Cancun vs Cabo vs Cozumel vs Tulum vs Puerto Vallarta vs Playa del Carmen For Vacation? If you, too, are stuck in this dilemma, you are not alone.
Each of these locations is extremely popular, attracting millions of tourists each year. All of these places are located in Mexico and appear to be quite similar in some ways, making it difficult for anyone to decide which one to go to.
However, despite the fact that all of these locations are extremely popular travel destinations, they are quite distinct from one another. So, before deciding on one of them, you should conduct extensive research. This is where this blog will be useful.
In this article, we have evaluated all of these destinations based on a variety of critical factors to help you decide which one to visit for your honeymoon or a family vacation.
Cancun vs Cabo vs Cozumel vs Tulum vs Puerto Vallarta vs Playa del Carmen: Which is better for vacation?
Table of Contents
|Cancun||Big City Vibes|
|Cabo San Lucas||Big City Vibes, Authentic Mexican vibes|
|Tulum||Chill, Hippie vibes|
|Playa del Carmen||Small Town Vibes with Lively Atmosphere|
|Puerto Vallarta||Authentic Mexican Vibes|
|Cozumel||Laid-back Vibes, Tropical Vibes|
Cancun has “Big city” vibes. There is no doubt that Cancun boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. But it is also true that Cancun is a highly commercialized destination.
You will find hundreds of resorts and restaurants bordering Cancun’s white sandy beaches. That’s why sometimes Cancun feels like a “Concrete Jungle“.
In other words, it is a great destination for those people who want a lively atmosphere and world-class beaches. But if you are looking for a relaxing vacation then Cancun is not a good option.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is similar to Cancun in many ways. It offers luxurious accommodation and numerous activities to do. But, Cabo also has that authentic old town Mexican vibes that you won’t find in “Americanized” Cancun.
Cabo too is highly developed like Cancun but it has sustained the traditional Mexican vibes that make it different from Cancun. Even though most of the beaches in Cabo San Lucas are not swimmable, still there are endless activities to explore in Cabo. So, if you want to experience genuine Mexican vibes or to engage in endless touristic activities then Cabo San Lucas is a great option.
Tulum is a truly unique location. It exudes the chill, hippie vibes. Despite its proximity to Playa del Carmen and Cancun, it has its own distinct appeal.
Tulum’s beach area is relatively tranquil, and wherever you look there are free yoga classes and beach bars. Tulum appears to many as a spiritual destination where visitors may unwind on the beach, do yoga, stroll around the city’s ancient buildings, and soak in the Cenote’s therapeutic waters.
Playa del Carmen
For those looking for a vacation that is less crowded than Cancun but more action-packed than Tulum, Playa del Carmen is an excellent choice. It is a town with a laid-back atmosphere as well as vibrant shopping malls and nightclubs.
Playa del Carmen was once a small fishing village, but it has since grown into a tourist destination that is very similar to Cancun in many ways. It offers an experience that falls somewhere between Cancun and Tulum.
Puerto Vallarta isn’t known for its white sandy beaches, but there are plenty of other things to do in the city. I’d describe it as a one-of-a-kind “tourist” destination that offers an opportunity to explore genuine Mexican culture and arts, modern luxury, and lush green nature.
It has a thriving nightlife and gastronomy as well. It is not a destination for those who want to spend their entire vacation on a beach or in a resort; rather, it is a destination for those who are ready to explore the various touristy activities that Puerto Vallarta has to offer.
In comparison to the other mentioned destinations, Cozumel has the most laid-back vibe. It is ideal for those who want nothing more than to relax and enjoy. The majority of visitors to Cozumel come for the laid-back vibes and world-class snorkeling.
Cozumel is a small, underdeveloped, and sparsely populated island. As a result, it is more in tune with nature and exudes genuine tropical vibes. It also has a more Mexican feel than nearby popular destinations such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
|Cancun||Soft, White sand, Broader, Well-equipped beaches with Torquise waters, Highly commercialized and Crowded.|
|Cabo San Lucas||Beaches with Desert-like Rocky Mountainous Terrain and Deep Bluewater, Many Beaches unsafe due to Undertows.|
|Tulum||Soft, White sand beaches and Turquoise water with laid-back vibes and less crowd.|
|Playa del Carmen||Sugary white sand Beaches with Turquoise water but a little narrower and crowded.|
|Puerto Vallarta||Beaches are Narrower and Rugged, Don’t expect Torquise water and white sandy beaches like Cancun and Tulum in Puerto Vallarta|
|Cozumel||White sandy beaches and Torquise water with Tranquil Ambience but a little smaller and rougher as compared to Cancun and Tulum.|
Cancun has without a doubt the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. Cancun is well-known for its soft white sand beaches and mesmerizing turquoise blue water. The beaches in Cancun are longer, wider, and better equipped than those in other Mexican destinations.
Cancun’s beaches, on the other hand, are extremely crowded, as it has become the most popular central American travel destination. Also, as I mentioned earlier, Cancun feels like a concrete jungle as its beaches are bordered by hundreds of resorts and restaurants.
So, don’t expect an authentic tropical vacation in Cancun. Even though Cancun’s beaches are more busy and developed, if you are looking for a beach vacation in Mexico, Cancun is the best choice.
Cabo San Lucas
The beaches of Cabo San Lucas are quite unique due to their rugged topography. Unlike the beaches in Cancun, Cabo’s beaches are known for their unique rocky mountainous terrain. It is a beautiful place where desert rocky landscape meets the Pacific Ocean’s deep blue waters.
Cabo’s beaches provide breathtaking views of the magnificent desert terrain framed by the deep blue Pacific Ocean. However, due to strong undertows, most of Cabo’s beaches are not suitable for swimming.
However, this does not mean that Cabo San Lucas lacks swimmable beaches. There are some world-class beaches in Cabo such as Medano Beach, Lover’s Beach, and Chileno Beach that have calm waters and are swimmable.
Tulum is the only destination that boasts beaches on par with those in Cancun. Tulum, like Cancun, is bordered by world-class white sand beaches and the Caribbean’s warm azure blue waters.
Cancun and Tulum, in my opinion, have similar beaches. There is, however, one notable difference between Cancun and Tulum. Tulum’s beaches are noticeably more rustic, in tune with nature, tranquil, and less crowded than those in Cancun.
In other words, if you’re seeking soft white sand beaches comparable to those in Cancun but with a less crowded atmosphere and a more tranquil vibe, Tulum is the place to go.
Playa del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen is renowned for its relaxing white-sand beaches and turquoise-blue waters. Although the beaches in Playa del Carmen are usually as busy as those in Cancun, they are still more tranquil than those in Cancun.
Playacar beach in particular is the nicest beach in Playa Del Carmen, easily comparable with Cancun in terms of sugary white sand beaches and calm, turquoise blue waters. There are numerous beach bars in Playa del Carmen, which is not the case in Cancun.
Additionally, Playa Del Carmen’s city center (Fifth Avenue) is quite close to its beach, which is a significant advantage over Cancun. On the downside, the beaches of Playa del Carmen are slightly narrower and less equipped than those in Cancun.
Puerto Vallarta is well-known for a variety of things, but not for its white-sand beaches. When compared to other renowned Mexican destinations, Puerto Vallarta falls short in terms of stunning beaches.
Puerto Vallarta is located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, so don’t anticipate powdery white sand beaches and turquoise blue water as in Puerto Vallarta. Its beaches are slightly narrower and more rugged than those in the Caribbean.
Therefore, if the beach is your central objective, Puerto Vallarta is not the ideal destination for you. However, this does not mean that Puerta Vallarta lacks good beaches. Playa Los Muertos, Conchas Chinas, and Madagascar beach are just a few of Puerto Vallarta’s best beaches.
Cozumel is a small, undeveloped island in the Caribbean. Cozumel’s beaches, as a result, are less developed, smaller, and rougher than those in Cancun. This, however, is what sets Cozumel apart from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Due to the lack of commercialization and crowds, the beaches of Cozumel emanate pure tropical vibes, a tranquil ambiance, and a genuine Caribbean flavor.
The majority of visitors to Cozumel come for its laid-back ambiance. Cozumel’s west shore is known for its calmer waters and good snorkeling. As a result, the west coast of Cozumel is home to some of the island’s best beaches, including Playa Mia Grand Beach Park and Playa Chen Rio.
|Cancun||Affordable and Sophisticated All-inclusive hotels, Wide range of Accommodation options|
|Cabo San Lucas||Sophisticated All-inclusive hotels but Most expensive in Mexico|
|Tulum||Known for its Luxurious Boutique-style hotels, a Little costlier than Cancun|
|Playa del Carmen||Affordable All-inclusive hotels, Wide range of Accommodation options|
|Puerto Vallarta||Boutique-style and Budget-friendly Accommodation|
|Cozumel||Affordable All-inclusive hotels but less sophisticated than Cancun, Lacks a variety of Accommodation options|
Cancun offers a diverse selection of accommodations ranging from budget to luxury. Cancun’s renowned Hotel Zone is home to hundreds of world-class hotels and resorts offering a variety of accommodations, including their world-famous all-inclusive resorts.
Indeed, Cancun’s all-inclusive resorts are a primary reason for the city’s annual tourism boom. These all-inclusive vacation packages frequently include accommodation, all meals, and nearly all alcoholic beverages.
Outdoor activities and spa treatments are also included in the all-inclusive packages offered by some resorts. These all-inclusive packages often cost between $1000 and $3000 for a family of four.
However, for roughly $2000, you can generally find a nice all-inclusive package that covers practically all of your family’s needs. These all-inclusive packages are reasonably priced and make an excellent choice for families and honeymooners.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is renowned for its world-class luxury resorts. Cabo San Lucas, like Cancun, has hundreds of world-class hotels and resorts. Additionally, numerous resorts offer attractive all-inclusive packages for families and honeymooners.
However, the majority of Cabo San Lucas’s hotels are upscale. Indeed, Cabo San Lucas is renowned as Mexico’s most opulent vacation spot. It lacks the diversity of lodging options available in Cancun. As a result, finding affordable lodging in Cabo San Lucas might be challenging.
Medano beach is the best area in Cabo to stay. It is Cabo’s most popular beach, renowned for its calm waters and breathtaking views. There are numerous restaurants and bars on the beach, and you can also take in the stunning view of the historic Cabo San Lucas Arch. However, if you’re looking for inexpensive accommodation, you should head to downtown Cabo.
Tulum is also well-known for its luxurious hotels, though they are quite unique and rustic in comparison to those found in other parts of Mexico. Tulum’s hotel zone, which is the best area to stay in Tulum, is closely packed with boutique-style hotels that are not easily found elsewhere in Mexico.
Tulum’s hotel zone is a 14-kilometer stretch of beachfront hotels that offer the best of Tulum’s secluded beaches and breathtaking views of the Caribbean ocean. However, it is also the most expensive part of Tulum to stay.
Indeed, it is slightly more expensive than Cancun, with an average weekly rate of $1400. If you’re on a budget, Tulum Pueblo is a good option. This area is about 5 kilometers from the beach and takes about 10 minutes to get to the nearest beach from here, but it offers affordable lodging for budget travelers. Tulum Pueblo is quite well-known among budget travelers and backpackers for this reason.
Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is more developed and offers more affordable accommodation options than Tulum. Playacar is the best area to stay in Playa Del Carmen. This neighborhood is home to multiple luxurious all-inclusive resorts as well as some of the nicest beaches in Playa del Carmen.
It’s easy to see why so many celebrities prefer to stay in Playacar. However, I would recommend staying in Playa del Carmen’s downtown area. Downtown Playa del Carmen offers a wide range of lodging options, from luxury to budget. Thus, if you are a budget traveler, you can get affordable lodging here.
Additionally, this location is relatively close to the Playa del Carmen beaches. Fifth Avenue is another excellent place to stay in Playa del Carmen if you enjoy tourist activities such as shopping, nightclubs, and restaurants. Additionally, the fifth avenue is relatively close to the beaches and is densely packed with shopping and entertainment options.
Puerto Vallarta has more authentic and affordable lodging options than any other destination. Hotel Zone is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta. This neighborhood is home to modern luxury hotels as well as some all-inclusive resorts.
The hotel zone’s primary draw is its beaches. You would have immediate access to the beaches in the Hotel zone and would be able to enjoy Puerto Vallarta’s gorgeous golden sand beaches.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for boutique-style and budget-friendly accommodation, head to the Romantic zone and downtown Puerto Vallarta. Downtown Puerto Vallarta, in particular, with its boutique-style colonial-era buildings, is the best choice for visitors seeking true Mexican vibes.
Cozumel is the least developed destination in comparison to the others. As a result, unlike in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, you will not find bustling nightclubs, restaurants, or a fantastic shopping scene near your Cozumel resort.
It is more suitable for folks who enjoy a more relaxed vibe. Cozumel, like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, offers all-inclusive holiday packages. This all-inclusive holiday package includes practically everything, from airfare to lodging, meals, and a variety of beverages. It’s an excellent choice for families and honeymooners.
Typically, a good all-inclusive resort in Cozumel for a family of four costs around $2000. Despite the fact that Cozumel offers excellent all-inclusive packages, its resorts are not as sophisticated as those in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
|Cancun||Beach activities, Shopping, Visit Historic Places|
|Cabo San Lucas||Beach activities, Shopping, Adventure activities|
|Tulum||Beach activities, Yoga classes, Shopping, Visit Historic Places|
|Playa del Carmen||Beach activities, Shopping, Visit Historic Places|
|Puerto Vallarta||Beach activities, Adventure activities, Culture and Gastronomy, Shopping|
Cancun is a good place to visit if you want to explore different activities. Apart from the sea, sand, and sun, Cancun offers a plethora of activities. Cancun is famous for its water sports activities, which include snorkeling, surfing, aqua twister, sky rider, scuba diving, and whale watching.
Snorkeling in Cancun’s underwater museum, in particular, is a very unique experience. Apart from water sports, Cancun’s Hotel Zone district is densely packed with premium shopping malls and nightclubs.
It makes no difference where you stay in the hotel zone; there will always be at least one shopping mall nearby. From trendy jewelry, cosmetics, and perfumes to traditional Mexican arts and crafts, these shopping complexes offer it all.
We particularly recommend La Isla shopping village, it is the best shopping mall in Cancun. If you’re a history geek, you may explore the enigmatic old Mayan cities of Chichen Itza and Coba, which are located about an hour from Cancun. Also, don’t forget to explore Cenotes, which are Mexico’s natural swimming pools that are well-known for their curative abilities.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo may lack the white sand beaches of Cancun and Tulum, but it makes up for it with stunning mountainous terrain⛰️ ideal for a variety of adventure activities.
You can hike Mount Solmar or take an ATV adventure through the Baja Peninsula’s wild canyons, visit the stunning rock formations of El Arco, take a zipline tour or take a sunset tour the list of things to do in Cabo is virtually endless.
Cabo offers a variety of exciting water sports activities, including Kitesurfing, parasailing, Standup Paddleboarding, surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Whale watching, in particular, is extremely popular with tourists in Cabo.
Thousands of whales migrate from the Arctic to the warm waters of Mexico, providing spectacular views for tourists. Apart from adventure and water sports, Cabo San Lucas is renowned for its opulent shopping malls and world-class nightclubs.
Tulum’s top attraction is the Tulum Mayan Ruins. These ruins not only provide glimpses into ancient Mayan mystical culture but also provide breathtaking vistas of the Caribbean ocean.
Tulum ruins are located along the stunning Caribbean shoreline, where you can capture Instagram-worthy picturesque photos while also relaxing or swimming at a nearby gorgeous beach.
It’s unsurprising why Tulum’s ruins are so popular with tourists. Tulum’s Yoga classes are one of the things that set it apart from other destinations. Tulum is truly a spiritual haven for yoga enthusiasts and spiritual travelers.
There are several yoga classes in Tulum offered by highly skilled yoga instructors. Many of these yoga lessons take place amid jungles or on beaches, providing yoga enthusiasts with an incredible connection to nature.
Apart from its secluded beaches and yoga classes, Tulum has a good shopping scene. Tulum Beach Road is the best place in Tulum for those who enjoy shopping. There are numerous small shops here that sell everything from contemporary clothing to traditional local arts and crafts. And, like Cancun, Tulum does have Cenotes where you can relax in the healing waters.
Playa Del Carmen
In many ways, Playa del Carmen resembles Cancun. It is also highly developed like Cancun, with upscale shopping malls, lively nightclubs, and a variety of beach activities.
Playa del Carmen’s water activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, parasailing, canoeing, and jet skiing. If you are a shopping lover don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Fifth Avenue.
Fifth Avenue is home to numerous bars, restaurants, and shops that offer everything from clothing, jewelry to traditional arts and crafts. No wonder why Fifth Avenue is the top attraction of Playa del Carmen.
The Xcaret is another must-see attraction in Playa del Carmen. It is indeed a magnificent place, offering numerous unforgettable experiences such as swimming with dolphins and swimming in its underground rivers. Xcaret is a popular eco-archaeological park that features a variety of cultural, historic, and natural attractions, as well as opportunities to enjoy the area’s lively fauna and water activities.
Puerto Vallarta equates to an authentic Mexican town surrounded by lush greenery. It is one of the few destinations across The globe where lush green mountains meet stunning beaches.
Puerto Vallarta has something for everyone, from its beautiful beaches to boutique hotels to lush green jungles to traditional arts and crafts!! Therefore, if you want to experience authentic Mexican towns, adventure activities, and lush green forests, Puerto Vallarta is the best option.
There are a lot of things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Visit the canopy river, where you can take an ATV tour and zipline through the mountains while taking in the breathtaking views of lush green mountains, or explore Puerto Vallarta’s cobblestone streets and boutique-style colonial-era architecture.
Visit Plaza Caracol, Galerias Vallarta, and La Isla shopping village for endless shopping and entertainment activities. In other words, Puerto Vallarta offers a vast array of fun-filled activities for every type of person, which can easily keep you occupied for the duration of your vacation.
Most of the visitors to Cozumel are drawn by its laid-back atmosphere and world-class snorkeling. Unfortunately, because Cozumel is not as developed as other places, there is little to do on the island other than enjoying the lovely beaches and snorkeling.
As a result, Cozumel has far fewer world-class shopping malls and nightclubs than neighboring Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Cozumel is great for anyone looking to spend their days lazing on the beach or in a resort.
However, this does not mean that Cozumel is completely devoid of activities other than beaches and snorkeling. Visit Playa Mia Grand Beach Park, a terrific spot for families and children, where you can participate in exciting water activities or take a private jeep tour around Cozumel to see Cozumel’s natural wonders such as ancient Mayan ruins and lush green jungles.
Also, don’t miss out on visiting Cozumel’s natural swimming pools, or Cenotes, where you can relax, snorkel and swim in the island’s naturally refreshing waters.
|Cancun||Vibrant Nightlife, Best in Mexico|
|Cabo San Lucas||Vibrant Nightlife|
|Tulum||Laid-back but unique Nightlife|
|Playa del Carmen||Vibrant Nightlife|
|Puerto Vallarta||Vibrant and Multidimentionl Nightlife|
Cancun is without a doubt the place to go if you are a party animal. Cancun’s bustling nightlife is well-known worldwide. Cancun is not only known for its white-sand beaches or luxury all-inclusive resorts; it also features world-class nightclubs that will keep you entertained well into the wee hours.
Cancun is a heavily commercialized city, which is why it is home to numerous world-class nightclubs. Punta Cancun is the ideal location to explore the nightlife of Cancun. This neighborhood is densely filled with nightclubs and pubs where you can easily spend a full night dancing and drinking.
The best feature of Cancun’s nightlife is the availability of a Cancun party pass. With this party pass, you’ll get free drinks and easy entry to several Cancun nightclubs. Cancun’s party pass is an excellent choice if you’re searching for an economical and convenient way to party all night.
Cabo San Lucas
Like Cancun, Cabo San Lucas is a paradise for party animals. Cabo San Lucas is well-known for its lively nightlife. Cabo has a number of places where you can party at any time of day or night.
Downtown Cabo is the epicenter of the bustling Cabo nightlife. If you’re looking for a midday party, Mango deck beach club is the place to go. You may party all day on the Mango deck while taking in the stunning views of Lover’s beach and the historic El Arco.
If you’re looking for the best club experience, head to El Squid Roe, Blue Marlin Ibiza, or Pink Kitty in Cabo San Lucas, where you may drink and dance until the early hours of the morning. As with Cancun, you may purchase a Cabo nightlife party pass. With this party pass, you’ll enjoy free drinks and gain entry to a number of Cabo’s nightclubs without having to wait in line.
Tulum, unlike its neighbors Cancun and Playa del Carmen, does not have a vibrant nightlife. The Beach zone and Downtown Tulum are the two epicenters of Tulum’s nightlife.
Tulum’s beach zone offers an upscale nightlife experience in a jungle setting. So, even though, nightlife in Tulum is laid-back, it is still quite unique to other destinations. You will find many jungle-themed clubs here. Whereas more affordable clubs can be found in downtown Tulum.
Playa del Carmen
There is no doubt that Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico’s top nightlife destinations. In fact, Playa del Carmen’s vibrant nightlife is the primary reason why so many people visit Playa del Carmen each year.
Playa del Carmen has everything a party animal might want, from clubs and pubs to beach bars, themed bars, and rooftop bars. If you are a party animal, I would recommend visiting Playa del Carmen at least for one night, even if you are planning a trip to Cancun or the Riviera Maya.
Puerto Vallarta has a vibrant nightlife. Obviously, it is not as good as Cancun, but Puerto Vallarta is unquestionably one of Mexico’s best nightlife destinations.
One thing I like about Puerto Vallarta is that it does not have a one-way nightlife like the laid-back nightlife in Tulum or the bustling nightlife in Cancun. In other words, whether you prefer to spend your nights in a laid-back or lively setting, Puerto Vallarta has something for everyone.
Cozumel is not known for its vibrant nightlife. As I mentioned earlier, Cozumel is less developed than other destinations, and thus lacks the lively nightlife scene found in Cancun and Cabo.
Cozumel, too, has a slew of trendy beach bars and nightclubs famed for its live music, signature cocktails, and breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea.
However, none of Cozumel’s nightclubs come close to Cancun’s. In comparison to other well-known tourist locations in Mexico, Cozumel is frequently quiet after 10 p.m.
Cancun vs Cabo vs Cozumel vs Tulum vs Puerto Vallarta vs Playa del Carmen for Honeymoon? 💑
Without a doubt, Cancun is the best destination for honeymooners. Cancun is known for its affordable lodging, romantic beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a plethora of entertainment options. Cancun is an excellent honeymoon destination for couples who enjoy an active lifestyle.
However, if you’re not looking for the vibrant, crowded scene of Cancun and prefer a romantic tropical vibe with a tranquil atmosphere, as well as the option of spending your entire honeymoon in a resort or beach area with your partner, Cozumel is an excellent option.
If you are an adventurous couple interested in exploring a variety of activities, Cabo is unquestionably the best option.
Cancun vs Cabo vs Cozumel vs Tulum vs Puerto Vallarta vs Playa del Carmen for Family Vacation? 👪
If you want to spend your family vacation on the beach, Cancun is the best option. Cancun is cost-effective for families. Nearly $2000 will get you a good all-inclusive family vacation package that will meet almost all of your needs.
Cancun, with its world-class beaches, well-developed infrastructure, shopping, and entertainment options, is an excellent choice for a family vacation. If the beach isn’t a priority and your family wants to explore different things, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta are better options than Cancun.
Both Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta offer an abundance of family-friendly activities. However, we would recommend Puerto Vallarta because it is less expensive than Cabo and has more activities.