Is Mexico considered part of the Caribbean?

The southeast part of Mexico is located on the shores of the Caribbean, but are they really part of the Caribbean? If you ask me I’d say “yes” because the beach, climate, and clear blue waters are nearly identical, but what is the official word for it? Let’s find out…

Is Mexico considered part of the Caribbean? Yes, the Southeast coast of Mexico (Quintana Roo) is a part of the Caribbean. Cozumel, Cancun, and Riviera Maya are popular Mexico destinations on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.

It wasn’t easy to find agreement on what islands and countries are considered part of the Caribbean and what are not. In fact, there is no agreement, nor is there much in the way of scientific input. So, I decided to turn to some other trusty sources – dictionaries. 

Is Mexico considered part of the Caribbean?

Before I turned to dictionaries for help determining if Mexico was part of the Caribbean, I scoured science sources to get their take on it. 

I learned a new term – physiographic regions. 

Physiographic regions of the world are a means of defining the Earth’s landforms into distinct regions…. – Wikipedia

Surely delving into the physiographic regions of the world would reveal specific areas including the Caribbean. Unfortunately, it was a dead end. I learned about mountains and rivers, that’s about it. 

I kept digging but found no official, scientific clarity around what is and is not considered part of the Caribbean.

Many countries have their own opinions about whether or not they are considered part of the Caribbean or not, but I was unable to find evidence to back up their claim.

For example, Turks and Caicos, which is located just southeast of the Bahamas) states the following on their website:  

A common misconception is that the Turks and Caicos is part of the Caribbean. This is technically not true, as our country is considered to be part of the Lucayan Archipelago along with the Bahamian island chain, adjacent to the north of the Caribbean. –

Not sure why they would call this out since being part of the Caribbean is the bomb! Seriously, it’s like saying “I’m not really an intelligent person, I’m actually pretty dumb”.

Anyway, given the lack of scientific and official information, I referred to several dictionaries to establish an answer to “is Mexico is considered part of the Caribbean?”. 

Most dictionary definitions agree that countries or islands within or surrounding the coasts of the Caribbean Sea are part of the Caribbean.

Here are the dictionaries I consulted and the definitions they gave:

Noun Adjective
Collins Dictionary The Caribbean is the sea which is between the West Indies, Central America, and the north coast of South America. Caribbean means belonging or relating to the Caribbean Sea and its islands, or to its people.
Cambridge Dictionary (relating to) the sea that is east of Central America and north of South America, or the islands in it and the countries that border this sea none
Lexico- Oxford Dictionary The region consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (including the West Indies), and the surrounding coasts. Relating to the Caribbean.
Merriam Webster Dictionary part of the Atlantic Ocean of or relating to the Caribs, the eastern and southern West Indies, or the Caribbean Sea the islands and countries of the Caribbean Sea collectively. pertaining to the Caribs, the Lesser Antilles, or the Caribbean Sea and its islands.
Urban Dictionary The Caribbean Islands, located in the tropics, extend in a broad arc of over 4000 km from the Bahamas in the north, near north America, to Trinidad in the south near South America
Your Dictionary of the Caribbean Sea, its islands, etc.
Of or relating to the Caribbean Sea, its islands, or its Central or South American coasts, or to the peoples or cultures of this region.

Some of the definitions were pretty vague which is likely the cause for widespread confusion over the matter. 

Check out these ambiguous definitions:

  • “part of the Atlantic Ocean” Wow, that’s a wide area!
  • “of the Caribbean Sea, its island, etc”.  What do they mean by “its”?

Then there are the more specific definitions that I primarily relied on for answering the question.

  • “…between the West Indies, Central America, and the north coast of South America….”
  • “….Caribbean Sea, its islands (including the West Indies), and the surrounding coasts.”

It seems the spirit of the dictionary definition is that the area east of the Gulf of Mexico, south of the Florida Peninsula, and north of South America all have similar tropical climates and are part of the Caribbean. 

The Mexican Caribbean

I can’t take credit for coining the term “Mexican Caribbean” but it is fitting, so I’ll use it.

The Mexican Caribbean is home to many popular beach towns. The beaches are gorgeous, the water clear and blue, and the culture is rich with history, food, and art. 

I’ve been going to the Mexican Caribbean for over 25 years and can tell you without question the environment is every bit Caribbean. It’s relaxing yet filled with opportunities to enjoy the water such as snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, sailing, swimming with dolphins, and more.

Many people wonder if Mexico is safe to visit. I wanted to know too so dug into the data and came up with a definitive answer! Check out The Safest Beach towns in Mexico.

The Mexican Caribbean also boasts some of the most amazing historical sites including the Mayan Ruins in Tulum and Xcaret, a Maya civilization archaeological site further south. 

Many people go inland to see how tequila and cigars are made.

Cancun along the Mexican Caribbean

One of the most popular vacation spots in the world is located in the Mexican Caribbean.

Cozumel – An island Along The Mexican Caribbean

Cozumel is a popular Mexican Island that is clearly located in the Caribbean Sea.

Isla Mujeres – An Island Along The Mexican Caribbean

Just northeast of Cancun is a delightful little Mexican island along the Mexican Caribbean coast called Isla Mujeres.

Riviera Maya Along The Mexican Caribbean

Riviera Maya makes up the largest part of the Mexican Caribbean. Popular beach towns include Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Tulum.

Are the Florida Keys part of the Caribbean?

As long as we’re on the subject, what about the Florida Keys? Are they part of the Caribbean? After all, they are located on the surrounding coast of the Caribbean Sea.

Plus, if you’ve ever been to the Florida Keys you would know the climate and tropical vibe are the same as the other destinations widely accepted as “part of the Caribbean” such as Jamaica, The Cayman Islands, and the Dominican Republic.

With that, I hereby deem the Florida Keys an official part of the Caribbean.

Are The Bahamas part of the Caribbean?

Based on the map alone, the Bahamas are not part of the Caribbean since they are in the Atlantic Ocean, the same as the islands of Turks and Caicos. Yet, we still consider them part of the Caribbean. 

As you can see, although there’s not a clear, definitive, scientific answer to “is Mexico part of the Caribbean, for all intents and purposes the answer is yes. You can enjoy a vacation filled with an island vibe, tropical weather, and rich culture of its people along the Mexican Caribbean same as any other island located smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

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