Spring Break Cancun!

Actually Isla Mujeres, a very long and narrow island about 8 miles off the coast of Cancun.  I get the third Monday of March off every year (thanks Benito Juarez!), and in years past we have usually gone to Playa del Carmen for the weekend.  Since we have been so many times and the vibe in Playa is more "party" and less "family," we decided to try something new and head across the bay to Isla Mujeres.  

As anyone with small children knows, just getting out of the house is an ordeal, and it took us until about 1:00 on Saturday to finish packing, get everyone's breakfast, then snacks, showered, and get the car packed up.  We drove about 30 minutes into downtown Cancun and then north to the ferry, where we parked the car and admired the view from the 5th floor of the parking garage.  I wanted to take a photo, at which point we realized that we had left the camera at home on the dining room table.  "Do you want to go back?" Adam asked hesitatingly.  "No," I answered, and we took some altogether unsatisfying photos from our respective phones.

We got our tickets and on the ferry.  Just 20 minutes later, we landed in Isla Mujeres, braving the inevitable thicket of fellow tourists, taxi drivers, tour salesmen and trinket hawkers, to get to our hotel just across the street from the beach.  The hotel was facing west, back towards Cancun, which we could make out clearly across the bay.  Later we went to the beach across the street, wading briefly into the ice-cold water, which Isaac was not having any of, and playing in the sand.  We showered and headed out for dinner along the main drag, which is a pedestrian-only street that runs north-south in the middle of the island.

The next morning we were awoken early by Isaac, who was delighted at finding people in his room - "mama, dada, mama, dada..."  First stop was breakfast, then to a nearby supermarket for some snacks for the room.  I entered the store holding Isaac and saw the fruit on my left.  Isaac was looking the other way and clearly said, "banana!" to which I said, "no, they're over here," and then I saw it.  A huge stack of Minion soap dispensers, all peering appealingly out of their plastic boxes at Isaac.  Of course, there was no way I was getting out of there without one, especially since the stack had been cleverly placed in such a way that you had to pass it both entering and leaving the store.

See the banana soap dispenser in action.

(If you don't know why Isaac calls all the minions "banana," see this video.)

 Then we were off to the famous North Beach, which is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Yucatan and one of the reasons we decided to go to Isla Mujeres.  It was about 6 blocks away (everything is Isla Mujeres is about 6 blocks away), and it did not disappoint.  We got there early and paid for two lounge chairs and an umbrella, right next to a beach club with restaurant, bar, massage services and relatively clean bathrooms.  The beach was absolutely spectacular.  The photos below in no way do it justice.  The beach itself was white sand, like all the beaches in the area, and was narrower than the Cancun hotel zone.  The water was a light turquoise blue and completely calm; we could  see the waves breaking further down on the east side, leaving the north side like a bathtub.  Wading in, the water was crystal clear, and you could walk for a hundred yards or more and the water still only comes up to your waist.  It was incredible, straight out of a postcard.  The beach club filled up later on in the day but never felt packed.  There was quite an array of fellow beachgoers - Americans, Mexicans, Italians, Brazilians, Spanish, Canadians - hippies, topless, families, couples, you name it.  By the end of the afternoon, there were over 20 yachts anchored just off shore (I counted); the occupants just dropped off the boat into the water and waded to shore.

We spent all day there, longer than we should have, even though we were all SPF-50'd up and in the shade.  We just couldn't bear to leave.  We went to the restaurant and ordered lunch, and in what's become somewhat of a classic Paxton family move, realized we didn't have enough money only after we'd ordered drinks, appetizers, and entrees.  I volunteered to hoof it back to the hotel to get more money, which only took about 20 minutes total (by the time I got back, Isaac had eaten all the guacamole though).  We went back to the hotel, showered and got dinner on the main drag again.  Adam had definitely gotten some sun and I'd burned a little bit, but luckily Isaac was still intact.

While in the room that night, I dug into my purse for something and discovered our camera, which had been with us all along.  Doh!

The next day we checked out of the hotel and stashed our bags in the hotel's official and very secure storage area (aka, under the stairs).  We had decided to rent a golf cart for a half day - golf carts being the main form of transportation around the island.  Isaac was super pumped about the golf cart and kept wanting to drive it.  Adam was so enthused that he popped a U-ey and we toodled straight south for quite a while before anyone thought about breakfast, at which time we were a ways from civilization.  We headed back and stopped in at the first decent looking place we found, which was actually really good (see Adam's waffles below).  We wanted to go back and take pictures and some of the places we had seen, but it started to sprinkle, so we cut our losses and headed back to North Beach to finally get some photos there.  Then we returned the golf cart, got our stuff and took the ferry back to Cancun.

Overall, we really enjoyed Isla Mujeres.  The vibe is definitely islandy, and way smaller than Cozumel, if that's even possible.  The north end of the island is the widest, and even then it's about 8 blocks wide.  Farther south, you can clearly see the ocean on both sides of the island while driving on the road.  There were some nice little restaurants, the obligatory tschotchkes sellers, and not too many tourists.  The whole place was like a Jimmy Buffet song.  We'll definitely be back, as there are still many things to do that we didn't get to on our trip, like a turtle hatchery, a marine park and snorkeling area, and for the part of the year - swimming with the whale sharks.


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