How to decide between between a trip to Hawaii or Mexico

For West Coast travelers looking to warm up, a quick escape to the tropics has traditionally come down to two choices: Hawaii and Mexico.

To be fair — Hawaii is a tiny island state, and Mexico is the world’s 14th-largest country, yet both are warm and offer opportunities to stroll half-naked on a beach.

So what are some of the key differences between Hawaii and Mexico when it comes to traveling? Read on to learn more.

Climate and weather

In short: You’ll be comfortable no matter what.

Hawaii: similar regional patterns as Mexico, with dry leeward sides and wet windward sides. Winters are also comfortable, and summers tend to be warm. The main difference with Hawaii are the tradewinds that keep the temperatures nearly perfect year-round.

Mexico: varies by region from dry, arid desert (like Cabo) to humid tropics (like Tulum). Very comfortable in the winter months, with oppressive-like heat in the summer during hurricane season.

Winner: Hawaii


In short: Both are incredible, but Mexican cuisine is something truly special.

Don’t bring your own poke, lol

Hawaii: home to poke, poi, and lau lau, Hawaii is bursting with variety and freshness — especially when it comes to Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine.

Mexico: traditional food in Mexico goes WAY beyond the typical tacos, burritos, and enchiladas we’re used to in the States. Each region in Mexico offers something totally unique, fresh, and flavorful (ever heard of Chiles en Nogada?), so there’s never anything to get tired of, and it’s usually affordable. Fun fact: UNESCO recently declared traditional Mexican cuisine an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” (French food is the only other cuisine to earn this honor).

Winner: Mexico


In short: You can’t really go wrong with a Hawaiian beach.

Hawaii: Hands down gorgeous beaches with cool, clear water and incredible variety (terrain, sand color, vegetation). Often accented with palm trees, honu (turtles), breaching whales, and the occasional Hawaiian monk seal.

Mexico: no doubt beautiful, although sometimes prone to development and overcrowding, lack of public access (i.e., Cancun) and “sargasso” seaweed.

Winner: Hawaii


In short: Both are rich with culture, one boasts diversity while the other boasts tradition.

Hawaiian hula dancer

Hawaii: Come here for the diversity! Hawaii has a unique and interesting island culture shaped by different ethnicities, foods, customs, and languages — all of which are anchored in the Native Hawaiian host culture.

Mexico: Come here to witness old traditions! In any town or city in Mexico, you’ll find street vendors and taco stands, a vibrant and colorful “zócalo” (town square), ancient pyramids, cenotes, mariachi bands, and much more!

Winner: it’s a tie


In short: Hawaii is (currently) cheap to fly to, but Mexico is overall more affordable.

Hawaii: Lately we’ve seen consistent $199 roundtrip fares from the West Coast to Hawaii (wow!). Lodging starts at around $200/night and goes up from there, but unlike Mexico you get a consistent, clean experience. Groceries and food can be on the pricey side, too.

Mexico: It’s currently more expensive to fly to Mexico than Hawaii, and lodging can run just as high. But once you’re there, there are tons of low-cost options for dining, groceries, and basic supplies.

Winner: Mexico


Looks like a tie, so take your pick! We, of course, prefer Hawaii and think you should, too 😉


Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.

Image credits: Roberto Carlos Roman Don, Balazs Busznyak, Jezael Melgoza, Danie Franco, wandering-nomad, Blogging Guide, Constanza S. Mora

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