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3 Nights in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Isla Mujeres is a lively, magical, five-mile-long island, that's just a thirty-minute ferry ride from Cancun. There are very few cars on this island, with taxis making up the majority of automobiles. The most popular form of transportation on the island is with mopeds or golf carts that zoom through the narrow, colorful streets of the island. During the day, it's the clear, turquoise waters you'll find yourself spending most of your time with. Nightime transforms into a big party with bustling bars and with live music pumping the island with a constant festive feel. It's quite a spectacular island, mostly because it is so unpretentious, utterly laid back, and surrounded by some of the most stunning water you will ever encounter. Three nights is a perfect amount of time to immerse yourself into island mode and soak in all that the island has to offer. Make sure you come with cash. Most places here accept cash only, in either pesos or dollars.

As soon as your flip flops hit the sand, you will be instantly propelled into tropical island mode. The locals are as colorful as the buildings on the island and they will greet you warmly at every opportunity. You will inevitably encounter many reminders that you are in a third-world country; the poverty among some of the locals becomes quickly apparent. We learned that the minimum wage in Mexico is $11.00 per day. While you visit, bring some cheer into the locals' lives too, and slip them a twenty dollar bill whenever you can. Hire the mariachi bands who request just $10.00 per song. Support the economy here so that it continues to thrive and blossom. Isla Mujeres is truly a special place so please consider being the type of tourist who brings color and joy to the island with you.

Take the Ultmar Ferry round trip thirty-minute ride from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Round-trip tickets are approximately $24.00 per person on this clean and spacious fleet that has three decks including indoor and outdoor options. The ferry leaves pretty much every thirty minutes.

Stay at Aruma Isla Mujeres. This five-bedroom, six-bathroom home is beautifully appointed with decorative touches throughout the house. While its location couldn't be better in terms of its proximity to the heart of the island, it's the staff that manages this villa that makes the house most noteworthy. They helped us make reservations for everything on our itinerary, including our transportation, and they did it so cheerfully. The team here stands out as one of the best we have encountered in all our travels. The house is spacious, described as large enough for seventeen people, and has a plunge pool for those who want to cool off on a hot day. Daily housekeeping is included and for those who want to be further pampered, a private chef and masseuse can be arranged. I strongly recommend booking this villa for your family or group. It is a lovely place to retreat after a long day of exploring.

Where to Beach Club

You'll have many beach club options to choose from. My recommendation is that you choose one on Playa Norte, known to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico for its white sand, palm trees, and crystal clear water. OCEANVS is a great option because it's on the end of the beach stretch and is less crowded as a result. Ask for Sunny to be your attendant, he will make sure you are well taken care of and that your day at the beach is just perfect. Also, their nachos are so delicious, you may want to order them twice like we did.


As you walk around you'll pass dozens of other beach club options, each with its own unique character. There are beach clubs on all sides of the island. Make sure you plant yourselves at one of the clubs for at least one full day of relaxation in the warm waters that may be the clearest you'll ever dip yourself into.

Must-Do Excursions:

Punta Sur

Renting a golf cart for the day is a the best way to truly get to know the island beyond the main hub where the tourists flock. A golf cart will get you to the local neighborhoods as well as to the secluded part of the island where newly built mansions are perched on top of cliffs. Most importantly, a golf cart will also get you to Punta Sur, the islands most southern tip, which is approximately a thirty minute ride on a golf cart. There you will find endless photo opportunities, breathtaking views, and even Mayan ruins. There is a fee of $6.00 per person to enter the park which is totally worth it.

Isla Contoy

A private tour led by Wicho and Mosko from Espartaco Tours to Isla Contoy will be one of the most unforgettable excursions you will ever experience. After a friendly introduction Captain Wicho will embark your journey into the gorgeous Caribbean Sea. About thirty minutes from Isla Mujeres your captain will park the boat in the middle of the ocean, with literally no one else around, to snorkel in the coral reefs. Mosko will lead you through the colorful reefs and check on your group often to make sure everyone is doing well. Despite the occasional thoughts of sharks that may creep into your mind, you'll quickly get distracted by this incredible experience.

After some snorkeling fun you will make your way further towards Isla Contoy. As you approach this untouched island you'll immediately recognize that you are about to step foot on Paradise. The glistening, transparent waters reveal a sea life filled with sea turtles, barracudas, and nurse sharks. While you splash in the sea Wicho and Mosko will prepare an incredible meal for you on the island's grill. They quickly whipped up freshly caught grouper rubbed in a Mayan seasoning, grilled chicken, potatoes, rice, coleslaw, and salsa, served with a chilled beer of course. Lunch is so good and so fresh and coupled with its dining location that is less than ten feet from the shore, you may hit sensory overload because this is seriously too much perfection most people can handle.

Post lunch, Mosko will lead you to the lagoon, and look for crocodiles while teaching you about the wild life. From here he'll guide you to the highest point of the mountain for a panoramic view of the surrounding sea.

To preserve this pristine island the Mexican government only permits two hundred people to enter each day. In efforts not to disturb the ecosystem, no sunscreen of any kind is permitted. There are also no bathrooms with running water. This is simply an uninhabited, secluded, island with a natural beauty that is hard to fathom unless you see it for yourself.

As you head back to Isla Mujeres you'll enjoy one more dip into the sea and then you'll just lean back, take in the views, and smile your way back to land.


Where to Eat:

The popular dining destination, in my opinion, caters to American tourists too much. Rather than serving authentic Mexican food, Xantolo serves more Tex-Mex-style meals. Our most memorable dinner was not at this Mexican restaurant. However, people seem to love it. The only thing we loved about dining here was the two-for-one happy hour, the setting, and the wonderful service. The food, not so much.

You'll be very surprised to find an authentic Italian meal on this little island. Mama Rosa does not disappoint. From the bruschette to the contadina salad, to the gnocchi and the spaghetti aglio, everything on the menu is really good. They even make pizza that you'll be sure to like. Service is attentive, decor is charming, and the wine menu has a nice selection to choose from.

Limon is approximately a ten-minute drive from the main town center. You'll need to get there by taxi or golf cart. Since this will certainly be your best meal on the island, it's worth venturing out to dine here. Limon takes dining to the next level. Every single item on the menu will blow you away by the fresh ingredients, creative seasonings, and love that goes into preparing each plate. Some dishes you may want to experience are the hibiscus tacos, the bruschetta, Limon house salad, tortilla soup, coconut shrimp, four cheese pasta, and gnocchi- all perfectly prepared. The filet mignon in port, however, deserves its own mention. One of the unique features of Limon is that beef ordered is grilled per order in the center of the restaurant. This steak will even have the vegetarians at your table grabbing a bite, they did at our table! Finally, end your meal with the banana foster and pineapple "Sergio's way". You'll be talking about this meal for months. Just note, Limon is a cash only restaurant.

For fresh smoothies and juices stop by Aroma Isla. This is the only place on the island we went to that actually accepts American Express. The service is friendly, the menu is healthy, and you may want to make several visits like we did.

I just love the hand written note on my latte. This personal touch is enough to win me over. The cafe itself is really cute with a full coffee menu and breakfast pastries.

This bar surrounded by swings is always full and bustling with people looking for a good time. You'll want to stop here at least once to have a drink, people watch, and listen to those confident karaoke folks who just love to belt out tunes.

Make sure to add Isla Mujeres to your travel bucket list. The stunning beaches, serene island vibe, friendly locals, great food, international crowd, and colorful streets are just meant to be enjoyed by all who can make there way here.


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