Cancun vs Bahamas 2021: Best Caribbean Vacation

Category

Cancun

Bahamas

Cost

$691 per person per week

$1211 per person per week

Attractions

Beaches, nightlife, watersports, Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, Cancun underwater museum, Cozumel, Tulum, Urbano Kabah Park

Beaches, watersports, waterparks, Nassau, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Harbor Island, Pig Beach, Pink Sands Beach

Weather

Tropical climate. Average temp 77°F. Dec–Apr warm weather and peak travel, Jun–Aug very hot, possible hurricanes Jun–Nov

Tropical climate. Average temp 80°F. Dec–Apr warm weather and peak travel, Jun–Aug very hot, possible hurricanes Jun–Nov

Food and Drink

Excellent Mexican food, although caters to a tourist clientele, and not as authentic as elsewhere in Mexico. Accessible bars, cafes, and restaurants serving international cusine

Excellent seafood. Cuisine is somewhat similar to that of the American south. Plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. Coconut rum is a very popular drink.

Accomodations

100+ world class luxury all-inclusive resorts in the "Hotel Zone" along the beach. Plenty of villas and condos also available for rent

Wide variety of accommodations available. From Atlantis, the most famous all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, to villa and condo rentals.

Accessibility

Frenquent direct flights from most major cities in the US

Frenquent direct flights from most major cities in the US

Cancun and the Bahamas are two of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean. Known for their white sand beaches, tropical waters, nightlife, and excursions and activities, both Cancun and the Bahamas are great choices for a vacation. The better choice for you will depend on what you are interested in doing and what your budget is. When considering Cancun vs Bahamas for your next vacation, here are the factors you should take into account.

Cancun vs Bahamas: Attractions and Activities

Cancun

Cancun vs Bahamas: Aerial View of Cancun's Hotel Zone
Cancun vs Bahamas: Aerial View of Cancun’s Hotel Zone

When you think of a Caribbean vacation, changes are you picture white sand beaches, turquoise waters, palm trees, and luxury hotels. The good news is, both Cancun and the Bahamas offer all these and more. Despite having many similarities, there are also some major differences between Cancun and the Bahamas. When looking at attractions in Cancun vs Bahamas, here is what you should take into account. 

Cancun’s beaches are some of the nicest in the world, and are accessible directly from most of the major resorts in the city. Popular activities on the beaches and the ocean include swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving at the nearby reefs, parasailing, motorboating, jet skiing, hoverboarding, paddleboarding, or just sitting back and relaxing on the beach with a drink in your hand. The wide variety of activities Cancun offers make it an ideal destination for everyone from spring breakers to honeymooners to families.

Cancun vs Bahamas: Chichen Itza is a Popular Day Trip Destination from Cancun
Cancun vs Bahamas: Chichen Itza is a Popular Day Trip Destination from Cancun

Other popular attractions Cancun offers include day trips to go swimming in local underground caves, called cenotes; trips to the nearby Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, which are some of the best preserved in the world; visiting Urbano Kabah Park; going on a day trip to the nearby island of Cozumel, which offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world; visiting the Cancun underwater museum; and going to shops and restaurants in the area.

Perhaps even more famous than Cancun’s beaches is its nightlife. Cancun is renowned as a party city, and more than lives up to its reputation, with hundreds of nightclubs and bars that are open every night until 4am or later. Cancun’s clubs cater to all ages, and with open air and rooftop atmospheres, live entertainment and DJs, theme nights and more, the clubs have something that appeals to everyone.

Bahamas

Cancun vs Bahamas: Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas
Cancun vs Bahamas: Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas

The majority of tourism to the Bahamas is concentrated around the capital city, Nassau, so that is the area we will primarily focus on when discussing the Bahamas.

Like Cancun, the Bahamas is probably best known for its beaches. The calm, deep waters off the coast of the islands of the Bahamas are perfect for swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, parasailing, and more. Offshore, accessible by boat are a wealth of reefs teeming with tropical fish, turtles, sponges, and other marine life. The reefs are an excellent spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, or viewing from a glass bottom boat.

Other popular activities in the Bahamas include going shopping at the open air markets in Nassau, swimming with wild pigs on Pig Beach, going to the world-famous waterpark at Atlantis, ATV tours and sightseeing, and more.

Cancun vs Bahamas: Pig Beach in the Bahamas
Cancun vs Bahamas: Pig Beach in the Bahamas

The nightlife in the Bahamas is excellent, with a wide variety of bars, nightclubs, and lounges to choose from. The tropical scenery sets the theme, and there are many rooftop and beach bars for those who prefer an outdoor environment. Although the nightlife scene is not as big or varied as it is in Cancun, there is still plenty to do when the sun goes down.

One notable difference between Cancun vs Bahamas is the culture. Mexico and the Bahamas obviously have very different cultures–different food, customs, dress, traditions, industries, etc. That being said, Cancun does not have much to offer in the way of Mexican culture. The city was constructed in the 1970s specifically as a tourist destination, and it can often feel like a tourist “bubble,” almost like a tourist outpost of the United States, rather than an authentic Mexican city. 

Cancun vs Bahamas: A View of Nassau from a Cruise Ship
Cancun vs Bahamas: A View of Nassau from a Cruise Ship

The all-inclusive resorts in the Bahamas have a similar feel, but the nearby capital city of Nassau is completely different. Going to Nassau is a unique experience, and the city still feels like an authentic Caribbean city, not overrun by tourists. A trip to Nassau will let you experience Bahamian culture, food, music, markets, and more in a way that you can’t get with Mexican culture in Cancun.

Accommodations

Cancun

Cancun vs Bahamas: View from a Beachfront Resort in Cancun
Cancun vs Bahamas: View from a Beachfront Resort in Cancun

An important factor when deciding between Cancun vs Bahamas is the accommodations. The majority of visitors to Cancun stay in one of the all-inclusive resorts located in the 15-mile strip of land along the beach known as the Hotel Zone. The resorts in the hotel zone have everything you need for a whole vacation–elevated pools with a view of the ocean, direct beachfront access, five star dining, luxury suites, spas, gyms, resort-organized events like day trips and snorkeling adventures, and much more.

Some of the best resorts in Cancun include:

All-Inclusive Resorts

Royal Sands – Resort & SPA – A beachfront luxury resort centrally located in Cancun’s hotel zone, with easy access to some of the best beaches, nightclubs, shopping centers, and restaurants in the city. With beautiful suites, private terraces, extensive pools, fine dining, a spa, and a fitness center, Royal Sands is an ideal resort to get the full Cancun experience

Hotel Riu Cancun – A luxury beachfront resort with 10 onsite bars and restaurants, 4 pools, a spa, fitness center, live entertainment, water sports equipment rentals and lessons, and more, Hotel Riu Cancun is one of the best resorts in the city.

Grand Oasis Cancun  – All-inclusive beachfront hotel with luxury suites, an onsite casino, 21 restaurants and bars, pools, a spa, fitness center, and a 9-hole golf course, Grand Oasis Cancun is a resort that you can spend your entire vacation without ever leaving.

Budget Options

Parador Hotel – Located in the center of the city, this hotel features an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and easy access to some of Cancun’s best restaurants and shopping centers.

Avalon Baccara Cancun – A small but beautiful hotel located very close to the beach. Has an outdoor swimming pool and restaurant onsite.

The Bahamas

Cancun vs Bahamas: Another View of Atlantis in the Bahamas
Cancun vs Bahamas: Another View of Atlantis in the Bahamas

The Bahamas also has a wealth of all-inclusive resorts, including the famous Atlantis Paradise Island, which is easily the most famous resort in the Caribbean. Atlantis features luxury suites, residential style suites, casual accommodations, and more. The main attraction in Atlantis is the waterpark, which is one of the largest and most famous in the world, featuring the Power Tower, a water slide over 120 feet tall; the Mayan Temple, a six-story water slide that sends riders through a clear tunnel that spans a shark-filled lagoon; and a number of other waterslides and attractions. The resort also has a golf course, many pools, charter boats, and Dolphin Cay, where visitors can swim with dolphins.

Other great resorts in the Bahamas include:

All-Inclusive Resorts

Rosewood Baha Mar – A beautiful beachfront resort in Nassau with luxury suites, stunning ocean views, two outdoor pools, five restaurants and bars, and excellent staff.

The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas – A lovely resort located right on the beach in downtown Nassau, The Ocean Club has beachfront access, three pools, fine dining, and much more.

Budget Options

Golden Palm B & B – a charming hotel in Nassau located a 10 minute drive from the airpot and a 5 minute walk from the beach. Comfortable rooms, a nice pool, friendly and helpful staff, and located away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s major tourist areas

Paradise Harbour Club & Marina – family friendly hotel located in Nassau, an 8 minute walk from the beach. Has an outdoor pool, pool bar, helpful staff, and golf, snorkeling, and boating nearby.

The bottom line: It’s hard to pick a winner between Cancun vs Bahamas when it comes to accommodations. Both locations have some of the nicest resorts in the world. However, Atlantis Paradise Island is hard to beat, and is overall the best resort in either location.

Accessibility

Cancun vs Bahamas: Getting to the Bahamas is Faster from the East Coast
Cancun vs Bahamas: Getting to the Bahamas is Faster from the East Coast

One of the most important things to consider when planning a vacation is the accessibility of the destinations you are considering. Nothing can ruin an otherwise great vacation faster than spending all day in the airport waiting for connecting flights, or sitting on a plane for countless hours, or landing after a long flight and having to drive or take a taxi another hour or more to your destination.

Fortunately, when it comes to Cancun vs Bahamas, both locations are served by frequent flights from most major cities in the US and Canada. Both locations are also located in fairly close proximity to each other, so there usually is not a tremendous difference in flight time to one vs. the other. If you really want to limit your time in the air as much as possible, you should check the flight times from your local airport, but as a general rule, flying to the Bahamas is faster for those located on the east coast, and flying to Cancun is faster for those on the west coast or central.

Another thing to keep in mind when looking at the accessibility of Cancun vs Bahamas is that Cancun is an archipelago of over 700 islands, so if your plan for visiting the Bahamas includes visiting different islands, you will spend a lot more time in boats and airplanes that you would in Cancun. 

Weather

Cancun vs Bahamas: Both Locations See 340+ Sunny Days Per Year
Cancun vs Bahamas: Both Locations See 340+ Sunny Days Per Year

Cancun and the Bahamas both have very similar climates, with long, hot and humid summers, warm and sunny winters, and a rainy season stretching from May to October. Both locations see an average of around 340 sunny days per year, making bad weather very unlikely to ruin your vacation at either destination.

Overall, there is not enough differences between the climates of the two locations to have weather influence your decision. That being said, you should keep an eye on any reports of hurricanes or tropical storms in the area, especially during Atlantic hurricane season, from June to the end of November, and plan your vacation accordingly.

Food and Drink

Cancun vs Bahamas: The Bahamas is Famous for its Fresh Seafood and Caribbean Dishes
Cancun vs Bahamas: The Bahamas is Famous for its Fresh Seafood and Caribbean Dishes

As mentioned above, one significant difference between Cancun and the Bahamas is the culture of the two locations. In many respects, Cancun can feel more like a tourist theme park than an authentic Mexican city, whereas most of the cities you visit in the Bahamas provide rich cultural experiences. 

Nowhere is this difference starker than in the food that you can find in Cancun vs the Bahamas. One notable thing in the restaurants in Cancun’s hotel zone is that you can find food from just about anywhere in the world. There are Italian restaurants, Thai restaurants, Chinese restaurants, French restaurants, and much more. There is at least one five star restaurant for just about any palate, plus plenty of cafes, bars, and take out spots serving excellent food from around the world. You can enjoy a very cosmopolitan dining experience in Cancun, however, the one thing missing, ironically, is truly authentic Mexican food.

Since the city of Cancun was built for and caters to tourists, most of the food there is designed to satisfy the average tourist’s palate. The Mexican cuisine there is very Americanized, and is not a great representative of what Mexicans actually eat. That’s not to say that the food is bad, in fact, just the opposite. Cancun ironically has some of the best Mexican-American food of anywhere in the world. Just don’t expect it to taste like the authentic Mexican food that you can find in some of the less commercialized cities throughout the country.

Cancun also has a wide variety of drinks to choose from, including plenty of Mexican beers that are shipped in from around the country, such as Noche Buena from Monterrey, Tecate from Baja California, and Pacifico from Mazatlan.

Cancun vs Bahamas: Cancun is Hard to Beat When it Comes to Great Beer
Cancun vs Bahamas: Cancun is Hard to Beat When it Comes to Great Beer

The Bahamas, on the other hand, generally has fewer international options than Cancun. Most of the restaurants in Nassau and especially in other cities in the Bahamas serve authentic Bahamian food, which is sometimes compared to food of the American south, due to the cooking techniques and ingredients used. 

Popular dishes in the Bahamas include baked crab, rock lobster, grilled fish, boiled fish with grits, chicken, pork, goat, baked macaroni and cheese, potato salad, coleslaw, and rice and peas.

You can also find plenty of excellent drinks throughout the Bahamas. The country’s signature beverage is coconut rum, which is made in many distilleries throughout the countryside, and used in most of the country’s popular cocktails, including rum punch, the Bahama Mama, and the bushwacker.

Cost

Cancun vs Bahamas: The Bahamas is Significant More Expensive
Cancun vs Bahamas: The Bahamas is Significant More Expensive

Perhaps the most important factor when comparing Cancun vs Bahamas is the cost. In general, the Bahamas is significantly more expensive than Cancun. Everything from the price of food to the accommodations and excursions has a higher cost in the Bahamas. This is partially because the Bahamas is an independent island nation, meaning it needs to import just about everything, and relies heavily on tourism as its main industry. Cancun on the other hand, is part of the much larger Mexican economy and can therefore offer its attractions, food, etc. at a lower price point.

Cancun vs Bahamas Price: On average, a weeklong stay in Cancun for one person costs about $691, vs $1211 in the Bahamas. 

The Bottom Line

Cancun vs Bahamas: Cruise Ships Dock in Nassau
Cancun vs Bahamas: Cruise Ships Docked in Nassau

If you have narrowed your vacation choices down to Cancun vs Bahamas, you have no bad choices. The right choice for you depends largely on your budget, interests, and preferences. If you want to experience one of the best all-inclusive resorts in the world, with an incredible waterpark, pools, beachfront access, and activities, the Bahamas is likely the better choice, although the resorts in Mexico are not far behind Atlantis in the Bahamas.

If you’re interested in nightlife, excursions, getting out of the resorts and seeing historical sites, going snorkeling and scuba diving, Cancun offers the better opportunities. 

On the other hand, if you are interested in experiencing the culture of the country you are visiting, the Bahamas offers more in the way of authentic Bahamian culture than Cancun does of Mexican culture.

But perhaps the biggest difference between the two destinations is the cost. When planning any vacation, cost is an extremely important factor to take into account. The difference in pricing between Cancun vs Bahamas is substantial, and going to Cancun will most likely be the significantly less expensive vacation.

 

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