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These 4 Caribbean destinations in Mexico are more affordable and less crowded than Cancun

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A record 1.2 million visitors visited Cancun over Easter weekend, and hotel occupancy rose above 85%, according to Riviera Maya News.

Cancun remains the most popular destination in Mexico for American travelers – in fact, it is the most popular international destination in the world for American travelers thanks to its beautiful beaches, abundance of all-inclusive resorts and close proximity to the US with non-stop flights from more than 40 cities.

However, this means that Cancun can get very busy, not to mention expensive.

Isla HolboxIsla Holbox

Other beach destinations nearby, such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum, are also crowded and expensive.

If you’re looking for less crowded and more affordable alternatives to Cancun, check out these underrated Mexican Caribbean destinations:

1. Bacalar

Bacalar is the ultimate tropical escape if you’re looking for fewer tourist crowds and affordable prices.

Although it is becoming a trendy destination, it is still relatively unknown – but that won’t be the case in a few years!

Panoramic view of Lake Bacalar, South Quintana Roo, Mexico, Latin AmericaPanoramic view of Lake Bacalar, South Quintana Roo, Mexico, Latin America

This is the perfect time to visit Bacalar before more people find out about it.

It is a 4 hour and 30 minute drive from Cancun to Bacalar or a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Tulum where there is a new international airport that has just opened.

This beautiful city isn’t actually in the Caribbean, but rather on the shores of Lake Bacalar, a freshwater lagoon nicknamed the ‘Lake of Seven Colors’ thanks to its varying shades of blue and turquoise water.

It’s a refreshingly affordable, authentic and laid-back destination compared to much of the rest of the highly touristy Mexican Caribbean.

Couple in BacalarCouple in Bacalar

2. Mahahual

Another more affordable and less crowded place to go instead of Cancun is Mahahual.

Mahahual is certainly not an undiscovered destination; here is the Costa Maya cruise port, a popular stop on many Caribbean cruise itineraries.

When there are cruises in port, several thousand day trippers come to Mahahual.

However, there are not every day large cruise ships in port, and on the days when there are no cruise ships, this small town is very quiet and relaxed.

Even on days when there are cruise ships, it gets quiet in the late afternoon when the cruise ships start to depart.

Beach in Mahahual, MexicoBeach in Mahahual, Mexico

There are no luxury all-inclusive resorts in Mahahual like there are in Cancun. But what you can find affordable, relaxing beachfront hotels in Mahahual for under $100 per night.

Mahahual is 4 hours and 30 minutes from Cancun by car or bus, and 2 hours and 45 minutes from Tulum.

3. Puerto Morelos

Located just 25 minutes south of Cancun International Airport, Puerto Morelos is a great alternative if you want a less crowded Mexican Caribbean destination.

Beach in Puerto Morelos, MexicoBeach in Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Puerto Morelos has branded itself as a more authentic destination on the highly developed Riviera Maya.

It is not as built up or as touristy as Cancun in the north or Playa del Carmen in the south.

Although it is in a very convenient location, right between two more expensive destinations, you can still find beachfront hotels in Puerto Morelos for $125 per night or less.

The city itself also has a more relaxed atmosphere, and eating out or having a drink won’t cost you nearly as much as in Cancun.

Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya, Mexican Caribbean, MexicoPuerto Morelos, Riviera Maya, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

4. Holbox

Finally, Holbox is another great Mexican Caribbean destination that is cheaper and much less crowded than Cancun.

This tranquil island is home to one of the best beaches in the world.

Cars are prohibited on Isla Holbox, so golf carts and bicycles are the best modes of transportation to explore this small island.

It’s a laid-back destination that feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun.

Holbox beach with sun loungers along the sand and palm treesHolbox beach with sun loungers along the sand and palm trees

To reach Holbox, you first need to drive or bus from Cancun to Chiquila, which is about 1 hour and 35 minutes away.

You will then need to board a ferry in Chiquila to reach Holbox. The ferry time is only 25 minutes.

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, and not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included in the post.