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12 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Cancun Sunset Cruise

12 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Cancun Sunset Cruise

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Cancun is well known for its luxury resorts and stunning beaches, but what about those sunsets? The sunsets in Cancun are truly epic, and there’s no better way to admire them than a sunset cruise!

I mean, what could be better than sailing on a catamaran past Cancun and watching the sky turn pink, purple, and orange while you sip on a fresh cocktail?

I absolutely adore visiting Cancun and have been coming here since I was a kid. I’ve done a ton of sunset cruises over the years and definitely think that it’s one of the best ways to appreciate the natural beauty of Cancun. With so many unique things to do in the Riveria Maya, this is one of the top experiences!

That’s why I’ve written this guide on everything you need to know before you book a Cancun sunset cruise. It’s such a fun way to spend an afternoon and evening on the water, so let’s dive into the details to make sure that you don’t miss out. 

Don’t have time to read the full article? If you’re in the mood for a catamaran cruise (and we hope you are), we recommend this sunset tour to Isla Mujeres for an epic day of snorkeling, exploring the town, and winding down with a complimentary drink or two while the colors of the sky and sea collide.

1. What is a Cancun sunset cruise?

A catamaran from Isla Mujeres sails back to Cancun after the tour
Sailing back home!
Bailey and Daniel cheers with wine at sunset on a catamaran cruise back to Cancun from Isla Mujeres
Cheers!

A sunset cruise is truly as dreamy as it sounds. Most of these tours are on a catamaran boat, which is basically a sailboat with two hulls connected by a deck, making them very stable. This is great because Bailey often gets seasick on other types of boats, but rarely does on catamarans. These are our favorite types of boats because of how luxurious and classy they feel, especially as you’re sailing off into the sunset!

The sunset cruises take off in the afternoon, well before sunset, so you have time to enjoy being out on the stunning Caribbean water. You’ll travel from Cancun to Isla Mujeres (which are only 13 km/8 miles apart), stopping to snorkel through a coral reef along the way, and then get to explore this gorgeous island. We love how most of these tours are more than just the sunset cruise, so you get the most out of this experience. 

Sunset cruises also include an open bar, so not only do you get to enjoy the incredible scenery, but also have a really fun time on the boat too! Once the afternoon activities die down, you can relax and watch the sunset – which is the whole purpose of this cruise anyways!

2. When is the best time to go on a Cancun sunset cruise?

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on a catamaran tour from Cancun
Off we go!

The best time of year to go on a sunset cruise in Cancun is December to May. This is the dry season so you will find the best weather and the calmest water! You can relax in the sun and dive into the clear turquoise water that the Caribbean is so famous for. 

These sunset cruises take off in the afternoon, so you’ll be sure to catch some nice hot weather that will make you want to jump in. But the highlight of this tour is obviously the incredible sunset at the end of the day. Sunset boat rides are one of my favorite things in Mexico and truly the entire world! Bring a jacket or change of clothes because it can get chilly once the sun goes down.

I would recommend reconsidering a cruise if you are visiting between July and November as this is hurricane season in the Caribbean. I don’t know about you, but setting sail during hurricane season does not sound like a fun time to me! The rainy season can bring heavy winds and unsafe ocean conditions. Even on clear and sunny days, the strong ocean currents don’t make for great snorkeling or chill boat rides, so it’s not an ideal time to take a cruise.

Related Read: Tulum is home to one of the most unique natural wonders in Mexico, cenotes! Checking out the best cenotes in Tulum is an absolute must-do activity while visiting the Yucatan.

3. How much does a Cancun sunset cruise cost? 

Bailey relaxes on a swing on Isla Mujeres while the catamaran comes to pick us up
Enjoying Isla Mujeres before our cruise back to Cancun!

Cancun sunset cruises start from as little as $29 USD per person (and yes, that includes alcoholic drinks!). The cheaper boats tend to be party boats that are geared toward younger people.

However, there are lots of different options available. If you want something a bit more refined, you might be looking at around $70 USD per person

There’s also the option to get a group together and charter your own boat for a sunset trip! This costs around $1,850 per group, so the price per person will vary according to how many people will be on board. There’s usually a maximum group size of 15, so you’re looking at at least $120 USD per person if you go down this route. 

While many tours that get you out on the water, like scuba diving or swimming with whale sharks, can be quite costly, we love how these sunset cruises are an affordable activity in Cancun!

4. What to expect on a typical Cancun sunset cruise? 

Bailey in a bikini on a catamaran cruise from Cancun, Mexico
Arriving to Isla Mujeres!
Daniel poses for a photo with a drink in his hand on a Catamaran cruise in Cancun
Of course, Daniel had two drinks at one time!

You usually set sail from Cancun around midday and head into the blue waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. 

Your first stop will be a snorkeling spot where you can explore Cancun’s vast marine life. I absolutely love snorkeling in Cancun so we definitely recommend taking advantage of this part of the tour! Plus, the use of snorkeling equipment is usually included in the price of your tour.

After that, the drinks start flowing! I mean, it’s really not the best idea to drink BEFORE you snorkel. Drinks are provided throughout the entire tour – who doesn’t love a tour that includes an open bar?

As you enjoy your beer and cocktails, you’ll be heading towards Isla Mujeres, which is a pristine Caribbean island and one of the best day trips from Cancun. You’ll usually have a few hours to explore independently here, so you can snorkel some more, explore on foot, or just lounge on the beautiful beach. Most of these tours don’t include food, but there are some great restaurants on Isla Mujeres you can check out! Check out Kantina Tacos de Humo for some fresh and authentic Mexican food, just a quick 7-minute walk from Playa Norte.

You will then meet back at the boat and sail back to Cancun during sunset, which is just breathtaking. The sunset casts a fantastic golden glow on the turquoise water, which looks absolutely amazing, and you might even spot some dolphins along the way! 

This final part of the tour in particular is perfect for capturing photos and it’s nice to watch Cancun lighting up as you pull closer to the shore. 

We really can’t stress enough just how stunning the Cancun sunsets are. We’ve seen sunsets all over the world, and I have to say, Cancun has some of the best. Having an unobstructed view of the horizon from the boat with the salty sea breeze is definitely the best way to appreciate it fully! 

Related Read: Just two hours from Cancun is one of the cutest colonial cities I’ve ever seen. Visiting Valladolid, Mexico is a highlight of the Yucatan and a must-see city on your trip!

5. What are the best Cancun sunset cruises?

Bailey with a life jacket on a catamaran cruise in Cancun before they go snorkeling
The lifejacket for snorkeling!
People snorkel on a sunset catamaran cruise in Cancun
We set off in groups!

Catamaran Amazing Sunset Tour to Isla Mujeres with Snorkeling 

We think that this catamaran sunset tour is amazing value for money at just $29 USD per person (or $39 USD including hotel pickup). However, remember that you’ll also need to pay a $20 USD dock fee on the day of your cruise. 

You’ll take off on a catamaran towards Isla Mujeres and stop off to snorkel at the El Meco Reef on the way. There are a few underwater sculptures here, which are great for GoPro photos, and lots of tropical fish to see. It is a really fascinating place to explore! The guides are also really great at showing you the best snorkel spots and pointing out interesting marine life. 

With this tour, you get to enjoy unlimited drinks on board! Lunch isn’t included, but there are plenty of nice places to eat on Isla Mujeres. 

We also like the fact that you have a few hours of free time to explore on your own, as there really is so much to do on Isla Mujeres! If you don’t want to stray too far from the beach, you can stay on Playa Norte, where the boat drops you off, or you can head to Playa Centro which is quieter, but still close by. 

Then, the tour finishes strong as you sail back to Cancun during an epic sunset, with a drink in hand. What more could you ask for in a day?

There’s a maximum of 35 guests per boat, so there’s often a pretty energetic vibe during this last part of the tour. The tour is scheduled to last 8 hours, so you really get a lot out of this day tour. This is a great one for solo travelers, couples, and small groups, and it’s fantastic for making friends with fellow travelers! You can reserve this epic sunset cruise here.

Sunset on Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Sunset on Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres Sunset Cruise and Tour from Cancun

This sunset cruise has more of a nightlife vibe than the other tours. It takes off later in the afternoon, so while you don’t get to snorkel, you can catch the beautiful sunset right on Isla Mujeres’ Playa Norte, then party on the way back with the DJ and live music on board! This is one of the most fun sunset tours from Cancun to Isla Mujeres

We love that this tour gives you three full hours on Isla Mujeres. You’ll enjoy a guided tour of its historic downtown area before heading to the famous Playa Norte to watch the first stage of the sunset. And don’t worry, there’s some free time to explore on your own, too! 

When the sun gets lower and starts to paint the sky with vibrant colors, you’ll get back on the boat and sail back to Cancun. This is the best part of every Cancun sunset cruise, but this tour is especially great because of the lively atmosphere. This tour includes an open bar, so you can sip on cocktails as you enjoy the live music and watch the sunset. 

This 4-hour tour costs $69 USD per person, including hotel pickup and drop off and the open bar. There’s also an additional $20 USD dock fee which you have to pay on the day. It doesn’t include any food, but you will have time to get dinner on Isla Mujeres. This tour is only available Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, so be sure to check your itinerary before you book!

All in all, it’s a great experience that people of all ages will enjoy, and the staff is super friendly and attentive. You can just feel that they really want you to have a good time! You’ll want to book this tour in advance, as it’s definitely a popular one!

Related Read: If you want to see one of Mexico’s best beaches, be sure to visit Akumal Beach when in Cancun. Not only is it gorgeous, but you can swim with sea turtles! Here is everything you need to know before visiting Akumal Beach.

Blue water and a catamaran in Cancun
Arriving at Isla Mujeres!

Private Catamaran Tour to Isla Mujeres, Snorkeling, from Cancun

If you’re in Cancun with a big group, then chartering a catamaran to Isla Mujeres is an awesome experience. I mean, sailing through the turquoise Caribbean waters on your own private catamaran boat is a surefire way to feel like a VIP! 

The whole experience is 6 hours long. You’ll stop for a guided snorkeling tour at the El Meco Reef on your way from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Once you arrive you’ll have free time to explore the ruins at Punta Sur, relax on the beaches, and enjoy the historic downtown. Finally, you’ll head back to Cancun and catch an epic sunset along the way!

There are 3 possible departure times available for this tour, so make sure you choose 2 pm in order to catch the sunset. Otherwise, you’ll be back in Cancun too early! 

There’s an unlimited open bar on board, so this is a great option if your group is planning to party since it’ll just be you guys on board. However, I also think that this could be a really lovely tour for families, too. 

The tour costs $1,850 USD per group for the 6-hour option or $1,450 USD for the 4-hour tour, plus a $15 USD dock fee per person. You can have up to 15 passengers on board, so this option will still work out pricier than doing a group tour … but then, can you really put a price on a private boat trip in the Caribbean Sea?

You can reserve this private sunset cruise online here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

6. Are Cancun sunset cruises suitable for children?

View out the front of the catamaran on our tour from Cancun to Isla Mujeres
The water is so beautiful!

Most of these sunset cruises are geared more toward a party cruise with an open bar and the drinks flowing, which isn’t exactly kid-friendly! However, not every single cruise is like that, you’ll just have to do adequate research beforehand.

Unfortunately, many of these cruises have the same price for adults and children, so even though the kids won’t be drinking, they will pay the same amount. However, children 5 and under are usually free! Children will also need to be strong swimmers to participate in snorkeling, as the ocean currents can be stronger than kids can handle, and some tours don’t allow children under 8 to participate. 

But, we have other great family-friendly tour options! This pirate dinner cruise is fun for any age and includes theatrical pirate performances, sword fights, and an at-sea battle, as well as a delicious surf-and-turf dinner and an open bar for the parents. This tour is $110 USD for adults and $55 USD for children – although if your kids are good dining from the buffet, they are free! There are also cheaper dinner options for parents too.

You can also opt for a private catamaran tour for your family! While it is a more expensive option, it is a private experience that you can tailor to fit exactly what you and your kids want to do! It starts at $570 USD, but if you have a group of six, that’s less than $100 USD per person, so it’s really not that much more than other tours on this list. And you’ll have the whole boat to yourself, like a real VIP!

Getting out onto the water is a memorable experience for kids, so finding a tour that fits with your family is a great activity to add to your Cancun itinerary. 

7. Is snorkeling on a Cancun sunset cruise good?

Bailey snorkeling in Cancun
It’s not the best snorkeling.

Honestly, snorkeling on a sunset cruise isn’t the best snorkeling in Cancun. Since the focus of this tour is the sunset experience, the snorkeling experience can feel rushed and hectic. You’ll be sharing the snorkel space with a lot of other boat tours that are following the same timeline as your tour, so there will be many other people in the water. 

While it is exciting to see fish and coral reefs, the water can get pretty choppy and you will need to pay attention to your guide. Think of snorkeling as a bonus activity of this tour, as the sunset is the star of the show. 

However, if you are looking for a great snorkeling experience, there are some fantastic tours out of Cancun. This half-day snorkeling tour is the perfect opportunity to get in the water and see some really unique marine life! You will get to explore the second-largest coral reef in the world, which is home to colorful fish and sea turtles – yep, you’ll get to swim with turtles! You will also explore an underwater museum, which is one of the most unique things I’ve seen.

This is a family-friendly tour that is perfect for first-time snorkelers or kids. The crew is patient and accommodating, making it a nice and relaxed experience. It includes transportation and snorkeling gear, and can be booked online for $75 USD!

Related Read: For another epic experience in the waters of Isla Mujeres, you can swim with whale sharks! Check out everything you need to know before swimming with whale sharks while visiting Cancun.

8. Can you get seasick on a Cancun sunset cruise?

Epic views of the crystal clear waters from our Cancun Catamaran Cruise
The water is very calm!

It is not unheard of to get seasick on a sunset cruise, but fortunately, we had a great experience! Bailey often gets seasick, so she always makes sure to take motion sickness medication before getting on the boat. The water was very calm, as we sailed during the dry season! If you can book a tour on a catamaran boat, these are the most stable type of vessel.

If you are prone to seasickness, I have some pro tips to overcome it! Motion sickness medication is a lifesaver. Take it about 30-60 minutes before your tour starts, most medications last all day. Be sure to get the non-drowsy kind if possible because it can definitely make you sleepy! Dramamine is the most popular brand and you can easily find it at a pharmacy in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

I recommend bringing plenty of water and if you can sit facing the front, focusing on the horizon greatly helps!

9. What should you wear/bring on a Cancun sunset cruise to Isla Mujeres?

Bailey poses for a photo on the front of our Catamaran sunset tour as we approach Isla Mujeres
You don’t need much!

When packing for a sunset cruise, think less is more! There is limited space on the boat, so you won’t be able to bring too many things. You will need to wear a swimsuit for snorkeling and swimming and bring some clothes to wear on Isla Mujeres. There isn’t really room to change on the boat, so I recommend bringing clothes that you can throw on top of your swimsuit. 

While shoes aren’t allowed on the boat, you’ll need them for walking around Isla Mujeres, especially if you rent a golf cart to explore. Just stow them away in your bag for later. Also, keep in mind that this is a sunset cruise and can get cooler once the sun goes down! I brought a light jacket and was glad I had it.

You won’t want to skip out on sunscreen either. Expect to be out in the sun all day, bring extra sunscreen, a towel, a light beach cover-up, and a hat. Be sure to have extra cash on hand as you’ll probably want to grab some food or souvenirs on Isla Mujeres!

10. What facilities will you find on a sunset cruise in Cancun?

Bailey poses for a photo on a catamran in Cancun, mexico
You have everything you need!

There is a surprising amount of space and amenities on catamaran boats, which can hold up to 30 people on these tours! The most important amenity is the fully stocked open bar that is included on every tour we’ve mentioned here. We especially love catamarans because they are quite large and spacious. Even with a lot of people on the boat, there is still adequate seating so you can enjoy the scenery as you sail through the Caribbean. 

If your tour includes snorkeling, they will provide all the gear, and some tours will even offer other water activities, like paddleboards or kayaks. Party boats will often have fun extras like a slide off the boat and a water trampoline to lounge on. All of the boats are equipped with a toilet on board, which is probably the most important amenity!

11. Are Cancun sunset cruise tours safe?

Bailey sits on the side rail of the Catamaran soaking up the views and sun on a tour from Cancun
Just enjoy the view!
Cocktails onboard a catamaran cruise to Isla Mujeres from Cancun
We got cocktails as soon as we got on!

Yes, you can be assured that catamaran tours are a highly safe activity in Mexico. As one of the most popular tour destinations on the Yucatan, the waters between Cancun and Isla Mujeres are heavily regulated by the Mexican government. They ensure that all boats are up to safety standards with life jackets and other emergency equipment and that the staff is well-trained. 

We have always had great experiences on boat tours here. The crew goes out of their way to ensure your safety, and to make sure you’re having a good experience! Keep in mind that tourism is a huge part of the economy, so they want tourists to have a positive experience and return. They will do whatever they can so you enjoy your trip!

Isla Mujeres is only 13 kilometers (8 miles) off the coast of Cancun. The waters are very busy with ferries, tours, and private boats, so you never feel like you’re out in the middle of nowhere. The area is heavily patrolled by the coastguard, making the waters even more safe to explore. If you visit during the dry season (December to May), you will have such calm waters you won’t even think you’re in the ocean!

12. Is a Cancun sunset cruise worth it?

Bailey poses for a photo on a catamaran cruise in Cancun
Yes!

A HUGE yes! A sunset cruise is definitely one of the best things to do in Cancun! It’s so much fun and a nice way to enjoy the impressive scenery of Cancun and Isla Mujeres. I love that you get to set sail in the afternoon, so you get to experience more of the gorgeous turquoise Caribbean waters.

And that sunset … you’ll be thinking about it for years to come! You truly get to see a lot in a short amount of time, but the trip feels relaxing and fun rather than hectic. 

Related Read: If you’re looking for another gorgeous boat tour, in a quieter area, be sure to stop by Bacalar. The boat tours in the Bacalar Lagoon have a totally different vibe than Cancun, but are still pretty amazing!

Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun

Bailey and Daniel look at a Sting Ray at the MUSA dive site in Cancun
A stingray at MUSA!
Bailey looks out the window of the Cancun Scenic Tower in Cancun, Mexico
The view is amazing!

Don’t let a sunset cruise be the only adventure you take in Cancun! I’ve been coming to Cancun since I was a kid and I never get tired of visiting. There are so many fun things to do in Cancun, that will make for an amazing vacay. So if you’re looking for even more activities, check out some of my favorites below!

  • Cancun Scenic Tower – As if Cancun wasn’t scenic enough, there’s another way to enjoy the views here! The Cancun Scenic Tower gives you amazing views of the Caribbean! The entire viewing deck lifts up, so you won’t even need to climb any stairs to get this view.

Where to Stay in Cancun

the outdoor pools at the Grand Fiesta Americana in Puerto Vallarta
This adults-only resort is pure relaxation! Photo Credit: Grand Fiesta Americana

If you’re going to be taking a sunset cruise from Cancun, then you’ll need a place to stay! Below are some of the best hotels (for every budget) in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is a great choice. It has the typical hostel vibes, which includes the woes of a shared living space, but overall I really enjoyed my stay. For the price (about $40 USD for a bunk or $100 USD for a private room) and fun atmosphere, you can’t go wrong! You can book this hostel on Hostelword or Booking.com.

If you prefer something a little nicer, I love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s not all-inclusive, which I enjoy because there are so many delicious restaurants in Cancun! The hotel is located right on the beach and has a huge pool. Rooms are typically $300-$500 USD depending on the time of year.

Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay and for that, I always book either the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun or the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun Adults Only. Both are not cheap but are equally as luxurious with fantastic oceanfront locations, delicious food, quality alcohol, and more.

More of a luxury traveler? Learn about the absolute best resorts in Cancun!

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. 

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie on a Cancun Sunset Catamaran cruise
Thanks for reading!

Our sunset cruise from Cancun was one of our favorite experiences in Mexico. There is something so special about seeing the sunset over the Caribbean water and watching the incredible colors cover the sky. This is an experience we will certainly do again on our next trip to Cancun! You can’t ever have enough sunset cruises in your life. 

We hope you found this blog helpful as you plan your Cancun vacation. We have traveled all around the country and put together tons of Mexico blogs so you can start your itinerary planning! In the meantime, check out some of our favorite experiences and essential information for Mexico:

21 Things to KNOW Before Renting a Car in Cancun

8 BEST Catamaran Tours in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

10 Things to Know BEFORE Booking an ATV Tour in Cancun

21 BEST Mayan Ruins in Mexico and How to Visit Them