An island affair on Isla Mujeres
Next, you need to close your eyes and take five. Deep. Breaths. This is how I felt the ENTIRE time I was on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.Imagine every island fantasy you’ve ever had- it’s on this island. Think 14 hours worth of sunshine every day, sand that sprays like glitter when you walk, coconuts straight from the tree and cocktails that induce giddiness just by looking at them.
Waiting for us is an assortment of hotel chaperone services- all manically waving to get our attention.
“Chicas! Hola, can we take your bags?”
We pay 100 pesos (eight Aussie dollars including tip) to have someone roll both our bags across the bricks to our hotel, 400 metres away.
Walking through the streets, colourful cottages and shop fronts decorate the sidewalk. Cats stretch out on doorsteps. Golf Carts zoom past, bikes ting their bells. A giant lizard scampers across the road.
Meaning ‘Island of Women’, Isla Mujeres is for those who want to escape the thumping party-til-5am vibe of Cancun.
It’s an eclectic bunch of travellers who make it here. You’ll find backpackers, couples and baby boomers. There’s a sense of authenticity and genuine friendliness that you don’t find on the mainland.
This island is too good to keep to myself and even if you only come here for a daytrip, there are three things you HAVE to do:
1: Ride a bike around the island
Unlike Australia, (and most of the States for that matter) you don’t have to wear a helmet to ride a bicycle, so there’s no helmet hair. But best of all, renting a bike means you can explore the island however you want- and work off the tacos from the night before. 😉
We rent bikes from one of the vendors in town and pay approx 10 Aussie dollars for 24 hours.
Riding takes around 45 minutes, and once you get to the other side, the ocean fades into the distance. The waves explode on the rocks. It’s perfection.
Be sure to spend some time at the Mayan observatory, and definitely, definitely take 30 minutes to watch the sun go down over Playa Norte.
2: Swim with the whale sharks
If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know that I’m an animal lover. So naturally, one of the highlights of the Island, and perhaps my life, was swimming with whale sharks.
As one of the main attractions, everyone in town knows someone who can arrange whale shark tours. The trick is to suss out the cheapest price. We end up paying around 85 USD for a day tour, which includes lunch (ceviche!) and snorkeling equipment.
There’s no guarantee you’ll see the whale sharks, but if you go during the peak season, (July- August) you should have a good chance. We’re told we may see anywhere from 1, to 100!
Our captain has to practically pull me out of the water when the tour is over- I could swim with them forever! Back towards the Island, we moor in shallow water while the Captain hands out sandwiches and conjures up some ceviche. Chased down with a local beer, I’m pretty much in heaven!
3. Eat at Tres Mentiras
Navigating your way through the main street of the Island, you face the impossible task of choosing where to eat. Giant menu boards with two-for-one drink specials are there to entice, but it’s the sales people accompanying them that will win you over.
Owners, Luis and his girlfriend Natti, run Tres Mentiras, a reggae pumping restaurant offering up authentic Mexican food- think fajitas, ceviche, tacos and cheap beers. We end up eating there three nights in a row.
So feel free to thank me for introducing you to Isla Mujeres (and some sweet reggae music). I’ll be back for sure!
So, is Isla Mujeres on your travel list now? Tweet us @lastminute_au and tell us!