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YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO
Quintana Roo is the most visited state of Mexico and is famous for its Caribbean waters and white sand beaches, as well as the nightlife of Tulum and Cancun.
HOW TO GET TO BACALAR
Getting to Bacalar is pretty easy.
It is a 4.5 hour journey straight south by road from Cancun airport to the lagoons of Bacalar.
Due to the distance this area sees significantly less visitors than the spots further north on the coast.
The easiest and cheapest way to reach Bacalar is to take an ADO bus direct from Cancun airport, or jump on at one of the stops along the way. The bus drops you off on the main road in the middle of the town.
You could also arrange your own private transfer to reach Bacalar.
WHERE TO STAY IN BACALAR
There are plenty of accomodation options in Bacalar ranging from budget friendly to ultra luxury!
Our Budget Conscious Pick: Casa Delia
+ Modern rooms
+ Central location
+ Friendly staff
Our Luxury Pick: Akalki Hotel
+ Located on the lagoon shores
+ Quiet & peaceful
+ All-inclusive package option
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN BACALAR
Our favourite place to eat in Bacalar was El Maniti just outside the main square. They have the most amazing healthy food including bowls, smoothies, Mexican classics, ice coffee and more, all served in their little eco garden!
If you're feeling a burger then check out La Burguesía Del Pueblo on the main little square - they have every burger you could want!
If you're looking for a date night in Bacalar then check out La Playita - located right on the water it serves boujee Mexican X Argentinian cuisine and great cocktails!
THE TOP THINGS TO DO THINGS IN BACALAR!
There are so many things to do in Bacalar! You could easily spend over a week in this small town and not have seen everything!
Check out our top picks of things to do in Bacalar below:
Lagoon Boat Trip
You go to Bacalar for one reason - to see the lagoons with water of 7 shades of blue!
We recommend finding a boat trip that takes you out into the lagoons and lets you jump in for a swim around. These tours typically run around 2,000 pesos for a boat, split between however many of you are going (Prices January 2021).
Cenote Azul is located a little out of the town centre and should cost about 50 pesos to reach by taxi.
Entry is 25 pesos per person (Prices January 2021) and allows you to hang around the cenote as long as you'd like.
Take your swimming stuff because it's great to jump in and swim around!
In the town centre we recommend checking out the little fortress in the main square.
HOW TO GET TO CANCUN
Getting to Cancún is very easy -
Cancun airport is one of the largest and busiest in the country with regular flights from the States and Europe.
Because of the popularity of the area be prepared for very long queues at immigration!
Taxis are nothing short of extortionate from the airport into the city - these guys have truly mastered the skill of ripping off tourists!
If you happen to land late at night once the last bus has gone then expect to pay upwards of 1000 pesos ($50) to get anywhere!
If you land during bus service times then we would recommend taking an ADO bus from the airport into the City terminal.
Alternatively it can be quite cost effective to rent a car from National Car Rental (if you're willing to have the third party liability argument with them that is).
WHERE TO STAY IN CANCUN
Where to stay in Cancún depends on what you're looking for.
If you want to be close to the bars and nightlife on the strip with easy access to the beach then you'll want to pick a 'hotel zone' hotel. These tend to be the big chains and are typically the more expensive options.
If you'd prefer somewhere a little quieter off the strip then we recommend somewhere such as Luma Hotel (a basic modern no frills hotel) or the opposite side of the hotel zone in the Kaan-Chac area where you'll find chains such as Nomads & Selina. This area is much quieter but still walking distance to the main strip if you do fancy a night out!
THE TOP THINGS TO DO THINGS IN CANCUN!
There are tons of things to do in Cancún!
It is ideally located to check off most of the main attractions of the Quintana Roo area.
A Night Out
If you're in Cancún then you can't really leave without at least seeing what a night out on the main hotel zone strip involves! Wandering between the bars is quite an experience after dark!
The Beach and Beach Clubs
Cancun has numerous beach clubs to choose from if you're after a little more than just your towel on the the white sands of Cancun.
If you're looking to get some good shopping in Cancún close to some great eateries then La Isla mall is a great place to spend an afternoon and evening with designer shops and boujee restaurants.
The Cancun Marina area is also worth visiting for a little shopping and dinner as it shows a whole other side of the City to the famous strip.
If you aren't heading anywhere else in Quintana Roo then we'd recommend a day trip to check off the famous Mayan ruins of Chichén Itza.
It is around a 3 hour drive from Cancún to the ruins - many tour companies offer day trips from the city to the ruins.
Isla Mujeres or Cozumel
From Cancún ferry port you can take a day trip to either Isla Mujeres or Cozumel using the passenger ferries. These are operated by numerous ferry providers - we usually travel with Ultramar as they run frequent services and have great catamarans to take you over.
HOW TO GET TO COZUMEL
To get to Cozumel you need to take a ferry from Cancún.
The ferry departs from Playa del Carmen port and only takes 45 minutes to reach the island.
There should be daily ferries but you should check the timetable from Ultramar to be sure.
Once you're on Cozumel you can get around with a little moped or a car.
WHERE TO STAY IN COZUMEL
We would recommend staying near the town centre if you don't have transport so that all of the amenities are within walking distance.
You can also stay further South on the island at a larger resort style hotel however you will definitely need transport (moped or car) to get around every day.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN COZUMEL
Our favourite cheap eats stop on Cozumel was Sabino's Gastro Park on Avenida Sur!
The concept reminded us of some of our favourite London food truck spots with a variety of cuisines available and live music!
THE TOP THINGS TO DO THINGS IN COZUMEL!
Cozumel has some of the best diving in the area and is a great place to learn to dive.
There are plenty of dive shops to choose from, all at similar costs.
If you want to get your Open Water or Advanced qualifications like we did then we can highly recommend Maple Leaf Scuba. Jenn completed her Open Water here and Alex got his Advanced. They are PADI registered with extremely knowledgeable and patient instructors.
The Mayan ruins of San Gervasio
Ideally you need a moped to reach the ruins of San Gervasio as they are located in the middle of the island.
The ruins aren't the most amazing you'll find in the region, but they are still worth the visit!
In January 2021 they were 188 pesos per person to enter.
Cruise the island on a scooter
You can find rentals for 750 pesos for 3 days rental, including liability (Price January 2021).
You'll be able to complete a lap of the island in less than a day as there isn't too much to see on the south side - but make sure you stop at Coconuts Bar as well as along the roadside on the south east side to see the ocean water being pushed up through the rocks to form gizas!
Playa Corona is known as one of the best beaches on the island and is great for snorkelling off of or just chilling out for the day.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA HOLBOX
To get to Holbox from Cancún it's a little bit of a journey!
You can take public transport, a private transfer or drive yourself to the town of Chiquila on the north coast of the mainland.
If you rented a car you can pay for parking at one of the many car parks in the town as there are no cars on Holbox island.
The ferry departs from Chiquila and takes around 30 minutes to arrive.
Once on the island the only forms of transport are your feet, a bicycle or golf carts!
BEST AREA TO STAY ON ISLA HOLBOX
Holbox is a very long, thin island so you'll want to stay in the actual town of Holbox which is where the ferry drops you off and where all the bars & cafes are located.
There are options in the centre such as the popular Che Hostel or you can head out to the beach area where you'll find much pricier boutique options such as Aldea Kuka.
Most of the bars and restaurants are around the town centre, which is about a 15 minute walk from the near side of the beach.
THE TOP THINGS TO DO THINGS ON ISLA HOLBOX!
Although Holbox is only a small island that doesn't mean it's lacking in things to do!
Check out our top 6 things to do in Holbox below!
Holbox has perfect white beaches with clear shallow waters so spending a day at one of the numerous beach clubs lining the sand it's a great way to spend a day!
Island Boat Tour
Book a boat trip to see a few of the highlights around the island such as Bird Island, Paradise Island and a little Cenote. If you're lucky your captain may even find a pod of dolphins to cruise with a little as they're common in the area!
Holbox is known for having bioluminescent plankton which you can see right from the beach! Thanks to the lack of light pollution at the beach south of Punta Cocos you can just wander the shores and watch the water sparkle!
TIP - move the water with your hand to increase the sparkle!
Mangrove Kayak Tour
Take a kayak tour of the mangroves of Holbox. The majority of Holbox remains undeveloped reserves with plenty of wildlife to see. Kayak tours are a great way to spend a few hours exploring and sellers along the beach are happy to offer them to you.
Mexico is filled with amazing masseuses and Holbox is no exception to that! Book an hour massage on the Holbox beach and chill!
Swim with Whalesharks
You can swim with the whalesharks off of Holbox from May to September when they are in the area - sightings are not guaranteed though!
Tours are not cheap and can cost up to c. $200!
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MUJERES
Isla Mujeres is the closest and easiest island to reach from Cancún, which makes it the most visited by tourists.
To get to Isla Mujeres you take an Ultramar ferry which leaves from Cancún Port daily and takes less than 30 minutes to arrive.
Once on the island you can get around the island on a moped or golf cart.
WHERE TO STAY ON ISLA MUJERES
There are two main areas to stay on Mujeres.
The south west coast of the island is quiet and full of eco-friendly, boutique hotels such as Nomads. This area is about a 10 minute car drive from the centre of the town.
If you'd prefer to be close to the bars then you'll want a place in the town centre somewhere near Playa Norte - the famous white sand beach of Mujeres.
THE TOP THINGS TO DO THINGS ON ISLA MUJERES!
Being an island, most of the top things to do on Isla Mujeres are based around the ocean!
Check out our list below for some travel inspirition!
Playa Norte is the best beach on Isla Mujeres and is where you'll find the most accessible clear water, white sand, lots of bars and restaurants and the typical touristy things to do!
One of the best things to do on Isla Mujeres is visit Tortugranja down along the west coast.
They rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles back into the ocean as well as running its own breeding program.
This is only a small rescue centre so you don't need more than 90 minutes here.
In January 2021 entry was 30 pesos with the option of purchasing turtle feed for an additional 30 pesos.
Snorkelling or Diving
A popular day trip from Isla Mujeres is a snorkelling boat trip around the island.
All of the tours offered should include snorkelling at the highlight spots of the lighthouse and the circle of statues known as the 'underwater museum' as well as lunch when you arrive back to shore.
The waves and current can be strong off of the island so pick your day wisely - this was the first time we've both felt sea sick whilst actually being IN the water!
If you're a diver then Mujeres offers some great diving spots, including the underwater museum where you can go right up to the statues opposed to floating above them snorkelling!
Punta Sur for Sunset
The best place to watch sunset on Isla Mujeres is the southernmost point of the island known as Punta Sur.
There are also some small 'ruins' here too although they're not really distinguishable as such!
HOW TO GET TO MAHAHUAL
Mahahual is a 5+ hour drive from Cancún Airport (pronounced Ma-Ha-Wahl)
Very few visitors make it this far down the coast if they started in Cancún. There are buses which will drop you off on the main road in the town of Limones, and you'll then need to wait for an infrequent local bus or get a waiting taxi for c. 500 pesos to take you the rest of the hour drive into Mahahual town.
If you're coming from Belize then Mahahual is 2 hours by road via the Chetumal land border.
We did not do this route however we believe the buses from this direction also drop you off at Limones and the same 500 peso taxi ride will apply.
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN MAHAHUAL
The best place to eat is at Nohoch Kay on the beach front for some of the best local food we found!
We also loved Tierra Verde - a vegan restaurant open from breakfast to dinner serving the most amazing local foods! This place also has working WiFi which is a rare find in this town so is a great spot to do your digital nomading!
THE TOP THINGS TO DO THINGS IN MAHAHUAL!
The main things to do in Mahahual are ocean based!
Diving, snorkelling and kite surfing are the main activities of the town and will keep you busy for days!
BEST AREA TO STAY IN MAHAHUAL
Mahahual has two distinct areas, first is the 'town centre' which is the one road which runs parallel with the white sand beach and is where we recommend staying.
The other area is the purpose built area a little set back inland designed for the cruise ships which regularly dock there.
We visited in the height of covid times so the cruise ship area was a ghost town - however in usual times we have heard it is a nightmare and not the ideal place to base yourself, especially given that it is a good 20 minute walk in direct sun to the beach area with all the bars and restaurants.
Accommodation options are not huge in this little town, but we found Hotel Jardin to be a nice little base and in a great location!
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