Packing List for Cancun, Mexico
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1. Cosmetics Case | 2. Beach Hat | 3. Earrings | 4. Sunscreen Cushion Compact | 5. White Cotton Playsuit | 6. Striped One Piece Swimsuit | 7. Macrame Bikini | 8. Off the Shoulder Bikini Set | 9. Wide Leg Pants | 10. Printed Mules | 11. Blue Striped Sandals | 12. Striped Yellow Beach Bag | 13. Karen Walker Emmanuel Octagonal Sunglasses | 14. Sunday Somewhere Valentine Sunglasses | 15. Embellished Wrap Mini Skirt | 16. Dodo Bar Or Jacquard Top | 17. Green Silk Shorts
Here’s What to Pack For Cancun, Mexico
After visiting Mexico three times this year alone, I feel like I’ve nailed down the art of packing for what to wear in Cancun, Tulum and the Yucatan! My essentials? Fun prints, breathable cotton and lots and lots of color. So far I’ve had the opportunity to head westward to check out funky boho Sayulita in the Riviera Nayarit, resort luxury in Cancun and laid back relaxation in Tulum. My packing list features dream outfits and beauty must haves from some of my favorite brands.
Mexican Packing List
Must Have Items
Swimsuits | My idea of the perfect stay in Mexico involves lots of water activity so I make sure to take at least 2, preferably 3 swimsuits so that they have time to fully dry in between wears. My picks? A comfy conservative one piece, a glam bikini set and an easy transitional type suit that works for both the pool and the poolside restaurant/bar.
My go-to stores for bathing suits (both one pieces and bikinis) are Revolve, Nordstrom and Shopbop. They always carry the best range of colors and styles in every price range. Shop my picks for the best one piece bathing suits here and cute bikinis here.
Sunscreen | A must have wherever you go, I like to bring both a facial sunscreen and all over body sunscreen. For the face, this Japanese brand is my hands down favorite – it’s non greasy, affordable and non-tacky without any scent. For the body, I love this broad spectrum sunscreen which smells like coconuts and leaves your legs nice and glowy.
Aloe Vera | Sunburns inevitably happen and aloe very gel is the key to relieve any pain. Currently I’m using this organic version made from cold pressed aloe.
Bug Spray | There are definitely mosquitoes and bugs around so protect yourself from any potential viruses by bringing along some buy spray in advance. Look for a high level of deet in order to be effective and just make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after applying.
I use this spray if I’m in the woods or a forested area but for regular day time use, I’ve been loving these wrist bands. The bracelets contain a blend of insect repelling oil so you don’t have to apply bug spray directly on your skin. I usually get 2 – one for my wrist and one for the ankle otherwise the range of coverage doesn’t seem to extend across the full body.
Snorkel Gear | If you love water sports and are thinking of snorkeling, pack your own. It’s much cheaper to buy an inexpensive set off Amazon than to rent… not to mention more sanitary. I got this inexpensive snorkel set off Amazon, which comes with its own waterproof bag for easy transport.
If you’re in Cancun, popular day trip options include visiting a Mexican cenote or underwater sink hole and swimming with turtles at Akumal. I did both and really enjoyed both of them but I would recommend bringing your own snorkel set if this is an activity you’d like to try. I forgot and bought a set on the street and it was marked up quite high so Amazon is a better bet.
Lightweight Beach Towel | Typically hotels will provide towels but I like to bring a small, light weight towel of my own just in case. This is my favorite as it’s made of microfiber and dries quickly – perfect for those times when you only stay overnight in a hotel.
Travel Bags, Organizers & Electronics
Suitcase | Since it was two of us, C and I flew on Delta to the Riviera Nayarit with one checked luggage and ugh was that a mistake. Delta and most American airlines don’t consider anything except Mexico City to be “international” so we were stuck paying for luggage fees. Honestly it’s such crap.
I learned from that and when I headed to Tulum and Cancun a couple months later, made sure to only go carry-on. I’m currently using a CalPak hard shell carry on and a Raden hard shell carry on, the later of which comes with a portable charger built in. Both are honestly quite small – you can definitely fit more in a soft shell carry-on, but I like the look of the hard ones. Also the chargeable battery in the Raden case further cuts down on space.
Packing Cubes | I like to group clothing by color or function and pack each group of items snugly in their own packing cube. For example: swimsuits and gym clothes in one bag, dresses in another, pants and shorts in a third, etc.
I’m one of those people that don’t unpack in a hotel room – I just heap my clothes in a pile in my suitcase, ha – so packing cubes are a lifesaver! They let my suitcase stay organize instead of “exploded” as my mom likes to say… and they also maximize space in a small carry-on.
I typically bring one empty, extra-large packing cube to serve as my travel laundry bag once clothes get worn. There’s nothing worse than mixing fresh and dirty clothes in one tight compartment!
Amazon has their own inexpensive 4 piece packing cube set and several travel blogger friends swear by this set from eBags. Personally I use a set from CalPak which I love. They’re machine washable for easy cleaning and if you have CalPak luggage – they’re perfectly sized for their carry on luggage pieces!
Travel Bottles | If I know I’m going somewhere tropical, I prefer to pack my own hair products since my hair tends to dry out from chlorine. I currently like these for shampoo and conditioner.
Canon 5D Mark III | This is my go-to travel camera and I brought along one lens, my trusty 24-70mm for Mexico. Along with the camera, I also bring my spare battery, battery charger and extra SD and CF cards. I now shoot with just SD cards since I realized you can insert them in your laptop to easily offload, but I keep all my cards in this wallet to keep them organized and easily reachable.
When I kept my SD cards loose, I would lose them all the time – even if they were in a zippered pocket. The memory card case fits both SD and CF cards and was under $7, so it’s a no-brainer purchase.
Portable Charger | In the end, pretty much all my photos were taken with just the iPhone. I currently use an iPhone 6S and this Anker portable charger to keep it fully charged at all times. This charger is small and sleek with enough life to fully charge an iPhone 2x. Also I really love Anker’s products since they have great customer service. I once bought a product that ended up dying and they quickly sent me a replacement free of charge, so I highly recommend them!
GoPro | We did lots of water activities so a GoPro was great to have – from snorkeling to SUP paddle boarding to just swimming in the ocean. For those half sky, half underwater shots I use this GoPro dome. I also bring along spare batteries and SD cards since the GoPro battery tends to drain quickly.
Avocados from Mexico? Here are the Best Local Mexican Souvenirs
Sayulita had some of the coolest boutique shops – if you love color, neon and skulls you’ll enjoy shopping in the Riviera Nayarit. There were also lots of vendors selling really gorgeous beach towels directly on the beach. I kicked myself for not bringing more pesos! If you want to try authentic local Tequila and Agave, I really liked the selection of spirits at Sayulita Wine Shop – they also have free mezcal tastings.
In Cancun, you can’t avoid the vendors if you tried! This is especially true about Chichen Itza which was overrun by hoots. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, just entertaining. On one particular street a guy started yelling out “cheaper than free! cheaper than free!”
Things to buy in Cancun and Tulum include beautiful woven hammocks, tie dye t shirts, small knick knacks, lots of cotton dresses, gemstone jewelry and stone board game sets.
Read more: The 8 Best Restaurants in Tulum Mexico
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