Dream Caribbean Travel

Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico's Pacific Coast

Which side are you on?

“People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Do you want to know which side of Mexico, the Mexican Caribbean or Mexico’s Pacific Coast, fits you best? Are you wondering where to vacation in Mexico?  Below, I break both side’s characteristics down for you here.

My hopes are that you will be able to choose which destination you want to venture to first.  Let’s get started.

*Hint: The best way to make sure you get the most out of your Mexico vacation is to utilize a Travel Agent.

Which side are you on?

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

How long does it take to get to Mexico?

Mexico is so close in proximity to so many of Americans but people from so many countries flock to vacation in Mexico every year. Mexico has the highest number of tourists in Latin America.

Below are average travel times from the two major hubs that fly in to both Mexico’s Caribbean and Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Mexico’s Caribbean only has one International Airport, located in Cancun. Mexico’s Pacific side has multiple International Airports.

Please note that these are examples of non-stop flight times. If your airline requires a stop or you chose a layover option, of course these times will be longer.

I used Dallas International Airport (DFW) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) because they are the major hubs that many flights to Mexico fly out of and where many will have a layover.  There are other airports however which your travel agent will make sure to find the best flight for you.

  • Mexican Caribbean from DFW

    Mexican Caribbean: 2.5 hours from Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW) to Cancun International Airport (CUN)

  • Mexican Caribbean from LAX

    Mexican Caribbean: 4 hours and 45 minutes from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Cancun International Airport (CUN)

  • Mexico's Pacific Coast: Los Cabos from LAX

    Los Cabos: 2.5 hours from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Los Cabos International Airport (SJD)

  • Mexico's Pacific Coast: Mazatlán from LAX

    Mazatlán: 2.5 hours from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Mazatlán International Airport (MZT)

  • Mexico's Pacific Coast: Puerto Vallarta from LAX

    Puerto Vallarta: 2.75 hours from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Tepic International Airport (TPQ)

  • Mexico's Pacific Coast: Huatulco from LAX

    Huatulco: 4 hours from Los Angeles International Airport to Huatulco International Airport (HUZ)

All just a hop, skip and a jump away. Both DFW and LAX also have multiple flights leaving all hours to fit nicely with any traveler’s schedule.  This all makes it a great destination for a quick getaway.

Which side are you on?

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Is the Mexican Caribbean Better or Mexico's Pacific Coast?

Do you have a favorite side?

Many tourists, travel agents and of course, us Travel Bloggers will have a favorite side of Mexico to vacation at.  Mexico is usually broken down into two parts, the Caribbean side and the Pacific side.  Other than these sides both being a vacation hub for travelers all over the world, they couldn’t be more different.

Repeat visitors tend to not only have their preferred side of Mexico to vacation, in most cases the favoritism doesn’t end there.  Once explorers get a taste of all these hot spots have to offer it can go as far as favorite city and even favorite hotel or places to stay, favorite eateries as well as day trips.

Yes, I even have my favorites to all of the above which I’ll share in later posts.

I have visited Mexico over 20 times myself, having stayed at multiple destinations and locations as well as explored all kinds of excursions so, I’ve got you covered.

Your adventure starts here!

Book your complimentary Tropical Getaway Planning Session today.

Get Started Now

The Mexican Caribbean

Just mentioning the word “Caribbean” makes you feel all warm, doesn’t it?

The Mexican Caribbean is known for its parties and nightlife and spring breakers drinking themselves into oblivion may come to mind. Probably because it reminds us of our college days. Yikes. But try to get past that because the true beauty of the Mexican Caribbean is waiting for you.

The crystal-clear blue waters lapping up onto the shore is the big draw for the areas of the Riviera Maya which includes Cancun, Puerto Morales, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum and so on. This isn’t all the Mexican Caribbean has to offer though. With nonstop activities and so many options to explore, boredom isn’t something you’ll experience while visiting the Mexican Riviera.

Don’t get me wrong, take some time to relax and read a good book on the picturesque beaches of this paradise but don’t miss out on the amazing story you have to write yourself by experiencing all that the Mexican Riviera in store for you.

History of the Mexican Caribbean

The Mexican Caribbean areas are newer, tourist wise, in respect to the West or Pacific side of the country and it still has room to grow.

Cancun first came into the lime light in 1974 when the Cancun International Airport was completed. For now, the Mexican Caribbean has one airport but there has been whispers of another in Tulum in the future.

Resorts like Playa Blanca, Blue Bay Hotel (now named Temptation) and Hyatt’s Cancun Caribe were the first to open their doors. It wasn’t long before tourism started trickling south into the other Mexican Caribbean cities, we now know so well.

Which side are you on?

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Mexico's Pacific Coast

Ah, the quaint and lazy towns of Mexico’s Pacific side.  Known more for its staggering cliffs and old-world charm than its Caribbean counterpart.  It seems to be more laid back with windy culture filled streets.

Acapulco opened their resort doors in the late 1940’s with Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán not far behind.  It isn’t hard to imagine that many of America’s rich and famous called these their “Go To” vacation hot spots back in the day.

Now, that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t buzz with that same charisma as its sister, the Caribbean.  As I mentioned above, people really do have their favorite locations, tending not to stray far from them and many celebrities still skip down to Mexico’s Pacific Coast to spa it up.

Coming up...

In the next few weeks, I will go over 4 unique destinations, Los Cabos & San Jose, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit plus Huatulco, which you will want to check out if you want to explore the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Above I gave the information for the 4 different International Airport for Mexico’s Pacific Coast paradise.

In the meantime check out Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa Del Carmen & Cozumel.

Today, Acapulco has lost its tourist status because it has become unsafe so I didn’t review this area.  You won’t want to miss out on the rest of this, enthralling piece of paradise though.  Cabo San Lucas and San Jose, Puerto Vallarta & Nayarit, Mazatlán and of course, many more cities are safe, visited by millions upon millions of international tourists a year.

Which side are you on?

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

When is the best time to visit Mexico?

Mexican Caribbean

The best time to visit the Mexican Caribbean is January through April for the cooler, dry weather.  Perfect for ancient Mayan Ruin exploration.

November through March is cooler, average temps in the low 80’s.  Being from Texas, I found this too cold to play long in the ocean and the majority of resorts do not heat their pools but it was prime time to visit the Mayan Ruin, Coba.

Riviera Maya’s rainy season is May through November with the peak being in June as well as September/October but like anywhere, this all depends on what the ocean decides to do.

May through August are the hottest months, reaching average temps of high 80’s, low 90’s (Fahrenheit)but don’t underestimate the humidity.  With this expect to feel like you are walking around in 110 degree (Fahrenheit) heat the further you are from the beach breezes.

Now this is perfect for your water excursions, in my opinion.

There are also many festivals and special dates throughout the year that you may want to either participate in or plan around.  I have gone through those in the link below.

Mexico’s Festivals and Celebrations

Mexico's Pacific Coast

The best time to visit Mexico’s Pacific Coast is December through March boasting cooler weather and very little rain with January being the coolest at an average of 72 degrees (Fahrenheit). 

The rainy season on the Pacific Coast is June through September with the hottest months being August through October, averaging 93 degrees (Fahrenheit). 

The ocean on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is cooler than the Caribbean, which you might have guessed but during November through March, you will be able to witness larger waves.  Enjoy surfers.

There are also many festivals and special dates throughout the year that you may want to either participate in or plan around.

Which side are you on?

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Frequently Asked Questions

What documents do I need when traveling to Mexico?

Before you board the plane or after you board, you will fill out 2 forms in order for you to enter Mexico.  One of these will act as your Mexican Passport, Mexico Visa (FMM Card). 

The Mexico Visa or FMM Card can be filled out prior to your departure or at the airport.  That is all up to preference as of today’s date.  Some people prefer to do this at the airport.  Your flight attendant will hand out the FMM cards (1 per person) and a family customs card (1 per family) once you take your seat on the plane. 

The down side to waiting until you depart is that sometimes the flight attendants run out of the forms and you will then have to wait until you land in Cancun

I have added the link to the Mexico Visas online here:   https://www.mexicotouristcard.com/

Do NOT LOSE this piece of paper.  I can not stress this enough.  If you do lose or misplace your Mexican Travel Visa, you will not be able to leave the country. 

You’ll have to go to the court house for a new one meaning, you miss your flight and have to book a new hotel and flight for after you are able to obtain a new one.

*You passport must be valid 6 months after you return home from you Mexico vacation.

Which side are you on?

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

What is the currency in Mexico?

The currency in Mexico is the MXN peso which last time I checked was 13 pesos to USD, United States Dollars.  This constantly changes and you can check out the current exchange rate before you go but you really don’t have to. 

In the tourist zones, which if you’re reading this, you’ll probably be staying in, your American Dollars and credit cards are accepted.

If you exchange currency, they will charge you a fee to exchange USD to MXN and another to exchange what you didn’t utilize back from MXN to USD.  This is also the reason that if the exchange rate is $13USD per MXN and the places you visit charges you as $11USD per MXN is because the person charging you will have to pay that exchange rate as well.

Spending time and money exchanging your dollars to peso and back again is energy you could spend doing something else but that’s my opinion.

Can I use my credit card/ATM card in Mexico?

Take a credit card with you on you Mexico vacation instead of your ATM card.  I say this because if you lose your plastic or if it comes up missing, you can deny charges but with your ATM card, your bank account could get wiped out and it could take months for the bank to investigate and refund the funds.  Same thing as in the states.

Make sure that you inform your Credit Card company of your intended travel and dates so that they don’t shut down any purchases you make while in Mexico.  We didn’t one year and spent almost 2 hours trying to fix it with our credit card company.  Thank got we had an international cell phone plan.  Could you just imagine the expense for the phone call or being stranded with out money?  Yikes!

The majority of places you’ll visit and book your tours from, do accept credit cards.

Which side are you on?

The Mexican Caribbean vs. Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Is Mexico safe?

Millions of people vacation in Mexico every year.  Making sure you are respectful and being aware of your surroundings goes a long way.

Make sure to read Health and Safety in Mexico for a more in depth view.

Your adventure starts here!

Book your complimentary Tropical Getaway Planning Session today.

Get Started Now

Know Before You Go

Caring About Your Travels

*Don’t forget to reach out to your Travel Agent to book your next adventure.

Never utilized a travel agent before? Check out How Utilizing A Travel Agent Equals A Better Vacation.



For Covid-19 restrictions and updates, check out the link below.