Cancun Vs Cabo Vs Puerto Vallarta

Cancun vs Cabo Vs Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Trying to plan the perfect trip to Mexico? Luckily, we've been to Mexico a handful of times because it's so close to our home base in Texas. Woot Woot! Margaritas anyone? Did you know that Americans visit Mexico more than any other country? And for good reason - Mexico is home to beautiful beaches, vibrant reefs, dense jungles, mountain ranges, and even desert. The main tourist destinations are spread far apart and consist of Cancun (Riviera Maya), Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta. Today we're going to narrow down the pros and cons of Cancun vs Cabo Vs Puerto Vallarta so you can figure out the best spot for your next vacay! 

Riviera Maya

First up on the list is the Riviera Maya which includes Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel, and Tulum. Im lumping all of these cities together because they're all relatively close to each other and offer similar activities. Let me just say that this area is incredibly beautiful and you could easily spend several weeks exploring all of the cities mentioned above. In fact, I recommend that you do! 

Pros/Best For - Gorgeous white sand beaches and the best snorkeling/diving on the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world. Tons of relatively cheap all-inclusive resorts. We loved staying at Catalonia Royal Tulum. Magnificent ancient ruins. Cheap Flights from USA. Jaw dropping Cenotes. Stunning jungle wildlife. 

Cons/Worst For - Compared to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo, the Riviera Maya region gets significantly more tourists. Hurricanes/bad weather are also a concern from June-November. Sometimes tropical storms stall out over the Riviera Maya for days, meaning you probably won't be out enjoying all those white sand beaches. Out of the 3 destinations, the Riviera Maya is the most likely to have bad weather.

Ik-Kil Cenote

Incredible Cenotes

Tulum Beach

Tulum Beach

Mexico Reef

Gorgeous Coral Reef

Puerto Vallarta

Located on Mexico's West Coast, PV has great natural beauty! 

Pros/Best For - Out of the 3 destinations, Puerto Vallarta is the least touristed. PV tends to have better weather than the Riviera Maya! Rugged terrain offers great zip lining. Beautiful mountain towns. Close to Las Marietas islands - home to the famous "Hidden Beach". We found PV to be significantly cheaper than Cancun or Cabo. Some whale tours are available during the humpback migration season. Excellent deals on Private rentals in the region. We stayed in a fully staffed mansion with 8 friends for a week! 

Cons/ Worst For - Nice beaches but not as near as beautiful as the Riviera Maya or Cabo regions. Most flights here are a bit more expensive compared to flying into Cabo or Cancun. Transportation in general here is slightly more challenging vs Cancun area.  


Friends Trip

Great (cheap) Private Vacation Rentals

The Hidden Beach @ Las Marietas Islands

Cabo San Lucas

A gem on the Mexican West Coast where the desert meets the ocean! 

Pros/Best For - Water sports galore! Kayaking, Jet Skiing, and sailing. One of the few places in the world where you can take guided whale shark tours. Humpback whales frequent the area off the coast. Awesome for ATV rides through desert-like terrain. Beautiful costal scenery. Best nightlife vs Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Best weather of the 3 destinations. 

Cons - Can get crowded during peak season from December through April. Slightly more expensive compared to Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Beaches are great, but water clarity can vary greatly based on time of year. 

cancun vs cabo vs puerto Vallarta

The Arches at Cabo San Lucas

Cabo Scenery

In Summary

Cancun, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta each have their pros and cons depending on the type of vacation you're planning. In the end, our ultimate recommendation is the Riviera Maya region for the natural beauty and amount of things to do. 

For best beaches, diving/snorkeling, and ancient ruins go to the Riviera Maya.

For whale watching, water and land sports go to Cabo San Lucas.

To get away and just relax, go to Puerto Vallarta. 

I hope this article comparing Cancun Vs Cabo Vs Puerto Vallarta helped you get a better idea of each location. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment them below! Thanks! 

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