No matter what your plans are, you probably wouldn’t be coming to the Caribbean if you didn’t want good weather, and the likelihood of warm days and cloudless skies is one of the main considerations for most people. Many tourists are genuinely surprised to discover that Cancun has distinct seasons, including several months during which heavy rain and cloud cover are common, and even hurricanes are possible.

Equally important is how much money you’re able and willing to spend. The price of many things, especially accommodations, varies dramatically depending on the month and day you visit.

Not surprisingly, the best deals are offered when the weather is least reliable. But that doesn’t mean you have to trade good weather for reasonable prices; if you’re able to visit during the months just before or after the busy season, you have an excellent chance of enjoying good weather and off-peak prices.

Yet another consideration is that some activities can only be done during certain times of the year, like bird watching or snorkeling with whale sharks. Finally, be mindful of holiday vacation periods, especially Christmas, Spring Break, July and August and the Holy Week, the week before Easter. Prices can skyrocket, along with the number of tourists both foreign and Mexican.

That said, if partying is high on your priority list, there is no better time to visit.

So, when is the best time to go, all things considered? For most independent, guidebook travelers,the best time to visit Cancun is from mid-January until the beginning of May. The winter rains definitely will have passed, yet the summer humidity and high temperatures, which start in May and peak in June and July, have yet to set in. This period does include Spring Break and Semana Santa (the best or worst time to come, depending of your point of view), but otherwise crowds are thinner and prices lower compared to the Christmas and summer periods.

September and October see even fewer tourists and lower prices, but that’s because it’s the heart of hurricane season; the weather is generally rainier and more overcast, even if a big storm doesn’t hit. Unfortunately, traveling between January and May means you’ll miss the whale sharks in Isla Holbox, which migrate there June-Sept. If seeing them is a priority, try visiting in July. August is busy with European travelers and September may have bad weather.

The first two weeks of December are another pocket of relatively reliable weather, reasonable prices and relatively light visitation. But expect prices to jump on December 15, like clockwork.