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Why Alternative Tourism Is Soaring In The Mexican Caribbean

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Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you will already know that the Mexican Caribbean has experienced a record-breaking year in tourism. 

Of the thousands upon thousands of visitors arriving at the incredible location each month, around 40% to 50% of tourists now consider activities and attractions nearby that combine nature, culture, and history when booking their vacations, also known as alternative tourism.

Beach in Akumal

Incredibly, hotels are no longer the sole focus of tourists when booking their trips and can be put down to the “post-pandemic” feeling of wanting to experience natural and outdoor spaces.

Director of Sustentur, Vicente Ferreyra stated: “ We are seeing that today the protected areas, the cenotes, the activities on beaches and other types of activities of these characteristics are being more attractive for the tourist, we had previously noticed a change, the tourist no longer wants to spend 15 days in a hotel, but they do take advantage of this existing infrastructure to visit other places.”

This uptick in popularity may also be down to the bigger world issue of sustainable travel, which focuses on the preservation and conservation of natural and cultural environments, and with the Mexican Caribbean having much of that in abundance, it is no wonder tourists want a piece of the action. 

@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

Local governments and authorities have been responding to this newfound popularity and the record-breaking numbers they have been experiencing this year by expanding the number of activities and attractions on offer.

From opening new parts of archaeological sites that haven’t been opened in decades to creating more and more protected areas so that tourists can enjoy the magnificence of the breathtaking landscapes without them becoming run down or overused. 

Areas such as Maya Ka’an and Holbox Island have been experiencing a significant influx of tourists, further confirming that they are looking for something beyond the typical beach-destination holiday of somewhere like the ever-popular hotspot, Cancun. 

@laurareidd Sian Ka'an 🙌🏼 #siankaan #yucatan #tulummexico #mexicotravel #biosphere #mexicoo #travelspots #worldtravel #travelmexico #travelwithme #earthpix #mex ♬ Take Me Home, Country Roads (Acoustic) – Music Travel Love

Maya Ka’an

Just two hours south of Cancun, Maya Ka’an is an eco-destination filled with jungle, coastal lagoons, and stunning bays that are perfect for exploring by boat or kayak. 

Within Maya Ka’an is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, which is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean and is a coastline filled with tropical forests, mangroves, and marshes, creating a natural habitat for jaguars, pumas, dolphins, and manatees, as well as a nesting ground for turtles. 

The area also features some incredible cenotes, which are large bodies of natural water that can be dated back to being in use during the ancient Mayan period as sacrificial and religious grounds and are now used as a perfect place to have a swim when needing to escape the afternoon heat.


Holbox Island 

This beautiful island in the Mexican Caribbean is also becoming increasingly popular among tourists. 

Not only are there boundless beaches that surround it, with the whitest sands and bluest waters you can get, but there is also an incredibly diverse ecosystem of animals and plant life that cannot be missed.

With the Yum Balm Nature Reserve, the abundance of flora and fauna is considered a protected area, and the island is also teaming with a huge variety of wildlife both on land and in the sea.

Hammock at Sunset Off the Island of Holbox, Mexico

The nature reserve protects all types of wildlife; everything from birds, jaguars, and spider monkeys, to manatees, whale sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles.

Offering something completely different from the likes of Cancun, this laid-back, old fishing village is perfect for lovers of the outdoors who want a peaceful, relaxing vacation. 

Chichén Viejo

The most popular archeological site in the Mexican Caribbean, Chichén Itzá has just recently opened a new part of their exhibition, which has not been available to the public for decades. 

chichen itza aerial view at dusk

Chichén Viejo, believed to be the residential area of the elite families of the ancient Mayan city, has more than twenty-five structures on display, with tombs and plazas that date back to 878 A.D, and is the perfect add-on to the already incredible experience that visiting the archaeological site has become for tourists.

Archeological sites have been increasingly seeing a boom this year, with more and more people traveling to witness a slice of history that shaped not only Mexico but the rest of the world. 

Only time will tell whether alternative tourism is here to stay, but with numbers already heating up for the winter high season, it looks as though it certainly is!

sian kaan

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