Did you know: Mexico has more than 5,500 mi (8,850 km) of coastline with dozens of idyllic islands just off the shores?
The most famous island is undoubtedly Cozumel. Nestled in the Mexican-Caribbean Sea, it’s known for its calm turquoise waters, crystal-clear snorkeling, and its multitude of daily, cruise-ship tourists. However, there are alluring islands not on the radar of most travelers and definitely worthy of attention. Whether you’re seeking an adventurous experience, romantic getaway, or intimate encounters with Mother Nature, Mexico has an island for you.
Consider these three lesser-known islands when daydreaming about your next escape.
The 3 most beautiful under-the-radar islands in Mexico
How to Get to Isla Mujeres: Fly into Cancun and catch a ferry from Puerto Juarez or take our luxury catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres.
Overnight: Adult-Only Zoetry Villa Rolandi
Island Bonus: Visit nearby Isla Contoy, a protected area with pristine beaches, dense vegetation, and a rich biodiversity.
Isla Mujeres lies just off Cancun’s coast and is quite small, stretching just five miles long and a quarter-mile-wide. It was once an ancient Maya religious site dedicated to the goddess, Ixchel (the guardian of fertility and childbirth), but today is a fishing community with a small collection of hotels.
While the tourist infrastructure of the island has grown rapidly in recent years, it still remains a quiet retreat from its glitzier neighbor, Cancun. With the mainland in the distance, the island is a refreshing memory of simpler days. Isla Mujeres is great for snorkelers and boasts stunning beaches with relaxed seaside restaurants. If visiting during summer, be sure not to miss the whale sharks that come to aggregate in the warm waters!
Isla Holbox is a slice of heaven located in the Mexican-Caribbean Sea. It’s much larger than nearby Isla Mujeres, spanning 26 miles long and one mile wide – most of which is undeveloped land within the Yum Balam Natural Reserve.
Island life is very laid-back; think hammocks, sand roads, and friendly locals. The jade waters of Holbox are shallow, creating an endless sanctuary for its visitors including an array of captivating wildlife. It is very much still considered a virgin beach destination unspoiled by mass tourism, but the town (which only spans a couple of blocks) does have a handful of boutique hotels, and small restaurants and bars. One of Mexico’s best kept secrets, we spill the beans in our All About Isla Holbox Guide.
Isla Espiritu Santo
How to Get to Isla Espiritu Santo: Fly into La Paz International Airport. Then rent a boat and captain to take you out. There are also day tours from Los Cabos.
Overnight: Privately charter a ship (such as Monarch Cruise via Journey Mexico) or camping/glamping.
Island Bonus: Isla Espiritu Santo is part of the 240 Gulf Islands of California.
Off the coast of Baja Peninsula Sur is Espiritu Santo Island, a 23,800-acre UNESCO protected reserve. It stretches 11 miles long and three miles wide. Find bays and inlets cut into it revealing calm, turquoise waters and unspoiled beaches.
Mother Nature blessed this oasis with sheer red cliffs, desert sand dunes, blue keys, and an abundance of wildlife. Uninhabited by humans, it is the sea lions, manta rays, dolphins, and turtles that call this place home. If you’re planning to stay the night with them, camping is the only option. Isla Espiritu Santo neighbors with Isla Partida and the popular Los Islotes Sea Lion Colony.
Want more islands?
Check out the Archipielago Revillagigedo Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site or Isla Marietas off the Vallarta-Nayarit Pacific Coast, known to have one of the best beaches in the world. If you’re looking for an in-land island full of culture, consider Isla Janitzio, located in the middle of Lake Patzcuaro in the state of Michoacan – a popular destination for Dia de los Muertos.