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Why This Island Near Playa Del Carmen Is The True Hidden Gem Of The Mexican Caribbean

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The Mexican Caribbean pulsates with vibrant energy, attracting travelers seeking relaxation, adventure, and cultural immersion.

While popular destinations like Playa del Carmen and Tulum offer undeniable charm, those seeking a hidden gem can discover a treasure trove of experiences on an island near Playa Del Carmen.

Over the past few years, the Mexican Caribbean has exploded in popularity, bringing never-before-seen numbers of tourists to this paradisical corner of Mexico.  

 turquoise blue water on a beach in cozumel

The once quiet and hippie retreat of the island of Holbox north of Cancun is now brimming with travelers, and the world-famous Isla Mujeres, just a 20-minute ferry ride directly off the coast of Cancun, is now posting some of the highest resort occupancy numbers in all of the Caribbean.

On land, the picture is no different, once sleepy and relaxed destinations like Playa del Carmen and Tulum have both graduated to super-popular tourism hotspots and are almost always near capacity throughout the year.

For travelers who crave the more relaxed Caribbean atmosphere, it’s becoming more necessary than ever to travel south towards destinations such as Bacalar, Akumal, and even Chetumal.

However, just off the coast of Playa del Carmen is one of the Mexican Caribbeans’ greatest hidden gems, a place that provides travelers with everything they could want and more.

Aerial view of a white sand beach in Cozumel with blue water

Isla Cozumel

While a healthy number of cruise passengers visit this stunning island each year, the number of travelers who visit from mainland Mexico is much lower.

For anyone who has already visited Cozumel, this may come as a surprise, considering just how beautiful and rich in culture and activities the island is.

However, whether by design or by accident, the much smaller islands of Holbox and Isla Mujeres steal the show in the battle of which island gets a visit from travelers.

The following are reasons why Cozumel is the true hidden gem of the Mexican Caribbean.

Hammock on Cozumel Beach

Outstanding Beaches

First up are the many stunningly beautiful beaches on Cozumel. The vast majority of travelers are coming to the Mexican Caribbean for a beach vacation, and in that respect, Cozumel doesn’t disappoint.

One of the most popular of the island’s beaches is Playa Mia. Sporting the trademark clear blue water and soft white sand that has made the Mexican Caribbean famous, it has an even better reputation than its mainland rivals for being a pristine strand for travelers to relax in the sun.

Boredom isn’t an issue either, if laying in the sun gets tiresome travelers can engage in a huge variety of watersports, from snorkeling in the calm waters to skipping along the water top on a fun-filled jet ski ride.

a beautiful beach on the island of cozumel

A Sacred Island

Before Spanish explorers arrived in the new world and changed the Americas forever, the island of Cozumel was an important cultural center for the Mayan civilization.

The most popular Maya ruins on Cozumel are at San Gervasio. As an important religious center for the Maya people, it helped mold the island’s reputation as a sacred place.

At San Gervasio travelers can get up close and personal with the Temple of the Sky, Temple of the King, Nohoch Nah, also known as the Great House in English.

Mayan ruins on the island of cozumel

Punta Sur Eco Park

Covering over 2,500 acres, the Punta Sur Eco Park is a criminally underappreciated wonder of nature. The park is alive with wildlife that includes exotic birds, sea turtles, and even crocodiles.

Travelers will find the Celarain Lighthouse in the park, a once super important landmark that would guide sailors away from the dangerous coastline.

Climbing this lighthouse will give travelers a truly spectacular panoramic view of the whole island of Cozumel that is perfect for a memorable vacation picture.

Cozumel Cenote

San Miguel

The largest town on the island of Cozumel, San Miguel, has a population of over 77,000 and is populated with many fantastic restaurants and bars for travelers to enjoy.

However, the biggest draw of San Miguel is its bright and colorful colonial architecture. Exploring this small but super-interesting town is a much truer experience of the real Mexico than the modern architecture that makes up Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

brightly colored building on a pedestrian street in San Miguel, Cozumel

Don’t Miss Out

If just for a day trip, easily completed by taking an enjoyable 40-minute ferry from Playa del Carmen, or for a whole vacation at one of the island’s beautiful and cozy hotels, Cozumel is a corner of the Mexican Caribbean that no traveler would regret visiting.

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