Isla Mujeres

Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres offers a slower paced alternative to the bustle of Cancun. Here you”ll find fewer tourists and a cheaper vacation. The beaches are pretty incredible, too.

Playa Norte’s calm and clear waters are ideal for families. At the southern tip of the island, Punta Sur is the highest elevation in the Yucatan. Snack bars, shops, outdoor sculptures, and a lighthouse vie for your time on the beach.

For beautiful handmade souvenirs, check out the Women’s Beading Cooperative, located in the neighborhood of La Gloria. This group of over 50 women craft high quality earrings, bracelets, purses, and necklaces.

Located in the nearby town of San Luis waits the popular beach Cocoplumbay. Its shallow, blue-green waters and white sand lure tourists.

Though small in quantity, the quality of restaurants is strong on San Andres. Savor local dishes like rondon and stewed crab and fish at Miss Celia O’Neill Taste. Support local fishermen when you enjoy a meal at Fisherman Place, a cozy beachside seafood restaurant. In addition, the waterfront location of Mahi Mahi is appealing, as are their Thai offerings.

Providencia, also known as Old Providence, is an ideal spot for folks seeking a more low-key getaway. Strict zoning laws equals less development, which creates quite the idyllic environs.

Crab Cay, a small island situated within the Biosphere Reserve, provides spectacular snorkeling among the blue-green hues of the reef zone. Views from the island’s hilltop are nothing short of enchanting.

Restaurant options include Café Studio, an island favorite; and Restaurant Eneidy, for a relaxing, open-air dining.

You’ll appreciate that it’s less expensive to vacation here, but don’t expect posh results you’d find in more developed Caribbean countries. However, whether you prefer high-rise hotels, hostels, or bed and breakfasts, you can find accommodations to fit every style and budget on either island.

To avoid the wet season, you should book your vacation between January and April. A tip: cool island breezes can deceive you. Make sure to be diligent with sunscreen application, as the sun is quite strong here.

If you seek a destination relatively unfazed by tourism where you can experience incredible beaches and prime snorkeling, Columbia’s San Andres Island and Providencia Island are ideal.