I LOVE travel – the ability to experience new cultures, speak new languages and otherwise detach myself from everyday life.
From August 21 – 25, myself and two of my wonderful friends headed to Cancun or rather, Isla Mujeres – the island off of Cancun’s mainland. Below is a recap of our awesome vacation, including where we stayed, what we did and what I bought!
It’s off season in Cancun right now so packaged all-inclusive deals are CHEAP! After much research, we selected three-year-old Privliges Aluxes Isla Mjueres resort. It’s situated towards the west end of the six-mile island with beautiful blue water and plenty of white sand. Upon arrival (think two airplane rides, a shuttle, a ferry and walking two blocks to get there), we were greeted with champagne and… UPGRADES! Our friend Michael was upgraded to a beautiful Premium room, complete with three-person jacuzzi tub on his balcony. Kate and I were upgraded to a Deluxe Suite (almost 1000 sq. ft.), with an expansive living room, full kitchen and gorgeous spa bathroom. Our view was just as amazing.
There are three restaurants on the property. Since it’s all-inclusive, we had our choice of those three options, room service and of course, all we could drink as well. We found Sabor to be best for desserts and breakfast, as they had a great buffet, as well as dinner. Cafe de la Mer, which sat directly on the beach was great for lunch (think awesome guacamole) and day drinks (as was the swim up bar). The other option, Satay, was Asian fusion and not very good. This was the only restaurant that took reservations and we were far from impressed. My suggestion, at least have lunch off-property at some of the amazing restaurants this island has to offer!
What we Did
Watched Incredible Sunsets
I’ve seen some beautiful sunsets in my day but to see such a large, red fireball dip into the ocean never gets old. It also makes for some great lighting, during an impromptu photo shoot 🙂
Visiting the Mayan Ruins
More than plenty of time was spent by/in the pool, over the course of our time there. However, our second full day in and we made some new friends. We agreed that we needed to go explore and thus decided to take a taxi cab ride to the other end of the island to go find the Mayan ruins. As it turns out, the ruins are a bit harder to find and they are significantly less impressive than those you see in other parts of Mexico. The site we ended up visiting was Goddess of Ixchel. It looked more like a fort than anything else. Thus, Michael and I took to an impromptu photo shoot while our friends visited the gift shop.
Turning into Nocturnal Amphibious Creatures
After a long day out with our friends and dinner, we all agreed that a night swim in the ocean would be perfect. It’s something I’ve never done before, mostly out of fear of getting “nipped” and not seeing what did it. Yet, that night, it was so perfect – the water so warm (and yes, I survived without a single scrape). This was followed by “sneaking” into one of the massive hidden hot tubs to relax before turning in for the night.
A Day in the Town
One of things I love best about Isla Mujeres is that it is not commercialized. You can’t find a single Starbucks, Burger King or other fast food/dining establishment. The closest thing to it was the 7-11 on one of the corners. In addition, most of the people can speak (broken) English but it gave me a chance to use the Spanish I know to get around. Kate, myself and our new friends set off, in search of food and after speaking with their diving instructors, were given a recommendation to try El Poc Chuc. This is definitely a must-eat. Everything down to the corn tortillas was hand-made. The food was so delicious that we wish we had tried it sooner.
After we ate, we decided to do a little shopping/haggling (something else I don’t get to practice much). After visiting MANY jewelry and specialty stores, I settled on a place called Paw-Pao for a commissioned pendant. I fell in love with the intricacies of the Aztec calendar and found many sterling silver pendants, encased in gold plating. After a lot of negotiating, I had them encase the pendant in 14K gold instead. It’s such a beautiful piece. To read more about the Aztec calendar, click here.
The shopping wasn’t complete though – I also bought an abalone Mayan mask. According to history, these masks represented functional and ceremonial purposes, such as protection in battle, weddings and birth celebrations.
My final purchase: a marble jewelry box that when opened, features two kissing seals.
Four nights and four days is plenty of time to do what you want on the island. It was an amazing vacation with some incredible people! Check out some more photos below.