Isla Mujeres: Island of Women

No, I’m not writing about some crazy porn flick set in a tropical paradise!  I’m writing about one of the greatest little islands off the coast of Cancun that I have ever been to.  We took a day trip there when we were staying in Cancun and it was my favorite day of the whole trip.

Isla Mujeres, Spanish for Island of Women was originally named Ekab by the Mayans.  The island served as a sanctuary for the goddess Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility, reason, medicine, happiness, and the moon.  (She must have been a busy woman.)  In 1517 Francisco Hernandez Cordova, sailing from Cuba to procure slaves, discovered the island.  He found many female-shaped idols representing the goddess, thus Isla Mujeres was named.  It remained uninhabited for three centuries only having its shores graced by the likes of famous pirates like Henry Morgan who, rumor has it, buried their treasures under the white, sandy beaches.  After the Mexican Independence, a small fishing village grew and that is the way the island remained until 1949 when the Mexican navy established a base there.  In 1967 the Mexican government installed a purified water system and the island has continued to blossom into what it is today.

We had heard about the island from some people staying at our resort, and we thought it would be a great day trip.  To get to the island you have to take a ferry which leaves every half hour from about the middle of the hotel zone.  The cost is $15 roundtrip and it takes about 15-20 minutes.  It can be a bit of a rough ride at times so if you are prone to seasickness take meds and sit up top.  We headed out after breakfast with our beach bag and a small travel cooler I had packed with the beers from our room fridge.  We hopped on the bus to catch the ferry and were on our way.

Ziplining over the ocean.

Once we got to the island my immediate thought was that it reminded me a lot of Key West.  The town was small and quaint and everybody was driving around on scooters or golf carts.  Immediately upon leaving the ferry area we were greeted by people wanting to take us on tours or rent us a golf cart.  We wanted to explore on our own so we found the guy with the best deal and followed him to pick up our golf cart.  The town is located at the northern most point of the island and located at the southern point are the Mayan ruins.  We headed sound soaking in the Mayan charm and snapping photos along the way.  At about the middle of the island is a sea turtle sanctuary that we toyed with the idea of visiting, but decided to continue on.  As we continued further south the island began to rise up from the ocean and we began to have magnificent vistas of the awesome turquoise waters between the island and the shores of Cancun.  We stopped along the road to watch people zipline from the cliffs to posts out in the water.  There were also many snorkelers in the water as this is where the Garrafon reef is located.

Check out the giant iguana!

We moved on to Punta Sur or south point where the Mayan ruins are located.  Here we were greeted with an enormous iguana statue.  As we began to walk around we encountered many iguanas just hanging out on the cliffs soaking up the Caribbean sun.  After taking more than our fair share of pictures of the stunning view, we heading back north along the east side of the island. The people that had told us about the island also mentioned a great Cuban restaurant they had heard about called Qubano, so as we headed back into town looking at all the great houses along the way, we decided to look for the restaurant to get some lunch.

Very interesting architecture.

Awesome house with an even better view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Qubano is a very small place packed with a lot of flavor.  Vivian, the owner of Qubano came to greet us and take our orders.  Knowing we had no idea what to order, she made a few suggestions and we ended up with a Cuban sandwich and a toston and some watermelon water.  It was a very tasty lunch and I highly recommend if you are ever in Isla Mujeres you pay Vivian a visit.

Loved this sign.

With our bellies full, we headed out to find our spot on the beach for the rest of the day.  The north end of the island is where the beaches are located along with most of the hotels and resorts.  We quickly found a spot to park our golf cart and headed down to the water.  The water was very invited mainly because it was blazing hot that day, but also because it was much calmer than the water of our beach at the resort in Cancun.  I was wishing I had a raft and I could’ve taken a nap.

After spending a few hours enjoying the water, it was time to return our golf cart and head back to the main land.  I reluctantly packed up our bag and slowly walked back to the cart, gazing back every few seconds at the water, not wanting to let the image fade from my mind.

One day was truly not enough to take in all this island paradise has to offer.  I plan to return to Isla Mujeres again, and I am hoping to stay at one of the charming hotels located on the north beach.  I can’t wait to write a post about that trip.

My hubby and I staying cool in the water.

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