Our trip to Isla Mujeres was easily the best trip of my life. Mostly for the people (we traveled with 19 of my extended family members to celebrate my grandpa's 85th birthday) but also because it was a tropical paradise in a stunning, secluded beach town. I've gotten a few inquires about details of the trip, so I wanted to share here.
My aunt Sally is the one who planned the entire trip, because she'd been once before with her family a few years ago. She heard of the island through a friend who had traveled there with small kids, and they loved it because the island is too small for cars, so they didn't have to bring the carseats on the plane (who knew this tropical paradise could be such a kid-friendly vacation??) Sally and her family loved it, and were eager to visit again.
Fly direct into Cancun if you can, to avoid delays and layovers making the long trip even longer. Once in Cancun, you can take a shuttle bus or cab from the airport to the ferry landing for the island, about 40 minutes. The ferry ride is about 20 minutes, and it has an amazing open top deck. Once off the ferry on the island, you can either walk or cab to your hotel, depending on how much luggage you have. The island is small, about 4 miles long, and very walkable.
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed at Resort Nabalam, located on Playa Norte, one of the top 25 beaches in the world ranked by Trip Advisor, and well-deserved.
The restaurant at Nabalam was delicious, and a continental breakfast was included with our stay. Each morning we had a beautiful arrangement of tropical fruits, coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and baked breads. Located right on the beach, you could eat in your swimsuit if you wanted to.
The lunch menu was also amazing, and I ordered Ceviche at every chance I got.
Rent go-carts and scooters right near the ferry as you arrive on the island.
We snorkeled (and those who were licensed scuba dived) with Sea Hawk Divers. Hilariously named, as my entire family are 49er fans, and my grandma gives my die-hard Seahawks fan husband a hard time at every game. Snorkeling with fish in the coral reef was amazing. The water was clear for hundreds of feet.
(no filter, the water is really that color!)
A few family members swam with dolphins. We opted for a relaxing beach day instead, but heard amazing things.
Just south on the beach from Playa Norte is a bar on the beach with wooden swings. You can swing up and grab your margarita, or choose a hammock or cabana. Bliss.
Mostly, we lounged on the beach and waded in the turquoise-blue, shallow for miles, warm ocean water. The island is in the middle of the caribbean, and really is like none other. White sand, breezy, salty air and seas, and totally dreamy.
Our resort had my favorite ceviche. We ventured into town each night, all 19 of us, for dinner together. They were all fantastic, I can't remember any of the names but they were all great. The little gelato place is amazing as well. There is one main street with most of the restaurants, and you really can't go wrong. Order as much seafood as you can! It's what's their known for, and it's always amazing.
We heard good things about Rooster and Mango Cafe for other spots for breakfast and lunch, and we loved the little street taco stands as well.
Wifi on the island is spotty. I was able to upload photos to instagram from the lobby, but the range of wifi coverage was about a 10ft x 10ft square. Plan on being online very little. Which was actually a great thing for me, and exactly what a vacation should be.
I got a lot of bug bites. Most likely mosquitos and I'd get them at night. Bring bug spray and apply often.
The streets are mostly cobblestone, so forgo your heels in favor of flats. I wore flip flops everywhere.
Most everyone speaks English, but it's fun to practice your Spanish too. If you don't know any Spanish you'd still be fine.
Many places only take cash or pesos, make sure you have some sort of currency on you and not just a credit card.
I'd totally recommend this island. Everyone on our trip (from age 9 to 87!) had a blast.
Most of these photos are from my Instagram, follow along there for more adventures!