Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen. – Benjamin Disraeli
Just east of Cancun rests the tiny island of Isla Mujeres, which lays claim to being the easternmost point of Mexico. Its beaches are the first part of Mexico that the morning sun first strikes.
This little gem of a destination is home to more than 12,000 people and boasts a rich history dating back over 500-years. A charming aspect of the island is its relaxed atmosphere. It doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of Cancun, and the best mode of travel is by golf cart. Isla Mujeres has plenty of taxis and a local bus, but traveling the island from end-to-end in your own golf cart offers the most fun for the buck, not to mention personal freedom to sightsee.
There are stark differences between Isla Mujeres and Cancun. If you’re into nightlife or want a wild vacation experience, then Cancun is the place for you. On the other hand, if you want a relaxing vacation surrounded with a touch of authentic Mexican culture, then Isla Mujeres is just what you are looking for; plus you will save a few dollars.
Isla Mujeres (“Island of Women” in Spanish) got its name from Francisco Hernandez Cordova who discovered the island in the 16-century. After spending some time at sea, then landing on an island peppered with scantily clad statuettes (honoring the Mayan goddess Ixchel). The name Isla Mujeres must have easily rolled off his tongue.
Today only a few remnants of its Mayan heritage remain, but Isla Mujeres does offer spanning views of Garrafon Natural Reef Park and ruggedly beautiful shorelines along its southern point. On the island’s north end, tourists are treated to spectacular beaches and dining options.
Isla Mujeres has plenty of open-air restaurants that range from fine dining to dirt floor huts. The main hub for entertainment on Isla Mujeres is along Hildago Avenue, a closed pedestrian only street, which houses a plethora of restaurants, sundry shops, and street vendors. A Crow’s View suggests the following restaurants: for breakfast, Café Hildago or Bistro Francais and for dinner, Rolandi’s or El Patio.
There are several restaurants worthy of visiting that are located outside of the main strip. Oscar’s Grill and La Bruja are two such examples. These restaurants provide a nice contrast between finer dining and authentic indigenous eating. Each offers tasty food and a cozy atmosphere.
During my last visit, I made it a point to eat at loncherias (small cafes) that local residence frequent. These places offer great meals at amazingly low prices with decent portions. Loncherias are located throughout the island in business and residential areas.
Two loncherias that stood out during my visit were Alexia y Geovanny’s and La Lomita’s. The huevos rancheros (Mexican eggs) from Alexia y Geovanny’s make an excellent inexpensive breakfast, and La Lomita’s lime soup for lunch is loaded with shredded chicken and veggies. It’s quite filling and can feed two people.
If you go to Cancun A Crow’s View encourages you to take a day trip to Isla Mujeres. It just may become your destination the next time you’re in the Yucatan Peninsula.