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They’re calling it the “January slope” in local news, where it’s been predicted that there will be a drop in hotel occupancy rates by approximately 60% for the first month of the year in certain smaller destinations south of Cancun. Here’s why you should visit these underrated Mexican Caribbean destinations during this winter travel season.

During the month of January, hotels in the southern Riviera Maya cities of Bacalar, Chetumal, and Mahahual will be at 30-35% occupancy for the almost 5,000 hotel rooms that are available, according to the President of the Association of Hotels and Tourist Services in the Center and South of the State, Bertha Medina Núñez de Cáceres.

These are travel destinations that are used as convenient day trips from larger cities like Playa del Carmen and Cancun rather than overnight or weekend-long stays or more, particularly at this time of year.

Brunette girl on a swing looking to the horizon, surrounded by a paradise beach with white sand and turquoise water, at Mahahual village, in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

So basically, heading to these destinations in the first few months of the year means that you will save money and get to experience these gorgeous places without major crowds.

All of them are south of Cancun, and it takes less than half a day to travel there from the airport (depending on your method of transportation, of course). They all guarantee amazing fun, sun, relaxation, and of course, that incomparable beauty of the Riviera Maya. So why not take advantage and treat yourself to a winter getaway at one of these underrated places in the Mexican Caribbean?

And here are more reasons why now’s the perfect time to discover these three destinations south of Cancun if you’re craving something a little more off the grid:

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Aerial view of Bacalar's colorful lagoons


What’s not to love about Bacalar? If you know, you know. A pueblo magico, for good reason, Bacalar is the location of the lagoon of 7 colors. Bacalar is the perfect spot to lay low for a few days, perhaps taking a boat tour of the lagoon during the day and then wandering the town market when it cools down in the evening. (only a little, it’s HOT here!). Don’t forget to hit up this little taco place, where you can fill your plate up for less than 100 pesos ($5.30). 

Landscape in the lagoon of seven colors in Bacalar, Chetumal. Mexico.


Stop before you cross the border to Belize, and you’ll find yourself in Chetumal, Quintana Roo’s southernmost city. While not as much of a tourist draw as Bacalar, take advantage of Chetumal’s city status and book a nice hotel for a good deal while enjoying the bigger city amenities. You can stroll the gorgeous Malecon and take in some culture by paying a visit to the Museum of Mayan Culture. Plus, in Chetumal, you’ll be just a quick drive away from some lesser-known Mayan ruins.

Parliament of the Mexican State of Quintana Roo. The unicameral parliament consists of 25 deputees building in Chetumal, Mexican Caribbean.

Playa Mahahual

This small beach town, about 4.5 hours south of Cancun, is popular with U.S. tourists as a cruise port. But if you want to stay a few days (or more, we won’t blame you!), you’ll be treated to the real low-key beach holiday that you didn’t think you needed. The calm turquoise waters will have you coming back for more. Go snorkeling, enjoy the quiet beaches, and take it all in. 

Mahahual Caribbean beach pier in Costa Maya of Mayan Mexico.

So, take advantage of the slew of accommodation options available in Bacalar, Chetumal, and Mahahual during this time of year to get a great hotel deal on the cheap and experience the relative calm while you can.

beach views during the day in Bacalar, Mexican Caribbean.

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