Jamaica vs Cancun: An Honest Comparison to Help You Decide!

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Last updated on April 27, 2023 by Wandering our World

Dreaming of a tropical getaway but can’t decide between Jamaica and Cancun? Well, we’re here to help you make that decision with our honest comparison of these two popular destinations. 

Good job too, as these two destinations are actually very different from each other!

For example, Jamaica is a vibrant Caribbean island nation that offers a taste of island life like no other. With warm hospitality, stunning natural scenery, and rich cultural heritage, Jamaica has long been a popular destination for travellers seeking relaxation and adventure.

So if you’re looking for a laid-back beach holiday with a touch of adventure, Jamaica should be on the top of your list.

In contrast, Cancun is a world-renowned ‘party island’ on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. With its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and sunny weather year-round, it’s no wonder why Cancun is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world. 

So if you want a vacation with big city vibes and resorts, and a happening nightlife, then Cancun will be right up your alley.

Still undecided? No worries! Here we’ll break down the differences between these two destinations and help you decide which one will be the perfect fit for your next vacation. 

So, let’s dive in and explore the beauty and excitement that Jamaica and Cancun have to offer!


  1. Which Has Better Beaches?
  2. Which Is Better For Adventure & Water Sports?
  3. Which Has Better Food?
  4. Which Has Better Nightlife?
  5. Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
  6. Which Is Better For A Family Vacation?
  7. Which Is Easier To Get Around?
  8. Which Is Cheaper?
  9. Where You Should Stay According To Your Budget
  10. Which Has Better Weather?
  11. Which Is The Better Choice?
An infographic pitting Cancun vs Jamaica and showing some of the key differences that will be discovered later in the article.

Which Has The Better Beaches?

Jamaica hosts some of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean. With crystal clear waters and a stunning coast lined with lush green gardens and forests, Jamaica’s beaches are a sight to behold.

Beaches like the iconic Seven Mile Beach in Negril, and the Frenchman’s Cove are must-visits. 

Among the white sands and azure blue waters, you can also find oceanfront restaurants, palm trees and luxury hotels in the backdrop. Some beaches are open to the public where you can just head down to and take a swim, while others are within resorts.

However the beaches in Cancun give serious competition to Jamaica. Internationally famous beaches are aplenty here; in fact, many are awarded with a “Blue Flag”. 

The Blue Flag distinction is a prestigious award that recognizes beaches on the basis of their high environmental standards. Playa Del Nino, Playa Marlin and Playa Coral are some of the beaches in Cancun that have the blue flag waving on their shores.

And due to that, many people regard Cancun as having better beaches than Jamaica.

drinks with blur beach and sunset in background

Which Is Better For Adventure & Water Sports?

There are many opportunities for adventure and water sports in both Jamaica and Cancun.

While Cancun is ideal for those who enjoy more urban, commercialised activities; Jamaica’s more authentic atmosphere gets you closer to local culture.

Let’s take a look at each destination in depth:

Adventure & Water Sports In Jamaica

Jamaica is a paradise for adventure seekers and outdoors-lovers. From striking peaks offering many great hiking trails, to tropical scenery with waterfalls, rivers and beaches, Jamaica has it all!

Explore the island’s lush greenery and natural scenery, such as the breathtaking Dunn’s River Falls, and the Enchanted Garden, by hiking and zip lining.

Plus places like the Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios, with its tropical forest adventure tour, will get your adrenaline pumping!

Other activities include the chair lift at the Rainforest Sky Explorer, where you can look down at the heart of the forest from above treetops, and the 1000m-long Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica, which will have you zoom through the forest on a sled aided only by gravity.

With plenty of protected areas including reefs, Jamaica also has some of the best spots in the Caribbean for scuba diving and snorkelling.

Sites like Stingray City, and the Montego Bay Marine Park, will allow you to swim with dolphins, sting rays, and other marine life. You can even visit an underwater wreckage site and check out sunken ships from WWII!

National boats of the Blue lagoon, Jamaica.

Adventure & Water Sports In Cancun

Water sports enthusiasts will find plenty of options to make their day in Cancun. After all, the city’s many beaches and natural scenery come with clear waters and some of the best diving sites.

Take advantage of the beaches to indulge in your favourite water sports. Try your hand at jet skiing, or have the thrill of your life parasailing high above the waters.

Strong winds allow kitesurfing and windsurfing, both of which are popular activities.

However some of the best views of Cancun are under the water, rather than on land.

Snorkelling and scuba diving are quite popular, with some great diving sites and spots. The MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte), for example, is an underwater ‘museum’ with art installations bound to the sea floor.

But arguably the most magical experience you can have in Cancun is snorkeling through glowing water. Yes, you read that right – the bioluminescent beaches over the Great Mayan Reef lit up at night, with light only from the moon and the glowing microorganisms in the water.

girl in snorkeling mask dive underwater with tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool.

Which Has Better Food? 

This one is for the foodies! Which has better cuisine – Jamaica or Cancun?

Well, both are unique in their own ways, and both have different cultural influences. Jamaican cuisine is a mix of African, European, and indigenous influences, while Cancun offers a mix of traditional Mexican food, along with international cuisine.

Jamaican cuisine is known for its bold and spicy flavours, influenced by the country’s mixed heritage.

One of the most popular dishes is jerk chicken, which is marinated in a spicy blend of herbs and spices and then grilled to perfection.

Other popular Jamaican dishes include ackee and saltfish; a breakfast dish made with the national fruit of Jamaica and dried and salted cod.

Cancun’s cuisine, on the other hand, is heavily influenced by traditional Mexican fare, with a focus on fresh ingredients and bold flavours.

Don’t forget to try the popular dishes such as tacos al pastor, which are made with marinated pork and pineapple, and ceviche, a dish made with fresh seafood, lime juice, and spices.

Another must-try dish is chiles en nogada, a festive dish made with stuffed peppers and a creamy walnut sauce. Cancun also offers a variety of seafood dishes, such as grilled octopus and shrimp cocktail.

And as a tourist destination, Cancun has plenty of international cuisines and fast food options, so if you’re not up for local food, you’re still covered!

Jamaican food, jerk chicken on a BBQ barrel on the street

Which Has Better Nightlife?

Jamaica has a lively yet relaxed nightlife scene that caters to a variety of tastes. You can enjoy a night out dancing to club music, or relax at a beachfront bar with a cold drink. Plus jamming to reggae until 4AM is a pretty normal thing to do here.

Kingston, the capital city has various music venues and nightclubs offering live music, dancing, and drinks.

But the more popular destinations for nightlife in Jamaica are Montego Bay and Negril, both of which boast numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants.

In Montego Bay, Margaritaville, Pier 1, and Rick’s Cafe are some of the top spots to visit. While in Negril, the Jungle Nightclub is the perfect place to go for a wild night out. You can also enjoy early evening cocktails at the beachside bars, and even mingle with the locals.

Cancun, on the other hand, has always been the “party king” of the Caribbean. So if you’re looking to go wild then, Cancun will likely be the best choice for you.

Famous for its vibrant and wild nightlife, Cancun has something to cater to all tastes. The popular Hotel Zone is party central, and is home to some of the biggest and best bars and nightclubs in the world

The Coco Bongo is a famous spot, featuring live performances and a variety of music genres. Other popular spots for nightlife in Cancun include The City, Mandala, and Dady’O.

In addition to nightclubs, Cancun also offers various dinner shows, such as the Mexican Folkloric Ballet, as well as live music performances and cultural events.

Multiracial friends having fun dancing together outdoor at beach party - Soft focus on left girl face

Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?

If you’re looking for a romantic holiday or a honeymoon trip, Jamaica and Cancun are both amazing options to consider.

Jamaica is a paradise for couples seeking a laid-back and romantic atmosphere. You can spend your days lounging on beaches, surrounded by lush tropical landscapes. And the sunsets? They’re simply breathtaking!

And for a truly special experience, try a romantic sunset catamaran cruise when on the island.

Or treat yourselves to a couples massage at a spa. With a range of luxury resorts and private villas, you can find the perfect spot for a secluded and intimate escape.

Cancun is also a great choice for a romantic getaway, with its white sandy beaches, clear waters, and luxurious resorts.

Yet, while Jamaica offers a laid-back and relaxing vibe, Cancun offers a more vibrant and energetic atmosphere.

The nightlife scene in Cancun is bustling, and there are plenty of activities and adventures to enjoy together during the day.

Or take a sunset stroll along the beach, and later retire to wine and dine at one of the world-class dining options. You can also enjoy a candlelit dinner with ocean views. 

So which is better for you will depend on the holiday or honeymoon you’d like. Looking for a more relaxed vibe, choose Jamaica. But if you and your partner want an energetic honeymoon, Cancun will be perfect.

Cancun beach with boat from drone
iStock.com/Jonathan Ross

Which Is Better For A Family Vacation?

Both Jamaica and Cancun are family-friendly destinations, with tons of activities to do and places to see.  

However, Jamaica may be better suited for families with younger children who are looking for a more laid-back and relaxing vacation.

Meanwhile Cancun is a great choice for families with older children who are looking for a more adventurous and action-packed holiday. 

That said, Jamaica is an excellent choice for families with children of all ages.

The island’s warm weather and stunning beaches make it an ideal destination for outdoor activities like snorkelling, swimming, and building sandcastles. 

There are plenty of other family-friendly attractions in Jamaica to explore too, such as Dunn’s River Falls, and the Mystic Mountain Adventure Park, where children can indulge in plenty of fun sports and activities.

Cancun is also a great destination for families. The city’s beautiful beaches and clear waters offer endless opportunities for fun in the sun, and there are plenty of activities to keep children entertained, such as zip-lining, water parks, and nature reserves. 

For a fun and educational experience, the Interactive Aquarium and the Xcaret Eco Park are good places to visit.

Cancun also has a wide range of family-friendly resorts, with amenities like kids’ clubs, pools, and entertainment.

An aerial view of the beautiful coastline of Negril on a bright sunny summer day

Which Is Cheaper?

Thinking about your wallet? There are several factors to consider when comparing the costs of a vacation in Jamaica and Cancun.

In terms of airfare, the cost of flights to both destinations will vary depending on your departure location and the time of year.

On average, flights to Cancun tend to be slightly cheaper than flights to Jamaica, but food and hotels can be more budget friendly in Jamaica.

When it comes to accommodations, both destinations offer a range of options, from budget-friendly to luxury.

However, in general, Jamaica tends to have more all-inclusive resorts, which can be a cost-effective option if you want to simplify your vacation budget.

For both destinations, there are options for budget-friendly meals as well as high-end dining experiences. However, food and drink prices can be slightly higher in Cancun than in Jamaica.

Overall, there is no clear winner in terms of affordability between Jamaica and Cancun. Both destinations can offer budget-friendly options, but Jamaica does have the potential to be slightly cheaper.

Port Antonio Jamaica Frenchman’s Cove aerial Footage
iStock.com/Sven Thilo

Where You Should Stay According To Your Budget


Budget: It’s hard to find luxurious beachside accommodation in the city’s famous hotel zone without stratospheric prices attached to it.

However Oleo Cancun Playa Boutique All Inclusive Resort offers an all-inclusive experience – and even rooms with sea views – at more than half the price of many neighboring hotels. See photos and rates!

Luxury: Set in the heart of the action in Cancun’s hotel zone, and with every luxury imaginable including butler service, Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun with its unbelievable beachside views and infinity pool is as high end as you can get. See photos and rates!


Budget: Set on 400 acres, the excellent Half Moon all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay has three kilometers of private white-sand beach and features three restaurants and five bars!

The active-minded can enjoy the basketball, volleyball, squash, and tennis courts, and there’s an 18-hole golf course and spa. It’s one of those resorts we all want to stay in at least once in our lifetime. See photos and rates here!

Luxury: The stunning GoldenEye resort features private beaches, hidden coves, and a saltwater lagoon. GoldenEye was actually author Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat, with all 14 James Bond novels being written here.

The property features three outdoor pools and a full spa. Guests can choose from a range of villas, beach huts, and cottages, including beachfront and lagoon-front properties. See photos and rates here!

Couple enjoying beach vacation holidays at tropical resort with swimming pool and coconut palm trees near the coast with beautiful landscape at sunset, honeymoon destination

Which Is Easier To Get Around?

In Jamaica you have several transport options for getting around, including taxis, rental cars, and buses. Taxis are widely available and can be hailed on the street or arranged through your hotel.

Rental cars are also available, but be aware that driving in Jamaica can be challenging due to the country’s narrow roads. Buses are a more affordable and convenient option, although they can be crowded and unreliable.

In Cancun, renting a car is convenient if you intend on doing day trips. Just be sure to opt for the optional insurance, as the traffic situation can be crazy there, and it’s better to be safe.

Although, if you’re in the Hotel Zone where the resorts are based, you won’t need to rent as much, as the area is walkable and has everything you’d need.

Taxis are available in Cancun, and if you choose to take one, always agree on the price before booking it. Public transport is another option that is economical and useful if you’re travelling to other cities.

Incredible view of the white sandy beach from a bird's eye view. Top view of beautiful white sand beach with turquoise sea water and palm trees, aerial drone shot.

Which Has Better Weather?

When it comes to Jamaica and Cancun, the weather can vary throughout the year, so it’s important to plan your trip accordingly.

Jamaica is known for its tropical climate, with warm temperatures all year round. The best time to visit is from December to April, when the weather is dry and sunny.

However, if you’re looking for a quieter experience, May to November is the off-season when you can enjoy lower rates and fewer crowds.

The temperatures can be slightly higher during these months, but there may be some rain showers, so overall it will be pleasant.

Cancun, on the other hand, has a subtropical climate, which means it’s hot and humid throughout the year. The best time to visit is the dry season, from December to April.  The temperatures are warm but not too hot, and there’s plenty of sunshine.

If you don’t mind the occasional rain shower, May to October can be a great time to visit Cancun too. Just keep an eye out on the weather in advance as these months are part of hurricane season.

Akumal bay - Caribbean white beach in Riviera Maya, coast of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Mexico
iStock.com/Simon Dannhauer

Jamaica vs Cancun: Which Is The Better Choice?

In the end, whether you choose Jamaica or Cancun for your next vacation, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience. Both destinations offer gorgeous beaches, endless activities, delicious food, and warm hospitality.

Jamaica boasts a laid-back beach vibe, unique experiences, and plenty of adventure sports, while Cancun is known for its lively atmosphere, luxurious resorts, and world-class nightlife.

Ultimately, the choice between these two destinations comes down to personal preference and what kind of vacation you’re looking for.

So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to make memories that will last a lifetime!


  • Wandering our World

    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.