Why This Coastal City Is The Fastest-Growing Destination In The Mexican Caribbean


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After a record-breaking summer, some of Mexico’s most famous hotspots continue to grow in popularity at unprecedented rates.

Destinations like Bacalar, Cancun, and Costa Mujeres have all seen a remarkable 5-7% increase in tourists compared to the same time last year, which goes to show that the Mexican Caribbean is only going to get more popular as time goes on.

woman in the Lagoon of Seven Colors Lake Bacalar in Mexico

However, there’s one particular coastal city in the region that’s outpacing even these wildly famous hotspots in terms of tourism growth, boasting a whopping 9.7% increase in visitors from 2022. 

Chetumal – A Gem Hidden In Plain Sight

Though Chetumal has been Quintana Roo’s capital since 1902, when the state was separated from the rest of the Yucatán peninsula, it has managed to fly somewhat under the radar in the international travel scene.

With tourists flocking to flashier nearby destinations like Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Cozumel, Chetumal has generally been viewed as more of a regional hub and gateway to southern Mexico and Belize.

bay Chetumal, Mexico

Though the city’s beaches are just as stunning as those you’ll find in more widely-known summer hotspots, its reputation as a cultural and historical hub has sometimes given vacationers pause, leading them to opt for the likes of Cancun or Tulum instead.

However, as the numbers suggest, there’s recently been a shift in tourists’ perception of the city. 

It’s hard to say whether this change can be attributed to Chetumal’s promotion as a travel hotspot or simply to the fact that ever-increasing crowds and prices are making more famous destinations seem overrated.

aerial view of Chetumal, Mexico

What we do know is that the capital has seen a 9.7% tourist growth rate compared to the same time last year, making it the fastest-growing destination in one of the world’s most popular regions, and that’s no easy feat.

What The City Has To Offer

Such an uptick in visitors doesn’t just happen through a good promotional plan – the city has to offer the experience of a lifetime to keep tourists coming back for more.

Historical Value

Chetumal is a renowned cultural and historical hub, having been founded on the site of a former Mayan settlement

Oxtankah Mayan ruins in Chetumal, Mexico

As you’d expect, heritage sites and attractions are abundant in the area, with some must-sees being:

  • Museum of Mayan Culture
  • Archaeological Zone of Kohunlich
  • Museum of The City of Chetumal
  • Renaissance Statue

Authentic Caribbean Feel

At a point when some of Quintana Roo’s biggest hotspots are so overrun by tourists that they feel more American than anything else, Chetumal still boasts an authentic Caribbean feel that’s hard to find in international hubs like Cancun.

aerial view of cancun

Vacationers will be able to relax and fully take in the experience of being in a Mexican-Caribbean region, complete with the laid-back atmosphere, friendly locals, and truly traditional food. 

That’s because the city is built to serve its 170,000 inhabitants instead of foreign tourists, so the establishments here retain a sense of authenticity.

In comparison, Tulum has roughly 47,000 inhabitants and welcomes up to 2 million tourists a year. 

DJ playing music outdoors at night, tulum

These numbers clearly show that the stores, restaurants, and infrastructure here are built to serve international tourists, losing some of that quintessential Mexican Caribbean feel in the process.

Plenty To See And Do

Though Chetumal’s party scene might not be as lively as Cancun’s, for example, tourists will still find plenty to do and see in the city.

Panoramic View Of Chetumal From A Balcony In A Central Apartment, Southern Quintana Roo, Mexico

Apart from the many interesting landmarks, the capital boasts a wide array of lodging options, restaurants, exciting events, and adventurous outdoor activities fit for all types of travelers and budgets. 

Stunning Scenery

Those in search of picture-worthy views this fall will find Chetumal to be the ideal destination. 

The gorgeous cenotes, idyllic beaches, and underwater tunnels are nothing short of breathtaking, so make sure to plan a trip that’s long enough for you to experience everything.

You’ll also be less than 40 minutes away from the Bacalar Lagoon. Though locals and tourists have lovingly nicknamed the attraction “The Maldives of Mexico,” I believe the comparison doesn’t do the place justice. 

Young Woman Lying On Her Back In The Bacalar Lagoon, Bacalar, Mexico

The combination of colors, terrains, and textures that you’ll see here is unlike anything else in the world.

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