My friend and I are graduating from college in December and we are planning a trip to Cancun in January. Is Cancun warm this time of the year, well warm enough to go to the beach and swim? We would like to see some Mayan ruins and do some snorkeling. Do you have any information on good, but cheap companies that provide tours of the ruins or dives? What are some other must do things in Cancun?
It should be relatively warm in January anywhere between 18-28'C. So shorts by day and a light sweater by night. As it is winter, the sun sets much earlier, at around 6pm ish. Millions of Canadians travel to Mexico between the months of January and April to escape the brutally cold winters. Cancun is filled with students from uni in February. A lot of partying goes down in Cancun. There are so many companies that give tours. Do a quick google search and check out the rates. Many can be organized directly through your hotel. Hope this helps!
Senor Frogs and the restaurants and bars downtown will be the wildest places during Spring Break (February/March depending upon the school). I've been to Cancun three times, but personally tried to avoid the place during Spring Break period since I was always traveling before with a young child. From what people say, any place in the hotel corridor--or the area near Playa del Carmen will all be packed--so be sure to book early if you go then instead of January.
Your best bet for ruins would be a day trip to Tulum...you can see the only Mayan beachfront ruins or the impressive, uncrosed site at nearby Coba. Also in that area are Xel Ha and cenote tours. It's worth an overnight, actually. The beach south of the ruins is all "cabanas"...essentially goodlooking european hippies with money and/or drugs.
This is closer than Chichen Itza and has a beach.
For snorkeling you can just walk in the water at Punta Nizuc, right there in the hotel zone. Or go to Isla Mujeres for the day. DON'T go to Garrafon park unless you have fifty bucks to spend in a place where nobody else is around because it's too expensive. Take a cab to the little Garafon Castilla beach club next door...you can swim into the park.
If you want a break from the hotel zone atmosphere (what I consider a pinball machine full of fastfood places and tourist traps) head downtown to shop at Market 28.
Don't worry about the time of year. That's high season and I doubt you will find it cold. Especially if you are from Minnesota or Alberta or someplace awful.