A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Cancun vs. Maui for Resorts, Scuba Diving & Snorkeling, Beaches, and Hiking

Should you visit Cancun or Maui?

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 Maui can help you decide which place is right for you.

Cancun

Cancun is a party-hard, tropical, and active city. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Maui

Maui is a adventure-filled, breathtaking, and stunning island. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. Visitors also love the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Cancun and Maui: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less hiking options
Pros
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
  • Home to Haleakala National Park
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Cancun or Maui?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Maui than Cancun, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Maui is better known for its hiking and impressive beauty, while Cancun is more popular for its museums, food, nightlife, resorts, and scuba diving & snorkeling. Cancun is well known for its water sports, white sand beaches, popularity at spring break, and access to Mayan ruins. Maui is well known for its beach-filled coastline, world-class snorkeling and scuba diving, dramatic landscapes, and paradise environment. Also, Maui is famous for Haleakala National Park.

How is Cancun different from Maui?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Maui 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 Maui?

Cancun
Maui

Cancun is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Maui is a island with minimal options for its historical sights.

Cancun offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. 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.

While most people don't head to Maui specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Most people prefer not to spend their time inside or at a museum, but for a rainy day you can check out the Maui Ocean Center.


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

Cancun
Maui

Cancun is a popular place for its restaurant scene. However, Maui is a island with minimal options for its local flavors and cuisine.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Cancun. 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.

Maui may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. Like the other Hawaiian islands, food is expensive and of varying quality here, but the food scene continues to grow and improve. There are eclectic food trucks where you can try local flavors. There's also plenty of fresh tropical produce like mangos, avocadoes, and coconuts. Seafood is common on many menus as well.

Is Cancun or Maui Better for Nightlife?

Cancun
Maui

Cancun is a must-visit destination for nightlife and partying. However, Maui is a island with minimal options for its evening party scene.

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 scene is quiet in Maui The island is not known for its nightlife, but the limited activities that do exist you'll find in Kaanapali and Lahaina.

Is Cancun or Maui Better for Resorts?

Cancun
Maui

Cancun is a must-visit destination for its resorts. Also, Maui is still popular, but not quite as popular for its luxury resorts.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Cancun is a great 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.

Vacationers can choose from a number of terrific resorts in Maui. There are a number of nice resorts, but there are also VRBOs, condos, and local hotels where you can stay. High-end luxury resorts on the island include The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua and Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. There are also more reasonable priced resorts without all of the glitz and glam.


Is Cancun or Maui Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Cancun
Maui

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

The clear water and abundant marine life make Cancun a world-class scuba diving and snorkeling destination. 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.

There is a nice variety of marine life that makes scuba diving and snorkeling great in Maui. The island has excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. You can really find it anywhere on the island, but some places are more crowded than others. Some of the best beaches for snorkeling include Honolua Bay, Slaughterhouse (Mokuleia Bay), DT Fleming Beach, and Kapalua Bay.

Is Cancun or Maui Better for Beaches?

Cancun
Maui

Cancun and Maui are world-class 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 Maui are among the best in the world. The island has stunning beaches and more miles of swimmable beach than any of the other Hawaiian islands. One of the best swimming beaches is Kapalua Beach, but other favorite beaches include Makena Beach State Park, Ka'anapali Beach, Baldwin Beach Park, and Wai'anapanapa State Park.

Is Cancun or Maui Better for Hiking?

Cancun
Maui

Maui is renowned for its hiking trails. Also, Cancun is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many people visit Maui specifically for its hiking. There are many diverse hikes on the island that pass through different landscapes and ecosystems. Hikes range from easy to challenging and are of varying length. Some of the favorites include 'Iao Valley State Park, Haleakala's Sliding Sands Trail (in Haleakala National Park), and The Pipiwai Trail.

Cancun has hiking trails worth exploring. There are some beautiful walking paths and hiking trails that are within the area.


Is the Shopping Better in Cancun or Maui?

Cancun
Maui

Shoppers can find a variety of notable stores in both Cancun and Maui.

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 Maui to go shopping. There are many shopping centers where you'll find souvenirs, Hawaiian clothing, and even handmade crafts. If you forgot something from home, you'll also find many of the major chains that are common on the mainland.

Is Cancun or Maui Better for Families?

Cancun
Maui

You'll find world-class kid-friendly activities in either Cancun or Maui.

Cancun is one of the most popular family destinations. 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.

Maui is an amazing family-friendly city to visit. It is one of the best of the Hawaiian islands to explore with kids. There's plenty of snorkeling, outdoor adventure sports, and hiking that are great for kids of all ages. There are some kid-friendly beaches where kids can play in the water. There's also the Maui Ocean Center, Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm, and 'Iao Valley State Park.

Is Cancun or Maui Better for Couples?

Cancun
Maui

Both Cancun and Maui are world-class 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.

Maui has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. Couples will enjoy the outdoor sports, excellent snorkeling and diving, and beautiful waterfalls that make for a romantic getaway. There are world-class resorts and breathtaking scenery that attract honeymooning couples from around the globe.


Is Cancun or Maui Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Cancun
Maui

Cancun is a great destination for backpackers. However, Maui is a island with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Cancun is a great city to visit for backpackers. 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.

Maui is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Like most of the Hawaiian Islands, everything is expensive here and even though there are a couple of hostels, you can still expect to pay high prices for them. Public transportation is also limited so you'll really need to rent a car if you hope to explore the island in depth.

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

Cancun
Maui

Cancun is a popular place for its public transit. However, Maui is a island 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 Maui. The island does have a bus system with 14 routes, but most visitors prefer to have their own transportation to get around.

Is Cancun or Maui a more walkable city?

Cancun
Maui

Cancun is a great destination for its high level of walkability. However, Maui is a island with minimal options for its ease of walking around.

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

Maui is not a very walkable city. The island is large enough that you'll want to have access to a car if you hope to explore it in its entirety.


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

Should I spend more time in Maui or Cancun?

How long in Cancun or Maui?

Both Cancun and Maui 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 Maui. In general, 4-7 days is a good amount of time for Cancun, and 3-7 days is enough time in Maui.

Families should spend more time in Cancun than Maui. 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 Maui. 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 Maui 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 Maui? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cancun 4-7 
    Maui 3-7

One day in Cancun or Maui?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Cancun. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the destination of Maui. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Cancun or Maui?

Cancun is a fun place to experience. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Maui is a great place to explore. 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 Maui?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the party-hard destination of Cancun. This city offers something for everyone. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Maui. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. 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 Maui?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the adventurous city of Cancun. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Many people spend one week here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. 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 breathtaking destination of Maui. This island offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in 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 2-Week Tours in United States of America, and The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Maui or Cancun?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Cancun is $145, while the average daily cost in Maui is $275. 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 Maui in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cancun $96
    Maui $141
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cancun $192
    Maui $282
Compare Hotels in Cancun and Maui

Looking for a hotel in Cancun or Maui? 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 Maui


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 Maui Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cancun $17
    Maui $62
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Cancun

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


  • Taxi Around Town
    $1.65
  • Airport Shuttle (for 2)
    $14
  • Ferry to Isla de Mujeres (for 2)
    $16
  • Local Bus (for 2)
    $2.00

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: $58
  • Private Transfer to/From Cancun Airpor/Hotel zone: $44
  • Airport Private Transfer Puerto Aventuras: $96
  • Airport Transfer Cancun: $60
  • Airport Transfers to Costa Mujeres - Private van (ROUND TRIP) FLAT RATE: $235
  • Airport Transfers to Puerto Juarez - Private van (ROUND TRIP) FLAT RATE: $183
  • Airport Transfers to Puerto Morelos - Private van (ROUND TRIP) FLAT RATE: $159
  • 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: $34
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Cancun Airport CUN to Tulum by Minivan or Minibus: $117
  • Atv Cancun (cenote, Ziplines, Lunch And Transfer Included) : $75

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Maui

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Maui:

  • Private transfer: Kahului to Kahului Airport (OGG): $101
  • Private transfer: Kahului Airport (OGG) to Kahului: $101
  • Private Transfer from Maui City Hotels to Lahaina Cruise Port: $81
  • Private Transfer from Lahaina Cruise Port to Kahului Airport(OGG): $81
  • Private Transfer from Kahului Airport(OGG) to Lahaina Cruise Port: $81
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Maui Kahului Airport OGG: $31
  • Maui to Maui Kahului Airport (OGG) - Departure Private Transfer: $87
  • Maui Kahului Airport (OGG) to Maui hotels - Arrival Private Transfer: $87
  • Maui Kahului Airport (OGG) to Maui - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $173
  • Kahului OGG Airport and Kihei Wailea Hotels Private Transfer: $43

Is it cheaper to fly into Cancun or Maui?

Prices for flights to both Maui 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 $28
    Maui $94
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
  • Dinner Show with Pirates! (2x1 Price): $62
  • (2x1 price) Pirate Night! Dinner, Fun and Show: $63
  • (2x1 price) Dinner Show and Pirates Experience : $63
  • Cancun Street Food Tour with Food Stalls, Local Market and Murals: $64
  • Pirate Show and Dinner (2x1 price)! Best Promo : $64
  • Dinner Show on a Pirate Ship from Cancun with Open Bar: $65
  • Private Ultimate Cancun Taco and Street Mexican Food Tour: $69
  • Cancun Authentic Downtown Food Tour: Tacos and Local Flavors: $78
  • Cancun Hands-On Mexican Cooking Class : $79

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Maui

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

  • From Ma'alaea Harbor: Sunset Dinner Cruise Aboard the Quicksilver: $110
  • Ma'alaea Harbor: Sunset Prime Rib or Mahi Mahi Dinner Cruise : $150
  • Premium Sunset Dinner Cruise from Ka’anapali Beach: $154
  • South Gilligans' Island Luau with Dinner and Drinks: $166
  • Mystery Puzzle Food Tour in Lahaina for 2 People: $170
  • Premium Dinner Cruise: Four Course Dining Experience - Ma'alaea: $170
  • Maui Sunset Luau Dinner Cruise from Ma'alaea Harbor aboard Pride of Maui: $187
  • Haleakala's Best Sunset Tour with Dinner: $210
  • Wailele Luau Including Fire and Knife Performance plus Dinner: $219

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cancun $35
    Maui $38
Typical Entertainment Prices in Cancun

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


  • Seasick Pills
    $0.59
  • Whale Shark Tour (for 2)
    $100

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
  • Guided Walking Tour of the Punta Cancun Lighting Tower: $14
  • Half Day National Reef Park Snorkel Adventure in Puerto Morelos: $15
  • Hop-on Hop-off City Tour Cancun: $17
  • El Sol De Cancun : Panoramic Tour in Regular Cabin: $20
  • Best ATV & Mavericks Experience in Cancun + Cenote + Zip Lines : $20
  • Isla Mujeres Tour with Catamaran Snorkel Drinks and Buffet: $22
  • Explore Tulum, Coba, Cenote, Playa del Carmen full day 4x1 tour: $22
  • Chichén Itzá Marvels Day Trip:Cenote Oxman & Valladolid Adventure: $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 Maui

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

  • 1pm Haleakala Guided Downhill Tour: $149
  • 2hr Koa Kai Sunset Whale Watch Adventure: $149
  • 3 Hour Best of West Maui Snorkeling Adventure: $194
  • 4 Hour Molokini Snorkel Tour Adventure in Maui: $150
  • 4-HR Molokini Crater + Turtle Town Snorkeling Experience: $179
  • 4-Hour Lanai Snorkel & Dolphin Tour from Lahaina: $205
  • 5 Line Jungle Zipline Eco Adventure: $134
  • 5-HR Snorkeling and Sail Experience with Breakfast and Lunch: $210
  • 6 Dual-Zipline Mountain Adventure in Maui: $229
  • 7-Line Maui Zipline Tour on the North Shore: $149
  • Afternoon Adventure Snorkel from Ka'anapali: $169
  • Aloha West Maui 2 Hour Self-Guided Electric Bike Tour: $40

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cancun $13
    Maui $41

Sample the Local Flavors in Cancun

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

  • Brewery Tour / Craft Beer Tasting Cancun Mexico: $129
  • Small Group EkBalam Pink Lakes Cenote and Tequila Distillery Tour: $287

Sample the Local Flavors in Maui

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

  • Maui Farm Distillery and local craft experience Full-Day Tour: $224
  • Goat Farm, Distillery, & Glass-Blowing Tour w/ Tasting: $224


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cancun and Maui, we can see that Maui 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 Maui would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Maui 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 Maui Expensive?.