The largest and most well-known island of the Yucatán Peninsula is Cozumel, a half hour ferry ride from Playa del Carmen. It’s very popular among cruise ship passengers and certainly makes for a great destination with plenty of things to do. But for that real paradise island feeling, you should check out the lesser known islands Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres.
If you want to a take a break from the liveliness of Cancun, Isla Holbox is the place to be. This small island, located on the north coast of the Yucatán peninsula, is one big box of sand where the only automated vehicles are golf carts. Because Holbox is not swamped by tourists, you can truly relax here. The local people make their living fishing, so be sure to taste some freshly caught fish. There is plenty of wildlife on the island, since the lagoon is home to flamingo’s, pelicans and other birds. Real bird lovers go to Isla Pájaros”, a small island covered in mangrove swamp. The island is also a great base to swim with whale sharks.
The beautiful Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, is just a short ferry ride away from Cancun and makes for a great day trip. Although a little bigger than nearby Isla Holbox and more touristic, it still is really charming. There are a lot of things you can do, like visit the turtle farm, rent a kayak or go see the largest underwater museum in the world “MUSA”. A great place to snorkel is the Garrafón Natural Reef Park, where you can also swim with dolphins. Or what do you think of swimming with whale sharks! Anyway we bet that after one day you don’t want to go home yet, but don’t worry there’s plenty of nice hotels to spend the night.