A record-breaking 1.2 million visitors descended upon Cancun over Easter weekend, and hotel occupancy soared past 85% according to Riviera Maya News.

Cancun remains the most popular destination in Mexico for American travelers — in fact, it’s the most popular international destination in the world for American travelers thanks to its beautiful beaches, abundance of all-inclusive resorts, and proximity to the U.S. with nonstop flights from 40+ cities.

However, this means that Cancun can get extremely crowded, and not to mention expensive.

Other beach destinations nearby, like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, are crowded and pricy, too.

If you’re looking for less crowded and more affordable alternatives to Cancun, check out these underrated Mexican Caribbean destinations instead:

1. Bacalar

Bacalar is the ultimate tropical escape if you’re looking for fewer tourist crowds and more affordable prices.

Although it’s becoming a trendy destination, it’s still relatively unknown — but that won’t be the case in just a few years!

Panoramic View Of Lake Bacalar, Southern Quintana Roo, Mexico, Latin America

Now is the perfect time to visit Bacalar before more people find out about it.

It’s a 4 hour and 30 minute drive from Cancun to Bacalar or a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Tulum, which has a new international airport that just opened.

This beautiful town is not actually located in the Caribbean but rather on the shores of Lake Bacalar, a freshwater lagoon nicknamed the “Lake of Seven Colors,” thanks to its varying shades of blue and turquoise water.

It’s a refreshingly affordable, authentic, and laidback destination compared to much of the rest of the highly touristic Mexican Caribbean.

Couple in Bacalar

2. Mahahual

Another more affordable and less crowded place to go instead of Cancun is Mahahual.

Mahahual is hardly an undiscovered destination — it’s where the Costa Maya cruise port is, a popular stop on many Caribbean cruise itineraries.

When cruises are in port, several thousand day-trippers descend on Mahahual.

However, large cruise ships aren’t in port every day, and on the days when there aren’t any cruise ships, this small town is very quiet and laidback.

Even on days when there are cruise ships, things quiet down in the late afternoon when the cruise ships start to leave.

Beach in Mahahual, Mexico

There are no luxury all-inclusive resorts in Mahahual like there are in Cancun. But what you can find in Mahahual is affordable, relaxed beachfront hotels for less than $100 a night.

Mahahual is 4 hour and 30 minutes from Cancun by car or bus, and 2 hour and 45 minutes from Tulum.

3. Puerto Morelos

Located just 25 minutes south of Cancun International Airport, Puerto Morelos is a great alternative if you want a less crowded Mexican Caribbean destination.

Beach in Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Puerto Morelos has branded itself as a more authentic destination on the highly developed Riviera Maya.

It’s not as built up or as touristy as Cancun to the north or Playa del Carmen to the south.

Even though it’s in a very convenient location sandwiched right between two pricier destinations, you can still find beachfront hotels in Puerto Morelos for $125 a night or less.

The town itself also has a more laidback vibe, and going out to eat or grab a drink won’t cost you nearly as much as it would in Cancun.

Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

4. Holbox

Finally, Holbox is another great Mexican Caribbean destination that is cheaper and far less crowded than Cancun.

This quiet island is home to one of the best beaches in the world.

Cars are banned on Isla Holbox, so the preferred methods of transportation for getting around this small island are golf carts and bicycles.

It’s a laidback destination that feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of Cancun.

Holbox beach with lounge chairs along the sand and palm tress

To get to Holbox, you’ll first need to drive or take a bus from Cancun to Chiquila, which is approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes away.

Then, you’ll need to board a ferry in Chiquila to reach Holbox. The ferry time is just 25 minutes.

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