A Winter Escape
Just 7km (4.3mi) long, Isla Mujeres is an amazing island with beautiful water, friendly people, and a very laid-back feel. We had a wonderful week there at the beginning of January – we arrived the day before the big January 6th holiday and it had a great vibe!
Where We Stayed
There were three generations in our group: my parents, my husband and me, and our 3-year-old. We took two flights, a shuttle, a ferry, and a (we later discovered, unnecessary) taxi to arrive at the fantastic Ixchel Beach Hotel on the northern tip of the island.
The Playa Norte is perfect for toddlers as the water is gentle and has a shallow entry. We had a two bedroom, partial ocean view suite, which was absolutely beautifully-decorated and perfect for our needs. We had a cup of tea on the balcony in the morning, watched the sunset in the evening, and sat out and played cards after our son went to bed.
The hotel staff were exceptional, getting us our beds on the beach, taking our food orders on the beach (tacos and cerveza with the sound of the sea anyone?), and answering any questions we might have. We also had the best massages of our lives on the beach (not affiliated with the hotel – but $30 for an 80-minute massage al fresco with the sound of the waves). The hotel is perfectly located, right on the beach and right next to restaurants and shops.
As the island is so small, it’s very easy to see all of it. You see a lot of people whizzing around on golf carts – definitely an easy and fun way to get around! We negotiated a discount and off we went to explore!
Nothing beats driving along next to the beautiful turquoise sea, a gentle breeze, and the freedom to stop off whenever you want to explore something new or take in the view.
Punta Sur is the southernmost tip of the island. We got caught in a spectacular downpour on our first visit so headed back a couple of days later when the skies were blue.
Tortugranja is a small turtle sanctuary where we spent around 15 minutes before heading off to lunch.
Our first meal was a yummy breakfast at North Garden. We also went back later in our stay for lunch, it was that good. We loved the shaded outdoor patio and the service was great.
A taxi driver recommended Zama Beach Club – a peaceful spot on an exclusive, beach with a small pier. The menu had a gourmet feel and the food was tasty.
While tootling along in our golf cart, we found a great restaurant, La Bruja, owned and run by a lovely couple who make everything fresh as you order. They couldn’t do enough for us. They made our son pancakes to order and chatted to us about their lives on the island over the past few decades.
Early on in our stay, we decided to explore the island a little on foot and walked to the center of the island. It was a bit of a walk (especially with a stroller on the uneven and sometimes nonexistent sidewalks!) but we love seeing things we most likely wouldn’t if we were whizzing by in a vehicle.
We’d heard so much about the Coconut French Toast at Mango Café and it did not disappoint. The chile poblano relleno was delicioso, too! The cafe is in the heart of the town on a small but busy road so don’t expect a tranquil vibe next to the water; it’s a great little cafe in the heart of the town.
A happy little discovery was Isla Brewing Company – the island’s only beer handcrafted on the island. We stopped off and had a sampler and bought some bottles to take back to the hotel, then hopped back in the golf cart (the DD drove!)
We’ll be back
In the evenings, after watching the sunset from the balcony or popping down to the beach for a front row seat, we would stroll down the main restaurant area (Avenida Hidalgo and environs) and pick a different place to eat every night, perhaps purchase a few souvenirs, or stock up on necessities at the local supermarket (Super Aki).
We found that paying in Mexican pesos was much cheaper than using US dollars so we used the ATM at Banamex. We loved the vibe and felt that, although it’s very tourist-focused and travel-friendly, it still has a very rustic feel and is very different from its neighbor across the water, Cancún.