When you think of vacation hot spots in Mexico, Cancun and Los Cabos – or simply Cabo – should instantly pop up in your mind. But are there differences between the two? Of course, there are! For one, Cancun and Cabo are on the opposite ends of the country. Cancun is nicely tucked between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, while Cabo is at the tip of the Baja Peninsula and located between the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California. Keep scrolling to learn more about each destination’s distinct features, then decide which one suits your travel style.
If you decide to spend your vacation in Cancun, you’ll most likely be situated in the Hotel Zone. As the name suggests, it’s where over 100 hotels and resorts are located, but it also boasts 14 miles worth of gorgeous white-sand beaches epitomizing postcard perfection. Luckily, these beaches aren’t one size fits all, either. If you prefer kicking back under an umbrella while sipping a margarita and gazing out into the Caribbean, you’ll love the calm, uncrowded atmosphere of Playa Chac Mool. On the other side of the spectrum, Forum Beach Cancun is a magnet for party animals, particularly on the weekends. Thrill seekers should consider visiting Playa Delfines, which offers many opportunities for jet skiing and parasailing. For ultimate convenience to both adventure and relaxation, stay at one of Marriott’s luxury beachfront resorts – JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, Marriott Cancun Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun.
While Cancun shimmers with clear turquoise waters, Cabo’s deep blue ocean is just as beautiful. Stunning rock formations and a cool, dry climate are also defining traits of this resort area. But what you may not know is that several beaches are unsafe for swimming due to the Pacific’s fierce undertows. Still, there are swimmable beaches to be found. Medano Beach and the renowned Palmilla Beach both offer calm waters for taking a soothing dip. Snorkelers will have a field day observing a myriad of tropical fish at Santa Maria Beach, while surfers can catch some serious waves at Costa Azul.
Year after year, young revelers flock to the Caribbean to drink and dance the night away. So, it’s no fluke that Cancun is often considered one of the best – and most notorious – spring break destinations for all ages. The heart of Cancun’s vibrant nightlife beats in its so-called “super-clubs,” which includes staples such as Coco Bongo, Dady’ O and The City. In these super-clubs, you typically pay an entrance fee – roughly around $40 – then you’ll have access to an open bar the entire night. If clubbing isn’t your scene, places like Señor Frog’s and Carlos ‘N Charlie’s offer the same amount of fun in a slightly more casual ambiance.
Since many of the bars and clubs in downtown Cabo San Lucas are so close together, you won’t have any problems hopping from one place to the next. The iconic El Squid Roe rivals the energetic debauchery of Cancun’s super-clubs. Owned by legendary rocker Sammy Hagar, Cabo Wabo Catina is a must-visit destination for any live music fans. Celebrating a bachelorette party or embarking on a girls’ night out? Stop by the female-friendly Pink Kitty for nightly drink specials. Vacationers looking to cut and run from the ruckus can make a trip out to San Jose del Cabo, the placid counterpart of Los Cabo. Adorned with cobblestone streets and authentic colonial architecture, San Jose del Cabo provides an idyllic setting for enjoying a relaxing night out at a rooftop bar or rustic winery.
Yes, Cancun and Cabo have the beaches and all-inclusive hotels with world-class golf courses, spa amenities and water sports, but there is so much more to explore outside the confines of your cozy resort. In Cancun, you must tour at least one of the Mayan ruins. Chichen Itza, which was designated as one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007, boasts a magnificent 79-foot pyramid known as El Castillo. Make sure to bring some comfortable shoes to the ancient city of Coba, where you can actually climb a 138-foot pyramid. If you’d rather spend more time in modern civilization, upscale malls such as La Isla and Luxury Avenue can whet your shopping appetite, while Interactive Aquarium is perfect for families looking to swim with dolphins.
Cabo is brimming with rock formations and the most distinctive one of all is called El Arco. This natural landmark can be seen from land, but if you want to get closer, it’s worth hopping aboard a water taxi or glass-bottom boat. Cabo’s mountainous terrain lends itself to plenty of outdoor activities, from hiking up Mt. Solmar to ATV touring through Wild Canyon. Marlins and other billfish species are heavily populated in the waters surrounding Cabo, so pack your rod and reel if you’re a fishing enthusiast. The aforementioned San Jose del Cabo not only provides a laid-back nightlife, but also a trendy art district chock-full of galleries showcasing local, regional and international works.
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