If you’re interested in getting off the beaten path in Mexico’s most visited coastline, don’t miss out on exploring some of these Pueblos Mágicos in Quintana Roo.
Every year, millions of people make their way to Quintana Roo to get a taste of Mexico’s vibrant culture, delicious food, and gorgeous beaches.
But did you know that this beautiful state is also home to some of the most enchanting towns in Mexico? I bet that you’ve heard of most of these towns, but you just didn’t know they were full of magic.
These towns are known as ‘Pueblos Mágicos’ or ‘Magic Towns’, and I’m about to show you exactly what is so magical about them.
What is a Pueblo Mágico?
Pueblos Mágicos in Mexico are charming towns that have been deemed by the Mexican government as having special cultural, historical, or natural significance.
There are 132 of these magic towns scattered throughout the county. These towns offer a glimpse into Mexico’s past and present with their historical significance, colorful streets, delicious food, and warm locals.
Each year, the status of these Magic Towns is reviewed, ensuring that these towns continue to uphold their magical charm and that new ones can be added to the list.
While Pueblo Mágico is just a name, you truly can feel the essence of magic as you visit these towns. You can feel the history of Mexico in some of them or appreciate the stunning nature that surrounds others.
So, if you are looking for more than just your typical Cancun and Playa Del Carmen beach resorts and want to feel the magic of Mexico, then you have to visit Quintana Roo’s Pueblos Mágicos.
How many Pueblos Mágicos are there in Quintana Roo?
In 2023, there are three Pueblo Mágicos in the state of Quintana Roo and they might surprise you, at least they did me.
And no, you won’t find Cancun or Cozumel on this list. Instead, you’ll find towns that showcase a different side of Mexico.
If you enjoy getting off the beaten path in other parts of Mexico, don’t miss exploring the Magic Towns of Yucatan, Guanajuato, Puebla (where there are a whopping TEN Pueblos Mágicos!), Chiapas, and Oaxaca.
Pueblo Mágicos in Quintana Roo
Alright, let’s get into these three Quintana Roo Pueblos Mágicos. They are all along the coast, and if you are a lover of water, then you have to add them to your Mexico bucket list.
1. Isla Mujeres
First up is one of my favorite islands in all of Mexico, Isla Mujeres, or Island of Women—so, of course, you know it’s magical.
Isla Mujeres is located right off the coast of Cancun. Making it one of the easiest Pueblos Mágicos in Quintana Roo to get to.
Because of its closeness to Cancun, the island has become a huge tourist destination, but surprisingly, it hasn’t lost its charm. The island is only four miles long, but from one end to the other, visitors can find diverse landscapes, delicious restaurants, and stunning beaches.
Ferries leave from Puerto Juarez every hour; it costs around $30 USD for a round-trip ticket, and it only takes about 30 minutes. During the day, they’ll have a live band on the upper deck and a hostess selling drinks to kick-start your holiday.
The magical town has some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world, with soft white sand and turquoise-colored water.
Isla Mujeres was first named a Pueblo Mágico in 2015 and has remained on the list ever since. I think this is due in part to the government making huge cleanliness efforts on the beaches.
While neighboring Cancun and Playa are plagued by seaweed during a certain time of the year, Isla Mujeres is so clean.
The most famous beach on the island is Playa Norte, aka North Beach. The water here is crystal clear and it’s perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or just floating around with a margarita in hand. And when the sun goes down, the water has a beautiful pink hue.
This Quintana Roo Pueblo Mágico is definitely at its best.
From beautiful beaches like Playa Norte and Playa Centro to the unique underwater art museum, this small island offers everything a Mexican island should have.
Make sure to drive or get a taxi to Punta Sur. There is also a small temple dedicated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility, located at Punta Sur.
Where to Stay In Isla Mujeres
This boutique hotel is located right in the center of town. It’s perfect for walking to restaurants and bars, you can watch the sunset from the pool on the balcony, and with just a 5-minute walk to the beach, you’ll be enjoying the best of this Quintana Roo Pueblo Mágico.
This beachfront hotel is an absolute paradise. If you enjoy the resort life, then I highly recommend Ixchel. Wake up to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore. You’ll have your own beach area that’s for hotel guests only. The pool overlooks the ocean, and there’s even a swim-up bar.
These days, it can feel like Tulum is nothing but a hotspot for influencers and celebrities, but trust me when I say there’s so much more to this Pueblo Mágico than just trendy Instagram photos.
Tulum is home to some of the most well-preserved Mayan ruins in Mexico, perched on a cliff overlooking the gorgeous Caribbean, which is the reason why, in 2015, it was named one of the best magic towns in Quintana Roo.
The town is located about an hour from Playa Del Carmen, and it’s been booming with tourists in recent years. Depending on where you go and what you do, it can be one of the best beach towns in Mexico.
Tulum, once known as Zama, was once a Mayan city that thrived from the 13th to 15th centuries. It was a ceremonial center and trade port. The city had farmland, an underground freshwater river, and access to the sea for food and commerce.
The ruins are divided into three areas: El Castillo, the main pyramid; Templo de los Frescos, with beautiful stucco figures inside; and Templo del Dios Descendente, where a mural of a diving god is located. Built in 1200 A.D.
Tulum was inhabited by ancient civilization until the late 16th century. Excavations began on the ruins in 1921, revealing the rich history of this site. The ruins showcase both Mayan and Toltec cultures, with important deities such as Kukulcan and Ixchel depicted.
Along with the importance of Mexico’s history, Tulum also has some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the country. Over 200 cenotes are located in and around Tulum, with Dos Ojos and Gran Cenote being two of the most popular. These sacred sinkholes offer crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
After a day of exploring the ruins and cenotes, you’ll want to eat some of the best local cuisine in Quintana Roo. Check out our guide to the best restaurants in Tulum as well as our guide to the best bars in Tulum.
For some of the best tacos, head to Tropi’s Tacos. They have loads of sauces to spice up your meal. And for the best Ojo Rojo (basically a bloody mary with beer instead of vodka—yum!) check out La Negra Tomasa. Their aguachile is also out of this world, but when they say it’s picante they mean it.
I’d say you need about three days in Tulum to explore this Quintana Roo magic town. The streets are lined with colorful flags, and the nature is absolutely stunning. Every day in Tulum will be filled with magic.
Where to Stay in Tulum
If you’re on a budget, Trece Lunas is a great option. The loft is a little bit away from the center, so I recommend having a car. But located amid the jungle with a private pool and garden, this location feels like Mexican magic.
Radhoo in the hotel zone is the perfect place for luxury. It’s only 50 meters from the beach. The 4-star hotel will arrange all of your tours if you want to head to the cenotes, the Mayan ruins, or even Cozumel.
When I think of what a magic town in Quintana Roo should look like, it’s without a doubt Bacalar.
If you’ve ever seen photos of Bacalar, you wouldn’t be the first to think that you were looking at photos of a beach town along the coast. But those stunning blue waters aren’t the ocean. Bacalar Lagoon is one of the most breathtaking towns in Mexico.
The lagoon is often called the Maldives of Mexico, but considering the price of the Maldives, I’ll take Bacalar any day.
Because it’s located at the very south of Quintana Roo, a lot of travelers and vacationers miss this absolute gem, which makes staying there all the more relaxing.
The town is still small and quaint with just one “lively” square, so when you visit, it really feels like you’re a part of a community here.
Bacalar was the first named Pueblo Mágico in Quintana Roo in 2006, and it’s obvious why. The lagoon is what draws people in, and I believe the laid-back vibe is why people stay.
There are a few different ways to see the lagoon. You can rent a kayak or a paddleboard and make your way to the Pirates Canal, Black Cenote, and the Cenote Esmerelda. There are also plenty of boat tours you can join if you don’t feel like paddling around. They make stops at different magical places around Bacalar and give you a history of the town.
I recommend going on the sunset cruise because the only way to see the sunset is from out in the water, and let me tell you; it’s magical.
Where to Stay in Bacalar
Bacalar has grown so much in the past few years, and there are all kinds of accommodations, from little homestays out of the center to gorgeous villas on the water. Here are two of my favorite stays in Bacalar.
Located right on the lagoon, this villa is the definition of luxury. Every morning, you can watch the sunrise from the private deck or take a dip in the crystal-clear water. The hosts are incredibly friendly and make sure you have everything you need for a comfortable stay. Plus, their homemade breakfast is to die for!
Bacalar is one of the most budget-friendly places in Quintana Roo. This little homestay is less than $40 a night, and it’s within walking distance to the square and the lagoon. So, if you’re on a long trip and want to save some money on accommodation, this is a great option!