The next destination on our wish list is the breathtakingly beautiful island of ISLA MUJERES in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) is a small Caribbean island located a few minutes away from Cancún, Quintana Roo, México, was officially appointed as a Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town).
To acquire this title, a place (city, village) must have some peculiarities, a special history, a unique essence, cultural richness, it must possess its own soul, the inherent power of leaving an unforgettable experience in those who walk their colorful roads and enjoy the company of the warm people who live there.
And, Isla Mujeres definitely has all these features. It’s a piece of land surrounded by crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, a diversity of sea species living in its barrier reefs, a quaint town with friendly locals, coffee shops, an underwater museum, restaurants that offer a variety of original dishes and, historical sites from the Mayan civilization such as the Ixchel Temple, located near the Acantilado del Amanecer (cliff of the dawn) the easternmost point in México known for being “the first part of the country to be touched by the sun”, where you can peacefully look at the spectacular view of dawn while listening to the calming sound of the waves.
The name of the island comes from a historical episode that took place when Francisco Fernández de Córdoba discovered it in 1517. In prehispanic México, Isla Mujeres was a Mayan sanctuary for the goddess of the moon, fertility, medicine, and happiness: Ixchel. According to the legend, when the Spanish conquerors arrived at the island there were only women inhabiting. These women were priestesses of the sanctuary and Ixchel’s worshippers.
Each year millions of travelers visit the area of Cancún. It is a city where there is always people, noise and parties but, for those who are looking for a more laid-back experience, that want to chill out, forget about their daily routine or in search of adventure through activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving in a less crowded destination, Isla Mujeres is the ideal choice or –as some called it- a hidden treasure.
Arriving to the island is an easy task. A ferry leaves from Cancún every 30 minutes from early morning to 11:00 pm. Likewise, you can take one of the boats leaving from several piers. Prices may vary by stand, so there surely are options for every budget. Furthermore, during the tour you will be overwhelmed by the beautiful view of the skyline.
The island is just 8 kilometers wide so you can easily explore it by foot, walking serenely and taking your time to admire every detail or, if you prefer, you can also rent a golf cart, a motorcycle, a bike or hail a cab.
In the center of Isla Mujeres you can get a meal for a low price at the Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market). This is the place where the locals usually eat so, if you’re willing to meet people, this is a good place to go. Also, in this part of the island there’s a Taller de Artesanías de Mujeres (Women’s Beading Cooperative) where you can find handmade Mexican crafts and jewels such as purses, bracelets, and necklaces, you can even take some classes, if you’re so inclined and, make your own creations, which is a perfect way of spending time with the locals and getting familiar with their traditions.
For those who are more interested in ecotourism and water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving there’s also a considerable number of activities to do. Among them we can find the MUSA (Underwater Art Museum) where you can swim across more than 500 sculptures created by the British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. You can as well visit El Garrafón Aquatic Park where you’re allowed to swim with the dolphins, drink a cocktail at the beach, take a walk through nature, chill out at a 35-meter panoramic pool or practice some kayaking.
While scuba diving and snorkeling in the crystal waters of the Caribbean, you can take some aquatic pictures of the coral reefs and watch a lot of diverse and colorful sea species.
One of the main attractions of Isla Mujeres is the Whale Shark Fest where the tourists swim with hundreds of whale sharks that every year come and gather around the island between the months of May and September. Whale sharks are known as the giants of the oceans because they’re the largest fish in the world. It’s an amazing animal and the experience –according to those who lived it- is totally worth it. The next annual Whale Shark Fest has been announced and will take place July 20-23, 2017 in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico, a short trip from Cancun International Airport.
You can hire an official guide to take you there. And, don’t worry about the whale sharks, the local authorities have rules and regulations to keep them safe from harm. In addition, one of the purposes of the festival is to encourage the protection of these endangered species.
Above all, the island is a place to rest and appreciate life. For this reason, the goal of many of its visitors is to spend some time reading a book on the beach, visiting historical ruins at Ixchel Temple, taking long naps on a hammock, drink a few tequilas, or even meditating! There are yoga lessons in the morning and in the evening in local centers and hotels such as Casa Ixchel Hotel or Red Buddha Yoga & Wellness Center.
You can also visit a spa or get a therapeutic massage. And, if you want to taste new food, you can try the popular Tikin Xik grilled fish in Playa Norte, a whole fish marinated with spices.
Besides, there are all kinds of events and celebrations throughout the year, for instance, fishing tournaments, the carnival, the procession of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre and the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
One thing is certain, you will probably become one of the – as a group of foreigners in Facebook call themselves- islaholics, after visiting this delightful island and basking in its carefree vibe. You will be looking forward for your next chance to return and, you’ll cling to the fond memories of your magical stay at Isla Mujeres.
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Just a middle-class family with three young kids, looking to escape the rat race. This is our journey!
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