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These Underrated Destinations South Of Cancun Are The Best To Avoid Crowds Right Now

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While Cancun soars in popularity with travelers this winter, two destinations in the southern corner of the Mexican Caribbean are surprisingly empty right now.

Aerial view of Bacalar's famous lagoon of 7 colors

Mahahual and Bacalar are among the most idyllic destinations in the state of Quintana Roo, offering a mix of white-sand beaches and azure lagoons. 

And with most travelers currently enjoying other sun-soaked destinations, now is the best time to enjoy everything these underrated destinations have to offer. 

@thenonstopdreamer Only 2.5 hours from Tulum, this is a much more affordable beach destination off the beaten path #tulum #mexico #beach #traveltiktok #fyp ♬ Body (Remix) [feat. ArrDee, E1 (3×3), ZT (3×3), Bugzy Malone, Buni, Fivio Foreign & Darkoo] – Tion Wayne & Russ Millions

With millions of travelers set to visit the Mexican Caribbean this winter, here’s a look at why these two destinations are worth adding on your next Caribbean getaway.

Hotels And Resorts Report Huge Drop In Occupancy After Record-Breaking December 

2023 was a record-breaking year for the Mexican Caribbean travel industry, with well over 20 million visitors setting foot in the sunny region. This year, that trend is set to continue thanks to the completion of the Maya Train as well as Tulum’s new international airport. 

But in February, two excellent destinations are welcoming a surprisingly low number of travelers. Mahahual and Bacalar are popular traveler hotspots situated in the southern portion of the Mexican Caribbean. 

@fiah_family Snorkel tour Mexico! Took the kids to snorkel in the world's 2nd largest barrier reef 🪸🇲🇽 #mahahual #mahahualmexico #mahahualquintanaroo #mahahualbeach #mahahualbeauty #mexico #mexicotiktok #mexicocheck #mexico🇲🇽 #mexicobeach #playa #snorkeling #fyp #fypシ #foryou #traveltiktok #traveling #travellife #travel #travelers #travelfamily #travelfam #travelingfamilyoffour #travelexperience #backpackers #backpacking #backpackingfamily #backpackinglife #nomads #nomadicfamily #fiah #fiahfamiiy #fiahfam #findingindependence #achievinghappiness ♬ Paradise – TELL YOUR STORY music by Ikson™

These quaint destinations are famous for their stunning nature, including long white-sand beaches, lush forests, and countless lagoons and cenotes.

Despite their fabulous appeal, local hotels and resorts are currently reporting a significant drop in occupancy rates following the extremely busy holiday season. 

That makes the first few months of the year an excellent time to head to these underrated destinations, given the lack of mass tourism currently present in the area. 

@professormelissa It was my first time in Costa Maya, and Hayhu Beach did not disappoint! Also… they provided towels, which I love. 🌊 #costamaya #mexico #costamayamexico #hayhu #hayhubeach #hayhubeachmahahual #mahahual #cruiseport #c#cruisec#cruiselifec#cruisetipsc#cruisetipsandtricksc#cruisehacksv#vacationr#royalcarribeanr#royalcarribeancruisec#carnivalcruisec#carnivalc#carnivalcruiselinev#virgincruisev#virginvoyagesv#virgincruiselinen#norwegiancruised#disneycruiseh#hollandh#hollandcruiseh#hollandamericalined#disneycruiselineo#oceanc#cruisequestionsc#cruisequestionsansweredc#cruisefactsg#goingonacruisec#crusingtokc#cruisetokc#cruisetiktokc#cruisetiktoksc#cruiseessentialsm#msccruisem#msccruiselinet#travel ♬ So Low – Shiloh Dynasty & LofiCentral

Mahahual and especially Bacalar are ideal for travelers seeking a hassle-free retreat away from packed beaches and all-inclusive resorts.

Although both destinations are home to numerous larger accommodations, most establishments have only a fraction of the occupancy rates of up to 90% seen late last year. 

According to representatives from the region’s travel industry, the best time to visit Mahahual is during the weekdays. That said, large cruise ships will continue to dock in the sunny destination, although most passengers will spend just several hours on land.

@kristinacors How To Get to Bacalar aka the Maldives of Mexico #travel #traveltips #bacalar #bacalarmexico #digitalnomad #kristinacors #travelbucketlist ♬ Paradise – Bazzi

Mahahual is famous for its quaint downtown, which boasts over 20 restaurants and bars along the Malecon or promenade. The coastal hotspot is also home to a handful of beautiful beaches, including the top-rated Mahahual Beach.

Meanwhile, Bacalar, an island destination, is also renowned for its nature attractions.

Unlike Mahahual, Bacalar lacks white-sand beaches. But what it lacks in powdery sand, it makes up for with its stunning variety of cenotes – freshwater sinkholes – and colorful lagoons.

@kristinacors Planning a trip to Mexico? Watch this! #travelbucketlist #traveltiktok #bacalar #bacalarmexico ♬ Forever – Labrinth

In fact, Bacalar is home to some of the most wondrous sights in the entirety of the Mexican Caribbean. The city’s Lake of Seven Colors is a sight to behold, consisting of a large set of natural pools in varying shades of blue and green.

The remote hotspot is particularly popular thanks to the large variety of water-based tours, including sailing, snorkeling, and more!

@amandamoniquebrown save for how to visit this magical lagoon 👇 📍 Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico I’ve been trying to visit Bacalar for a few years, and we finally made it! It’s exceeded all my expectations 💎 Bacalar is DEFINITELY on the rise for tourism, you can see if coming. Mexico is even building a train that will eventually connect Cancun to Bacalar 🚢 So, if you want to visit BEFORE the Cancun crowds arrive, go soon 🚙 the easiest way is to fly into Cancun, and rent a car. Then it’s about a 3.5-4 hour drive, basically a straight shot 🛣️ road is well paved & easy to navigate! Just try to only drive during the day, it’s not well lit at night 🏝️ unless you’re on a tight budget, make sure to stay at a place on the water! There’s tons of reasonable options and it makes accessing the lagoon so much easier Follow for more off the beaten path destinations! #bacalar #bacalarlagoon #bacalamexico #mexicotravel #visitmexico #yucatan #mexicotrip #traveltips #uniquetravel ♬ original sound – Amanda Monique

Both Mahahual and Bacalar are excellent alternatives to larger hotspots like Playa del Carmen and Tulum. A growing number of travelers in the trendy destinations are opting to stay at one of many Airbnbs and boutique hotels, which offer the possibility to get up close and person with the region’s stunning nature.

And with the Maya Train just months away from completion, travelers will soon be able to visit Bacalar directly thanks to the new railway system.

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