If you are planning a vacation trip to Cancun, hop the ferry across the bay to the small finger-shaped Isla Mujeres. The name means “Island of Women” and there are a number of theories as to how the name came to be but it’s not because of the topless beach. The important thing is that it’s a great place to vacation in the sun.
On Isla Mujeres the atmosphere is much more relaxed and relatively quiet compared to Cancun or Cozumel. The number of tourists is much less than on the mainland.
The city is only about 10 blocks long and five blocks wide so don’t expect a whole lot besides the supermarket and cinema. But the natural sights are what you came for anyway.
There are accommodations to fit all budgets. Most are downtown and near the oceanfront. One of the better hotels is Posada del Mar with air-conditioned rooms overlooking the waterfront. The Cristalmar Resort and Beach Club is south of town has a great beach, pool and modern facilities. There are a number of budget hotels but be careful because the conditions and service vary greatly from day to day.
The outlying reefs are great for diving and snorkeling. The windward side is best but only when the seas are calm. The coral rocks are quite dangerous when the water is rough. Local dive shops provide day trips out to the farther reefs for snorkeling and diving.
Charter a local boat for a deep-sea fishing trip. Grouper, barracuda, tuna and red snapper are in abundance year round while in the spring you can catch the bigger fish like dorado, marlin and sailfish.
Every year the Club de Yates of Isla Mujeres puts on a sailing regatta near the end of April. Also, the Regatta Amigos takes place several times throughout the year. These events turn into one big party for the whole island with costumes, dancing, music, food and tequila.
At Playa Norte Beach (the previously referred to topless beach) is on the north edge of town. The water is shallow, blue and calm with cafes close by. Sailboarding and water skiing are popular as is the local three-wheeled floating “bike”. Not far away is another beautiful and quiet beach, Playa Lancheros.
On the south end of the small island is a reconstructed ancient Mayan temple. It sits on a cliff with a wonderful view over the ocean. This makes a good excuse to take a walk and see the island.
Garrafon Beach is the one spot that seems to draw the most tourists. Probably because it’s such a good spot for snorkeling. Avoid the crowds by going early. The beach has a coral reef that is perfect for beginner snorkeling and children. You can have fun actually feeding the fish. Not too far out you can get a look at some sunken cannon, an anchor and the resident angelfish.
If you go in October, don’t miss the Isla Mujeres International Music Festival. It starts on the second weekend of the month and goes for 12 days of music and dancing.