Cancun vs the Bahamas: Which Destination is Better?

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Searching for a dream getaway to relax and have fun? Travelers who can’t decide between Cancun or the Bahamas will find their answer right here.

Both are popular sunny destinations with endless beaches, mega-resorts with all-inclusive perks and fun-filled activities centered on water sports.

If you’re trying to decide which one of these top-notch vacation spots is best for you, we’ve got your back.

In this guide, we’ll compare Cancun vs the Bahamas to help you figure out which destination is better for your needs.

Is Cancun or Bahamas Better?

What is Cancun Known For?

Mexico’s most popular tourist mecca is famous for its resort bubble.

Cancun has been fashioned into a destination where nature can be enjoyed alongside cosmopolitan comfort.

There’s no divide between beach, hotel and other entertainment – just some distance from ancient Mayan ruins.

Of course, we can’t mention Cancun without its nightlife either! Young adults definitely get the best of all worlds in Cancun, but there’s something for all ages.

cancun sign
Cancun Sign

What is the Bahamas Known For?

If all you’ve been dreaming of are countless islands, cays and beaches, the Bahamas is made for you.

Snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts have met their match; there are plenty of natural parks to hike too.

While port cities like Nassau come with your typical urban activities, you’ll spend most of your time outdoors.

Culturally connected and oozing with laidback Caribbean vibes, the Bahamas is perfect for families and honeymooners.

Beaches

Cancun

Beaches are a huge deal in Cancun, so much that you’ll probably spend 90% of your time on one.

Bordering the Caribbean Sea, Cancun’s famous hotel strip presents miles of white sand.

Private and public beaches alike are joined in one long row, lined with resorts, shops and restaurants.

With these come plenty of amenities such as sun loungers and private cabanas. Lifeguards are usually present as well.

Gear rental shops are everywhere too. Cancun beaches cater to almost every water sport you can think of.

From beach volleyball to paddle boarding and kitesurfing, there’s something for every traveler.

Playa Chacmool and Playa Forum are well-loved for their action-ready waves.

Playa Delfines is great for sun basking, and Playa Norte is famous for its endless string of beach restaurants.

The one downside? The best beaches in Cancun tend to be crowded during peak seasons.

The Bahamas Beaches
The Bahamas Beaches

Bahamas

Oh, Bahamas – how many beaches do you think 700 islands can hold?

Beach bums could hop around multiple beaches per day for an entire year and not experience them all.

From the typical white sand-palm tree combo to gentle cays and rugged shorelines, you’ll find your own slice of paradise.

Of course, this means that most beaches in the Bahamas are undeveloped.

Outside of the six principal islands, you won’t get common amenities and easy urban access.

What you do get are water excursions that range from sunbathing and fishing to diving and snorkeling.

There are even unique pink sand beaches that are extra Insta-worthy.

To narrow you choices, start with: Pig Beach which features literal swimming pigs; Great Guana Cay for tranquil shell combing; and Pink Sands Beach which is self-explanatory.

Cancun vs Bahamas: Which has the better beaches?

Beaches in Cancun and Bahamas are a near tie. 

While the Bahamas’ endless choice of beaches overruns Cancun’s single-stretch beach by miles, Cancun has the advantage of being more developed, equipped and maintained.

If you prefer cosmopolitan access, Cancun is your bet; if you prefer slow and natural beauty, the Bahamas is perfect.

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Things to Do

Cancun

Cancun lets you holiday softly and party hard. But it’s not just partying all day, every day – there’s a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities to check.

The commercialized center offers the usual; shopping at La Isla Cancun Shopping Village, Plaza Las Americas, and Kukulcan Plaza.

For some historical stimulation, Museo Maya de Cancun takes you into the past. 

You could also stay in the comfort of your hotel lounge and pools on rainy days.

Mostly, you’ll be out with sand between your toes. The beaches are well-equipped with rental shops, and hotels help organize fancier tours on rental yachts.

Diving and snorkeling is another major pastime, best done around Isla Mujeres, Contoy Island and Banco Chinchorro reef.

The Underwater Museum (MUSA) adds a manmade spin.

You have choices beyond the beach too. Cancun is in close vicinity to eco-adventure parks such as Xcaret Park and Ventura Park Cancun.

Cancun’s green pocket, Kabah Ecological Park, is a hit with families as the kids mosey their way around the petting zoo.

Historians and cultural hunters take day trips out to Chichen Itza and El Rey Maya Ruins for a deep dive into Mayan history.

Exuma The Bahamas
Exuma The Bahamas

Bahamas

The Bahamas proves to be au naturel with over 700 coral islands and a total of 100,000 square miles of land mass.

It’s no wonder that the Caribbean was nesting grounds for prolific pirates like Calico Jack and Blackbeard – hiding spots are endless on these islands and cays.

Let’s start with the postcard-perfect scenes: turquoise shallows and deep blues, sunken wrecks, and 3,542 miles of coastline.

Beach lounging inevitably leads to snorkeling; or scuba diving for adventurers.

Andros Barrier Reef and the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park offer spectacular diving experiences.

Other unusual things to do in the Bahamas include feeding stingrays on tiny Gun Cay, and swimming with pigs at Big Major

Oh yes, don’t forget the pink beaches too.

Further inland, you’ll find a trove of national parks, botanical gardens and mangrove forests.

There’s a record-breaking number of swimming holes within these green lands.

For bird watching, landscape sketches and fun hikes; drop by Abaco National Park, Black Sound Cay National Park and Blue Holes National Park.

Somewhere among nature you’ll find Fort Charlotte and the Heritage Museum of the Bahamas to add some historical context.

One excursion you must do is explore the veritable maze of underground caves.

Limestone caves have become submerged over time to make the Bahamas one of the best places in the world for cave diving.

Are There Better Things to Do in Cancun or Bahamas?

Whether in Cancun or Bahamas, you’ll find plenty to occupy your time with.

Cancun is a Mexican tourist mecca designed for tourists, offering a good mix of cosmopolitan delights and natural wonders. 

The Bahamas, a large archipelago with front islands, accommodates with a bit of everything. 

Some feature large-scale resorts; others offer beaches, natural parks, forts and endless natural beauty.

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Nightlife

Cancun

Cancun is nightlife gone wild – for the most part anyway. All-inclusive resorts host daily and nightly entertainment, which range from foam parties to themed disco nights.

Bars and nightclubs also come with the package, meaning you don’t have to go far to party.

Coco Bongo, Mandala and Senor Frogs are all within the Hotel Zone, so you can hop between neon strobes and poolside DJs.

There’s a reason why Cancun is so popular amongst spring breakers!

Older crowds tend to gravitate towards the classy resort lounges, or casual pubs downtown.

There’s more room for conversation off the dance floors, meaning more chances to mingle.

If you’re looking for something more intimate, try for a rooftop restaurant or beach club with late-night eats.

Mandala Cancun
Photo by Mandala Cancun

The Bahamas

The Bahamas does have its own party pads – namely around Nassau and Paradise Island – but the vibes are wholly different.

Yes, your stereotypical nightclubs do come with trendy dress codes and pumping music that lasts until 4AM.

Also yes, you can find music-focused venues and sleek bars that serve you handcrafted cocktails.

But generally, nightlife in the Bahamas is defined as chill and casual.

You’re more likely to come across impromptu dances around campfires on the beach than sweat-laden dance floors, especially outside the tourist zone.

Beach clubs are popular at sunset and beyond, treating you to happy hour prices.

Like Cancun, the best bars are usually within beachside resorts. You can retreat to your room any time.

Does Cancun or the Bahamas have better nightlife?

Cancun has topped many spring break wish lists and will continue to do so. 

There’s just no end to nighttime entertainment, according to theme or budget.

That said; if you prefer laidback nightlife culture, the Bahamas would be a better fit.

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Dining & Restaurants

Cancun


Cheap eats are guaranteed in Mexico, even in a tourist-swanky place like Cancun.

Downtown Cancun is the go-to for casual eateries with authentic Mexican food, in form of family-run restaurants and street food.

There are also rooftop dining spots and classier fare which still runs relatively cheap compared to food within the Hotel Zone.

As expected of on-site hotel dining, Cancun’s all-inclusive deals come with unlimited international cuisine.

From chain restaurants with continental menus to foreign dishes, you’re more likely to find international flavors.

Do pack some fine dining-worthy clothes as some high end venues follow a strict dress code.

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Bahamas

The authenticity award goes to the Bahamas!

Where Cancun dishes out food from anywhere around the world but mostly misses the mark with authentic Mexican cuisine, the Bahamas is very culturally centered.

Nassau and other major cities in the Bahamas serve authentic Bahamian food, which includes excellent seafood.

Try popular dishes like rock lobster, coleslaw, baked crabs and other sea-based delicacies.

For international options, hit up the bigger hotel chains. While there are fewer choices in comparison, you can find food from home if you look for it.

Regardless of what you order, don’t forget to pair it with the Bahamas’ signature drink: coconut rum. Rum and tequila are Caribbean specialties after all.

Where to Stay in Cancun

Cancun accommodations tend to be all-inclusive and here are our to picks:

Secrets The Vine Cancun

Adults-only and ultra-chic, Secrets The Vine Cancun has crafted a hotel tower for luxurious getaways.

Sophistication seems to be the theme, so don’t expect any wild nightlife here.

Within the glassy, contemporary façade of the hotel are 497 guest rooms decorated with teak wood furnishing, Italian porcelain and private terraces overlooking Laguna Nichupte.

Enjoy unlimited dining at six gourmet restaurants; bars and lounges feature wine tasting and an extensive drinks menu.

Live entertainment ranges from sax players to belly dancers; while cenotes-inspired Secrets Spa by Pevonia® helps you wind down from long days by the pool.

Moon Palace Ocean view room
Photo by Moon Palace Cancun

Moon Palace Cancun

Just 10 minutes from the airport is the massive 2000-room Moon Palace Cancun.

Separated into two sides, you can opt between Moon Palace Nizuc for family fun and Moon Palace Sunrise for activities from dawn to dusk.

You’re pampered to high degree, starting with whirlpool tubs in every room. Step out for a wide variety of cuisine and entertainment.

Families with kids benefit from the Playroom Kids Club and Wired Lounge for teens.

Take surf lessons at the FlowRider double wave simulator, or learn new tricks at the skating rink.

You can also make your mark at racket sports and the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, or bop to the beat at live music pool parties and nightly shows.

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Hotel Riu Palace Las Americas

The gleaming white Hotel Riu Palace Las Americas has carved out an adults-only, all-inclusive experience within Cancun’s Corazone.

With large-scale shopping centers, restaurants and nightclubs nearby, you’ll never be bored.

The hotel itself is ready to entertain, hosting over 350 rooms with fully-stocked amenities and 24-hour service.

Spend your days at the three pools, which cater with a swim-up bar and hydromassage area.

To relax, drop by Renova Spa before dressing up for an evening at the on-site nightclub.

You can keep your holiday wholesome too; the entertainment program takes you on catamaran cruises and diving excursions.

For fuel, offered cuisines range from fusion to Japanese, and a lovely new steakhouse.

Where to Stay in the Bahamas

The Bahamas’ most charming hotels lie in Nassau, here are our top picks for where to stay:

Breezes Resort & Spa Bahamas

Nestled along Cable Beach is the all-inclusive beachside resort Breezes Resort & Spa Bahamas.

As you’d expect from a Caribbean holiday, the most popular thing to do is lounge on the beach. Here, you have unlimited access to ocean and sand just a few steps away.

The resort, while simple and cozy, comes with everything you need to unwind.

Your day outs aren’t limited to snorkeling; while away hours at tennis courts, trying rock climbing and watching flying trapeze.

Three restaurants and a beach grill keep your energy up, while the multiple bars offer comfortable spaces to hang out. Hoping for more entertainment?

Drop by the on-site nightclub or piano bar!

Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa REsort
Photo by Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort

Sandals Royal Bahamian

Blending into Nassau’s coast is the serene, white-washed Sandals Royal Bahamian.

The neutral palette, laidback vibes and adults-only policy makes it the perfect hideout for couples. For privacy, book a swim-up suite with ocean views.

Most spend their day at the two white sand beaches, while others launch private charters from the wooden pier.

The dining scene is generous, offering 13 venues included a food truck and beach club.

Some prefer to take afternoon tea at the Coconut Grove lounge area, and watch the active crowd try out all sorts of water activities.

Best of all, guests can enjoy a day on the Sandals Barefoot Cay private offshore island.

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Grand Hyatt Baha Mar

Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is an all in one hotel-shopping mall-wildlife sanctuary combo. It could be its own city!

Apart from direct access to Cable Beach, it serves a multitude of family-friendly entertainment.

Take in the hotel complex from your full balcony before making your way to the 8 cabana-lined pools.

Art lovers can scour the Current Gallery & Art Center for its contemporary collection, while thrill-seekers sign up for nature excursions.

You might also try your luck at the Caribbean’s largest casino; aim to conquer the Jack Nicklaus golf course.

If it’s not enough, hop next door to Baha Bay Waterpark for 15 acres of family fun.

Cost & Budget

The average 1-week budget for two in Cancun and the Bahamas may seem costly, but your holiday is as expensive as you make it.

All-inclusive flight and hotel deals are great money-savers, so do your research before making reservations.

Average Budget for 1 Week in Cancun

The average one-week Cancun trip budget for two is approximately $3200.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Flight cost – Depending on departure location and time of the year, economy round-trip costs around $150-350 per person.

Note that international flights (not from the States) may cost a lot more.

Accommodation – Basic hostels with some amenities cost between $25 and $50 per night while standard double rooms range around $300-$400.

Cancun’s all-inclusive packages average $500 across the board, but VIP suites and deals can reach as high as $2000 per night.

Accommodation costs average $2800 a week.

Food – Food in Cancun is cheap, averaging $3 for breakfast and street eats. Lunch and dinner average $13, although fine dining will cost more.

The average weekly food costs for two amounts to $420, drinks included.

Activities – Most entertainment costs are covered by all-inclusive packages, but adventure tours and entry fees will cost you some.

Day trips start from $60 up, while night outs average $30 per club entry. If you’re doing at least two major tours, expect to spend around $300 for two.

Nassau The Bahamas
Nassau, The Bahamas

Average Budget for 1 Week in the Bahamas

The average one-week Bahamas trip budget for two is approximately $4300.

Here’s how it breaks down:

Flight cost – The most direct and cheapest flights are from the East Coast.

Expect to pay around $500 for a return trip between the States and Nassau International Airport.

One-way flights average $300 from New York and Atlanta to the Bahamas.

Accommodation – Smaller hotels and Airbnb stays are priced range at $50 up.
Standard rooms have starting prices of $171 per night and an average of $312.

All-inclusive packages can hit thousands. Accommodation costs average $2450 a week.

Food – Breakfast is cheaper than lunch or dinner, which costs an average $17 per meal. Sit down meals charge more for service.

Also, set aside an alcohol allowance at $13 per person; the average cocktail is $6.50.
There’s plenty of free things to do outdoors, but equipment rentals come around $26 per person.

More active tours like snorkeling and kayaking costs $70 up; ATV and exclusive activities go for $200 or more.

You’re likely to spend at least $400 a week for two.

Transportation – Taxi rides can accumulate so opt for hotel-organized tours. Daily transportation costs average $26 per person.

Is Cancun or the Bahamas Cheaper to Visit?

Surprisingly, the cost of travel is higher in the Bahamas than Cancun. 

Cancun is cheaper to visit in general as you have a wider price range for food, accommodation and flights. 

The Bahamas is actually one of the most expensive destinations in the Caribbean.

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