The last stop on our Mexican sojourn was the lovely little island of Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun. With stunning beaches, cheap tacos, cute colourful houses, and golf carts for hire, what more could you want!
We left the thunderstorms behind in Cancun and caught the ferry across to Isla. Upon arrival we were struck by how much the island reminded us of Koh Tao, our favourite little island in Thailand that we visited last year. Like Koh Tao, Isla Mujeres has lots of skinny little streets, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, and the salespeople (Mexican, not Thai, in this case!) yelling out ‘Hey lady – you want dress?’
We spent three days on Isla Mujeres, and stayed at Hotel Plaza Almendros, which is right on the main street (Av. Hidalgo), where most of the restaurants, bars, and shops are located. So we just had to step outside the hotel and we had a choice of about twenty different eateries within one minute’s walk! The hotel was cheap ($40/night) and basic but perfectly adequate for us.
One of the recommended things to do on Isla is to rent a golf cart – the island is pretty small so you can’t rent cars. They cost $45 USD for the day (9 am – 5 pm) and are heaps of fun! We had a bright yellow speed machine and circumnavigated the island twice – it’s really not that big!
There are lots of places to stop, so you can take most of the day to get around the island. The lack of freely accessible beaches is a bit of a pain, and the cheapest one costs 50 pesos per person (Little Garrafon). The beach there was pretty average but there were heaps of fish in the water!
If you have bundles of cash you can visit Garrafon Park, which is a kind of marine amusement park with zip lines, snorkelling, and swimming with dolphins. Other things to do on the island include swimming with nurse sharks, visiting the only Mayan ruins on the island, and visiting a floating man-made island made entirely from plastic bottles. We visited this floating island and were shown around by its sole inhabitant, Richart. His island home has featured on Discovery Channel – Shaun had actually seen the program and was amazed when we passed it on our golf cart so we had to turn around and have a look! The island was rather amazing – it moves when you walk on it as it is floating, and his house is made of bamboo and fabric, and has a sandy floor and composting toilet. He’s a total hippie and it was hilarious hearing some of his tales about how he’d got to where he is today (stories of the cosmos, enlightenment, the end of the world, and other such things). He sang us a song and we were treated to some solar cake (that was ‘cooked’ in a solar oven and was actually a year old…) and hibiscus tea. It was definitely an interesting experience!
The colours of homes on Isla Mujeres are great – I couldn’t stop photographing them!
The best free beach on Isla is called Playa Norte, and it’s a stunner. The perfect white sand, warm calm water, and beach bars make this place amazing. And it was only a five minute walk from our hotel! It was a shame that the thunderstorms made their way over from the mainland every afternoon, or else we would have spent much more time on the beach.
The choice of food (and the price) was so much better than in Tulum, so we ate to our heart’s content – three tacos and two beers for $9, anyone? I don’t think I’ve eaten as many avocados in my life as I did during those three days on Isla! Mmm, guacamole…
We thoroughly enjoyed our time on Isla Mujeres – it was great to eat some cheap food, chill out at the beach, and see the cute Mexican houses. We even bought some souvenir skulls (why we bought breakable ceramics when constantly travelling I have no idea, but they are pretty awesome!).
Our last day in Mexico was spent in Cancun – and what a disappointment that was! There is nothing to do there, except for the beach which we couldn’t go to as it was pissing down with rain. We spent most of the day at a mall – boring!
Thank goodness the rest of Mexico was awesome. We had a fantastic trip and wouldn’t hesitate to return! Viva Mexico!