the Isla Mujeres, Mexico, by reading How Would You Describe
Paradise? Isla Mujeres, Mexico!by Sandy Zimmerman, Travel
Writer. It features a mini, but thorough tour of the
destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan your trip
including getting there, objective information on places to stay
and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article, we've
provided a summary of the contact information for your easy
How Would You Describe Paradise? Isla Mujeres, Mexico!
by Sandy Zimmerman, Travel Writer
The “Zip-line” at El Garrafon National Park
Mujeres (pronounced ees-lah moo-hair-ayce) translates to “Island of
Women” and is the closest I can find for an idyllic sanctuary from the
world. Escape to this quiet Mexican Caribbean Island, just 20 minutes
by boat from the busy city of Cancun. The Isla Mujeres is so close to
Cancun, yet it is a different world! There is a feeling of being
isolated even though you have everything to calm your nerves and
soothe your body. Look at the Caribbean’s sparkling turquoise waters,
such dramatic shades of blue that artists try to copy it. Anyone
exploring Isla Mujeras will be surprised at how much fun is packed
into a little island less than 1/2 mile wide and 5 miles long. Rent a
golf cart, moped, bike, or car and see it all!
El Garrafon National Park is the only natural reef park in the Mexican
Caribbean. When you enter the park at the top of the mountain, you
will be thrilled by the breathtaking views of the sparkling blue green
water and rugged black coral reefs. The reefs are 1,050’ long and
extend 40’ from shore.
El Garrafon is
a beautiful playground for the usual as well as some unique water
sports. Go beyond snorkeling and try "Snuba" - a type of diving
without the heavy tank. You breathe through an air hose connected to a
tank above you on a small inflatable raft. Another exciting
possibility is “Sea Trek,” a stroll 13’ underwater wearing a diving
helmet fed by compressed air. Then there is reef snorkeling, scuba
diving, swimming, a climbing tower, kayaking, crystal see-through
canoes, sea boards with reef viewing windows, and diving trips to
“Sleeping Sharks Cave.” Ride the zip-line right above the Caribbean
with several over-water stops.
If you dare,
gather your courage and experience Dolphin Discovery. Yes, you are
right in the Caribbean swimming with the dolphins! These gentle
creatures swim next to you and are so close that you can touch them as
they hug and kiss you. You wear life preservers and float while they
do their water dances. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Man petting nurse shark at Sharks Playa
Take a photo
with sharks! At Playa Lancheros, nurse sharks will reluctantly pose
with you while their trainer holds them. You are allowed to touch
them. These sharks have 7 rows of teeth and weigh up to 1,100 pounds.
Turtle Farm (Tortugranja) is dedicated to the protection, study, and
breeding of sea turtles. Walk around the indoor tanks and outdoor
water pens along the beach or take a tour with their biologist. The
farm houses hundreds of turtles weighing 6 oz. to 600 pounds. From May
to September, sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand and around 6,000
turtles are hatched. These eggs are placed in pens to keep them safe
Mundaca is the remains of the former mansion of 19th century Basque
slave trader/pirate Fermin Mundaca de Marechaja. You can see a
guardhouse, rusted cannon, arch, well, small zoo (monkeys, birds,
crocodiles, pythons, jaguars), and gardens. His mansion originally
covered almost 40% of the island. Sr. Mundaca’s ill-gotten spoils
didn’t bring him happiness. He built this luxurious mansion to impress
a young girl, but she spurned him. Not giving up hope, Mundaca went
mad while waiting for her change of heart.
Mayan Temple &
Lighthouse (Santuario Maya a la Diosa Ixchel) is a partially restored
Mayan temple dedicated to the Goddess Ixchel, the Mayan Goddess of
Fertility. The walkway takes you around the ruins to a natural arch
where you'll see views of the ocean, Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women),
and Cancun. This historic site is adjacent to a lighthouse. I heard
that the lighthouse keeper can be persuaded to allow people to climb
to the top.
Be sure to
spend some time at Isle Mujeres' beaches (playas). The palm fringed
Playa Norte is a beautiful setting for fun in the sun. With calm
currents, white sand, and Palapa restaurants, this is one of the most
popular beaches. You can wade 40 yards in waist-high water. Topless
sunbathing is allowed. Rent jet-skis, sailboards, three-wheeler water
bikes, and umbrellas.
It’s fun to
plan your trip during one of their events. For instance, their
Carnival is in February and their Music Festival is the second week in
October. At other times of the year there are regattas and fishing
Avalon Reef Club Resort
You can find
hotels in just about any price range, from luxury, to bed and
breakfast, to smaller accommodations. One of the most beautiful
settings on the island is at the new, 5-star Avalon Reef Club Resort.
Nestled on a private islet connected by a bridge, it is perched on a
reef that separates the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Even if
you are not staying here, visitors are allowed. Its attractive white
villas along the coast are reminiscent of scenes of the harbor at
Mykinos, Greece. The pyramid tower soars into the Mayan sky. One
swimming pool has in-water chaise lounges while the other is perfectly
formed by natural rock formations. Imagine, exciting black coral reef
formations, a 360-degree panorama, and nature all around you! Plus, it
is conveniently located within walking distance from the shops and
downtown. (I've included other accommodations in the Details section
below. Note that I haven't personally reviewed those properties at the
time that this article was written.)
The Reef Club
also features sports and activities in their all-inclusive plan -
Mexican fiestas, B. B. Q. rock parties, Spanish lessons, dance
lessons, garden grill parties, Monday night football, talent shows,
outdoor games, chef’s class, and a cocktail class to name a few. Hotel
guests can join all-inclusive activities shared with other Avalon
What a great
selection of restaurants! Try some of the local hotel restaurants and
discos. When you walk around the colorful little town of El Pueblo,
just listen for the music and follow your taste. Choose from sidewalk
cafes, discos, bars, and some restaurants with live music - Hidalgo
between Morelos and Abasolo Avenues, also Plaza Isla Mujeres at Ave.
Hidalgo and Guerrero.
Avalon Reef Club is an all-inclusive resort, the public is invited to
dine and dance here. The romantic Terrace Restaurant jets out over the
beach with wonderful views. Eating the tasty Asian delicacies by
candlelight is unforgettable! How fresh is their lobster? When the
lobsters enter the traps along the resort’s beach, the staff
immediately brings them to the kitchen to become the special of the
day. Specialties include crusty sea bass marinated in oyster and honey
sauce, chicken satay, rack of lamb in herbs and coconut milk with
Xtabentun liquor, and sushi. There's even a strolling guitar.
passions for the finest meal in Mexico at the Reef Club’s Porterhouse
Restaurant. This 5-star restaurant serves mega-size cuts of tender
Angus beef - 25 oz porterhouse, 40 oz porterhouse (free if one person
can eat the whole thing), 20 oz NY strip, 20 oz cowboy, 18 oz rib eye,
as well as rack of lamb, duck marinated and seared in sweet berry
sauce, coconut shrimp with Mango and habanero chutney, lobster tails,
salmon seared with orange almond soy beurre blanc, and other
delicacies. Executive Chef Christopher Belou explained, “We don’t
broil steaks as our competitors do. All steaks are grilled with the
fire on the bottom marking each steak. This keeps the meat juicy and
more flavorful.” His culinary experience in New Orleans brings French
touches to the menu. Special tableside preparations include caesar
salad, bananas foster, liqueurs flambe, and more. Teasing your palate
and indulging in a magnificent dinner is its own entertainment!
also located inside the Avalon Grand Resort in Cancun. Reef Club’s
all-inclusive plan allows guests three all-you-can-eat meals at two
restaurants every day. They also have a “stay at one Avalon, dine at
another Avalon” plan. (I've included other restaurant alternatives in
the Details section. Note that I haven't personally reviewed those at
the time of writing this article.)
Some of the
night spots around town include the new Caribbean Cafe which features
live music, while Kokonuts Cafe features disco and pool tables. The
Leopard Lounge is a tropical outdoor restaurant and palapa bar serving
sushi, teriyaki beef, with live music. (I haven't personally reviewed
these particular night spots as of the writing of this article.)
Mujeres will make you feel young again, energized by the beauty and
tranquility of the surroundings. This is an “off the beaten path”
eco-adventure not to be missed!
Aero Mexico offers three daily flights from Las Vegas, four
daily flights from Phoenix, and eight daily flights from Los
Angeles; (800) 237-6639.
Airlines offers three daily flights from Las Vegas, three daily
flights from Los Angeles, and four daily flights from Phoenix;
From the Cancun Airport take a taxi or shuttle to the Ferry
Landing at Puerto Juarez, 15 minutes north of downtown Cancun.
Bargain with the taxi for your fare. The boat takes 20 minutes
to Isla Mujeres.
schedule from Puerto Juarez-to Isla - every 1/2 hour from 6 a.m.
- 6 p.m.; enclosed 30 passenger vessels. Schedules are subject
to change so you should check at the docks.
ferries are located in Punta Sam, 5 miles to the north of Puerto
Juarez. Arrive around 45 minutes ahead of time as the ferry can
only accommodate 25 cars.
golf carts, bikes and mopeds:
Prisma Golf Cart Rentals. Av. Rueda Medina;
Rent Kan-kin - bikes & mopeds. #15 Av. Abasolo.
Reminder: Check rates and book your reservations – car and
hotel – with
WTA's Online Travel Booking Service
. Deep discounts may apply!
Reef Club Resort - Walking distance from shops and downtown.
Located on the island’s north beach. Standard rooms with ocean
views, villas on the ocean, 1-2 bedroom apartments, satellite T.
V., telephone. Calle Zazil Ha s/n Int.7, Islote Yunque.
Zazil Ha Bed & Breakfast - Avenue Zazil Ha, # 129, 52 987 70045.
Playa la Media Luna - Located on the northern end of the island,
a two-minute walk to the reef–protected North Beach. 18 rooms,
air conditioning, ceiling fan, and refrigerator. Rooms have a
balcony or terrace overlooking the ocean and fresh water
swimming pool. Continental breakfast is included in room rate.
All Natural Cafe - Vegetarian meals, juices, and salads. Centro
Hidalgo, Plaza Karlita; (998)-877-0720.
del Caribe - Near the ferry dock. Avenue Rueda Medina.
Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal) - Cooking booths. Avenue
Guerrero, next to the post office.
Pete’s - Their specialty is tuna steak and grilled meats. Watch
your favorite game on their American satellite T.V. Avenue
Rolandi’s - Pizza, pasta, calzones, seafood. This chain is also
in other Mexican cities. Avenue Hidalgo, between Avenues Madero
Velazquez - Yucatan specialties like “tikinchic” or fish
marinated in sour- orange sauce and achiote paste, wrapped in
banana leaves, cooked over an open flame. Avenue Rueda Medina, 2
blocks northwest from the ferry docks; no telephone.
Bistro Francais - Coq au vin, T-bone steak, filet mignon,
shish-ka-bobs, fresh lobster, giant shrimps.
to Eat With Entertainment
- Avalon Reef Club - Just a short walk from downtown. Calle Zazil
Ha s/n Int.7, Islote Yunque. (888) 497-4325.
- Caribbean Cafe - Avenue Hidalgo.
Cafe - On Avenue Hidalgo, between Morelos and Abasolo Avenues.
Lounge - Plaza los Almendros, between Avenues Hidalgo and
Guerrero, at Avenue Matamoros; (998) 877-0679.
- Avalon Reef Club Resort - The Castaway Night Club offers shows
- Slices -
Disco with all types of music from 8:00- 11:30 p.m. They offer a
for times and dates of other hotels entertainment.
El Garrafon National Park - 1-1/2 miles S. E. of Playa Lancheros;
near shark attraction and Turtle Farm. (998) 883-3233;
Discovery – (998) 849-4748.
Playa Lancheros - Not far from El Garrafon National Park and the
Farm - On Sac Bajo; 52-998-877-0595; Drive from Avenue Rueda
Medina south of town, 1 block S. E. of Hacienda Mundaca, take
the right fork, smaller road that loops back north, entrance is
1/4 mile. Near the El Garrafon National Park and shark
Mundaca - East off Avenue Rueda Medina. Take main road southeast
from town to S-curve at the end of Laguna Makax, turn left onto
dirt road. No telephone.
Temple & Lighthouse - Tip of the south end of the island, where
the road turns northeast into the Corredor Panoramico. 1/2 mile
southeast of El Garrafon National Park.
Beach - Go north on any north-south street.
Consulate- The closest consulate is located in Cancun at
Plaza Caracol, 24-hour service. (52) 998 883-0272.
Health Center (Centro de Salud) – 24-hour emergency care. Avenue
Guerrero 5, on the plaza; 998/877-0117.
Cross Clinic - British doctor; pay by donation. Colonia La
Gloria, south section of island. 998/877-0280.
- Farmacia Lily; 24-hour service. Avenue Francisco Madero 17.
- Police -
This information is current as of October 2003. It is recommended that
you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites above to determine
any changes to the information.