A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Cancun vs. Fort Lauderdale for Nightlife, Resorts, Scuba Diving & Snorkeling, and Beaches

Should you visit Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Cancun and Fort Lauderdale can help you decide which place is right for you.

Cancun

Cancun is a wild, party-hard, and tropical city. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is a bustling, spirited, and luxury coastal city. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the beaches, shopping, and nightlife.

Cancun and Fort Lauderdale: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to the Local Beaches
Things to Consider
  • Not as popular for scuba diving and snorkeling


Is there more to do in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Both Fort Lauderdale and Cancun have plenty of things to do for travelers. Both provide a wide variety of sights and activities for tourists. Cancun is famous for its water sports, white sand beaches, popularity at spring break, and access to Mayan ruins. Fort Lauderdale is famous for its canals, beaches, walkable waterfront, and luxury resorts.

How is Cancun different from Fort Lauderdale?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Fort Lauderdale and Cancun. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Fort Lauderdale does not have museums and landmarks.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Cancun. It's possible to do a day trip to visit the impressive Chichén Itzá, but closer by you'll find El Rey Maya Ruins and El Meco Archaeological Site. You can also visit the Maya Museum in town. For something truly unique, you can take a diving or snorkeling trip to the Cancun Underwater Museum.

Fort Lauderdale does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at nice restaurants in both Cancun and Fort Lauderdale.

Cancun has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. If you step away from the tourist scene, you'll find some amazing local restaurants that serve authentic and fresh Mexican cuisine. Favorite dishes in the area include tamales, sopa de lima, and tacos al pastor.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Fort Lauderdale area. Seafood is the obvious option with popular dishes being fish tacos, sea bass, and scallop risotto. There are many waterfront restaurants or you could head to Las Olas Boulevard, which has many bistros, cafes, and restaurants.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Nightlife?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun is a must-visit destination for nightlife. Also, Fort Lauderdale is still popular, but not quite as popular for nightlife and partying.

Cancun is a world class party destination. It's long been known as a party destination and there are large world famous clubs as well as smaller bars where you can hang out. The party never stops here, so be prepared for all night dancing and drinking, and it will definitely live up to its reputation.

The nightlife in Fort Lauderdale has something for everybody. Trendy and upscale partying is the name of the game in this Florida city. Most people head to the beach, Las Olas Blvd, River Front and The New Hard Rock Seminole Hotel Complex for the best bars and clubs. You'll find the most activity around the weekends, but there really is something going on any night of the week.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Resorts?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Luxury resorts are fairly comparable in Cancun and Fort Lauderdale.

If you're looking for a fantastic resort destination, Cancun is a perfect choice. You'll find most of the accommodation options in the Hotel Zone, which runs along Boulevard Kukulkan. The stretch can be divided into three areas, which each have a slightly different personality.

Fort Lauderdale offers an unforgettable resort vacation. Luxury beachfront resorts are plentiful in the area. Several of the most impressive include the Ritz-Carlton, W Fort Lauderdale, and the Dalmar. Most resorts have a beachfront pool, hot tubs, and depending on the resort, a kid's club.


Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun is a must-visit destination for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling. Also, Fort Lauderdale is still popular, but not quite as popular for its diving and snorkeling.

People travel from around the world to go scuba diving and snorkeling in Cancun. Beautiful reefs and world class dives make this a popular destination for those who want to explore the undersea world. You'll find plenty of snorkeling and dive excursions in the area with diverse coral and marine life.

Fort Lauderdale has a few good snorkeling spots. Although the snorkeling doesn't compare to what you'll find further south around the Florida Keys, there are some great places to pull your mask and fins out in the area. Popular snorkeling spots nearby include the Vista Park Reef, Pompano Beach, and Hollywood North Beach Park.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Beaches?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun and Fort Lauderdale are first-rate choices for a beach vacation.

With world-famous beaches, Cancun is a very popular vacation destination. There are stunning white sand beaches and turquoise blue water that make this a beautiful beach destination. There are miles of sandy coastline with many of the beaches found in the Hotel Zone.

The beaches in Fort Lauderdale are among the best in the world. With seven miles of beautiful sandy beaches, a fun boardwalk, and impressive views, the beaches here are among the best in the area. They are surprisingly walkable and, while there can be crowds, there's still a laid-back and relaxing atmosphere.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Hiking?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun is a good destination for its hiking experiences. However, Fort Lauderdale is not a hiking destination.

Cancun offers some nice hiking trails. There are some beautiful walking paths and hiking trails that are within the area.

Fort Lauderdale is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Shoppers can find a variety of nice stores in both Cancun and Fort Lauderdale.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Cancun. While most people visit for the beaches and nightlife, there are shopping malls and markets where you can enjoy some retail therapy.

Many visitors go to Fort Lauderdale to go shopping. For interesting local boutiques head to Las Olas Boulevard and for name brand stores you'll want to visit Sawgrass Mills Mall.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Families?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun is a must-visit destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Fort Lauderdale is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Cancun is very family-friendly. Although this part of Mexico has long had a reputation for its party scene, the area also attracts many families, who come for the family-friendly resorts, world class snorkeling, and fascinating jungle tours. You can snorkel at the Garrafon Natural Reef Park or have fun on the water slides at Ventura Park. Xel-Ha Park is also worth a visit.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Fort Lauderdale is very family-friendly. With seven miles of beautiful sandy beaches and a number of kid-oriented activities, the kids will love it here. Fun activities include Bluefoot Pirate Adventures, Butterfly World, and Funderdome. On sunny days there are many outdoor recreation areas and when the weather isn't cooperating, there are hands-on museums.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Couples?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Both Cancun and Fort Lauderdale are first-rate destinations to visit as a couple.

For those traveling as a couple, Cancun has plenty to offer. As a world class honeymoon destination, you'll find stunning white sand beaches, amazing snorkeling and diving, and a huge range of entertainment options. You can enjoy the nightlife scene or check out Cirque du Soleil. Sunset boat cruises and romantic horseback rides all make this an amazing honeymoon destination.

Fort Lauderdale has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. Fine dining, beautiful beaches, and great shopping make for a great romantic getaway. Couples and honeymooners love relaxing at the beaches in Fort Lauderdale. A sunset walk on the beach and a stay at a romantic resort will make for an unforgettable trip.


Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun is a great destination for backpackers. However, Fort Lauderdale is not a backpacker-friendly destination.

Backpackers come from all over to visit Cancun. Mixed in between the luxury resorts are a few hostels that cater to the backpacker crowd. There are so many activities in the area, from diving to partying, that appeal to the backpacker crowd, that it won't be long before you find your people.

Fort Lauderdale is not a backpacker-friendly destination.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun is a good destination for its public transit. However, Fort Lauderdale is a coastal city with minimal options for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Cancun, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. The buses are an efficient way to get around. They stop along Boulevard Kukulcán and throughout the downtown.

Public transit is mostly limited in Fort Lauderdale. Transportation options include a water taxi and the Sun Trolley Hop-on Bus.

Is Cancun or Fort Lauderdale a more walkable city?

Cancun
Fort Lauderdale

Cancun and Fort Lauderdale are high quality when it comes to walkability.

Cancun is a very walkable city. The Hotel Zone is where most tourists spend their time, and this area is very walkable.

Fort Lauderdale is a very walkable destination. It is one of the most walkable Florida communities with a boardwalk and several pedestrian areas that are fun to wander around.


For even more information, also check out Is Cancun Worth Visiting? and Is Fort Lauderdale Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Fort Lauderdale or Cancun?

How long in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Both Cancun and Fort Lauderdale have a number of activities to choose from. In our opinion, Cancun has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Cancun than Fort Lauderdale. In general, 4-7 days is a good amount of time for Cancun, and 3-7 days is enough time in Fort Lauderdale.

Families should spend more time in Cancun than Fort Lauderdale. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Cancun, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Cancun than Fort Lauderdale. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Cancun that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Cancun than Fort Lauderdale if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Cancun.


  • How many days in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cancun 4-7 
    Fort Lauderdale 3-7

One day in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

The adventurous destination of Cancun offers food and scuba diving and snorkeling. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Fort Lauderdale. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

The city of Cancun offers scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Fort Lauderdale is a great place to explore. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Cancun is a great place to explore. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. This city offers something for everyone. It is common to spend five days here. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Fort Lauderdale. Don't miss the beaches, as that's what most people do. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Most people come for the beaches. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A week in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

The adventurous city of Cancun offers museums and nightlife. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. For many, it makes a great getaway for one week. Because of this, one week is usually enough time for a trip here.

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the spirited destination of Fort Lauderdale. This coastal city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. If you have one week, this is a great place to go. This would be the perfect place to spend one week, as it has just the right amount of activities.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Playa del Carmen, The Best 2-Week Tours from Cancun, The Best Train & Rail Tours in United States of America, and The Best Sightseeing Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Fort Lauderdale or Cancun?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Cancun is $148, while the average daily cost in Fort Lauderdale is $182. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cancun and Fort Lauderdale in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cancun $98
    Fort Lauderdale $96
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cancun $196
    Fort Lauderdale $192
Compare Hotels in Cancun and Fort Lauderdale

Looking for a hotel in Cancun or Fort Lauderdale? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Cancun


Hotels in Fort Lauderdale


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Cancun Hotel Prices and Fort Lauderdale Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cancun $18
    Fort Lauderdale $51
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Cancun

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Cancun:


  • Taxi Around Town
    $1.68
  • Airport Shuttle (for 2)
    $14
  • Ferry to Isla de Mujeres (for 2)
    $17
  • Local Bus (for 2)
    $2.04

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cancun

Also for Cancun, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Cancun Airport Private Transfer From & To Cancun Hotel Zone: $53
  • Airport Private Transfer Puerto Aventuras: $96
  • Airport Transfers to Costa Mujeres - Private van (ROUND TRIP) FLAT RATE: $240
  • Airport Transfers to Puerto Juarez - Private van (ROUND TRIP) FLAT RATE: $187
  • Airport transfers to Isla Mujeres: $175
  • Amazing Combo - Horseback Riding, ATV (Single), Cenote & Ziplines with Transfer: $102
  • Arrival Private Transfer Cancun Airport CUN to Cancun by Minivan or Minibus: $39
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Cancun Airport CUN to Tulum by Minivan or Minibus: $117
  • Atv Cancun (cenote, Ziplines, Lunch And Transfer Included) : $75
  • Boat Adventure in Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve with Transfer from Cancún: $192
  • Buggy Trip in Cozumel Island with transfer from Riviera Maya: $176
  • Cancún Airport (CUN) Cancun hotels - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $55

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Fort Lauderdale

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Fort Lauderdale:

  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in Fort Lauderdale HTL-APT (FLL): $285
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer in Fort Lauderdale APT-HTL (FLL): $285
  • Transfer: FLL Airport to Fort Lauderdale Area Vice Versa: $120
  • Transfer Service Fort Lauderdale Miami Airport or Hotel or Port: $50
  • Transfer Private Vehicle from City -Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL): $40
  • Private transfer from Port of Miami to Fort Lauderdale: $220
  • Private Transfer to Fort Lauderdale Airport FLL Departures: $95
  • Private Transfer from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Miami and Doral : $140
  • Private Transfer from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Key Largo: $262
  • Private Transfer from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Islamorada : $262
  • Private Transfer from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Coral Gables: $131
  • Private Transfer from Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) to Fort Lauderdale: $130

Is it cheaper to fly into Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Prices for flights to both Fort Lauderdale and Cancun change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Cancun $29
    Fort Lauderdale $49
Typical Food Prices in Cancun

For Cancun, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lunch for Two
    $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cancun

For Cancun, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Captain Hook: Pirate Show and Dinner Cruise in Cancun: $46
  • Mayan Chichen Itza And Pirate Dinner Two Day Experience: $57
  • The Ultimate Cancun Taco & Street Mexican Food Tour: $59
  • (2x1 price) Pirate Night! Dinner, Fun and Show: $63
  • (2x1 price) Dinner Show and Pirates Experience : $63
  • (2x1 price)Pirate Adventure! Open Bar, Dinner and Show : $63
  • Cancun Street Food Tour with Food Stalls, Local Market and Murals: $64
  • Pirate Show and Dinner (2x1 price)! Best Promo : $64
  • Private Ultimate Cancun Taco and Street Mexican Food Tour: $69
  • Cancun Authentic Downtown Food Tour: Tacos and Local Flavors: $78
  • Mexican Cooking Class with fresh Local Market ingredients selection and transpor: $79
  • Cancun Hands-On Mexican Cooking Class : $79

Typical Food Prices in Fort Lauderdale

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Fort Lauderdale:


  • Quick Lunch
    $12

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Fort Lauderdale

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Fort Lauderdale.

  • Hollywood Florida Walking Food Tour : $99
  • Downtown Fort Lauderdale Dinner & Drinks Tour: $109
  • Downtown Fort Lauderdale Dinner and Drinks Tour: $114

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cancun $35
    Fort Lauderdale $15
Typical Entertainment Prices in Cancun

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Cancun's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Seasick Pills
    $0.60
  • Whale Shark Tour (for 2)
    $102

Tours and Activities in Cancun

For Cancun, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • ATV Jungle Adventure with Ziplines, Cenote Transportation Included: $8.00
  • Tour to Kin Ha Cenotes with Craft Jewelry Workshop : $12
  • Cancun Mayan Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket: $12
  • Amazing jungle tour adventure speed boat in cancun : $13
  • Half Day National Reef Park Snorkel Adventure in Puerto Morelos: $15
  • Best ATV & Mavericks Experience in Cancun + Cenote + Zip Lines : $20
  • Day Tour to Isla Mujeres Catamarán with Unlimited Drinks: $22
  • Explore Tulum, Coba, Cenote, Playa del Carmen full day 4x1 tour: $22
  • Chichén Itzá Marvels Day Trip:Cenote Oxman & Valladolid Adventure: $25
  • Zipline, Cenote and ATV Adventure with Pickup: $25
  • Adrenaline day in Cancun, Atvs, Ziplines and Cenote experience in the best park!: $25
  • ATV, Ziplines and Cenote swim full experience from Cancún : $25

Tours and Activities in Fort Lauderdale

Here are a few actual costs in Fort Lauderdale for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 1-Hour Interactive Pirate Cruise in Ft. Lauderdale (arrive 30 minutes early): $25
  • 2 Hour Intimate Cruise for 2ppl w/ Catering - Pompano Beach: $270
  • 2 Hours Electric Bike Experience on Ft Lauderdale: $40
  • 2-hour 4PM Private Cruise for 6ppl - Pompano Beach: $250
  • 4 Hour Waterway and Sandbar Cruise: $803
  • 90-Minute Parasailing Adventure Above Fort Lauderdale, FL: $80
  • 90-Minute Snorkel & Seabob Underwater Guided Reef Tour in Fort Lauderdale: $161
  • Air Boat Tour of Palm Beach in The Swamp Monster: $150
  • Atlantic Ocean Snorkeling Experience: $79
  • Beach Snorkeling Adventure in Lauderdale by the Sea: $45
  • Carrie B Cruises! Beautiful and Fun THE VENICE OF AMERICA TOUR!!!: $32
  • Champagne Sunset Cruise in Ft. Lauderdale: $89

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cancun $13
    Fort Lauderdale $33

Sample the Local Flavors in Cancun

Also in Cancun, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Social Pub Crawl in Cancun: $39
  • Brewery Tour / Craft Beer Tasting Cancun Mexico: $116

Typical Alcohol Prices in Fort Lauderdale

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Fort Lauderdale are as follows:


  • Beer
    $7.30

Sample the Local Flavors in Fort Lauderdale

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Fort Lauderdale:

  • Ft Lauderdale Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $37
  • Guided Happy Hour Bar Crawl by Beer Bike: $64
  • Pedibus Pub Crawl in Fort Lauderdale: $74
  • Party Bike Bar Crawl: $74


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cancun and Fort Lauderdale, we can see that Fort Lauderdale is more expensive. And not only is Cancun much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cancun would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cancun and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Fort Lauderdale would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Fort Lauderdale than you might in Cancun.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Cancun Expensive? and Is Fort Lauderdale Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Cancun or Fort Lauderdale?

Cancun has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Fort Lauderdale. When comparing the sizes of Cancun and Fort Lauderdale, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.