Welcome to the Island of Women…
Cancun gets all the attention in Mexico. She’s the sophisticated older cousin with the glitziest hotels, name-brand malls and an over-abundance of casinos. Isla Mujeres is quieter, less mature when it comes to glitz but older and wiser when it comes to gracious hospitality. She’s more like your best girlfriend who loves spending time with you, sharing meals that stretch on for hours, strolling and shopping and strolling some more or lying on the beach and enjoying yet another massage together…
The island is 8 miles (13 kilometers) off the northeast coast of Cancun, serviced every half hour by ferries from pre-dawn to midnight. The Spanish graced it Isla Mujeres – Island of Women –because of the many goddess images left there by the Mayans who viewed the island as the sacred home of Ixchel, goddess off childbirth and medicine. Coincidently, it’s also the shape of a mermaid.
To the east of the island lies the Caribbean sea, rough and windy and the best place to view consistently spectacular sunrises. To the west is Cancun, which can be seen clearly on good-weather days. For visitors to Cancun, it’s the perfect day trip. For those who want to escape the glitz and see and be seen atmosphere of Cancun, it offers charming hotels, delish restaurants and exquisite beaches.
9 reasons to bury your return ticket in the beach
I recently visited Isla Mujeres for the annual We Move Forward Conference. Three days on this island is not enough, not nearly enough…
1. Hotel Ixchel
If you’re looking for unabashed luxury, get on the next ferry back to the mainland and hook up with the JW Marriott or CasaMagna. If you’re looking a charming room, attentive, happy staff and walk-out access to the beach, you’ve arrived. Rooms start at $113 US per night, leaving you free to spend your savings on beach massages… For more information, visit Hotel Ixchel.
2. Beach massage
If you’ve never indulged before, listen up girlfriend, it’s time to say hello to bliss. I spoiled myself with a facial/massage/scrub, a 1 ½ hour package and quickly learned you have to be zen about things in Mexico. It turned into a 2 ½ hour nirvana…
3. See the island on a golf cart
Visitors and locals alike buzz around town on golf carts – fun to drive and simple to park. While I love walking when I visit a place like this, golf carts allow you to cover more ground in one day – especially on a hot day. Visit Prisma Golf Carts for more information.
4. Hotel Avalon’s Beach
Beautiful beaches on the Caribbean side, cooling winds on the Atlantic side, this property offers relaxation and romance just footsteps from the shore. But keep your enjoyment beachside as the rooms are more spacious and the staff friendlier over at Hotel Ixchel.
5. Great Restaurants
- Roosters – Don’t let the polished American look fool you into believing you’ll find anything other than authentic Mexican fare here. Every morning on Isla Mujeres should start this beautifully.
- Fenix – Belly up to the beach-side palapa-toped bar at Fenix for a spicy ginger margarita and some fun tapas. I recommend the patatas bravas topped with smoky guajillo peppers.
- Lola Valentine – Located on Hildalgo street (the island’s main drag) I found plenty of yummy vegetarian fare here. The owner visits each table and makes a mean margarita – one that will have you questioning your sanity in the morning.
- Nashes Tapas Bar – If you’ve got a hankering for curry and love cold beer, you’ll love hanging out here.
6. Unique shopping
Hidalgo Street is the shopping mecca of Isla Mujeres with everything from handmade crafts to trendy chic. For truly delightful authentic Mexican food and crafts, head to the Zocolo (town square) 4pm to 7pm on the first Thursday of every month. If you’re visiting the island on a day trip, consult the ferry schedule.
7. Free tequila
While tequila is the flavor of Mexico, it’s especially potent on the island. It might be the salt air or just that there’s more opportunity to enjoy. Either way, pacing yourself is key…
8. Garrafon Park
A terrestrial paradise of reefs and cliffs facing the turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean. Climb the Punta Sur cliffs, snorkel, kayak or just hang out on the beach. For more information about the park, visit Garrfon.com.
9. Start and end your days with beauty…
During my stay on Isla Mujeres, I woke each morning and walked to Hotel Avalon, the eastern most tip of the island, to enjoy the sunrise. Walking on the deserted beaches with the waves gently lapping my toes felt like a celebration of life. Watching the sunset on the opposite side of the island is also highly recommended…
Have you ever been to Isla Mujeres? I’d love to hear about your favorite hangouts – so I can plan my next getaway to the island. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook – and let’s continue the conversation!