My Two Week Trip Backpacking Mexican Beaches On A Budget

Mexico 2 week backpacking trip, backpacking mexico on a budget

Mexico’s turquoise waters, colourful coral reefs and soft white sand are the perfect setting to unwind and get as much rest and relaxation as you need. You can spend hours reading your book laying on the gorgeous Mexican beaches on a budget, meeting the locals or gorging on delicious fish tacos. In this post I cover two incredible islands and Cancun itself.

Cancun Beach Canopy - Mexican beaches on a budget
Life’s a beach

Perfect for the budget traveller…

With very reasonably priced direct flights to get to this gorgeous destination, I make this a perfect holiday or backpacking trip for any budget, solo, traveller. It really is possible to enjoy Mexican beaches on a budget.

As this was a short trip for me, I flew in and out of Cancun. However, this may be a starting point for you on a long journey down through Central America or perhaps this is the end to your great South America/Central America backpacking trip. Perhaps you have travelled from Rio and you are at the end of your trip? If this is the case this will be the perfect end to your great adventure.

To give you a little context to how this trip came about…

I called a good friend of mine Paul, a couple of days before the London Marathon, to wish him luck before the big race. I met Paul in South America around 4 years ago at the beginning of my backpacking adventure! During our phone call he happened to mention that he was going to Mexico to rest once he had completed the run. Immediately, without even asking, I said I would start looking at flights and I would be going with him. Over the next few days, I had managed to book a last minute flight with Virgin Atlantic for around £500 return and was ready for 2 weeks of bliss.

Not only did I hijack Paul’s trip but decided to stay an extra week!

As I walked through arrivals and the warm air hit me, I saw Paul waving his arms frantically in the distance ready to greet me. Our trip had begun.

One Little Tip: My advice would be to fly in and head straight to Isla Mujeres.

This is exactly what Paul and I did. After catching up we headed straight to the ferry port and bought our tickets to what would become one of my favourite places in the world, Isla Mujeres.

The island was named “Isla Mujeres” since the Mayans worshiped the goddess Ixchel, who was the goddess of the moon, love, and fertility. As an offering the Mayas gave female figures to this goddess. When the Spanish arrived in 1517, they baptized the island as Isla Mujeres because of the Mayan worship.

The Ultramar passenger ferries run pretty late, so you shouldn’t have a problem getting straight over there, enabling you to escape a night in Cancun. It should cost around M$78 one way. A budget friendly service that allows you to get to Mexican beaches on a budget.

Where to stay to ensure you get the most out of Mexican beaches on a budget

We stayed in Poc-Na Hostel, which is easy to reach by foot once you disembark the ferry.

Poc-Na Hostel has great social areas, FREE yoga in the morning, live music, a palm shaded private beach and breakfast included. Although I was with a friend on this trip, this hostel definitely rates highly for me for being able to meet others, when travelling solo.

Poc Na Hostel - Mexican beaches on a budget
Poc Na Hostel (2016)

Tip – One of the best ways to make this as affordable as possible is staying in hostels and specifically dorm rooms. By sharing a room with other backpackers you will be able to spend the rest of you time actually soaking up the sun on the Mexican beaches on a budget.

Once we had dumped our bags Paul hurried me down to the beach and made me dip my feet in the warm sea water. Having been to Isla Mujeres before, Paul was desperate for me to appreciate the beach, even if it was 10 o’clock at night. It was pitch black except for the twinkling of lights from the sand blown roads leading to the beach.

“Just you wait until the sun comes up” Paul said.

When morning came, we headed straight down to the beach…WOW, it’s beautiful. If you love the Caribbean, you will love Isla Mujeres.

For me, it’s the perfect mix of the Caribbean, South America and the Philippines. The beaches, the food and the PEOPLE. Just stunning.

Things to do

Hire golf buggies and pick up a corona en route!

Corona Drive through Mexican beaches on a budget
Paul loving life at the Corona Drive Through

 Snorkel or Scuba dive

There are plenty of dive schools in Isla Mujeres to choose from. The easiest if you’re staying at Poc Na is to book through them here! Alternatively Sea Hawk Divers comes highly recommended.

Swim with Whale Sharks

Unfortunately the Whale Shark season runs from May to Mid September and I was unable to jump in with these big friendly giants on this occasion. Having swam with Whale Sharks in Thailand and the Philippines I can vouch for the fact his is truly a once in a lifetime experience! You will be in the water with as many of 5 and even up to 50 or 60 whale sharks at a time.

Playa Norte Beach

Once you step foot on this beach you may never want to leave. The water is warm and crystal clear, you can grab a cocktail from the beach bars and if you need to connect to the wifi it’s readily available here.

Playa Norte Beach - Mexican beaches on a budget
Playa Norte Beach

After a week of uncontrollable laughter, plenty of cocktails and fun in the sun, it was time for Paul to head home. With no plans for my week travelling alone, I was given a tip from another backpacker and decided to head to Isla Holbox.

One Little Tip: Always listen to recommendations from other backpackers. This is where you will find the best destinations.

Getting to Isla Holbox

After saying our goodbyes, I headed straight to the port and made my return ferry back to Cancun. From there I jumped on a bus that would take me to Chiquila. This took around 3 and a half hours to reach and from there it’s easy enough to get a ferry across to Isla Holbox. Isla Holbox is a laid back island with sand streets and no cars! You will reach the port and if like me your bag was completely busted you can grab a golf buggy taxi.

Isla Mujeres to Cancun – 30 minutes by ferry (M$78)

Cancun to Chiquila – 3 ½ hours by bus (M$114)

Chiquila to Isla Holbox – 30 minutes by ferry (M$78)

Total Price – M$270 = £11 or $14 US dollars

Where to stay?

Having read good recommendations for this place, I decided to stay at Tribu Hostel. As I was travelling alone, I  opted for a dorm bed in order to meet as many new friends as possible.

Hostel Tribu is close enough to walk to the beach and has many activities available to book right there at reception! These include salsa lessons, FREE yoga and you can also book onto a kayaking trip with Jason. The dorms are clean and spread out across this unusual, almost tree like building (you’ll understand what I mean if you go). The communal area is a great place to chill in a seated hammock and meet new friends. If you haven’t brought your kindle with you, they also have a good book exchange! In the evenings, head to the bar for a cocktail or if you’re there on certain nights of the week, feel free to join in on the jam session.

Prices for a dorm start at M$170 and M$550 for a private room (Approximately £7.20 or £23 a private room).


After meeting a lovely girl called Cassie on the ferry over to Isla Holbox, we then joined another couple of girls called Bec and Sarah to celebrate Bec’s birthday by going on the Kayaking trip with Jason.

Tour with Jason at Tribu Hostel - Mexican beaches on a budget
On our way to kayak!

Although tough at times, this was a great day out spotting wildlife. After all the hard work, when you reach the end after a long hot morning, you can treat yourself to a beer in the sun at the beach bar. Swinging on the hammock and overlooking the gorgeous sunset was a perfect end to a fantastic day.

Tip – By booking the tour through the hostel they make it as affordable as possible, so that it reflects the clientele that they receive being a hostel. So my advice would be to take up the ours with the local hostel in order to enjoy as many activities on the Mexican beaches on a budget. It also makes it more enjoyable, as you will meet some great people this way, especially if you are travelling alone.


My plan was to stay on Isla Holbox until I had to fly home to the UK. I figured this is how I would be able to see as many Mexican beaches on a budget. However, with a couple of days left of my trip, I had a message from my housemate from University. She was flying into Cancun from Colombia and wanted to meet up!

It is such a small world…

Me and Jodie at the Hostel Mexican beaches on a budget
Jodie and I reunited in Mezcal Hostel!

If you like raucous clubs and chain food restaurants, then Cancun is the place for you. Hostels will have a list of club nights with deals and are more than happy to organise a night out for you. Or alternatively head to another part of town.

We were out looking for somewhere to grab some drinks and were taken to a recommended bar by our cab driver to a completely different side of town. We entered into a bar which housed a huge jukebox and we were the only patrons…hmmm. The drinks were cheap and we ended up staying and chatting to a couple of locals who were also enjoying our choice of the REM classic Everybody Hurts. This was definitely a unique experience. We sang and danced around for a while and were then taken to another local hangout. Whilst there I was introduced to a group who spoke no English, however one of the men in the group requested that I have my photo taken with his family.

It was a very weird experience, however having travelled Asia and more specifically India and having had people taking my picture everywhere I went there, I was completely used to this. Check out the horrendous photo below to understand just how awkward the moment really was.

Meeting the Mexican beaches on a budget
Meeting the locals

Where to stay? 

Jodie and I chose not to stay in Zona Hotelera and chose instead to stay in Downtown Cancun at Mezcal Hostel.

With air conditioned rooms, FREE Breakfast and Dinner, a pool, evening games and party tickets organised for you, this was a great place to stay. I even managed to win the karaoke competition one night and nabbed myself a free t-shirt. Se you can see Mexican beaches on a budget!

Mezcal Hostel outside area Mexican beaches on a budget
Mezcal Hostel outside area

The staff were more than accommodating and as there is a huge social area, it’s easy enough to meet new friends.

Prices for a dorm start at $16 or £13.

In order to get to the beaches, simply hop on one of the local buses (10.50 Mexican Pesos or 1 USD) for a 10 minute ride into town. The main bus station is extremely close by, which menas it is easy enough for you to jump on a bus to your next destination.

We stayed at Mexcal Hostel for a couple of nights and then moved into an airbnb with a couple of friends we met at the hostel. We stayed at a fantastic apartment that included a pool and huge teddy bear for Jodie to cuddle! The hosts were extremely helpful and was a great way to enjoy the last couple of nights in Mexico with new and old friends. You can sign up for airbnb here if you want somewhere a little more private to explore from, on your next trip.

When to go?

The best time to visit is from December to April, however this is the peak season. Even though the crowds are busier, you’ll experience near-perfect weather and find some of the cheapest flight and room rates for a winter getaway at the beach. I went in April and found everything pretty cheap. This allowed for me to see as much as I did backpacking Mexican beaches on a budget.

Currency – Mexican Peso (M$)

Language – Spanish and Mayo

Money – ATMs in most towns

Visa – Not required (for UK only)

Time – GMT minus six hours

Abigail x

13 Replies to “My Two Week Trip Backpacking Mexican Beaches On A Budget”

  1. Interesante. Me ha encantado, muchas gracias.

  2. Hi, thank you very much for this info!

    1. No problem, if you have any questions I am happy to help where I can. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Mexico is full of natural beauties of all kind but its beaches are really something… Found all around the country, Mexican beaches are an ideal destination to relax and enjoy wonderful views.

  4. Hello. Just wanted to share with you the best of Europes festivals over the past year. I have visited most of these in the past and I can assure you that they are brilliant. Find time to enjoy life and attend some of these this year. Looking forward to some more interesting posts on the Marina de Bolnuevo blog ( Have a great day.

    1. Hi! Thanks for sharing that with me, this is perfect as I am just planning my summer and I much prefer visiting Europe in the summer. I’ve just returned from Thailand, so lots of new posts coming soon! Thanks for your support, Abigail

    1. Hi Valarie, Thank you so much! I really appreciate your feedback and I hope you enjoy my site x

  5. What’s up, I would like to subscribe for this weblog to take latest updates, so where can i do it please help.

    1. Hey! You can subscribe to my blog by entering your details (email address) into the subscribe box that should appear when you open the site. Please send me a message if you are unable to do so. You can also follow me on Instagram using abigailshiers or follow my facebook page here

  6. […] what about the time I booked last minute flights to Mexico which cost me the same as my friend who had booked his months in advance. Or…how about the […]

  7. Hi, nice article for beginning digital nomads 🙂I work remotely as translator and copywriter while traveling in South America, also looking into starting my own business online. What I find the hardest is to reserve some time for working while there is so man things to do and places to see around me. At the start, the plan was to work max. 20 h a week, but soon I realized its better to work the whole week 40h or more, then have a whole week free for tourist stuff… How do you deal with that?ThanksTereza

    1. Hi Tereza, thanks for getting in touch and commenting. I write the blog as and when I have time…that’s probably why I have managed to write so little, even though I have so much information in my mind. I’m also not very good at the technical side of things 🙁 I am just trying to get my head around it all. I’ll check out your site now. Thanks again x

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