Skip to Content

7 Cancun Alternatives For A More Laid-Back Vibe 

Share The Article

Cancun has become one of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico and even one of the most sought-after beach destinations in the world.  Millions of foreign travelers visit the busy tourist city every year because it has it all – amazing beaches, luxury all-inclusive resorts, and access to unbelievable adventures. 

Beautiful View of the Tulum Ruins and the Mexican Caribbean

Because it has all this to offer and more, though, Cancun is often packed with tourists and characterized by its party atmosphere.  But we’ll tell you about 7 Cancun alternatives for a more laid-back vibe, and you can still fly into Cancun Airport to get to them. 


To get to Holbox island, you have to take the roughly 2.5-hour drive from Cancun Airport to Chiquila and then take a 20-minute ferry ride to the island, which will cost around $7 USD.  Holbox has beautiful white sand turquoise water beaches, just like Cancun, but it has some unique characteristics too. 

Tourists visit Holbox to get a glimpse of its bioluminescent water at night, stroll through its quaint city streets and look at the street art, eat some authentic Mexican food, and spend lazy days on the beaches.  

@montanadarby 📍Isla Holbox, an absolute MUST VISIT island located 20 mins off the coast of Mexico! It was my favourite place in Mexico by a mile! 🌴 #mexico #travel #mexicotravel #backpacking #islaholbox #holbox ♬ original sound – Montana | Travels

Isla Mujeres 

Isla Mujeres is the easiest alternative to Cancun to get to because it is just off the coast of Cancun, and there are multiple ferry ports that offer rides to the island.  The ferry ride will take about 15 minutes and currently costs $16 roundtrip.  On the island of Isla Mujeres, you’ll find stunning beaches, crystal-clear water perfect for snorkeling, beautiful coral reefs, and the very unique Underwater Museum of Art.   

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans For 2023 Starting At $10 Per Week

Easily Earn Points For Free Travel

@pictureperfectwrld Come with me to Isla Mujeres – One of the top 10 beaches in the world #islamujeres #traveladdict #travelwithme #tiktoktravelgoals #mexicocancun ♬ Moments / Tides – Goth Babe


To get to the island of Cozumel, you’ll have to take transportation from the airport to Playa del Carmen, which takes a little less than an hour.  From Playa del Carmen, you will catch the ferry for the 30-40 minute ride to the island, which will cost $25 roundtrip.  Cozumel has long been a popular Mexican Caribbean vacation destination, known for its diving and snorkeling opportunities, as it is home to part of a reef system that is the second largest in the world.   

@shaun_xx7 Isla Cozumel 🇲🇽 #travel #fun #friends #mexico #cozumel ♬ Gogo Dance – El Alfa & Chael Produciendo

Puerto Morelos 

Puerto Morelos is the first destination on the list that is not an island, so getting there only requires a quick 20-minute drive from Cancun Airport.  The town used to be a fishing village, and that vibe has definitely stuck around, so expect to find seafood restaurants.  In addition to spectacular beaches, visitors to Puerto Morelos go for the peacefulness, the wildlife, the diving and snorkeling, and the surrounding cenotes.   

@updwellstl Reply to @brittnt221 very much so! This is Puerto Morelos #puertomorelos #mexico #rivieramaya #bienvenidos ♬ Paradise – Bazzi


Akumal is one of the lesser-known destinations on this list but is just as worth visiting and is only about an hour away from Cancun International Airport.  Akumal is an adventurer’s paradise, where you’ll find not only amazing beaches but waters filled with marine life too.  In addition to exploring the Caribbean Sea, you’ll have the opportunity to explore cenotes, underground rivers, and caves when visiting Akumal too.   

@katlyn.stevens #mexico #akumal #cheaptravel #wildlife #natgeo #travel #travelhacks #cancun #snorkeling #ocean #caribean #viajar #HeyAngel ♬ Mexico en la Piel – Lupita Jiménez

Playa Del Carmen 

Playa del Carmen is only 45 minutes away from Cancun and is a really popular vacation destination, yet it still somehow manages to maintain a more laid-back vibe.  There is no doubt that Playa del Carmen does have nightlife, but there are plenty of opportunities to relax too.  It has fantastic beaches but also has an area that is filled with restaurants and shops where you can find good Mexican food and some great souvenirs.   

@_byzahraa Things to do in Playa Del Carmen #playadelcarmen #playadelcarmenmexico #mexicoholiday ♬ Paradise – Bazzi


Tulum has been rising in popularity for the last few years but has still retained some of its charms.  It’s about an hour and a half drive from Cancun Airport, but if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation with access to all kinds of activities this is the place for you.  You can relax on the beautiful beaches, explore Mayan ruins, swim in cenotes, and dine at some great food.

Plan Your Next Cancun Vacation:

Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!

Choose From Thousands of Cancun and Riviera Maya Hotels, Resorts and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties

↓ Join the community ↓

The Cancun Sun Community FB group has all the latest travel news, conversations and tourism Q&A’s for the Mexican Caribbean


Subscribe to our Latest Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to The Cancun Sun’s latest breaking news affecting travelers, straight to your inbox.


Friday 3rd of March 2023

Someone has Google Maps. Lame article.


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Where can I find a full and objective account of the places that have just been described. I was in Tulum recently and did would not return.


Friday 3rd of March 2023

@Nikolai, agreed, Tulum is trash. We've been to nearly all these places and have a more honest opinion than this garbage article.


Friday 3rd of March 2023

@Nikolai, depends what you want? Nite life, beaches , snorkeling, etc.


Friday 3rd of March 2023

@Nikolai, I live in the area. Tell me why you did not like Tulum and I can direct you to something you may prefer.