Day 2: Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres Sign

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We had an excellent flight with TUI.  We were at the back of the plane, but we were sitting together so we were happy.  Any further back the airline steward joked, and we’d be helping hand out the food and drinks.

I am incapable of getting on a plane and not watching every film available.  Ads cleverly closed his eyes and got some rest, which was much needed after getting up so early.

We arrived in Cancun, our landing card already completed and headed towards immigration.  For such a long queue it moved quickly and it gave us time to get our bearings and work out our next steps.  At the desk, the immigration officials were very friendly and our passports were stamped quickly.  Our bags were already waiting by the time we got through, then we moved into another queue to have them scanned.

After your bags are scanned you have to press a button – if it turns red, your whole bag gets opened and checked.  If it goes green, you walk through.  I think both of us were slightly concerned that if our bags were unpacked in the airport, that we might not get everything back in so neatly!  Luckily the light turned green for us and we avoided more waiting.

 

In the hallway outside we found the ADO bus stand where we bought our tickets to the main Cancun bus station.  We’d been advised that a taxi could set you back USD 70 so we got our tickets for 88 pesos and headed outside to find where the bus was going from.

When we got up in the UK, I had put on my black jeans, a black top and a black jacket with some silver trainers as it was cold.  It was upon leaving the air-conditioned airport building and going outside that I realised what a monumental error wearing all black had been.  It was absolutely sweltering and we were dragging heavy bags.  I was uncomfortably hot within seconds and we were both dreaming of arriving on Isla Mujeres as soon as possible.

The lovely air-conditioned bus arrived quickly and we loaded our bags on the bus.  The journey was quick and in no time we were at the main bus station in Cancun.  We got out and headed towards the taxis.  We tried to get some money out of a Santander ATM in the bus station and narrowly avoided being charged a USD35 charge for taking money out! Ouch.

We jumped in a taxi as the light was fading and wanted to be on the ferry before it got dark, slightly unsure as to what time the last crossing went.  At the port, we got our return ferry tickets for USD32. We queued briefly and then made our way onto the high-speed ferry.  

After stowing our bags below, we sat up top at the back of the ferry as the sun started to set.  Onboard there was a musician playing as we motored away from Cancun and towards Isla Mujeres.  The views of the sun setting were stunning and it suddenly felt like our adventure had begun.

Isla Mujeres Sunset
Isla Mujeres Sunset

I had visited the island back in 2003 with three friends as we travelled around Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for a month in the first summer of our university holidays.  My memories of the island are easily confused with another island we visited in Belize, Caye Caulker and as we landed nothing looked familiar.  This is hardly surprising after 16 years!  I had remembered a small relaxed island but it is now relatively built up.

A short walk later and we were at our hotel.  It was situated on a busy street on Isla Mujeres.  We changed (me quite rapidly out of my dark outfit!) and we headed out to find some food before we succumbed to sleep.  

We sat upstairs on a roof terrace listening to an American man singing whilst we awaited our food.  The sky was now dark and the combination of his lilting voice and the long journey, I felt my eyelids go heavy.  I looked over at Adam and saw he was tired too.

After our delicious meal of chicken burritos with mole, rice and beans and lots of melted cheese (melted cheese = happiness), we headed back to the hotel, determined to stay awake until 10 pm to acclimatise.  However, once back in the room and lying on the comfy bed, I closed my eyes at 9 pm and was asleep within seconds.

This worked out well though because it meant we were up early to enjoy breakfast and explore the island before everyone else was out of bed and with no hint of jet lag.  We headed up to Playa Norte where we found the most incredible white sand beach.  Blue skies, Caribbean blue seas and the softest white sand you’ve ever felt on your feet. 

Swimming at Playa Norte

Already warm, we ventured into the sea.  Just cold enough to cool you down, but not too much of a shock to the system.  As I swam through the water, Ads pointed out a pelican flying through the sky.  It was swimming low near the water and not too far from where we were.  Utterly beautiful, I’d never seen a pelican so close.  Definitely a reason to get out of bed early.

After an early start, it felt like the longest day in the world, in the best way.  Every time we checked our watch, the time had barely passed.  We relaxed on the beach, walked down the east side of the coast and found a perfect place for sunrise the next day.  Then we walked back up the west side and through the tiny streets surrounding our hotels. 

We found a cheap restaurant selling tacos and ordered the fish and chicken tacos.  In need of some salt, they weren’t the best thing we’d eat on the island, but it worked for a cheap lunch.  

We headed back to the beach and spent the rest of the day baking in the sun and swimming in the gorgeous clear blue waters. 

After sunset, we headed out to eat and found ourselves at a place offering seafood burritos.  Coconut shrimp, tuna or lobster.  We decided on the tuna and coconut shrimp.  The restaurant is near the top of a busy strip of restaurants so provided some fantastic people watching whilst we awaited our dinner.  

Soon two enormous burritos were presented to us.  They were absolutely delicious.  So good in fact, that we went back the next day and asked for the recipe which the chef was happy to share. With full tummies and exhausted from a day in the sun, we headed back for an early night so we could see the sunrise the next morning. 

We awoke at 6 am and headed towards the east coast.  The sky was already beautiful in the dawn light and lots of clouds lay low on the horizon.  As the sky turned various pinks and purples and we watched the sun come up we realised that a huge storm could be seen out to sea.  The rain was pouring down and the storm looked fierce.  We stood, dry on the island, spellbound by the sight.

Isla Mujeres Sunrise
Isla Mujeres Sunrise

With everyone in bed apart from a few joggers, we decided to walk up the east coast around to the beach on the north of the island.  The island looked beautiful in the morning light and we came across people meticulously raking the sand on the beach to ensure it looked picture perfect.  

We headed back to the hotel for our final breakfast, packed our bags and decided we had enough time for a final dip, headed up for the final time to Playa Norte for a swim.  The clouds were coming in thick and fast and as soon as the sun was permanently hidden, we headed back for a quick shower before heading to the port to catch our ferry.

Ferry to Cancun
Ferry to Cancun

We sat up top on the ferry in the blistering midday heat and looked out across the blue waters towards Cancun.  We found a taxi, managed to haggle on the price for a trip to the bus station (which had mysteriously increased) and jumped in.

At the station, we bought our bus tickets to the town Chiquila and our outbound ferry tickets to Isla Holbox.  Our time in Isla Mujeres had ended and now it was time for 5 days of relaxing on Isla Holbox.

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