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Top Location Spots to Film in Quintana Roo

September is México’s Patriotic month and we want to celebrate by reviewing and listing our favourite filming location spots available in Quintana Roo state.


Contoy, Holbox, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel islands

These Islands (From the smallest to the biggest) coincide on the vast coral reefs that surround them (the home of many different marine animal species) and their white sand beaches and coastal rock formations and exuberant greenery. Filmmakers have taken advantage of these characteristics to film extensive underwater shots featuring the blue waters of the Caribbean sea and the marine animals inhabiting the depths of the coral reefs.



Contoy is a virgin island with no population at all since it is a national park and natural reserve protected by the government, perfect for filming scenes were there must be no people or human settlements in the background at all. Ixlaché coral reef is located near the south part of the island and it is an extension of the second largest coral reef in the world. It is also called “Island of the Birds” due to the great concentration of bird species inhabiting the island and that pass though it while migrating. 



Holbox is located in the northern part of the state that is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon and some of its more emblematic marine animals are the dolphins and the whale sharks that inhabit the surrounding area of the island; the coastal waters also manifest the spectacular bioluminescent phenomenon of the Luciferase enzymes that light up the sea with their blue glow on moonless nights but they can only be filmed with special camera lenses. 


Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres marks the frontier between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico; on land, it has mayan temples with female images (the reason behind its name), and its sea is considered one of the tops spots in the world to catch Sailfish, also the ethereal MUSA (Subaquatic Art Museum) consisting of 500 sculptures stands on the bottom of its western coast.



Cozumel is the third largest island in the country, like Isla Mujeres, it has mayan temples and settlements that are found on the San Gervasio Archaeological site. Scuba diving is one of its main attractions due to its coral reef located on the westside shore, there are also the crystal blue sea shores on “El Cielo” and “El Cielito” which are sand banks were the sea bottom is shallow and starfish are easy to be spotted. 


Tulum, Bacalar and Mahahual towns

These populations coincide on their clear sea shores and their developing potential as tourist attractions.



Tulum town is close to the Tulum, Muyil and Coba archaeological sites, in particular the Tulum site has been featured in many films, videos and promotionals due to its location in front of the Caribbean sea on top of a cliff.



Bacalar is a small town distinguished by the Bacalar a.k.a. the Seven Colors Lagoon (due to its different shades of green and blue). This population used to be the subject of pirate attacks on its early days and as a witness of those difficult times, the San Felipe de Bacalar Castle remains standing tall on the centre of the town plaza. As another vestige of the past, this place is near the archaeological sites of Kohunlich, Dzibanché, Chacchoben, Oxtankah, Chakanbakán, Ichkabal and Kinichná. 



This population is close to the Banco Chinchorro atoll reef which is the second largest reef barrier in the world, meaning it is rich in biodiversity which makes it a great site for scuba diving. This place is also surrounded by great extensions of virgin beaches and forests ideal for long shots were the background and atmosphere must completely.  


Cancún and Playa del Carmen cities

These are some of the biggest populations of the state and probably the most well known internationally, they have suffered from rapid development since their foundation which has helped them become the much sought-after tourist spots that hey are now. They have been the subject and/or featured in many different types of media like films, fashion campaigns, photoshoots, TV shows, documentaries, advertisements and others.  



Possibly the most famous and commercial of all the Quintana Roo locations, although Cancún is mostly a new city with infrastructure and touristic attractions it has been portrayed many times in media as an appealing and exuberant destination. Since it is a modern city, the only vestiges left of its ancient past can be found in the archaeological sites of El Meco, Yamil Lu’um, El Rey and San Miguelito. Like the rest of the populations located on the coast that goes down all the way through the state, Cancun possesses white sand beaches that face the coral reef barrier and a sea coast in front of the Caribbean sea with different shades of blue, ideal for both aerial and underwater photography and video.


Playa del Carmen

Another famous tourist location that has grown considerably in population size, this place is a colorful melting pot of cultures with many foreigners establishing in the city and favouring the development of luxury condos, hotels, restaurants, boutiques and other types of entertainment venues. Tourist activity is mainly centered on the “Quinta Avenida” (Fifth Avenue), a long pedestrian promenade that goes horizontally across the city located just two blocks inland from the beach and it is outlined with restaurants, bars, shops, hotels and many types of venues. Just like the other populations located on the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is a world famous scuba diving destination due to its closeness to the Mesoamerican Reef Barrier System which also endows it with the characteristic white sand beaches and turquoise-to-navy blue sea that are predominant in the whole state.


Some Films with locations in Quintana Roo

  • La Montaña Sagrada (1973), Dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky.
  • Zombie (1979), Dir. Lucio Fulci.
  • Against All Odds (1984), Dir. Taylor Hackford.
  • License to Kill (1989), Dir. John Glen.
  • The Cave (2005), Dir. Bruce Hunt.
  • Grindhouse: Planet Terror (2007), Dir. Robert Rodríguez.
  • James White (2015), Dir. Josh Mond.
  • Gringo (2018), Dir. Nash Edgerton.