Isla Mujeres or the Island of Women is a small and unique island just 8 miles across the Behia de Mujeres or the Bay of Women from Cancun. What once was a quiet fishing island is becoming more and more well known by tourists. It is only 5 miles long and a half a mile wide. It has beaches on all sides and the downtown area is only around 6 blocks long!
Back in 1990, it was still a sleepy island pretty much reserved for locals and the few private beach parties thrown by mainland resorts and reached by small boat. Today, there is scheduled ferry service from Punta Sam. The ferry leaves at 8am, 11am, 2:45pm, 5:30pm and 8:15pm.
Isla Mujeres has much to offer visitors looking to explore the water life, pristine beaches and awesome sunsets. Jet skis, kayaks and snorkel/dive gear are all easily rented. Most of the beauty of Isla Mujeres is found just offshore where there are colorful fish and coral reefs. For a little more action, sailing, fishing and even swimming with dolphins or sharks is available.
The Playa Caribbean has a bar restaurant and beach club. It is within walking distance from the downtown and shopping areas. Golf cart rentals (a fun way to explore this island) and snorkeling tours are both available her. However, expect some crowds as this is the most popular beach on Isla Mujeres and can get a bit rowdy with flocks of tourists “sampling” all the local cerveza.
The Playa Lanceros beach is where you can swim with the cat sharks and enjoy local, freshly caught seafood such as ceviche and tikin-shik fish. This is a locals beach and is a perfect spot for people watching and getting some insight into the local people. This beach is located in the south area of the island.
On Puta Sur, is Garrafon Park on the Isla Mujeres southernmost tip. This area has beautiful reefs and magnificent cliffs and is a photographer’s paradise. This is the home to an ancient Mayan temple and is also the highest point of land in the entire Yucatan peninsula. From this beach you can view the Caribbean and Cancun.
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But after all that exploration, no doubt you will be in the mood for some food or shopping. Or maybe eating and shopping is in lieu of the exploration. Regardless, Isla Mujeres will not disappoint with a plethora of quaint restaurants and small unique boutiques. While the downtown is not large, there are several shops and restaurants along and around Hidalgo between Morelos and Abasolo. Music is huge on Isla Mujeres and will fill the streets as you stroll downtown and explore all the shops and restaurants that line the street. After consulting with several foodie sites, the consensus is that any of these six restaurants will satiate your culinary itch. Any local can give you directions!
Slices is also a disco and is great for those who like to dance and live the nightlife. They have an open bar (which can be dangerous) for $12 and $8 for guys and girls respectively.
Los Portales is the place for authentic Mexican cuisine with a hint of Caribbean flavor. Their specialties include lobster, grilled steak, tacos and paella.
Lorena is owned by (appropriately enough) Lorena and she handles the cooking herself. She serves fresh fish, live lobster, giant shrimp, and more. Every day, she dreams up a “special of the day”—it is always a surprise and always good!
Las Cazuelas serves Mexican and International cuisine. While the food is very good, it is not anything unique; but the view is! This restaurant has a prime piece of Isla Mujeres real estate and overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to catch a sunrise as it opens at 7am.
French Bistro Francais seems a bit of an anomaly in Mexcico. But if you have a sweet tooth and a craving for some European cooking, you will not go wrong here. Specialties include French food (obviously) and homemade desserts.
Isla Mujeres has come a long way in 20 years. While some may miss the remoteness and isolation, what has replaces it is very enticing! Spend a day on the island and see for yourself!
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