A few months ago, I talked about getting out of Cancun for the day, and I meant it. Cancun, if you’ve not been, is mostly a strip of land with a lagoon on one side, and beaches on the other. Along this sandy road is nothing but hotels, resorts, condos, and every tourist’s favourite: chain restaurants. There’s even a high end shopping mall as well, but I think you’re getting my drift – there isn’t an abundance of cultural stuff here.
Now, given the driech winter, I can imagine that you if you do make it to Cancun, will be wanting to just chill out on the beach with your bottomless cocktail of choice and not move anywhere that isn’t within arms reach of the beach. Understandable. But if you can spare a few hours, I’ve got a daytrip suggestion that is fairly easy on both your budget and your time: Isla Mujeres. It’s a small island just a few miles off the Cancun coast, and the £10 ferry ride (return) is a bargain for getting out for the day.
Ferries leave approximately every hour from Puerto Jarez – most hotels will offer a shuttle service, or the local bus will take you there, and if you’re staying in the Hotel Zone, it’s a very quick trip. Once you arrive at the ferry terminal on Isla Mujeres (about a 35 minute trip across some stunning blue waters), you can go lay back down. Seriously: Isla Mujeres has some seriously amazing beaches, and since they’re just a block or two north of the ferry dock…it is a hard deal to pass up.
But if you’re feeling lazy and compelled to do something else while you’re here, you have plenty of ways to get around. The most popular is the golf car hire – several shops that hire them out can be found directly ahead as you exit the ferry station. It’s very inexpensive, especially if you can share a cart, and even if you’re not feeling too comfortable on the right hand side of the road, rest assured the roads are pretty empty once you get away from the ferry – in fact, I didn’t see hardly any other cars on the roads, just a handful of taxis and golf carts.
You can also take taxis – trips from the ferry to the furthest point south are about £4-5 each way, so fairly inexpensive. Or rent a bike and pedal your way around, if you perhaps overdid it at the buffet bar last night.
There is plenty to see on the island, whether you’re out by bike, cart, or car. First up is the Tortugranja, a sort of museum and safe haven where islanders are trying to protect the local giant turtle, who is endangered due to the popularity of stealing the turtle eggs. I’m not sure why – they didn’t look very tasty to me. The museum isn’t very big, nor fancy, but they do have quite a few turtles and other sea animals, so it is worth a peek.
If you’re into snorkelling, there’s also an underwater museum that has amassed quite a collection of statues and things that they’ve sunk down underwater. Ok, so it isn’t really buried treasure, but it’s still a fun experience if you wanted to snorkel while you’re here.
Lastly, and my personal favourite, is Punta Sul, which is the southern most point on the island. Here you’ll find an old Mayan temple – in ruins, unfortunately – as well as a gorgeous walk around the cliffs at the very tip. There is another cliff covered with giant iguanas, and a small shop that sells what they claim is the best ice cream on the island. Couldn’t say whether it’s the best as it was the only one we tried, but it does cool you down on a hot day.
Have you been to Isla Mujeres? What did you think?
Photos by Author, sarunas_b
Posted : Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.