If you live in a part of the world where the late fall and winter months mean bone-chilling cold, clouds, and days of rain or snow, you've likely dreamed of a warm-weather winter vacation. One problem: You aren't alone. January through April are peak season across the world's sunbelt - especially in Mexico. From Christmas onward, prices for hotels in Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Cancun and the Riviera Maya skyrocket. You can expect a similar spike in airfares as well. But we've got a pro tip for you to help you score that necessary vitamin D and keep your finances intact - visit Mexico in December. Read on for why you should go (and where) for a great winter vacation without the crowds.
Cancun in December
For many travelers, Cancun epitomizes the ultimate Mexican beach vacation. Why is that? For starters, it's packed with amazing all-inclusive resorts that cater to your every need. Cancun also has one of the prettiest beaches in the Caribbean, and is filled with nightlife and restaurants. However, from late December to April, it can be intensely busy. Those pristine white sands are crowded by thousands of people boozing it up, playing volleyball, paragliding, and blasting music. We've also heard more than one high-season complaint about cut-throat competition for poolside loungers (and have lived through it ourselves).
You'll also find that Cancun is subject to tropical rains and hurricane threats in the summer months, making a low-season visit riskier. While you're likely to find deep discounts on hotels and flights at this time of year, your trip might get washed out. Summer also generally corresponds to the massive seaweed blooms that have plagued the Caribbean region for years now.
December in Cancun is, essentially, perfect. The storms of the summer and fall months have cleared out, meaning you're far more likely to experience sunny skies. In fact, December is often drier than January, according to U.S. News & World Report. You'll find temperatures hover in the pleasantly-hot range during the day (generally tapping out in the low 80s), and humidity is lower than June through November.
What does this mean for your wallet? Well, as most travelers are saving up to splurge on hotel rooms from January through April in Cancun, resorts often drastically reduce their nightly rates in December. In fact, according to Oyster's data, hotels in Cancun can be anywhere from 15 to 30% cheaper in December than peak season. You'll also benefit from less crowded beaches and pools at your resort. Even though there will be fewer tourists, nearly every restaurant, bar, and nightclub is open, so there's no need to worry about getting bored either.
Our hotel pick in Cancun: Le Blanc Spa Resort
Riviera Maya in December
Located just south of Cancun, the Riviera Maya is subject to the same patterns in tourism and weather. To be fair, though, this region is much larger than Cancun - including the far-flung towns of Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Tulum - and beach crowding tends to be less of an issue in most areas year-round. That's less true in Playa del Carmen, which has a bustling vibe on par with what you'll find in Cancun. Even so, you'll find thinner crowds along the sand in December, and rates are generally lower than January through April. How much cheaper are Riviera Maya hotel prices in December? Our data shows you can save at least 25% per night by visiting just before peak season.
Our hotel pick in Riviera Maya: Secrets Maroma Beach