A small island getaway, where time slows down to a standstill, that is only a hop, skip and jump from the bustle of Cancún.
After several days of perfect weather we awoke to a cloudy and blustery morning, that threatened rain. It was not cold so we were still full of joy for the day ahead. Our destination was the small island of Isla Mujeres, a little over 10 miles off the Yucatan coast from Cancún. The Island itself is only four miles long and about 1/2 a mile wide – yes it is tiny but still is home to 12,000 people.
When we arrived at the dock in Cancún to catch the 10:00 am boat to the island and the dockside bar was full of vacationers in various states of inebriation. Looking at the way the moored up catamarans were being tossed by the waves and the wind I wondered how they would be feeling on their journey across to the Isla Mujeres! Luckily, it is only an 18 minute ferry ride, so there was a chance they might be able to retain the contents of their stomachs for a short stretch of time.
The trip to Isla Mujeres had been put on by the resort we were staying at and we were traveling with another two couples, both from the US. Our guide said the best way to get around the Island was by golf cart. So, we signed up for one with the tour operator who was doing the rounds on the outbound ferry journey. We had thought that perhaps Isla Mujeres was similar to Mackinaw Island in Michigan where cars and trucks are banned and you either walk, cycle or travel on horse drawn carts. Well we were wrong. On arriving we found that the streets were thronged with golf carts, scooters, cars and trucks. A heady mixture indeed and ripe for some transportation carnage. The ferry port is right in the heart of the main town area of Isla Mujeres, located at one tip of the island, where most of the shops and restaurants are located. Our guide had suggested we initially pick up our golf carts and head to the other side of the island. Anyway, after a kerfuffle with one our traveling partners (they had not bought any money or their driver’s license) we set off.
Our destination was Punta Sur, an ecological park offering beaches, a lighthouse & large sculptures along a path that overlooks the ocean. The trip to Punta Sur was made all the more interesting by having to navigate the traffic en route, but after about 20 minutes we arrived. The first thing that struck us was the amazing color of the sea. It was a bright turquoise – I have never seen anything quite like it in all my travels to date.
Punta Sur is a narrow piece of land that juts out into the Caribbean Sea. It is about half a mile from the lighthouse to the end point. The wind was still gusting strongly, but the clouds had dispersed and the sun was beating down on the exposed headland. Along the trail there were a number of art installations. Constructed of steel these statues have started to rust badly and in some cases had completely eroded away. At the tip of Punta Sur are the ruins of a small Mayan temple, which like steel statues, have been worn away by the elements on this exposed headland. But they have been there a lot longer! From the top of the headland there are stairs that take you down to a path that runs along the base of the cliffs just a few feet above the lapping waves of the surrounding sea. The path had collapsed in places, so it was not easy to use it to walk all the way around Punta Sur, unless you were inclined to do some impromptu scrambling over rocks,
After around 30 minutes of exploring Punta Sur we were done. Unless you wanted to spend time in the bar then that is about all the time you need. We mounted our trusty golf cart and headed back to town to grab some lunch before catching the ferry back to the mainland.
Chaya and Cacao
Centro – Supmza. 001, Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico Google Maps
We had checked out the Happy Cow app to find a vegan restaurant on Isla Mujeres and after reading the reviews of the limited options we settled for Chaya and Cacao. It was very easy to find – after all this is a very small Island. The restaurant is tiny – so blink and you might miss it. Outside there are a couple of small tables that can accommodate about two people. There are more tables inside. Of course being on holiday we had to sit outside and enjoy the opportunity to people watch.
The staff were very courteous and we ordered our food, after telling them we were in a bit of hurry. It was not long before our food arrived. We had chosen two smoothies, a falafel plate and a sandwich. The food was very nicely presented and we delicious. It was little pricey but that is to be expected in such a touristy area.