20 BEST ISLANDS IN MEXICO, With 7,000 long hauls( km) of bank along the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico, it should come as no surprise when you learn that Mexico has over 100 islets in its home. From the most remote uninhabited islets in Mexico overran by Great White harpies to large bustling resort islets where you can relax on the sand and eat your favourite food to lushbio-reserve islets bulging with foliage and fauna, we’re sure that you ’ll find one islet( one, at least!) that will have you packing your goggles and bathing suit. Then are the stylish 20 islets in Mexico.



cozumel island mexico rows of sun loungers on the beach
Cozumel is one of the most popular islands in Mexico, as it’s a cruise ship port.

Behold, Isla Cozumel: one of Mexico’s best scuba diving destinations.

Skirting the island’s shores is the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest reef system on the planet and famously nicknamed the ‘Aquarium of the World’.

The island of Cozumel has more than 40 different diving sites, including sunken ships and caves where you’ll swim among sea urchins, giant sea sponges and colourful parrotfish.

Being the largest of Mexico’s inhabited islands, you’ll be happy to hear that you can comfortably stay on this slice of paradise and enjoy the rich culinary scene and luxury shopping.

Planning a trip:

  • Passenger ferries make regular trips between Playa del Carmen and Isla Cozumel.
  • Conveniently, there is also an international airport: Cozumel International Airport (CZM).
  • Another way to visit Cozumel Island is on a cruise, with many cruise ships docking in Cozumel’s harbour.
  • Book your scuba diving adventure in advance.
  • Cozumel has an excellent choice of hotels.


marieta islands mexico boats moored at the jetty
Beautiful Holbox island is another Mexico island to visit on a boat trip.

Separated by a lagoon frequented by flamingos and pelicans from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Isla Holbox has taken off in recent years as a hip escape, attracting many young travellers thanks to its laid-back vibes and stunning wildlife.

The biggest draw (literally!) to Isla Holbox is the whale sharks that visit in the summertime to feed in the plankton-rich waters.

Swimming with these gentle giants is a bucket list experience and the waters around this island in Mexico is one of the few places anywhere in the world where you can do this.

The island is car-free and everyone gets around by bicycle or golf cart, which is a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the Mayan Riviera.

Planning a trip:

  • The whale sharks visit Isla Holbox between May and September and so should you! Tours are extremely popular, so book online in advance.
  • Two buses from Cancun daily go to the town of Chiquila, from where you can catch the ferry to Isla Holbox.
  • There are many accommodation options on the island, particularly with the boutique hotel scene explosion in recent years.


islands off of mexico
Amazing landscape panorama view with turquoise blue water, palm trees, blue sky, the natural tropical beach, and the forest on the beautiful Mexican island of Contoy in Quintana Roo.

You will feel like a castaway on the tiny island of Isla Contoy, which is only 5 miles (8 km) in length and only 1600 ft (489 m) at its widest point!

Isla Contoy is as close to a private island as you can get in Mexico.

To protect this tiny island paradise, the Mexican Government has imposed a limit of only 200 visitors per day.

What needs protection are the 150+ bird species that seek refuge among the island’s lush tropical foliage, making Contoy island one of Mexico’s most important sea-bird nesting places.

Isla Contoy’s waters are also an important breeding ground for four species of sea turtles.

Planning a trip:

  • Because of the island’s visitor capacity, you will have to apply for a permit before your trip in the park offices in Cancun or Isla Mujeres, where licensed tours leave from.
  • No one is permitted to stay overnight on the island.
  • Sunscreen is forbidden to protect the marine ecosystem.


islands off mexico
Enjoy a Caribbean vacation on Isla Mujeres, one of the popular islands in Mexico.

Isla Mujeres, just 15 minutes from bustling Cancun, is a popular destination famed for its thriving natural beauty and superb snorkelling and diving.

The island has one of the most stunning beaches in the world (according to Forbes Life); the beach is Playa Norte (North Beach).

The Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA) is a unique experience and should not be missed.

It’s an underwater museum with a total of 500 sculptures created from eco-friendly materials and located on the Mesoamerican Reef System, the second-largest reef system in the world.

The north part of the island is the developed side and where you’ll find your tourist facilities, whereas the south is much more relaxed and natural.

Here, you’ll find a lighthouse, the ruins of a Mayan temple and a sea turtle sanctuary to explore.

Planning a trip:

  • Ferries to Isla Mujeres depart from Cancun’s main terminal, Puerto Juarez and are very frequent throughout the day and night, so choosing a hotel in Cancun makes sense.
  • A catamaran sailing trip is a relaxing way to explore.


gulf of mexico islands
Enjoy a blood-red sunset while exploring the islands of Mexico.

In Banderas Bay, near the bustling resort town of Puerto Vallarta, lies a group of protected islands known as Islas Marietas.

The islands’ protected status as a marine and bird sanctuary forbids people from stepping foot on the volcanic archipelago but you can still visit for a day trip.

You know what a marine sanctuary means, right?

Yes! Superb snorkelling and scuba diving.

Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles, manta rays and dolphins.

The islands are also visited by humpback whales each year from November to March.

A hidden beach called Lover’s Beach, accessed via a cave, also makes Islas Marietas the perfect romantic excursion.

Planning a trip:

  • It is only possible to visit these islands on a day trip.
  • Most day tours operate from Puerto Vallarta (see hotels here), about an hour away, and include lunch.


Not to be confused with the town of Todos Santos, the Pacific islands of Todos Santos are located just off the coast of the Baja peninsula.

Isla Todos Santos is known for some of the largest waves in North America. Some can reach up to 60 feet (18 m).

This attracts many surfers of all levels wanting to test out their skills.

Fear not if you can’t surf to save your life.

There’s plenty more to see on Isla Todos Santos, such as hiking, horseback riding and seeing wildlife. You may see sea lions, seals, dolphins or even whales on your boat journey.

Planning a trip:

  • Because the island has no facilities, stay in the nearby port city of Ensenada.


Volcanic Isla Espiritu Santo off the coast of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula will thrill adventure seekers, however, this island is a natural protected area so there are no mass tourism facilities here whatsoever.

Visitors are allowed to stay overnight in luxury camping known as glamping and a great way to enjoy your camping stay is to kayak around the island.

Espiritu Santo’s natural beauty will take your breath away with its towering red cliffs, whistling dunes and aquamarine bays.

The stars of the island are the many sea lions that get up to mischief in its waters, but you can also see manta rays, whale sharks and sharks.

It’s not just the waters that are brimming with treasures. The island’s interior has many hiking trails among its rugged desert hills to explore.


mexico islands near cancun
Islands in Mexico off Mazatlan in Pacific Ocean.

The three islands off the shore of Mazatlan are one of the city’s icons. Of these three islands, the largest is Isla de Venados.

Isla de Venados translates as ‘Deer Island’ and the island got its name after two deer were brought over to the island in the eighties.

It created quite a stir and drew a lot of tourists asking to be taken to the ‘deer island’. The name stuck after that.

Isla de Venados is a tranquil island and offers visitors a majestic view of the Mazatlan skyline.

Activities on the island include surfing, kayaking, jet skiing, paddle boarding, snorkelling, playing beach volleyball and hiking.

Planning a trip:

  • Because there is no accommodation on the island, access to the island is only via tour. Stay in Mazatlan.
  • There are many different tours with different perks, so make sure to choose one that is right for you.


If you want to take a walk into the past and experience the Baja peninsula as it used to be, Cedros Island, 300 miles (483 km) from mainland Mexico, is the place to go.

The island is one of the more remote parts of Mexico. However, Isla Cedros was home to some of North America’s earliest occupants along the Pacific Coast.

The lay of the land is very mountainous and the island is known for its rich biodiversity, including a rare endemic species of cactus.

The waters surrounding Isla Cedros are the home of sea lions, whales and lobster and are very popular for sports fishing.

The main town on the island is known as Cedros.

Planning a trip:

  • You’ll be glad to learn that getting to the island is a piece of cake thanks to an airport located on Isla Cedros, which is connected to Ensenada Airport and Guerrero Negro Airport on mainland Mexico.


mexico islands
One way to see a few islands in Mexico is to cruise from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

240 miles (386 km) off the coast of the Baja Peninsula is the volcanic archipelago, the Revillagigedo Islands.

This group of islands is one of the country’s best diving spots, with bottle-nosed dolphins, manta rays, humpback whales and seven species of shark bobbing along in these waters.

Note that these waters are quite temperamental and not suitable for beginners.

Planning a trip:

  • The best time to visit is when the seas are calmest, between November and May.
  • Getting to the island is an adventure in itself! It takes 24 hours to reach the archipelago by boat, so the only way to reach the islands is via a liveaboard from Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo, which usually takes divers out for a week at a time.


islands near cancun mexico
Port of San Blas on the Nayarit Riviera is where you can get a tour to Mexcaltitan Island.

Along the bustling Riviera Nayarit, nestled among mangroves and canals, Mexcaltitan is a little different to the islands featured so far in this list as it’s located in a lake.

With a history stretching back over a thousand years, this island was possibly the original homeland of the Aztecs before they established their new home in what is now Mexico City.

Many historians consider Mexcaltitan the birthplace of Mexico.

The main attraction to Mexcaltitan is its colourful houses and the fact that during the rainy season, the streets of the town flood.

This makes getting around only possible by boat and is why Mexcaltitan is often nicknamed ‘Mexico’s Venice’.

On the island, you can explore the historic streets, the plaza and main cathedral and the expansive collection at El Origen Museum, which will bring to life the pre-Hispanic era in Mexico.

Planning a trip:

  • There is only one hotel on the island, so opt for a tour from the nearby town of San Blas.


islands near mexico
The Island of Janitzio in Mexico from Lake Patzcuaro.

Like our previous entry, the island of Janitzio does not sit in the ocean but in a lake.

Janitzio is the home of the indigenous Purepecha people.

The fishermen who fish on Lake Patzcuaro are iconic of Janitzio for their special butterfly-shaped nets.

Another popular draw to the island is the Day of the Dead festival because Janitzio is one of the top places to go to experience the original traditions behind this celebration, with candlelit boat processions making their way to the island on the eve of November 1st each year to honour the dead.

You cannot miss (literally!) the towering 130-foot (40 m) statue of one of Mexico’s revolutionaries, Jose Maria Morelos, visible as you approach the island.

You can climb up to the top of this statue thanks to a staircase within and look out at the top for views of the entire island.

Planning a trip:

  • Janitzio is accessible via a 25-minute boat trip from the pier of the nearby town of Patzcuaro.


Located in Lake Catemaco, the small island of Isla Agaltepec (which translates as Crocodile Island) has around 100 inhabitants and not your usual inhabitants either.

I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not crocs!

Agaltepec’s residents are howler monkeys that were relocated to the island to be protected from poachers.

The monkeys are a popular draw for boat trips from the nearby shores.

Somewhat of a misnomer then, the island got the name ‘Crocodile Island’ because of the shape the islands forms when seen from the shore, although there are disputes about this too, with some calling the island Dragon Island.

Planning a trip:

  • You can join one of the boat trips that shuttle tourists to see the howler monkeys from Lake Catemaco.


islands of mexico
Looking for the best islands in Mexico? Here are 20 you’ll love.

Isla Maria Madre, 65 miles (105 km) away from the shore in the Pacific Ocean, is one of four islands that make up the Isla Marias archipelago, all named after different Marys from the bible.

Isla Maria Madre is the largest of these four islands.

Because of its isolation for over eight million years, the island is home to many endemic and threatened species, marking it as a biosphere reserve and protected UNESCO site.

The island is inhabited by about 1,100 people and used to house a prison between 1905 and as recently as 2019.

Because it harboured low-risk prisoners, the prison allowed its prisoners to engage in fishing and farming for a ‘prison without walls’ experience.

Activities on the island include visiting the former prison, hiking to the island’s lighthouse and mountain biking.

Planning a trip:

  • Boats depart from the ports of Mazatlan and San Blas. It takes about five hours to reach the islands.


Isla Tiburon, which translates as Shark Island (Eek!), is the largest island in Mexico, and a two-mile (3 km) strait separates it from the mainland.

Uninhabited today, this island was home to a people known as the Seris, who have inhabited this region for almost 2,000 years.

The Seris are a fishing people with an extraordinary heritage of ecological knowledge.

They named the island Shark Island because sharks often came to feed near the island.

Today, the Seri people still consider Isla Tiburon a sacred place because they can trace their origins back there.

People come to Isla Tiburon to appreciate the local fauna and the island’s beautiful isolated beaches.

Planning a trip:

  • Isla Tiburon was given to the Seris in cooperation with the Mexican government, so if you want to visit, you will need a permit from the Seri Government.
  • After getting your permit, boats depart from the Seri community of Punta Chueca.


The island of Ixtapa is little known in Mexico unless you happen to be on vacation in the Mexican Riviera, where it is advertised as the perfect day trip.

This is because the island is only a few minutes away by boat from the mainland, making visiting Ixtapa Island very straightforward and a great choice for families with children.

There’s plenty to keep you busy on the island, from snorkelling in the crystal clear calm waters to swimming in a choice of beaches to water sports like windsurfing or water-skiing.

Planning a trip:

  • It takes only 20 minutes to reach Ixtapa Island from Playa Quieta in Coyuca de Benitez.


150 miles (241 km) off Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in the Pacific Ocean lies the volcanic island of Guadalupe, one of the most remote islands in Mexico.

With a mostly arid desert landscape and scarce sources of water, Guadalupe Island is generally uninhabited, with the only people that live on the island being scientists, military personnel stationed at the weather station and the fishermen who come for the season.

The island is most known for cage diving with Great White sharks as the waters around Guadalupe Island are teeming with sharks because of the seal population.

Planning a trip:

  • The island was designated a biosphere reserve in 2005, which means that a permit is required from the Mexican Government to visit the island.
  • The journey by boat from Ensenada takes about 24 hours, so you can only visit Guadalupe Island via live-aboard. Live-aboard trips are a minimum of 5 days.


Off the coast from the sleepy town of La Paz in Mexico’s Baja California Sur lies Cerralvo Island, also known as Isla Jacques Cousteau.

All local marine life must swim past the island of Cerralvo due to the ocean currents.

With 98 feet (30 m) of visibility in its waters, this makes for some spectacular scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities.

There’s even the chance to see giant manta rays.

Planning a trip:

  • The island is uninhabited, so only available to visit on a tour. Boats leave for Isla Cerralvo from the nearby beach town of La Ventana, where you will find hotels.


Isla Perez, off of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, is part of an archipelago of islands protected by Arrecife Alacranes National Park.

It’s the archipelago’s largest island.

Historically, Isla Perez was used for navigation between the Yucatan channel and the Bay of Campeche, which is why you can find a solitary lighthouse from the 1800s on the island.

The waters are the draw to Isla Perez, with snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing the best activities.

Planning a trip:

  • Because the island is part of a reserve, a permit is needed to visit.
  • You can stay overnight camping on Isla Perez, but there are no facilities on the island.
  • You can reach Isla Perez by boat from Progreso, which takes three to four hours.


Part of the Islands of Loreto archipelago, Isla Coronado, with its inactive volcano that slopes out of the Sea of Cortez, makes for a perfect day trip from nearby Loreto.

Spend a day on this 4-mile-long (6 km) island spotting tropical birds, snorkelling among colourful schools of fish or relaxing on the beaches.

You might see manta rays, dolphins, whales and turtles.

The natural highlight of the island is the blue-footed booby bird which inspired Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

These birds nest on the island’s rocky cliffs, so keep your eyes peeled.


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