The Mexican Caribbean Serves Up Beauty and Adventure for the 2024 SI Swimsuit Issue

Here’s what to eat, see and do while visiting the breathtaking tropical paradise.
Mexican Caribbean waters
Mexican Caribbean waters / Courtesy of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board

For its 2024 issue, the SI Swimsuit team traveled to the Mexican Caribbean for a photo shoot with brand stars Brooks Nader, Lauren Chan and Ellie Thumann. Nicole Williams English, SI Swimsuit’s 2023 Rookie of the Year, and ’24 rookies Jena Sims, Lori Harvey and Achieng Agutu were also photographed in the tropical paradise. 

Quintana Roo, a Mexican state on the Yucatán Peninsula, is home to destinations such as Cancún, Isla Cozumel, Riviera Maya and others. The region is rich in Mayan history, and the islands offer clear, turquoise waters, gorgeous beaches, archeological sites, cenotes, lagoons and more. 

“I had never been to Cancún before, so comparing it to different parts of Mexico I’ve been to, such as Cabo, it was so interesting to see how green and tropical it really was,” Thumann says of the location. “It’s definitely my new favorite place to visit in Mexico!”

Stunning cabana seating
Stunning cabana seating / Courtesy of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board

Outside of the white sandy beaches the area is known for, the islands of the Mexican Caribbean also feature diverse landscapes, including lush forests and tropical jungles. The vibrant location is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, toucans, armadillos, jaguars, spider monkeys, whale sharks and sea turtles. 

Whether you’re looking to relax and unwind or enjoy some adventure during your stay, there’s something for you in the Mexican Caribbean. The islands offer a unique combination of natural beauty and activity suitable for each and every type of traveler. 

How to get to the Mexican Caribbean

When traveling by air, visitors can fly into the area’s major airports, including Cancún International Airport, Cozumel International Airport, Chetumal International Airport and Tulum International Airport. The Cancún International Airport is the most popular in the area and offers direct flights to and from areas in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America. Once travelers have arrived, they may opt to rent a car, hail a taxi or take a shuttle bus to various destinations along the coast. 

If traveling by sea, visitors may choose to arrive via cruise ship ports in Cozumel Island and Mahahual. 

Gorgeous views at Impression by Secrets Isla Mujeres
Gorgeous views at Impression by Secrets Isla Mujeres / Courtesy of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board

While the best time to visit the Mexican Caribbean is during the dry season, which runs from November to April, frugal travelers may opt to book their trip during the spring and fall off-season months, when prices are more affordable and the islands are less crowded. If possible, avoid booking travel during the rainy season of June through October, but know that the tropical temperatures year round average between 70 F° to 90 F°, so there’s truly no bad time to visit the islands. 

Where to stay in the Mexican Caribbean 

Kempinski Hotel Cancún

A five-star luxury hotel with oceanfront views, Kempinski Hotel Cancún offers both elegance and hospitality. The resort has more than 360 rooms and suites and six restaurants and bars on site. 

Impression by Secrets Isla Mujeres

Situated on Isla Mujeres, an island that spans only five miles, this private retreat offers authentic culinary experiences and 125 different suites with ocean views. 

Waterfront lounging
Waterfront lounging / Courtesy of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board

La Casa de La Playa

A boutique hotel located in Riviera Maya, the resort offers an intimate feel, with 63 beachfront suites and experiences tailored to the needs of each and every guest. 

Secrets Moxché

This resort oasis in Playa del Carmen boasts more than 480 luxurious suites and plenty of entertainment, from windsurfing to live music performances. 

Where to eat in the Mexican Caribbean 

Indulging in local cuisine is an absolute must. Be sure to try regional culinary creations like ceviche, tacos al pastor and chilaquiles, and don’t forget to order some churros or arroz con leche for dessert. Sip on a margarita, horchata or carajillo, the latter of which is a popular coffee cocktail similar to an espresso martini, while you dine.  


This Mexican seafood fusion restaurant is located on a dock over the Nichupte Lagoon in Cancún. It’s an incredible place to not only enjoy an authentic meal, but also to catch a stunning sunset. 

SI Swimsuit editor in chief MJ Day and Lori Harvey
SI Swimsuit editor in chief MJ Day and Lori Harvey / SI Staff


This Isla Mujeres fish market offers an oceanfront view and boasts incredibly fresh fare for lunch and dinner.

Punta Corcho 

Located in Puerto Morelos, Punta Corcho offers wood-fired seafood and land cuisine, all of which is prepared using local ingredients. 

Atta Restaurant

A high-end restaurant in Tulum, Atta offers both regional and international cuisines for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

A pool with a view
A pool with a view / Courtesy of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board

What to do in the Mexican Caribbean 

R&R is a given in the Mexican Caribbean. Visitors can enjoy spa treatments, yoga, meditation and plenty of leisurely nature walks while on vacation.

Aside from lounging on the island’s white sand beaches, there is plenty of adventure to be found nearby. Visitors can take part in water activities such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking and paddleboarding, in addition to land-based adventures like ziplining, ATV rides and wildlife exploration. 

Xel-Há at Xcaret Park

This natural water park in Tulum offers snorkeling, waterslides, river floating and more. Fun for all ages, the park also includes activities such as ziplining, rope games and jungle hikes. 

Lagoon of Seven Colors

Located in the city of the same name, Lake Bacalar is also referred to as the “Lagoon of Seven Colors” for its many stunning shades of blue. In addition to admiring the lagoon’s natural beauty, visitors can also participate in kayaking or paddleboarding. 

SI Swimsuit team
SI Swimsuit team in Mexico / SI Staff

Gran Cenote

The Mexican Caribbean is home to many cenotes, or deep sinkhole sites, including the famous Gran Cenote in Tulum. Marvel at the allure of the cavern’s pool while swimming, snorkeling or diving. 

Tulum Archeological Site

An absolute must-see during your travels, the Tulum ruins are situated on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The ancient Mayan city is estimated to be more than 800 years old and its architecture is absolutely breathtaking. 


This museum, with two different locations in Quintana Roo, offers installations that combine art, nature and history. A list of featured exhibitions can be found here.

Mexican Caribbean waters
Mexican Caribbean waters / Courtesy of the Quintana Roo Tourism Board

The best beaches in the Mexican Caribbean 

You can’t go wrong when it comes to sunbathing in the Mexican Caribbean (with SPF, of course). Be sure to check out these beaches while you’re visiting. 

Playa Paraíso

Located in Tulum, this beach is famous for its crystal clear blue waters and for being situated in front of the aforementioned Mayan archeological site.

Playa Norte

This Isla Mujeres beach has been ranked among Tripadvisor’s best beaches in the world, which comes as no surprise. This white sand site is an excellent swimming spot.

Akumal Beach

If breathtaking views are what you seek, Akumal Beach awaits. The location is known for its sea turtle population and snorkeling. 

Playa Punta Cocos

Delivering a laid-back atmosphere, this beach on Holbox Island is an excellent place to relax and watch the sunset. 

Cara O’Bleness