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These Are The Top Islands To Visit Near Cancun This Winter

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As a destination, there isn’t much Cancun doesn’t offer, with huge choices in nightlife, near-endless beaches, and tourism infrastructure that works to make every traveler’s vacation as fantastic as possible.

With that being said, the huge popularity of Cancun has seen it transform into a mammoth city in comparison to its small, sleepy beginnings.

Thankfully, travelers don’t need to go far to find a relaxed, truly Caribbean vibe, with nowhere offering that more than the following top island destinations near Cancun.

view of boats in the mexican caribbean

Isla Mujeres

Situated just off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres has turned into one of the hottest alternatives to Cancun in recent years.

In fact, this small island has become so popular with travelers that it was recently reporting 100% occupancy in its resorts, a rare occurrence even for the super-destinations of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

But it isn’t difficult to see why Isla Mujeres is so popular, with its beautiful beaches, extensive water sports, surprisingly rich cultural and historical wealth, as well as the island’s fun-filled entertainment calendar all helping to make this one of the liveliest offshore destinations.

Isla mujeres beach front with pleasure boats and a resort in the background


Holbox (pronounced hole-bosh) could be the most relaxed destination in all of Mexico. Set on a small, low-lying island off the north of the Yucatan coast, Holbox can feel like a completely different world to the rest of the Yucatan peninsula.

As a vacation choice, the island is much better suited to travelers who prefer small, boutique hotels rather than the super-complex resorts that are super popular across Mexico.

A dock on isla holbox

The island also offers some truly breathtaking sites, with the sunset across the Gulf of Mexico being a huge plus mentioned by travelers in their reviews, as well as the otherworldly bioluminescence in the waters surrounding Holbox.

For seafood lovers, the island offers food so fresh that you can watch the fishermen bringing it into port and then straight into the small local restaurants before being prepared and set down in front of you.

Bioluminescent bay in the sand

Travelers also get a chance to escape the sound of traffic here, with Holbox shunning gas-powered transport in favor of environmentally friendly electric golf carts and bicycles as ways to get around the island.

Holbox is an awesome destination for travelers who want to leave reality behind in favor of true Caribbean relaxation.

Charming Street in Holbox with two bikes in front of a house with the beach in the distance.

Isla Cozumel

While Isla Mujeres is perfect for travelers who want a vacation with all the fun and amenities of Cancun without the fast pace, and Isla Holbox is for travelers determined to be transported to a relaxed world, Isla Mujeres offers abundant adventure and culture.

Isla Mujeres is famous among the diving community for the amazing underwater world surrounding it.

Regarded as the best base from which to explore the Mesoamerican Coral Reef, there are plenty of opportunities to learn to scuba dive here. Additionally, the fantastic snorkeling excursions mean the barrier to experiencing this wonder is kept low, so as many travelers as possible can share this experience.

A beach on Isla Cozumel from the air

For travelers who prefer to keep their feet dry, Isla Cozumel offers a superb eco-park that covers a huge area of the island, as well as extensive entertainment and shopping to be enjoyed in the island’s main town, San Miguel.

This island was also an important center for the Mayan civilization, and the echoes of that are felt all over the island, with Mayan ruins dotted throughout.

mayan ruins cozumel

Travelers visiting Isla Cozumel should also be aware that while the empire that is associated with the Mayan civilization fell, the Mayan people and their culture are alive and well in this corner of the Mexican Caribbean.

Also, while Cozumel can become a little crowded in places when the cruise ships come into port, the island is one of the biggest in Mexico, at 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, meaning there’s always space and peace to be found, no matter how crowded the port areas get.

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