Only a half-hour ferry ride from rowdy and raucous Cancun, the 8-km long Isla Mujeres (Women Island) sits restfully in the dreamy turquoise-blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Frequent ferries to Isla Mujeres and its close proximity to Cancun make it a popular day trip destination for many vacationers staying on the mainland (roundtrip on Ultramar ferry $10.18USD). Nonetheless, it is still a perfect place to escape for a few days, or years, if you have the time and money. Whether you choose to spend a few hours or your entire vacation in Isla, as it is called by residents, here are a four things that you may want to include in your itinerary.
1) Sunset at Playa Norte: By day, play in soft white sand or swim in clear waters that run shallow up to a few hundred feet from shore. As the sun descends, grab yourself a cold cerveza or margarita and prepare for a remarkable light show as the sun melts slowly into the horizon. Tip: Avoid being sunburnt and uncomfortable – Rent an umbrella and beach chair from one of the restaurants/bars on the beach (less than 100 pesos / $10USD for the day). Save on drinks – buy a cheap cooler from the OXXO, fill it with ice and beer and head to the beach for the day.
2) Eat at Pita Amore: Leaving Isla Mujeres without sampling at least one pita from Pita Amore (Pita Love) is a nothing short of a crime. I am by no means a food critic, but I am yet to meet someone who didn’t fall in love with Pita Amore at first bite. The humble eatery is located opposite the hospital on Avenue Guerrero in the island’s centro (downtown). The simple menu consists of 4 mouthwatering pitas (The Classic, Chicken, Vegetarian, and Chino), all of which cost 39 pesos – except The Chino which is just 30 pesos. I would go as far as to say that these are perhaps the tastiest pitas in the world. Try one and tell me what you think. Read what others have to say about Pita Amore.
3) Rent a Golf Cart: Second only to moped bikes, golf-carts are the main mode of transportation around the little island ($55 USD for 24-hour rental). To help conserve the already slow pace on the main road, there are frequent speed bumps that are notorious for creeping up on distracted drivers. The island is only 8km long and can be easily circled in under an hour – if you’re in a rush. Head to the southern tip of the island for spectacular panoramas, sunbathing iguanas, and what’s left of the ruins built in honour of the Mayan fertility goddess Ixchel.
4) Stay at Poc-na Hostel: If you want to spend an affordable (and fun) night on Isla Mujeres, search no more – stay at the happening backpacker retreat Poc-na Hostel. Located right on the beach 10 minutes walk from the ferry dock, this lively hostel offers guests many opportunities to socialize with other travelers. The hostel’s key highlight has to be its fenced-off beach area where there is always something entertaining going on. Some travelers swing contently in hammocks hung between coconut trees, while others join in the lively beach volleyball action or take advantage of free yoga, meditation, spanish and juggling lessons. There is also a little bar (and dance floor) where parties start every night at 11pm. Drinks are cheap (20 pesos) and music is varied and lively, so there is no need to leave the hostel to dance the night away. A nice little bonus is that every guest receives a coupon for one free drink at the beach bar on their first night.
These are only 4 of the things that I would suggest doing but there are several others like swimming with the ultra-friendly whale sharks (only seasonal) that can be added to this list.
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