Mexico Part 3 – Isla Mujeres
Wow, I can’t believe I’m writing this almost 1 year after our trip, time certainly does fly! I’d just love to be back there, relaxing in the warm waters of the Caribbean sea with a cocktail in my hand! (yeah right, I’m not sure that actually happened…but I can dream!) So it’s about time I finished the story of where we went after our week in Oaxaca.
Now this has been no easy task to sort through all the photos and choose which ones to include here I can tell you! My hubby Biz is the photographer, and when he takes a picture, he takes hundreds, per day! I’m sure you’ll agree the photos make the story! In fact, I was going to do these whole 2 weeks as 1 post, but now I’m writing it, I think it’s going to have to be broken down more…we did so much!
Travelling on with my Dad and Elena, we flew from Oaxaca to Mexico City, then on to Cancun. Cancun is one crazy place and I’m glad we were just passing through. After various discussions with transfer agencies and bus companies, we settled on a taxi to take us from the airport to the ferry terminal. From there we would be taking a ferry to Isla Mujeres. All 6 of us along with the driver, squeezed into this taxi for a hair raising ride, swerving in and out of traffic and seemingly paying no attention to any road rules I was aware of! The journey was only about 15 minutes but it seemed like forever and we were glad to get there in one piece! We caught the ferry to the island across bumpy seas, putting my sea bands to the test as we bobbed about in the cabin below deck. I’m not good at sea unfortunately, but the trip didn’t take too long and the kids seemed to enjoy it. As we were the last to board the ferry it meant all our bags were just chucked in one corner on deck while we were ushered down below, it was all a bit chaotic and having been travelling all day, we were ready to just get to the hotel and chill. Isla Mujeres is a tiny island 13km off the coast of Cancun and most people get about by golf cart. We still needed a taxi to get us and our luggage (my parents had way more than us!) to the hotel, so this time took 2 taxis for the short journey. It turned out to be a bit like a comedy sketch, because after loading all the bags into the boots, the taxi in front wouldn’t start! We swapped cabs, but as the taxi rank was one way in/out and there were other taxis front and back, it took a bit of manoeuvring in order to get going! Tempers were beginning to fray I can tell you!
Finally we reach our hotel complex, rooms opening out virtually onto the beach, stunning! Paradise! The sky was blue, the sea was turquoise and the air was warm, we were home! (Well, for 3 nights anyway!)We stayed in Hotel Villa Kiin which was perfect for our needs. Simple yet comfortable rooms at an affordable price. We had a ground floor room, with Dad and Elena in a room above. It was lovely not to be part of a big hotel complex, but feel more like we actually lived there. We soon found a spot on the beach and began to relax and let the hours of travel become a distant memory. We spent the rest of the day between the bar and the beach with the kids getting their first real taste for the sea on this holiday. Pebble loved running in and out, whilst Osito refused to get out and had to be bribed big time in order to rehydrate or put more sunscreen on, he was having so much fun!
The next day we hired a golf buggy from the hotel for around $50USD for the day, and took off to explore the island! I really shouldn’t have let Biz drive, as soon into the drive, he did some crazy 360 manoeuvre on a one way road, to retrieve a hat that had blown off! I took the wheel from then on…much more fun for me! We all had a great day driving around the island, the kids thought it was fab on the open road with the wind in their hair.
First stop was the far Eastern edge of the island, where we visited Punta Sur, The Cliff of the Dawn. It’s a beautiful ecological site situated on the far Eastern point of Mexico, making it the first place the sun touches each day.
The site is of historical interest and is home to the ancient Temple honouring the Mayan Goddess Ixchel, goddess of Midwifery and medicine.
The site is covered in abstract sculptures allowing you to wander down little paths at leisure taking it all in. You won’t get far without seeing some of the local wildlife too, some of the iguanas got pretty close, which was really exciting to see. It’s well worth a visit for $3 USD entry fee. There is also a restaurant at the top of the site, and little shop where we bought Osito’s first snorkel.
After lunch at Punta Sur, we drove back up the island stopping at La Tortuga Granja (Turtle Farm) and before we went inside we just had to grab a fresh coconut from a roadside seller, delicioso!
Isla Mujeres is the ancestral hatching ground for the giant sea turtles, who lay their eggs in the sand between May and September. The eggs are gathered and placed in pens at the Turtle Farm to keep them safe from predators. Depending on the time of year, you can see hundreds of baby turtles in the outdoor holding tanks. From August to October they are released into the sea by the children of the island.
Located on Sac Bajo, it is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and worth the small admission fee if you’re passing.
On from here we visited the Dolphin Discovery centre as one of my bucket list items has always been to swim with Dolphins. It was all very rushed as we got there with about 5 minutes to spare before the last swim of the day, and it felt a bit stressful working out who of us was going and what sort of experience we wanted to go for, as you can imagine, they’re not cheap! In the end, I think we were offered for Osito to go free with 2 adults, so the 3 of us went while Dad and Elena entertained Pebble. Quick change and walk out towards the enclosure where we would be swimming. There was some confusion as to which group we were supposed to be in, but when we eventually sorted it out and got in the water, it was a fantastic experience for everyone. Osito was a little nervous at first, but when his turn came around, he absolutely loved it, as you can see by the look on his face! It felt fantastic to be so up close to these beautiful creatures, interacting with them and learning a bit more about their behaviours. Definitely an experience we won’t forget!
Due to us not being at all organised, we had no idea how much the photos would be at the end of it all. It turned into a very expensive experience, but I’m very glad we did it. It was getting late in the day and we had to get the golf buggy back to the hotel or pay an additional fee – we paid the additional fee, golf buggies only go so fast! Top day all round, all tired, we freshened up and wandered into the main town looking for dinner. It is basically a strip of restaurants and souvenir shops as you’d expect in any seaside tourist area and we found a nice pizza place to finish off the day.
The following day, we spent relaxing on the beach, playing in the sea and Osito got to try out his new snorkel. Since before having kids, it’s been a dream of Biz’s to snorkel with his son. So being able to spend hours floating about together, looking at fish and other treasures under the sea, made him so happy! There were hundreds of different types of fish underneath a boardwalk out to another hotel built on a reef, this sheltered, shallow lagoon was just perfect for Osito’s first snorkel experience.
I managed to join a yoga class at a nearby hotel on the last evening and even though I’ve done yoga on and off for years, this was the hardest class I’d done! It was fab! We had a tropical storm that night, the first rain we’d had all holiday, and it felt wonderful to be dancing in the streets in the downpour on the way to dinner!
The few days on the island was just what we needed to chill before we set off again on our inland tour. On the ferry back to the mainland, we sat on top this time, in the tail end of the storm, the seas were quite choppy, but we were entertained by some fantastic live acoustic guitar on board. With the wind in our hair, we had a very enjoyable journey.
Next stop, the airport to pick up our hire car for the next 10 days!