to bring an extra pair and maybe even have your actual prescription with you in case you lose them.

Good moisturizer is essential when in Cancun and the sea and sun will dry out your skin. My absolute favorite product is Hempz Herbal Body Moisturizer. It smells and feels better than any other lotion I’ve tried and I never travel without it, especially to sunny destinations.

Lip balm with SPF is something I always travel with when going on a beach vacation. There is nothing worse than burned, blistered lips! I’ve found that many of them have a horrible taste but Sun Bum tastes great and provides full protection in 15 and 30 SPF.

Leave-in conditioner or protection spray for your hair is something I always pack for Cancun as the sea and sun will dry it out. There are plenty of good high-end products on the market like Phytoplage Protective Sun Oil. However, I always look for a more budget-friendly product and I’ve found that Sun Bum 3 in 1 Leave-in Conditioner is a winner.

What to Wear in Cancun, Mexico

What to pack for Cancun clothing

As mentioned before there is more to packing for a beach vacation than just swimsuits, sundresses, and sandals although they will likely make up the bulk of your wardrobe.

While it’s true that Cancun, Mexico weather is generally pretty sunny and warm there can also be some cool evenings and very wet days depending on the time of year. Definitely check the weather forecast before finalizing your Mexico vacation outfits.

You will also want to research what to do in Cancun and pack accordingly. For example, if you plan to visit one of the adventure parks you may want to pack some water shoes. If Mexican nightlife is your thing then a clubbing outfit is needed. Maybe you plan to take an excursion from Cancun and if so you’ll want a light sweater for the air-conditioned transportation.

Or maybe you’ll treat yourself to a fancy dinner where formal attire is required. Speaking of which, there are some high-end, all-inclusive resorts that have a dress code in some areas so be sure to check that before you pack.

Finally, opt for 100% cotton or moisture-wicking clothing when possible. Cotton allows your skin to breathe and the moisture-wicking fabrics help keep your skin dry in the humidity that is part of a Cancun beach vacation.

Beach Vacation Clothes for Mexico

Swimsuits are a given for any beach vacation of course but be sure to pack suits that fit your expected activities. If you plan to just relax on a beach chair a cute bikini will do the trick. But if you like water-sports you will probably want something that will stay put as Mexico is generally not a clothing-optional destination.

A beach cover-up is a vital piece when you are just taking a quick beach break for lunch or feel a bit naked sitting at a beach bar in nothing but a string bikini. I like long sarongs because they are so versatile. Use it as a skirt, a dress, a shawl or even a beach blanket.

A stylish rash guard is a life saver, especially for kids, if you plan to spend time on the beach or in the ocean which you’re bound to do in the Mayan Riviera. These long sleeve, lightweight tops will protect you from abrasive sand and surfboards as well as protect your skin from the sun.

Sundresses are a must for females as you will likely find you wear them day and night. I personally find them more cool and comfortable than shorts and tops, especially during the hot and humid months.

Button-up shirts in a lightweight cotton or linen will be a go-to for men. They are nice and cool un-buttoned with a pair of swimming shorts or buttoned up for an evening meal.

Shorts in a lightweight breathable material are essential for both wet and dry activities and men should be sure to bring a dressier pair for warm evenings.

Resort wear outfits are good to have for those special evenings unless you know for certain you will only be going to casual places.

A light jacket, cardigan or windbreaker might not be something you think you’ll need but weather can be unpredictable in the Caribbean when downpours can happen out of the blue.

Footwear for a Beach Vacation in Cancun

Choose your footwear carefully when packing for Cancun or other tropical destinations. You will need shoes and sandals that stand up to the abuse of walking on uneven surfaces and all the sand, saltwater, and humidity.

Flip flops are, of course, a must but be sure to get a good quality pair as you’ll be wearing them a lot. I love the simplicity and quality of Havaianas because they stand up to all the abuse. I’ve made the mistake of bringing cheap flip flops before and found myself hobbling along hot rocks on one foot after one broke.

Sturdy, breathable sandals are also on the list of what to bring to Mexico and once again spring for a quality pair. Aching feet or a case of foot fungus can spoil your vacation fast. We really like Teva’s for Mexico because they are comfortable and tolerate the humidity and tropical showers as well as the uneven sidewalks that tend to plague the country. Birkenstocks and Keens are good options also.

Reef or water shoes will be your best friend if you plan to do any ocean sports or cenote swimming. They protect your feet and dry really quickly.

A dressier pair of sandals is good to have for those fancy dinners or nightclubbing. Ladies, leave your high heels at home unless you want to risk a sprained ankle from walking along the uneven sidewalks that are everywhere in Mexico.


What to pack for Cancun Mexico

Keep the jewelry to a minimum and avoid expensive flashy pieces all together. Mexico is far safer than the media would have you believe but there is always a problem with theft in any touristy place and walking around wearing expensive jewelry can make you a target.

Even if you don’t normally wear a hat it’s a really good idea to have one in the sunny Yucatan to protect you from heatstroke.

A colorful shawl or wrap is a great accessory for the ladies. The evening ocean breeze can sometimes be a bit chilly as can air-conditioned restaurants. I’ve even used mine to lay on as a blanket on the beach or in a chilly bus.

More Items on a Packing List for Mexico

what to pack for Cancun packing list

A camera is a must to record your fabulous Mexican vacation. If it wasn’t for the fact that we need a whole slew of equipment for our work we would travel with just two pieces: a good cell phone and an action camera like GoPro. Both are small and easy to carry and a GoPro can stand up to pretty much any adventure and water activity you decide to partake in.

A LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle is a great help in keeping you safe from Montezuma’s Revenge by purifying any water you put in it. As a bonus it will also save you money and save the planet from all those excess plastic bottles.

Large and small plastic baggies are things I don’t travel anywhere without. They are especially good for a beach vacation because you can put your wet swimsuits in them as well as keep other items like sunscreen, cell phones, and books dry and clean.

Hand sanitizer is something I always had in my purse when traveling to Mexico even before Covid. We love eating street food or buying from beach vendors and there is rarely a place to wash your hands at a taco stand.

A portable beach umbrella is always a good thing to have if you can fit it in your suitcase.

Snorkel gear is a good thing to bring if you plan to spend time with the beautiful sealife in the Yucatan. You can rent them at some places but the cost will add up if you go snorkeling more than once.

A waterproof bag is another must have on your packing list for Mexico beach vacations. Use it to keep your phone and money safe and dry.

Travel laundry soap packs are good to have so you can wash out your swimsuits and underwear if nothing else.

All this talk of packing for Mexico has got me wanting to plan our next trip. Maybe we’ll see you there. For now, though, be sure to save this list so you don’t forget anything and have the best Mexico vacation ever!

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Live Dream Discover is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,, Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.

Mexico is one of our favorite countries. It’s so beautiful and diverse, the food is great and so are the people. We visit Mexico as often as we can and love sharing all the great destinations and experiences we encounter. If you are a lover of Mexico or are just starting to explore this great country you may enjoy some of our other posts:

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What to pack for Cancun Mexico

Wondering what to do in Cancun? There’s so much to choose from it may be easier to ask what not to do in Cancun. The abundance of resorts, white-sand beaches, vibrant nightlife and fun things to do in Cancun, make it one of the most popular beach vacation destinations in Mexico. Ideally situated on the tropical shores of the Mexican Caribbean, within easy reach of Mayan ruins and eco-parks there is something to please everyone.

Amazon Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to,,,,, and Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.