The 6 Best Mexican Locales for When You Want to Skip Tulum and Cabo

The 6 Best Mexican Locales for When You Want to Skip Tulum and Cabo 7

Sandy beaches, immaculately blue water, a rich culinary and artisanal culture, and, of course, the sheer proximity from the U.S.—I don’t need to spell out all the reasons why it’s a good idea to book a vacation in Mexico, so let’s just agree that the list of draws is lengthy. Of course, the next question is where to go, and to answer it, I’m bringing you my edit of six fashion person–approved destinations that are certainly popular but haven’t crossed the threshold of overcrowded (for now). This isn’t to shade places like Tulum, Cancún, and Cabo San Lucas that are all popular for a reason, but I’d argue that there’s a whole host of places throughout the rest of the country that offer the same kind of getaway but with far fewer crowds and a much more local experiences—as long as you’re willing to seek them out, that is.

As someone who has spent a lot of time traveling in Mexico and chatting with my even more well-traveled friends and colleagues, I have a pretty good handle on the places that are especially buzzy right now and even the spots that aren’t as talked about yet but definitely should be. Armed with this knowledge, I’m making it a point to share this list with anyone who likes to travel off the beaten path or has simply already been to places like Tulum and are looking for a new spot to explore. Here, I’m highlighting six such destinations that come highly recommended by friends, colleagues, and well-traveled insiders. Whether it’s the rustic surf town on Mexico’s Pacific coast where major hotel chains have yet to infiltrate or the cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende, where Californians like to spend their long weekends, the following places are worth bumping up to the top of your list for your next vacation.

A collage of images featuring Bacalar, Mexico.

(Image credit: Oaxaca)

A little over 100 miles to the south of Tulum is a hidden gem that boasts all the same draws—dazzling cenotes, sandy white beaches, and the surrounding jungle of Quintana Roo—but virtually none of the crowds. Lake Bacalar, also called the Lagoon of Seven Colors, is thought to be the very origin of life on Earth three billion odd years ago, and because of its surrounding natural beauty, it’s also home to a number of resorts that are at the forefront of sustainable hospitality.