Cancun is a place that requires no introduction – however, it’s located on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It’s known for its incredibly beautiful white sand beaches and insanely blue water! As a Canadian, a trip to Cancun is pretty much a right of passage so I’ve been a few times. If you’re thinking about choosing Mexico for your next trip, here’s everything you should know about visiting Cancun in May.
Why Visit Cancun, Mexico?
Cancun is a top destination for many. It has just about everything you could want for a short trip or while working remotely.
Cancun has some of the most beautiful beaches in North America, as well as in the world! The clear water, white sand and sunsets are enough to keep you coming back time and time again.
History and Culture
If you’re into history, Cancun is a great place to visit. It’s home to Chichen Itza Maya ruins (one of the new 7 Wonders of the World) where you can learn about the ancient Mayan civilization. You can also experience the local Mexican culture through cooking classes, visiting local markets, etc.
Cancun has no shortage of fun activities such as underground rivers, snorkelling in lagoons, zip lining, jet skiing, and parasailing. So when you’re ready to put away the beach towel and try something new, you’ll have many options to choose from.
The Food, Obviously
Anyone who knows me knows that Mexican food is my absolute fave! Cancun has some of the best restaurants in the country serving the classics – tacos, ceviche, guacamole and Yucatecan cuisine. There’s something for everyone and you truly can’t go wrong with Mexican (in my humble opinion).
Accommodates for Digital Nomads
Working remotely? Cancun is riddled with cafes and restaurants with high-speed internet that make it easy to stay connected and work from your laptop. On your days or evenings off work, there are many things you can do to keep yourself busy.
Best Activities to do in Cancun in May
Visiting this UNESCO World Heritage site is a MUST for your trip to Cancun! It’s a popular tourist destination but isn’t so busy in May because it’s the shoulder season and crowds are much smaller. If you’re hoping to get some great travel photos during your visit, May is a great time because you have a better chance of getting a shot without other people in it!
Chichen Itza is also known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is only a quick 2ish hour’s drive from Cancun. To get there, you can take a bus, rent a car or go with a tour group. Many hostels and hotels will have tour options that include transportation and entrance fees. Make sure you leave an entire day for this trip, as it’s an incredible spot.
Swim With Sea Turtles
Swimming with sea turtles in Cancun is a dream! You’ll find many different types of sea turtles in the water, such as green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. With the water being quite warm in May, it’s the perfect time to swim with these incredible creatures!
Akumal Bay is one of the best places to spot sea turtles in Cancun. It’s about an hour south of Cancun and is a protected marine park. This marine park ensures that visitors have a great experience with the turtles, without harming them or their environment. Remember to wear eco-friendly sunscreen to help maintain the marine ecosystem.
Have you been to a cenote before? They’re sinkholes found throughout Mexico, with more than 6000 in the Yucatan Peninsula alone. They’re unique geological formations that offer an outstanding diving and swimming experience. Each cenote is different and some are connected by underwater caves!
Many cenotes are available to visit and one of the most popular ones near Cancun is called Cenote Dos Ojos, about an hour south of Cancun. Cenote Ik Kil is another popular spot however, there are some incredible and lesser-known cenotes that are worth visiting. I’d recommend checking out Cenote Semula in the town of Valladolid. It’s a little further (about a 2-hour drive) from Cancun but it’s inside a cave and worth the adventure to get there.
Looking to experience the natural beauty and culture of Mexico? You need to head to Xcaret Park! It’s an ecological theme park just south of Cancun. The park is massive (over 200 acres) and has many activities such as snorkelling, exploring underground rivers, cultural shows and more.
The park is within a beautiful lush jungle with turquoise water and ancient Mayan ruins throughout.
You can never go wrong with a beach day in Cancun. The beaches will wow you with their sparkling water and incredible sunsets! Some of the most popular beaches in the area are:
- Playa Delfines – A large beach within the hotel zone known for its beautiful sand and clear water.
- Playa Norte – Found on Isla Mujeres, this beach has gentle waves and you’ll find many beach bars and restaurants nearby!
- Playa Tortugas – The best spot for water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing.
- Playa Chac Mool – Best for swimming and snorkelling.
- Playa Marlin – See above ^
- Playa Langosta – See above ^^
- Playa Gaviota Azul – A family-friendly beach spot!
- Playa Caracol – The place to go if you want to kayak or windsurf.
- Playa Forum – Beautiful views of the Caribbean Sea
- Playa Ballenas – See above ^
Experience the Nightlife
Cancun is also known for its nightlife. The nightlife is usually busiest in high season but I’d prefer exploring the different bars and clubs when the crowds are smaller. The Hotel Zone is where you’ll find most of the nightclubs, bars and restaurants. Some of the most popular are Coco Bongo, The City and Mandala. These clubs host world-class DJs throughout the year and have a lively atmosphere.
If you want a laid-back vibe, the beach bars such as La Palapa Belga and Playa Marlin Beach Club might be a better spot for you! You can also find more local spots if you head into downtown Cancun.
May is also a great time for nightlife in Cancun because that’s when the Cancun Jazz Festival takes place each year!
Swim With Whale Sharks
May is one of the best times to see whale sharks in Cancun, as it’s when they’re migrating through the area looking for food. These sharks are the largest fish in the world, some of which are up to 40 ft long! While they’re massive, they’re non-threatening and swimming with them is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You’ll need to book a tour to swim with whale sharks but make sure you do your research beforehand. Many tours aren’t ethical and these tours to bring in as much money as possible and in turn, can affect the habitat of the sharks.
Day Trip to Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) is just off the coast of Cancun and known for its more relaxed atmosphere! You can get there by ferry from the Hotel Zone and it only takes about 20-30 minutes to get there.
Aside from spending your day at Playa Norte, there are other activities on the island such as renting a bike or golf cart to get around, checking out the Tortugranja Turtle Farm and trying some of the local cuisines at the different restaurants.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is a widely celebrated holiday in Mexico and you can find many celebrations taking place around Cancun on May 5th each year. If you want to celebrate from a unique place, the Xoximilco theme park is the place to go! You can go on a traditional trajinera boat ride through the canals and try some local Mexican food.
Plaza de Toros also has traditional Mexican bullfighting and dance performances on Cinco de Mayo. You’ll have a great time no matter when you end up in Cancun!
Average Daily Temperatures in Cancun
Cancun has a tropical climate so it’s usually fairly warm, however, it depends on the time of year. May is the start of summer in Cancun and temperatures are around a high of 32 °C and a low of 24°C. Due to the humidity, it often feels warmer.
The weather in Cancun during May is generally sunny and dry with little rainfall and an average of only 8 rainy days throughout the month! The average rainfall for May is around 700 mm which is relatively low, compared to the wettest month (September), which receives around 250 mm of rain.
May is also one of the cloudier months in Cancun, with an average of 6 cloudy days throughout the month. Of course, this isn’t bad whatsoever, considering how many sunny days there are and that the clouds offer some shade on a hot day in the sun!
The average hours of sunshine per day in May is around 9 hours, providing you with ample time to enjoy the beautiful beaches in Cancun. The waters of the Caribbean Sea are inviting in May, with average water temperatures benign around 27 °C.
May is one of the hottest months and driest months of the year in Cancun. While it’s quite hot during the day, it does cool down a lot in the evenings, which makes it comfortable for going out to eat or exploring a new area. If you’re visiting Cancun in May, make sure you have breathable clothing and sunscreen on hand to protect yourself from the strong rays. The entire month has fairly good weather, making it the perfect time to visit.
Is May Peak Season?
May is the start of peak season in Cancun, with spring breakers stopping by for the first few weeks. While it’s known as ‘peak season’ this can be confusing because it’s considered low season for tourism.
When is Hurricane Season in Cancun?
Cancun doesn’t have the four seasons we’re used to in North America. Instead, they have a dry season, rainy season and hurricane season. Hurricane season is typically from June to November, although most occur between August and October.
If you’re travelling to Cancun during hurricane season, you should set weather alerts so that you’re aware in case you need to evacuate. It’s also important to keep in mind that some water or sports activities may be affected by the weather.
The benefits of travelling during this season are that there will be fewer crowds of tourists and everything will be much more affordable due to the chance of tropical storms. Most hotels and hostels will have hurricane plans in place but you should always speak to the staff before booking so that you know what you’re getting yourself into!
Why May is the Best Time to Visit Cancun
There are many popular attractions in Cancun but your experience could be somewhat tainted when it’s packed with other tourists. In May, you don’t have to worry about it being too crowded at attractions or on the beach and will have more time to enjoy the place for yourself.
If you’re looking for a deal, you need to visit Cancun during the month of May! Because May is considered the shoulder season in Cancun, restaurants, hotels and more offer lower prices to tourists that are visiting that time of year. That means you could enjoy more luxurious accommodation for a much cheaper price.
May is a fantastic time to visit Cancun, as it’s filled with sunny days, high temperatures and great weather overall. It’s the start of the summer months, making it one of the best months to enjoy sunny skies, hot days and warm waters. The relative humidity is moderate, averaging around 80% and the average wind speed is only around 10 mph.
Cinco de Mayo is a must if you’re visiting Cancun in May, however, other festivals and events are happening in May, such as Labor Day on May 1st and an international Festival of Caribbean Culture. This festival includes music, dancing and food along the Caribbean region of Mexico.
In May, the water temperature in Cancun is great! It’s pleasant with warm temperatures averaging around 80°F / 27 °C. This makes it a great time to enjoy time swimming at many of the beautiful beaches or partaking in the range of water activities you’ll find in Cancun.
No Risk of Hurricanes
Because May doesn’t fall within the Hurricane season in Cancun, you don’t have to be too concerned about the weather getting in the way of activities.
If you’re hoping to spot wildlife during your trip to Cancun, you’ll have a good chance of seeing whale sharks in May. It’s also a good time of year for bird watching or catching the sea turtles nesting. You can watch sea turtles laying their eggs on the shore and be a part of conservation efforts to protect sea turtles.
Essentials & Tips for Your Trip to Cancun
I don’t go anywhere without travel insurance! You never know what’s going to happen on a trip and I like to know I’m covered. I’ve been using SafetyWing for over a year now and would recommend it to all nomads or anyone going on a trip abroad.
Prepare for Humidity
Cancun in May = high humidity so make sure you have lightweight clothes for your stay. If you don’t do well in the heat you might want to stay somewhere with a pool or right on the beach so you can jump into the water at any point during the day.
Have Cash on Hand
While Cancun caters to American and Canadian tourists and most places will accept cards, there are still a few places that will only take cash. So it’s always best to have some cash on you!
Drink Filtered Water
Mexico doesn’t have the best tap water so I’d recommend drinking filtered or bottled water during your trip to avoid getting sick! I use a GRAYL filtering bottle during all my travels so I don’t have to buy plastic bottles all the time.
Pack Your Bags!
If you’re ready to escape rainy days in May and have a beautiful vacation by the beach, Cancun is one of the best places to go! With the sea temperature being high and Cancun weather optimal, you’re bound to have a great time.