There’s a reason that Cancun is the most popular destination in Mexico, receiving over six million tourists per year. Cancun’s airport offers direct flights to many international cities, its beaches have quintessential soft sand, and there’s a near-endless array of activities to do in and around the area.
So, if you’re looking to take your kids on vacation shortly after they start summer vacation, it might get you wondering—is May a good time to go to Cancun?
May is an excellent time to go to Cancun because it’s the shoulder season. Therefore, you can get better deals on accommodation, there are fewer tourists, and it’s unlikely you’ll encounter washout weather.
- May in Cancun: The Shoulder Season
- The Low-Down on Cancun’s Weather in May
- Does Cancun Get Hurricanes in May?
- Unique Marine Life in Cancun in May
- Understanding Sargassum Season
- May Celebrations in Cancun
- A Final Tip: Pack Bug Spray
- Are You Ready To Travel to Cancun?
May in Cancun: The Shoulder Season
The month of May is one of the few windows of Cancun’s shoulder season. Whereas the high tourist season runs from December to April, and the low season runs from June to October, May is a transition period between the high and low seasons.
Another advantage of traveling in May is that you won’t have to work your dates around major holidays, which can increase the cost of your family trip. Spring breakers will have already left Cancun’s shores, and Christmas and New Year’s festivities are over six months away.
Hotels often start lowering their prices in May, although you can expect the prices to be higher than during the low season. Nevertheless, the savings can make a difference between your family eating tacos on a sidestreet or at a beachside restaurant.
The Low-Down on Cancun’s Weather in May
May is springtime in Cancun and a transition time for the area. Therefore, you can expect relatively cooler weather and lower chances of rain early in the month. As you near June, you’ll be getting close to the low season, which offers less ideal weather conditions for some people.
But by traveling anytime in May, you’ll still be far from the heart of the low season, so we don’t recommend worrying about rearranging your dates in May strictly because of the weather. After all, climatic history isn’t a perfect indication of the weather you’ll experience during your trip.
The temperature in May starts warming up, and you’ll be able to enjoy tropical-like weather. The average high temperature is 87°F, and the lows are around the mid-70s.
If you travel towards the beginning of May, there’s a higher chance of encountering highs in the low 80s. Similarly, the later in May you visit Cancun, the more likely you could see some 90-degree days, given that they’ll be on the brink of summer.
Nevertheless, traveling to Cancun in May will keep you an arm’s distance from the highest temperatures, which happen at the beginning of August.
The water temperature in May is a bath-like 81 – 82 °F. So, it’s an ideal time to let your kids swim, although they might encounter some seaweed (more on this soon).
But before you let your kids swim, check the beach flags to get a feel for the ocean’s conditions. Despite Cancun’s beautiful turquoise water, riptides are more common than many tourists expect. A green flag on the beach means there’s a low chance of a riptide.
We’ll start with the good news if you’re not a fan of muggy weather: The humidity levels are relatively lower at the beginning of May in Cancun than at the end of the month.
And now, for the reality check. The average humidity in Cancun is at around 91% at the beginning of May. That number rises to about 99% by the end of the month. If you’re like us, you’re sweating at the thought of it!
Amount of Sunshine
The amount of sun you’ll encounter in Cancun in May decreases the later you travel. That’s because overcast and mostly cloudy days increase from 36% at the beginning of the month to 62% at the end of May.
Before researching sunnier destinations, though, consider this—Cancun still receives many partial or complete sunny days in May. And when the clouds roll through, it may feel welcomed, given Cancun’s heat.
Cancun’s chance of rain increases as you move from early to late May. The average monthly rainfall is about 4.6 inches. However, most of this rain accumulation occurs towards the mid and end of May.
The good news is that when it rains in Cancun in May, it doesn’t necessarily last all day. Instead, it’s much more common for there to be rainy periods—either light showers or heavy downpours accompanied by thunder—followed by a rain-free portion of the day.
So, while it’s always good to have a backup plan for your kids in the event of a washout rain day, it’s unlikely you’ll need to use it.
Cancun typically experiences light breezes in May instead of “full-blown” windy days. The average amount of wind ranges from 8.0 – 8.5 miles per hour, with the mornings typically having little wind and the breeze picking up in the afternoon.
You’ll feel more wind on the beach than walking in inland parts of Cancun. Most tourists welcome this breeze, given the heat.
Does Cancun Get Hurricanes in May?
If you’re wondering, “Is May a good time to go to Cancun to avoid hurricanes?” the answer is a resounding yes.
The official hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th. While that doesn’t mean a stray hurricane can’t happen in May, it’s unlikely.
So, you can feel confident booking your family trip in May, knowing that a hurricane won’t likely disrupt your vacation.
Unique Marine Life in Cancun in May
May is an exciting month to visit Cancun for two reasons—whale sharks pass through the area and sea turtles nest along the beaches. Let’s explore how your family can enjoy these natural wonders.
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, measuring up to around 40 feet long. Despite their name and size, they’re harmless creatures, so people enjoy snorkeling and diving with them.
You can take a whale shark tour in Cancun from April to August. That said, we recommend speaking with your guide before you sign up to ensure the whale sharks have already graced Cancun’s water for their migratory route. May is the beginning of when these sharks appear, so you might have a relatively lower chance of spotting them.
Whether you snorkel or dive, a boat will take you out into the open ocean, where your guide will be on the lookout for these sharks. Once they spot one, you’ll jump in the water and witness them swimming beneath you.
May marks the start of sea turtle nesting in Cancun, which lasts until September. The following four sea turtle species use Cancun as their annual egg-laying destination:
- Loggerhead Sea Turtle
- Hawksbill Sea Turtle
- Mesoamerican River Sea Turtle
- Leatherback Sea Turtle
The same sea turtles return to Cancun each year because they use the Earth’s magnetic field to guide them. The female babies that hatch in Cancun and survive will then return to the same beach someday to lay their eggs because of the magnetic field.
Admittedly, it’s unlikely that you’ll get to watch sea turtles laying their eggs since it often happens at night. However, you might see sea turtle tracks in the sand the following morning, and it’s common for local authorities to barricade sea turtle nests to prevent people from trampling them.
Understanding Sargassum Season
Sargassum is a brown seaweed with gas-filled pneumatocysts that allow them to float on the water’s surface. Their leaves and branches intertwine with individual sargassum plants, forming a single, raft-like mass that can be up to miles long.
We’ll start with the bad news: Sargassum season begins in May.
But if you’re looking for the silver lining, it’s that the season stretches until October. So, sargassum is in a shoulder season-like state during the month of May.
Yes, you’ll likely encounter sargassum floating in the water and dotting the beach if you travel to Cancun in May. However, it won’t be in the copious amounts that occur during the summer and early fall.
During the height of sargassum season, it’s challenging to swim in the ocean because the water is so saturated with seaweed, the rotting seaweed smells, and your view from the beach will often be of workers carting away wheelbarrows full of it.
May Celebrations in Cancun
If you love a good dose of culture when you travel, you might be wondering—is May a good time to go to Cancun for local festivities?
Yes, May is an excellent time to enjoy several cultural events in Cancun. Below are some of the highlights.
Festival de Cultura del Caribe
The Festival de Cultura del Caribe translates to the “Festival of Caribbean Culture.” Cancun sits in the Yucatan Penninsula, which is home to Mayan and Mexican cultures.
So, if you happen to be visiting Cancun during the first part of May, you can expect to encounter Mayan and Mexican dances, music, parties, and food celebrating the local heritage.
Even if your Cancun travel dates don’t fall during the Festival de Cultural del Caribe, you and your family will likely still witness Mayan performances when exploring the touristy parts of Cancun.
Make sure to tip these performers with some pesos or dollars if you stop to watch them; their livelihood depends on it.
Cinco de Mayo
Most Americans are familiar with Cinco de Mayo, which happens on May 5th each year.
Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico’s victory over French forces in 1862. Interestingly, Cinco de Mayo tends to be a bigger deal in the United States than in many parts of Mexico, except for Puebla near Mexico City.
However, Cancun rises to the occasion by showcasing drink specials at bars and hosting Cinco de Mayo parties at nightclubs.
Regatta del Sol a Sol
In our humble opinion, everyone should take the 30-minute ferry ride from Cancun to Isla Mujeres during their stay in Cancun. Isla Mujeres’ calm, turquoise waters are even nicer than Cancun’s (and that’s saying a lot!).
If your kids are interested in boats, then timing your Isla Mujeres visit during the Regatta de Sol a Sol is an excellent idea. Since 1968, this has been an annual yacht race. The race starts at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in Florida and ends in Isla Mujeres.
The dates of Regatta del Sol a Sol frequently fall in May. However, it sometimes takes place in April. So, if you’re interested in witnessing the arrival of the yachts, double-check the dates before booking your trip.
We include Cancun Jumpoff here because this multi-day event is likely one you’ll want to avoid if you’re traveling with young children. Cancun Jumpoff describes its event as the “largest urban event” outside the U.S.
It’s essentially one big party with lots of music and adults acting like children. The dates of the Cancun Jumpoff vary from year to year, but they typically fall at the end of May.
A Final Tip: Pack Bug Spray
Mosquitos aren’t too big of a nuisance in Cancun in May. That’s especially the case if you stay strictly in the beach area where the ocean breeze helps keep them away.
However, if you plan on taking your family on day trips to inland destinations like the Chichen Itza ruins or to swim in cenotes (sinkholes), we recommend wearing bug spray.
Mosquitos love Cancun’s humid, tropical climate and the dense vegetation that inland areas offer.
Are You Ready To Travel to Cancun?
Personally, we wouldn’t hesitate to travel as a family to Cancun in May. We love that we can get lower rates on accommodation without worrying about hurricanes or excessive amounts of sargassum.
Plus, swimming with whale sharks and looking for sea turtle tracks in the sand is fun for the kids.
So, we’ll let you get started on booking your plane tickets and packing your bags for what will surely be a fun-filled family vacation.