Where to Go in Mexico if Tulum’s Not Your Vibe

Where to Go in Mexico if Tulum’s Not Your Vibe

Want to surf the waves of secluded, blonde-sand bays and feast on salsa-drenched street food alongside locals? Read on for our definitive shortlist of Mexico’s coolest lesser-known destinations

? It can be pretty hectic – streets
crammed with tourists snapping selfies for their next Insta post;
beach bars louder than Soho on a Friday night. With that in mind,
we’ve been on a Mexican adventure to bring you the
lesser-trodden locations we think you’ll love. Join us as we surf
the waves of Troncones, feast on salsa-drenched tacos at the
street-food stalls of Chetumal and recharge in style at Campeche’s most glamorous guesthouse.

Mexican magic: our eight favourite lesser-known


The relatively undeveloped fishing village of Troncones has far
more to offer than super-fresh catch of the day. With eco-friendly
hotels having slowly popped up along its coastline, the tiny town
will suit those who prefer to truly lose themselves within a local
lifestyle. Surfers should make a beeline for the waves of
Manzanillo Bay, while others should snag a snorkel and paddle
around its colourful reefs, keeping eyes peeled for baby

Where to stay: Lo Sereno

flamingos at isla holbox shore

Isla Holbox

If you ever wondered where Mexicans holidayed, this is it.
Situated just off the north coast of the Yucatán peninsula, Isla
Holbox is nestled within the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, home to
pelicans and flamingos. Getting here isn’t exactly straightforward.
In fact, the only way to reach the island is via a 20-minute ferry
crossing from the mainland town of Chiquilá. But those who make the
journey will be well rewarded, enjoying dream days on Punta Coco
Beach, among others.

Where to stay: Las Nubes de Holbox

chetumal mexico


Virtually touching Belize, the charming city of Chetumal sits on
the east coast of the Yucatán peninsula. Its blonde-sand coastline
is a highlight – we suggest wandering along it barefoot to discover
the odd beach shack and a smattering of starfish. The local food
scene is also something to write home about. Set aside time to eat
your way through Mercado Municipal, where you’ll find all sorts of
traditional Mexican dishes, from ceviche and empanadas to
machacados – a frozen drink with crushed fruit, condensed milk and
shaved ice.

Where to stay: Mayan Secret

lagoon in bacalar mexico


Located less than an hour’s drive from the Mexico-Belize border,
the town of Bacalar makes for a nature-rich getaway. Head first to
the 50km-long Lake Bacalar, also known as the Lagoon of Seven
Colours, due to its many shades of blue. Beneath the surface,
million-year-old reef-like microorganisms fuse with white limestone
to create this surreal aqua spectacle, making for a hypnotically
beautiful setting. For a true taste of the go-slow lifestyle, visit
restaurant Macario Bacalar. There, you’ll find a courtyard lined
with rustic benches, tropical flora and palm trees. Head chef
Ricardo Méndez whips up refined dishes spanning seasonal ravioli to
lobster-stuffed salads. Look out for the town’s long-anticipated
sustainable food festival, set to debut late this year.

Where to stay: Hotel Aires Bacalar

ceramics in puebla market mexico


Mexico’s fourth-largest city, Puebla has long been recognised as
the birthplace of many of the country’s best-loved dishes. Our
order? Gorditas – corn tortillas stuffed with various meats and
cheeses. With a slew of next-gen chefs and independent boutiques
having set up shop here, the city’s cultural scene is really taking
off, though it remains virtually unexplored by tourists. If you’re
looking for a close-knit community, this is where you’ll find

Where to stay: Cartesiano

colourful bunting in sayulita mexico


Situated in the south of the state of Nayarit, this sleepy
fishing village is blessed with views of both the Sierra Madre
Occidental mountains and the Pacific Ocean. While its colourful
markets are a must for souvenir shopping, we’re pegging Sayulita as
Mexico’s best spot for surfing. Local beaches offer waves so
dramatic that renowned pros from California and Australia are
beginning to make an annual pilgrimage here.

Where to stay: Avela Boutique Hotel

San Cirstobal de Las Casas

San Cristóbal de las Casas

Offering a bohemian streetscape surrounded by the lush rolling
Central Highlands countryside, San Cristóbal de las Casas is the
ultimate playground for adventurers. If this sounds like you, be
sure to pack your hiking gear and get scaling its rugged terrain.
Bikers will want to take a spin around the 6.8km-long Circuito Las
Canastas trail – not one for the faint-hearted. Come sunset, make a
beeline for XUT
restaurant, where sugar-laced cocktail glasses and seasonal sharing
plates are served in a lantern-lit courtyard.

Where to stay: Casa Lum

Campeche, Mexico


Situated in the country’s south-east, Campeche has long
attracted day-trippers to its sorbet-coloured streets, but its
appeal has gone up a gear lately, with the refurbishment of
18th-century guesthouse Las Lupitas. Both honouring the port city’s
history and showcasing contemporary style, the five-key boutique is
a stylish independent option. Campeche’s Botanical Garden is home
to narrow passageways flanked by rare tropical plants and a
beautiful central fountain – the perfect spot at which to curl up
with a good book. Find your seafood fix at restaurant Marganzo,
whose burnt-orange facade is bordered by oyster-white columns.
Inside, you’ll find buttercup-yellow walls, chequered tile floors
and tables topped with abstract-print cloths. The menu includes the
likes of shrimp soups, cod tacos and crab salad.

Where to stay: Las Lupitas

This article was updated on 28 February 2023. It contains
affiliate links, which means SUITCASE may earn a small commission
if you click through and book.

Nima Local House Hotel, Mexico City

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