Isla Mujeres, México

View from south end of Isla Mujeres

Oh, my gah! Oh, my gah! I finally made it to Isla Mujeres! Ever since I moved to Playa del Carmen five months ago, I have been wanting to go to that tiny island. I had seen Playa Norte (the North Beach) during a couple of whale-shark watching tours, but never stepped foot on the sand. I watched a really cool vlog about how to get there and what to do, see, eat once on the island. It was just a matter of getting visitors to come stay with me so I could do all the touristy things! Thanks, In-Laws!

Ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres
This is the ferry from Cancún to Isla Mujeres. You can sit up on the open deck or inside with A/C. The crossing is only about 20 minutes.

Getting there

The getting there was the part I kept getting hung up on. From PDC, you can take a bus to Cancún and a ferry to Isla Mujeres. However, how do you get from the bus stop to the ferry terminal? It’s a bit of a walk. I’m not a huge fan of taxis because they can charge pretty much whatever they want. It takes some haggling sometimes. And you need to have small bills because they might be conveniently out of change.

Lucky for us, my new friends in Playa wanted to come with us… and they wanted to rent and share a car rental. With all of us, it made it cheaper than taking the bus and we could park right at the ferry terminal. Win! Win! Let the adventures begin! Unfortunately, their cat was very sick, so one-half of the couple stayed home with her. Poor kitty.

Sculptures of offerings to the Goddess of Fertility
These really cool sculptures can be found in the ecological park in Punta Sur (South Point) on Isla Mujeres. Offerings to Ixchel, the Goddess of Fertility!

We all piled into the rental car and off we went to Cancún. We went early because it can get boiling here and my in-laws are still acclimating. It’s best to get the walking parts done while it’s cooler and save the swimming parts for during the hot-hot. The ferry helps with that as it has A/C so everyone could chill for the quick 20-minute ride to the island.

So many sales people!

Right when you get off the boat, so many people accost you wanting to sell you all the things. Mostly memorabilia but also tours and clothing and golf-cart rentals. Lucky for us, we wanted a golf cart. We walked around asking about pricing and if they had the bigger carts. We had decided it would be more fun to get a big one instead of two little ones, so nobody got lost.

After walking around for a bit, I grabbed someone’s cell phone (I only have service with Wi-Fi access so I never bring mine) and looked up some reviews. Lots of talk of golf-carts breaking down and peeps getting stranded with no help from the rental companies. Did not want that! Found a place with decent reviews on the other side of the island. No worries. It’s only about four blocks to walk across the skinny part!

Views from Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres
This amazing view is from Punta Sur. Look at that water!

After renting the golf-cart and heading out, we soon realized that the cart we rented had a top speed of a mildly fast runner. Sorry, father-in-law who volunteered to drive! Plus, the transmission kept slipping, so he basically had to hold the thing in place or we slowed to a stop. And let me tell you about speed bumps (aka: tope! Pronounced toe-pay)! Those things are brutal on a golf-cart, especially for the small person riding backwards in the back. They come out of nowhere and you have to slow way down. There was lots of yelling ‘TOPE!’ all over that island!


I seriously got bruises from clinging to the back of the golf-cart. I’m tiny, so it doesn’t take that much of a bump to toss me out. There were flashbacks of getting flung from the back of a quad motorcycle into the dirt when I was a kid. It was fine. I just ran and jumped back on. Kids bounce. I also get tossed off wave-runners really easily. A bit of acceleration and a bumpy wave and out I go! Not today, thank you very much! Stupid topes.

Mrs. ItchyFeet and the In-Laws hiking about
The in-laws appear to be having a good time. We found some shade!

We slowly made our way down the skinny island from the north end to the south end. Here they have a sculpture garden along with a few Mayan Ruins. The whole tip of the island is dedicated to Ixchel (the Goddess of Fertility) with loads of statues and offerings. It’s also the first place in México that the sun touches each morning! We paid the $1.50 entrance fee and wandered about on the trails that run above and below the cliff line. It’s a really cool park and well worth exploring.

By now it’s past noon and sweltering. Time for lunch! Most people who come to Isla Mujeres for a day eat at a fancy beach club with amazing ocean views. I get amazing ocean views almost daily and have no desire for expensive mediocre food. I want great food! So I found this hole-in-the-wall place in the most deserted area of the island with some amazing food. You are hard pressed to spot the entrance at all, let alone know that it is a restaurant. They really tucked it into the mangroves.

So many iguanas!
Can you count all the iguanas? I think I see five!

The food was so good!

My in-laws took the location with stride, but you could tell that my new Playa friend was uncertain of the shack that housed the kitchen and the mismatched outdoor furniture. You want us to eat here? We sat at a rickety old table and I immediately spotted these giant crabs prancing around in the muddy mangroves right by the restaurant. Yes, I want to eat here!

The food was amazing and very inexpensive. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. It was a hoot watching the giant crabs and other peeps as they came in and discovered them. Everyone took lots of pictures and the chef pointed out other crabs under the edge of the shack right next to some people eating, oblivious to their presence. People were so nice and laid back. My kind of place.

Gaint crabs in the mangroves!
Look at the size of these crabs! We were so excited to spot these by the restaurant.

On the way to the restaurant, we had discovered that they had shut down the turtle sanctuary on the island. I was very bummed about this as that would have been really fun. Hopefully, it will be back up and running by the time any of you head to the island for a visit. It’s a must do, or so I’m told. We passed the closed entrance all dejected again on the way to a potential snorkel spot.

Snerkel Snerkel

There is this amazing area to snorkel on Isla Mujeres. You can access it by boat or by land. If you go the land route, you have a couple of options. One is to pay a crap ton of money to enter what is basically an amusement park with pools and access to the beach. Or you can do what we did, which was to head to the beach club right next door. It cost like $7.50 and they had bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, and shaded loungers overlooking some truly gorgeous ocean.

Sign for Isla Mujeres as seen from our golf-cart
We spotted this sign while heading back to return the golf-cart. Whale-shark!

My father-in-law is not that into snorkeling, so he grabbed a lounger and became the watcher of all our dry stuff. Thanks, Pops-in-Law! We brought our passports for the ferry ride and didn’t want to take those snorkeling. You can rent lockers, but this made it so we didn’t have to. My mother-in-law and I brought our own masks and snorkels, but no fins. My new Playa friend had to rent, and while the gear he got was way crappy, the fins made it so he swam circles around us!

The golf-cart had to be returned to the north side of the island by 6pm (we were on the south side at this point), so we didn’t get to stay too long. It was really fun seeing all the schools of fishes. I saw a baby barracuda! There was a bit of coral and some sea-grass. That side is really protected from ocean surge which made swimming around, even without fins, very easy.

Is this really the top speed?

After showering and changing back into dry clothes, we all climbing back into the golf-cart. That poor thing was really struggling. We just stayed to the side of the road to let the faster peeps pass. Oh, and yelled ‘TOPE!’ at top volume with every speed bump! I’m sure our driver was thrilled. We made it back with 30 minutes to spare. No worries. They even returned my father-in-law’s water bottle that he had left on the counter that morning while paying.

In-laws sitting on decorated bench
I talked my in-laws into this one. So cute!

At this point, we could head back to the ferry or go watch the sunset at a bar. We chose bar and, at that point, I should have stopped everyone to do some research regarding a good beach bar. Instead, we just headed straight to Playa Norte to see what they had. We picked the first bar we saw and grabbed a seat. The server informed us they had two-for-one drinks. Crap! That’s what I was afraid of.

Two-for-one drink specials in a popular location usually mean really horrible drinks. This location was no exception. Plus, we had a mis-communication with the server and ended up with an extra order of some pink concoction with barely any alcohol, served in plastic cups. Gross! The whole thing was way expensive and could have been avoided with a simple search on the internets. Live and learn. 

At least the views were gorgeous.

Time to head to the ferry. The tickets are cool because you buy round-trip in Cancún and you can return any time you want, as long as there is room on that ferry. We chatted with some folks in line who were from the Pacific Northwest, near where my in-laws just came from. Love meeting new people! 

Sunset on north side of Isla Mujeres
This is the sunset from the north side of Isla Mujeres. What a great day!

The ferry employees were so nice! They realized my mother-in-law was having a hard time standing, so they pulled her from the line and escorted her over to another area with a bench where she could sit down. It was a bit confusing at first but super wonderful of them. They really went above and beyond. Plus, it meant she got to load first, so she saved us seats on the upper deck with the absolute best views! Hah!

The drive back was uneventful, but I was really thankful to my friend who rented the car and drove us home. It made the trip a whole hell of a lot easier (and more fun) for all of us! I think he had a good time and now has plans to take his partner once their kitty feels better. It’s an adventure!

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