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Holiday on Isla Mujeres (Mexico)

Day 1 - Arrival (Christmas Eve)
Day 2 - Feliz Navidad!
Day 3 - Playa Norte Beach and CATS
Day 4 - Punta Sur, Garrafon Castillo, and Playa Lancheros Beach
Day 5 - Playa Sol Beach and cats, yes, CATS again
Day 6 - Sea Turtle Farm, Hacienda Mundaca, and Isla Animals
Day 7 - Kids Pick - Did you guess "Cats"? and Mexican Nightlife
Day 8 - New Year's Eve (stranded in Mexico)
Day 9 - Happy New Year!
Day 10 - Departure - Uh oh, stranded in Mexico Part 2
Day 11 - Let's try again! Departure

Wow - Isla Mujeres won us over immediately upon arrival.  Prior to booking our accommodations, I had never even heard of this tiny island off the coast of Cancun.  But, when I was looking for a rental on VRBO for our holiday getaway, Magi Azul Caribe Beach House popped up on my radar and that was it!  If you have never been to Isla Mujeres (or, even if you have but only did a day trip), stop what you are doing and plan a stay ASAP - you will thank me.

This is what we left behind!

Arriving in Paradise!

Once you have booked your accommodations, order MapChick's Isla Mujeres Map and Travel Guides.  I got mine from Amazon.  They come with every detail imaginable about the getting around the island.  And, there are individual dedicated maps for restaurants, beach clubs, etc.  I also got the Local Knowledge Guide: Isla Mujeres and thought it had good information.  But, definitely get the maps.  For $, we used a credit card anywhere it was accepted and got pesos from ATMs without any issues.

Now, let me tell you about our trip and see if that convinces you to get right on planning your getaway.  Gosh, I'm ready to plan our return.

Day 1 - Arrival (Christmas Eve)

We arrived after uneventful travel by car, plane, and ferry to our island paradise. We had a private transfer arranged to take us from the airport to the ferry for $40 (I had pre-arranged and recommend this as it is so nice to exit the airport and see your name on a sign).  You could just as easily take a taxi for much less though if that is your preference.  Immediately whisked away, we arrived at the ferry less than 30 minutes later. No need to pre-purchase tickets, just go inside and get them when you arrive.  They sell round-trip transfer and we were able to use a credit card for the 800 pesos total (100 pesos each ticket). A porter took our luggage and we got in the line while enjoying the view. There is a ferry every 30 minutes. Easy boarding, we headed straight for the top and sat down for the quick smooth ride across (about 20 minutes). When you exit the ferry, walk out of the terminal and head to the left if you need a taxi. It was $4 to take us to our accommodations Magi Azul Caribe Beach House.  We didn't have pesos at this point, but would get some shortly after at the ATM (and also multiple times throughout our stay).

Home sweet home. We made it to our beach house. Wow - It's gorgeous! So many hidden spots. I was so delighted with the open concept of this Balinese style home. I knew we would be able to decompress here. 

Master Bedroom (with full bath)

Kids chose this room (with full bath)

3rd room (with full bath)

Multiple levels of rooftop terrace

Molly spent a lot of time here reading.

Deck off the master bedroom

I'm so glad we did not stay in a hotel closer to "town". It was absolutely wonderful having our own place, especially since it is super easy to get around via golf cart and was what gave a sense of adventure to our stay. This property is located about center of the island length-wise and was a wonderful base for exploring and enjoying our time.  It is a very large residence with lots of nooks and crannies for hiding away.  You could easily accommodate at capacity of 8 persons and have plenty of room without feeling on top of each other.  Anyways, there are plenty of choices on the island and you will certainly find something to suit your needs.

Yes, that is her pet coconut.

Our Pirate Mobile - Aargh!

Much to the delight of Caitlin and Molly, we got around via golf cart. Ours was the one with the pirate and Medieval Times flags.  Bring something to decorate yours as they all look the same otherwise.  The cart was delivered to our house (arranged by the caretaker, our rental was with Coco's). We were quoted $29 per day for 7 nights, but when I checked my credit card, I was charged $306, which I think is reasonable, but I just wished I hadn't been quoted the lower rate in the first place.  Rob took the cart out for a spin to acclimate himself to it and the nearby roads.  He managed to find the Chedraui (I never saw it, but he tells me it is a Walmart-sized store with EVERYTHING.  He stocked us up with food/drinks and then we hit the town for our Christmas Eve dinner.  We headed towards Playa Norte to scope out the beach area and because it's where you will find all the action.  It is very easy to park the cart anywhere, so don't worry about that part.  We ended up parked along the beach in front of the restaurants and decided upon Minino's Cockteleria.  Let me tell you - it was a fantastic choice!  Very inexpensive for the freshest seafood grilled perfectly with butter and garlic.  Get a whole lobster - just do it!!

There goes the neighborhood.

Toes in the sand perfect!

Lobster - so delicious!

She enjoyed her whole fish!

Toes in the sand, we ate way too much. But, fresh seafood and ceviche, oh my, couldn't not indulge. Finally, once Rob and I clinked our local beers, then we began to relax from the day's travels and start to feel on vacation.  This place has a great low-key atmosphere and is right on the beach under a palapa with a lovely pier that the girls played on before and after dinner. 

After the girls went to bed, Santa visited and I stayed awake under the stars. Wide awake, but relaxed.  Feeling good about our destination choice!

Day 2 - Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas from Isla Mujeres

Sunrise! We woke up to this nonsense every morning.  It was rough.

Our first full day here. Thought we would just chill at the house, but ended up putting around the south end of the island 🌴 for a bit. We ❤️ golf cart life!

Here come the pirates! Pirate Mobile - Aargh!

Explored a cemetery and a couple ruins before having lunch at a rooftop terrace restaurant overlooking the Caribbean Sea. 

We drove towards the south jaws agape at the coastal views.  This is why I love having our own rental transport (luckily, Rob is always game to drive when we travel to other countries).  Although, even I could have managed the golf cart here :)  No matter what street you turn down, you will eventually end up on the main road.  We drove down so many side streets enjoying all the colorful houses decorated for the holiday.

Our first stop was the cemetery that faces the sea.  We didn't see anyone else here and I don't have any information.  The colorful grave markers were very interesting and we walked around a bit looking at them.  

Continuing onwards, we found the seashell house and admired the many beautiful and unique homes.  Also, found a couple random ruins before making our way back for lunch.  We did a quick drive-thru at Punta Sur to get our bearings and it was quite busy being Christmas. We already planned to do this another day and noted that we would come early.

Caitlin and Molly let us know that it was past a mealtime, so we looped back towards the house.  We had already scoped out Da Luisa restaurant and it was on point, both for food/drinks, but also the rooftop views.

Drive-thru BEER!! Yessssss!

After lunch, we struggled to drive the 1 minute back to the house.  Island life is hard.  The rest of the day was lazy chillaxing 😌. 

Somebody is happy to return home for poolside relaxation!

Headed out for Christmas dinner to the north end at Hidalgo Street, which is the main street of the town. Such a cool vibe ✌️. Totally love it here!

Don't be intimidated to venture out at night if you are not staying directly in town as 1) it's like 10 minutes away, 2) it's super easy to explore, and 3) it's FUN. We pretty much went to town almost every night for dinner and strolling around. 

For our first venture in town, we started at the main plaza to see the large Christmas tree and the Catholic church. Regardless of where you start, you will end up on Hidalgo street, which is pedestrian-only for several blocks. It's a street market filled to the brim with vibrant colors and interesting market wares!

The kids picked Compadres for dinner and we had a delightful meal.  I really enjoyed the poblano queso!  Pick any place and sit outside.  It's great here for people watching and listening to music - very relaxing.  The kids could stroll about the markets while we simply sat.

Day 3 - Playa Norte Beach and CATS

Just a boring Beach Day πŸ˜œ! From sun up until sun down, we had a blast. No words can adequately describe the beaches of Playa Norte. Endless calm and shallow waters. Such vibrant blues πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

We didn't have plans for any specific beach club, but we had been told that the beach in front of Mia Reef resort at Fenix beach club was the best.  So, we just drove all the way to the end and parked the cart.  We were so early at around 9ish that nobody else was around.  We found a palapa and swam a bit in the shallow forever waters; you could wade all the way across to the Mia.  We would have stayed here, but we didn't see any loungers.  It looks like Fenix has had some beach erosion so all their beds are pulled back.  It looked like chairs only for the place with the palapas, so we decided to move further around the north end to make our beach camp with loungers and ended up at Maria del Mar (between Tarzan's and Buho's).  It was perfect for our whole day!  We rented 4 loungers and 2 umbrellas (I think it was 800 pesos cash-only).  The guy that collected our payment told us to get a cooler and fill it with ice and beer, so we did.  Also, there's a road that ends at this beach, so Rob was able to move our golf cart closer when he went to the store. We also kept a tab at Buho's for food/drink service and were able to settle with a credit card.  I walked along the whole beach throughout the day and I really liked our spot.  It seemed more crowded walking past Tarzan's.  Lots of people come for just a short time and move on without bothering with chairs/umbrellas.  We are very lazy on beach days, so require a base camp with minimal movement.

Molly LOVED the bar swings!
Base Camp!

I'm pretty sure we bought something from every vendor that approached us. We bought EVERY type of nut from this guy. I can't remember all the different kinds, but it was super cheap and a perfect beach snack!

Caitlin decided to get island braids, but Molly declined. Neither of my girls has ever gotten the braids, but looking back it was great for keeping hair tangle-free for the duration of the trip.

Of course, they got ice cream!

Then, the little one insisted on going shopping SOLO.  I want to mention that we felt safe the entire time on this island.  Well, except for once when we explored around a locals-only area one night, but that was due to one particular unstable individual.  But, during our days out, our kids both wandered off quite a bit on their own.  Anyways, off Molly went to shop.  Curious, I snuck behind and saw that she was indeed shopping.  She came back a few times.  Apparently, she was unable to bargain her item lower than 200 pesos.  We had no idea what she was buying.

Then, she returned with a fedora! I LOVE this kid. To the moon and back.

We had a fantastic beach day at Playa Norte.  It really is ALL that awesomeness!

Tourists! Hahahaha

On the way back home, somebody waved us over.  So, of course, we pulled over.  Lo and behold, we stumbled into a cat rescue center.  And, they let us socialized with their rescues to help them be adoptable. We were THISCLOSE to bringing our own litter of kittens home. 

Finally, we ended the night with sunset at the house followed by an Italian dinner and some shopping in town. Salud!

We strolled Hidalgo street and wouldn't you know, we ended up back in the exact same place as the previous night for dinner. This time, right across from Compadres at Rolandi's. The beef carpaccio was EXCELLENT! The pastas were all delicious except for mine. I seemed to have ordered poorly. Oh well, but I would still recommend this restaurant.

Day 4 - Punta Sur, Garrafon Castillo, and Playa Lancheros Beach

Punta Sur! We headed to the southern tip after sunrise. Sculpture park, walking paths along the bluff with crashing surf, Ixchel (Goddess of Fertility) Mayan temple, and tunnels thru the bluff to water's edge overlook. We finished with my favorite meal so far of a grilled seafood platter and pina coladas (Mexican breakfast 😜).

The sculpture park is pretty neat as you can see the sculptures slowly succumbing to time.  Some of the structures were almost completely eroded.  The children enjoyed using their imagination to name the shapes; cheese-grater was a pretty funny one (tell us if you know the one!).

The really fun part of exploring Punta Sur is that it is much larger than it looks, especially when you get to the tip.  There are paths that wrap-around and a walkway that takes you down to where the waves meet the cliffs.  Time your way through as the waves do come up on the walkway in certain places and you wouldn't want to fall off.  The views are stunning and being the only ones here made it so special.  If you come at sunrise, you can boast that you are the first person in Mexico to see the sun!

We had gotten to Punta Sur before the ticket agent ($3 or 30 pesos per the sign), but she was there when we left, so Rob insisted on returning to pay her after our lunch.  Good thing, because the kids went running back down Punta Sur after lunch as Rob and I settled our tab and s-l-o-w-l-y got up from our chairs having stuffed ourselves silly.

Bar's open.  What do you fancy? 

As if this view isn't enough of a reason - the food is delicious!

Up next: Snorkeling at Garrafon (Spanish word for jug to carry water - discarded by sailors and later found in pieces at the base of the shallow reef)

I recalled advice from Tripadvisor to go to Garrafon de Castilla, not the water-park in order to simply snorkel and not be strapped with the expensive all-inclusive package and also avoid any large tour groups.  I knew the girls were too young to zip-line and we were only looking for something easy as we were planning to go to a beach club on the southern peninsula afterwards.  This was fantastic advice!  We paid the small entry fee (50 pesos each) and headed down to the small beach.  We managed to find a couple of chairs and a palapa to set our things down.  We have our own snorkel gear (no fins).  You need water shoes as it's quite rocky (small rocks/shells).  My kids HATE water shoes and ended up not wearing them.  There is also a ladder off a pier for going in, but the little one and I are not strong swimmers and preferred to go in from shore.  But, we were in without vests!!  Yes, going against all my #notastrongswimmerfears I was in water OVER my head.  Snorkeling!!

We snorkeled to the reef along remnants of a concrete pier destroyed by hurricanes and saw tons of fish and some coral. Guess which child was having a blast, until a big fat fish said "hello" close-up πŸ˜‚? 

Even though we had a palapa, it was a bit crowded and the sun was shining directly on us.  Once everybody was done snorkeling, we packed it up and left.  

From here, we made our way to another boring beach club 😜 where we spent the rest of the day.  

Playa Lancheros got so many high marks on the maps and guidebooks, so we decided to check it out. There are several options on the peninsula, so let us know which favorites you frequent. I was worried that we would not be able to find a spot on the beach, but (strangely), we were able to find a whole row of chairs under some palm tree shade off to the side. It was picture-perfect! It almost felt too good to be true. My husband told me to quit asking people if we were allowed to sit here and just sit down already. Hahaha. So, we immediately set about with opening up a tab for food/drinks and settled into comfort staying until sunset.

And then, we decided to check out what was on the pier that was garnering so much attention. Oh. It's a penned in nurse shark. In the tiniest of spaces. Poor thing. We found it odd that so many people thought it was so cool to get in the water with it for a picture. My kids nearly lost their minds when the guy grabbed it and forced its head out of the water and the shark made an audible noise. So, FOR MY KIDS, I spoke up and told the guy (when he invited us to get in for a pic), that we would rather that he let it go free. He must hear this all day?! We can't be the only ones?? Rob reminded us that we can only make our choices and to try to understand that just because we don't agree with something....words words words (we had tuned him out at this point).

Well, well, well. Molly decided to get island braids too. I guess she was admiring Caitlin's but worried that it would hurt too much. She later told me that it did hurt, but that she was still happy to have gotten them.  By the way, we were quoted 3 times the price of Caitlin's cost, but thankfully, we had run low on cash so the lady accepted something more reasonable.

We were thrilled with our beach day on the southern peninsula at Playa Lancheros.  The beach is nowhere near as stunning as the north end, but the southern peninsula beach clubs are a wonderful option to change things up a bit during your stay on the island.  If you are only doing a day trip, I would choose the north end for a beach day.

I've never understood why people clear out of the beaches right at sunset.  It's my favorite time on the beach.  Water is so calm, beautiful sunset view, and just all around relaxing.  Go ahead and leave, I love having it all to myself watching the kids and Rob take last dips in the ocean before dark.  My heart is complete.

On the way back, we drove the entire southern peninsula tip and found Joysxee Island (a guy built a floating island out of recyclabled plastic bottles and even put a multi-level house and beach with palms on it - so cool). If you are trying to find it, just keep stopping at the open entryways to the piers until you get the right one.  It looked like no one was home.

We went all the way to the tip of the island past the captive Dolphin place (shouting BOOOO thumbs-down as we drove by) and dead-ended at a residence.  Waved to the security camera and circled to loop back.  But, if security was watching, we must have looked like a strange lot with our back-to-back circle turns as I needed to get a pic of the hilarious crab-crossing sign and Rob kept managing to drive by it.  It's okay, I got it. 

Nighttime, we made our way back enjoying the drive through the neighborhoods and stumbled into a locals-only carnival 🎑 that was pretty interesting.  We were talking about where to find an ATM so we could explore it more, but decided to leave when a clearly unstable man wouldn't leave Rob alone. Rob could easily "take" him πŸ’ͺ, but we decided to be sensible especially since we had the kids with us. So much for blending in πŸ˜‚. 

At dinner (Mango Cafe), I had my favorite drink the whole trip - mango jalapeΓ±o marguerita πŸΉπŸ˜πŸ‘.  Molly fell asleep at the table even before her dinner came out.  It's okay, we ate it for her.

Day 5 - Playa Sol Beach and cats, yes CATS again

Playa Sol! Today we gave Rob his much desired full beach day 🌊 - yawn 😴. Yes, he forced us to sit around and be surrounded by sun, surf, and sand πŸ–. Oh, and he insisted on having full bar service 🍹directly to our lounge chairs ⛱. Even the kids were bored ordering ice cream and smoothies after frolicking in the way too shallow and way too blue waters. Wait, there's more. We had to play on swings like little kids when we insisted on going directly to the bar, which was in a beach jungle 🏝oasis. Ugh, the WORST! 

Base Camp!
Carribean Queen Beach Club
Molly hanging out at the bar!

Life is rough!

Molly gives this beach club her seal of approval!

Playa Sol was awesome!  We parked ourselves at Cafe del Mar Beach Club (Privilege Aluxe hotel).  One thing to know is that the water depth in front of the beach drops rather quickly near the shore.  So, while the beach is wide to the water, it is narrow how far out you can go once you get in before the safety rope.  We found an awesome spot between the two piers that was super shallow far out and also provided some fun waves.  Absolutely LOVED this spot!  Rob said that he still preferred Playa Norte as he didn't have to walk as far to get into the water.  Hahahaha, I know. Tough time. Hahahaha.  Anyways, we rented loungers/umbrellas and the cost was applied to our food/drink tab.  We were also able to use credit card to settle the bill.  The staff was wonderful and very attentive on the beach.  My kids enjoyed wandering over to the bar to order stuff and were able to just provide our umbrella "number". I will also mention that the facilities at Privilege Aluxes are near the beach and very clean.

Ohmygawd!! Thought that was it for the day.  Then, Rob took it up a notch and took us back to the cat rescue center where we were this time granted access to the "cat house". They estimate that they are hosting about 70 cats.  I've never seen so many cats in one place.  They can apparently get out, but always return.  And, they recognize "residents" and keep out the feral cats.  We were told that the cats will fight if an outside one tries to enter the property because of the food. 

Was that enough "Cat" pics for you?  I took like 34,736 pics, so you were actually spared - hahahaha.  We are pretty sure that Caitlin and Molly will remember this day forever! Anyone want a kitty?  We were so impressed with the work that the staff are doing here and thankful that they took the time out of their busy day to talk to us and let us play.

Goodnight Isla Mujeres!

Day 6 - Sea Turtle Farm, Hacienda Mundaca, and Isla Animals

Heading south, we began our day with an awesome breakfast at Mango Cafe.  I got the stuffed poblano chili and it was top-notch!

Organic Mexican Coffee with Cinnamon!

Today, we noticed the church across the street and walked over to check it out.  It is Guadalupe Catholic Church La Iglesia de la Virgin de Guadalupe.

Sea Turtle 🐒 Farm: The tortugranja facility assists in sea turtle preservation and we got to see turtles of all ages, awaiting release into the ocean. Enjoyed learning about the research that goes into protecting and preserving these beautiful creatures. We even saw a protected nest! 

It's 30 pesos for admission and there is also food you can purchase for feeding the turtles.  There's also a small aquarium.  Stare at the octopus and if you are lucky, you will see it change colors right before your eyes.

We peeked back in here (not allowed in) and saw the BABIES!

Did our good deed for the day!  We spotted a little fella trapped upside down.  No way were we going to touch him possibly exposing him to our dirty human diseases, so we went and got the guy who was with the babies. The turtle was actually wedged in pretty tight, but he managed to free him. I never saw a turtle move so fast once the guy set him safely upright. Probably to warn the others about that tricky spot.

Made a 2nd pass through the facility. And, maybe a 3rd and 4th. My kids love turtles. We are planning to go see them in Akumal next trip. I've heard that you can swim with them in the wild, but I need to research more as I believe it's a regulated protected area and we don't want to be harmful the turtles.

I noticed Rob had an "alrighty, then" look on his face (it may have been the multiple passes through the same area). I told him (and Caitlin) to be patient. Find a place in the shade to sit and relax. We have to wait as long as Molly wants to stay. Look how captivated she is by all of this. This is why we travel. For each person's BIG moment.

She sat here for a very long time. Not even bothered by the sun. I eventually made her put on her hat if she was going to stay longer. She kept asking about the release of the turtles. I think she wanted to stay and make sure that each and every turtle would get to the sea.  Her heart.  So big.

Highly recommend a visit to the Tortugranja!

Hacienda Mundaca (legendary pirate): Next, we headed to Senor Mundaca's park. The legendary pirate purchased a large parcel of land in the 1850s and built his home. Very cool ruins, but thank goodness I brought mosquito repellent for the trek into the jungle! We are pretty sure the pirate haunts these grounds protecting his undiscovered buried treasure. 

Park Entrance

There's a small fee of 20 pesos each. When we were there, two ladies were maintaining the grounds. We excitedly began exploring.

Found the main "building" with lots of interesting pictures on the walls. Everything is written in spanish, so we aren't sure what tales were told. One thing to be aware, there are crazy steps inside which I thought was the way to get up top. I went up first to see if it was actually possible and then to check the top. Well looky there - steps on the exterior other side of the building that you should actually use.  I used these to descend - whew!

My path to the top.
All notions of pirate adventure aside, the famous pirate Mundaca was apparently a slave-trader. The legendary story is that he built this place for the young woman he fell in love with on the island. She did not return his affections and he eventually went mad. He carved his own tombstone, which you can find in the cemetery on the north end of the island.

For your enjoyment, Rob and I re-enacted the tale of his unrequited love. Yes, we will keep our day jobs. Hahahahahaha.

Chic Family Reenactment

On the trek through the jungle is where we were eaten alive by mosquitoes. We had to scramble quickly through it. Had we been wrapped in mosquito nets, we might have taken a more leisurely walk. However, once you come out of the jungle trail, you will find relief from the mosquitoes. You can also completely avoid this section and still get to the garden.

I've gone back and looked at the reviews for Hacienda Mundaca and found that most rate it low.  I have to say that we really enjoyed our time exploring here.  It's right up our alley for what we like to do and that is explore ruins and imagine life in times past.  It's especially fantastic when you can climb all over the ruins and really take a closer look.  Don't let the reviews deter you if this is something you like doing too, but be warned the mosquitoes are indeed BAD!!  I knew this ahead of time and we had all applied Repel prior to entering the park, but I was unprepared for the amount of attacking swarms.  I ended up emptying the entire container on all of us while we hurried through the jungle section.  

Arrgh!! We know where pirate Mundaca hid his treasure!

The odd thing that you will see on the property are a bunch of empty cages.  I guess there used to be a zoo here.  We were glad to see that it is long gone.  This is a quick place to check out while on the island.  If you pull it up on Google maps, you can see that it is largely undeveloped jungle.  In comparison to the rest of the island, it is amazing that they have left this plot of land alone for so long.  

Up next:  Puppies, yes, 🐢 puppies! 

Located right outside Hacienda Mundaca is the wonderful Isla Animals.  I knew about this place prior to our travel, but was unsure how to find it.  Lo and behold, there it was right in the big covered pavilion outside the park.  I asked the staff if the children could see the pups and they were thrilled at our request.  YESSS!  We were fortunate to volunteer at Isla Animals. They were so happy to have our time, but really we were the ones over the moon with our puppies. We took 3 (Cookie, Mars, and Brownie - our names for them) for a walk (they would have kindly given us more, but our puppies were such a bundle of energy 😍) and played with them to help them become adoptable. Such a highlight of our day!

Caitlin and "Mars" 

Molly and "Cookie"

After we returned the pups, my girls went inside to see all the dogs while we waited outside.  I regret allowing this as my little was bitten.  Her skin was not broken and she may have been more frightened than hurt.  But, it made me upset at myself.  The staff was quick to check her when she cried and said it was a pup that wasn't used to kids.  Same dog got into a scuffle with another one outside right afterwards.  

Thankfully, Molly quickly recovered and talked nonstop about her puppy all the way to lunch at Brisa's Grill.  A kindly fellow diner let us know that portions are large so we had the kids share a meal.  I got the yummy lobster bisque.  Chill place to relax and enjoy a bite.  Afterwards, I took a toddle to admire all the colorful houses while Rob and the girls finished up.

We spent the rest of the day and evening at our house in the pool and beach combing. 

Awww, Isla Mujeres, you have won our hearts. I hope I am convincing you to come here and see it!! You will really love it too.

Day 7 - Kids Pick - Did you guess "Cats"? and Mexican Nightlife

Oh, just another sunrise. 

Our last full day on Isla Mujeres. With no plans, we first headed out to breakfast at a leisurely pace.  It was a busier meal time so after passing a full Mango Cafe, we ended up back at Brisa's Grill.  I guess we could have made more of an effort and ventured over to the north end, but these places outside of "town" are just so enjoyable that we were drawn back to them. 

What should we do next? Surprise surprise. Caitlin and Molly both said "Cats"! So, we returned to the animal shelter after cruising the streets.

We learned that the kittens are kept separate in the front room since they are too young to fend for themselves in the larger group. Some of the cats have been here for 10+ years since they were babies. The ages range from a few months to elderly. They have such huge hearts at this facility (and the dog one too) caring for all these island animals. Thankful they allowed us to again share our love for animals. 

Chillaxing the rest of our last day at the house. We had way too much tequila left, but you didn't come join us on the rooftop.  What was up with that?! Rob made Coconut Breezes and they were DELICIOUS!

What is wrong with this picture? Kids are nowhere to be found. Not here in the pool. Not behind the house on the beach. Guess where I found them?

Are you kidding me? On their iPads watching Netflix. *sigh* Wait. Why am I complaining? I have the whole pool to myself.

Lured out by pirate punch - hahahahaha!

Mexican Nightlife! Street Art, Eating Grasshoppers, yes, GRASSHOPPERS!, Serenaded, and so much Street Food! 

Our last night in Isla Mujeres, a place we had come to call home. We headed out to Avenue Hidalgo to P-A-R-T-Y.

Again, choosing a restaurant was difficult with all the choices, but after strolling and perusing menus at several places, we ended up at Bertha's Restaurant & Mixology Bar excited with its unusual tasty-sounding offerings.

Wait. What's this? Grasshoppers with guacamole. Our waitress said "tastes like chicken". Hahahaha, why is that the universal line when persuading someone to eat something?  No question, we were getting this!  Oh my gawd - you HAVE to try this!!!  It was so fun!  Crunchy crunch crunch :) Both kids refused to try it.  They ate the guacamole.  *sigh*

Fried Grasshoppers & Guacamole!

Pork Belly - Delicious!

During your dinners in town, you will most likely be offered a serenade. How could we resist on our last night?

After dinner, we saw this amazing spray-painting artist. His finished work was just as awesome as its creation. We came home with the one we watched created and have it hanging in our house. In case you want to get one too, it traveled just fine. We rolled it and carried it in a backpack. When we got home, it was a bit curled at first, but I just kept it flat on a table weighted down on the corners before hanging it on the wall a day later.

We wrapped up our evening in town by visiting EVERY type of street food vendor. It was fantastic fun - the kids loved it. I didn't get one, but apparently the hot dogs were to-die-for.



Hot Dogs!

Cemetery with Mundaca's Tombstone

That's a wrap!  We spent our last evening out in "town". Amazing artist spray-can painting art (yes, we bought one), ate guacamole with grasshoppers (crunchy, tastes like chicken), serenaded at dinner, yummy street food, and the cemetery that holds the tombstone of pirate Mundaca (it was closed, so next time...). We went all in on our last evening on Isla Mujeres!!

Day 8 - New Year's Eve (stranded in Mexico)

New Year's Eve! So, we were booted from our house on Isla Mujeres, but not ready to return home. Made our way across the ferry back to the mainland.

It was just as easy returning to the mainland as it had been leaving. The ferry was so efficient that I regretted not choosing a 2nd accommodation on the island rather than moving to Cancun to be closer to the airport.  But, I knew it would be a lively time for New Year's Eve.

We moseyed on over to an all-inclusive resort (Hyatt Ziva) in Cancun. It was soul-crushing. All there was to do was eat, drink, and play on the beach/pool. Ugh, there's a help-yourself candy shop. Even worse, there's a coffee bar next to it. I can't even count the number of boozy bars. Food carts of all sorts keep peddling by the beach. The kids took off with a new friend leaving us all alone. Rob frantically tried to change flights so we could stay longer. Why on earth?! 😜 Hahahaha, sensing the end of a vacation is grim.  It doesn't matter how many extra days you tack on.

As an aside, we would never have stayed in a place with captive dolphins, but I didn't realize they were on the property. Caitlin and Molly, bless their hearts, were pretty vocal about freeing them. 🐬 I pitied the staff members who offered them to swim with the dolphins πŸ˜‚. On a positive note, somebody told the kids that they are doing away with this in the new year  #freethedolphins

View from our room.

We quickly got our bearings of the resort after checking into the room.  Some resorts are so massive that it can be a trek from room to beach, but we were happy to see that there is beach very near the room.  Most of the loungers were taken (or had stuff on them with nobody there - another reason I don't like these type of places), but we eventually found our place to relax.  I told Rob that he would have to get up early the next morning to "score" us our prime spot on the beach for our last day.  Anyways, it was a good relaxing day even though we were sad to have left Isla Mujeres.

My girls thought they had hit the jackpot when they discovered the help-yourself candy store. We pretty much gave the kids free-rein at the resort and were happy that they found a friend - safety in numbers, or hope that there was a sensible voice in the mix haha. Yahooooooo, they were delighted!

Oh. Come to mama! Coffee delights. Okay, I guess I can bear it here.

Coffee Shop!

Happy New Year 2017 πŸŽ‰ from Cancun, Mexico! We rang in the new year at a White Party on the beach, while not wearing white. 3 out of 4 of us made it to midnight. A first for us to ring it in awake. But, Caitlin met a sweet boy and then, we met his equally sweet parents, so it was a fantastic evening. We tried to free the dolphins 🐬 but failed miserably. πŸ˜‚ At least we haven't been booted from the resort. But, there's still time. Happy New Year!

Caitlin and her sweet new friend Dax

Day 9 - Happy New Year!

New Year's Day! That's a wrap πŸŽ‰πŸπŸΉπŸ˜Ž Our last day in paradise! Big resorts aren't really my thing, but Rob and the girls have LOVED it here. It really is a gorgeous property (aside from the captive dolphins) with a gazillion amenities. 

Rob got up bright and early to get our spot on the beach. He's a good guy. We still ended up in the back, but that's okay. We are very near the room and the inviting water is RIGHT THERE. Most importantly, we can get bar service here. Our friends from New Year's Eve are right next to us too :) (if you are reading this, hi Tennessee friends) and so the kids are happily enjoying our last day in warm temperatures.

My favorite part of this property was exploring the lighthouse. The walk over was through shallow waters and I rather enjoyed it.

Today was pampering and relaxation. Treated the girls to their first spa manicure before I headed off to my own massage and pedicure treatmentsπŸ€— in the most beautiful spa overlooking swaying palm trees 🌴🌴🌴. Fish pedicure anyone? Otherwise, just an ordinary day at the beach ✌️. 

I almost forgot - I had the most amazing fish/shrimp soup that was "cooked" tableside over a lava rock! 

Tomorrow we fly home ✈️ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ. 

Day 10 - Departure - Uh oh, stranded in Mexico Part 2

Good morning sunrise! Hard to leave Mexico. Headed home sweet home. If I can get this crew out of bed. They might be trying to sabotage our departure.

We gathered up and took a private shuttle to the airport.  The girls are pros at travel and so it was all quite uneventful.  

And then, this happened...

What?! We are stuck in Mexico! Apparently, some authority would not allow our flight (which was delayed 6 hours) back to the USA. Was this related to the problem that Customs&Immigration was having with their computers?  It was hard to get any information.  Insert "Wall" joke.  Flight officially CANCELED. 

Airline put us in a cheesy resort. All-inclusive. Gonna try and bank on food/drinks πŸ˜‚.

Yes, I know there are worst things than getting stuck on vacation and sent to an all-inclusive resort.  But, it really was a long day of waiting around at the airport.  Watching our flight delay after delay on the departure board.  The girls were so good and gave us  no trouble at all, but when they announced that the flight was canceled, it was just too much for the little one.  Molly burst into tears.  She's like me - once vacation is over, I am done and ready to go home. 

Molly recovered quickly once they started moving us through the process of departing the airport (all the passengers of the flight had to stay together as a group).  We had to go through customs & immigration as if we had just arrived, including document checking.  Then, baggage claim for those who had checked luggage.  Finally, exiting the terminal to a caravan of vans to take everybody to one of two resorts.  Luck of the stars, we ended up at the near front of the queue.  The resort was expecting us, so it was a quick check-in. 

We got the kids settled into the room, ordered them room service and then Rob and I went on a "date" to eat dinner kid-free.  It was already so late, so we barely made it into a restaurant.  I may have been super tired, but felt critical of everything with this place.  But, we were glad to be set up with a place to sleep for the night instead of trying to figure it out ourselves. 

Day 11 - Let's try again! Departure

We had been told to be in the lobby at 5am to be taken to an "arranged" flight at 8:30am. Got the kids up at 4:30 and headed down to wait. Promptly at 5am, they started loading up vehicles. Again, we somehow managed to be at the front of the queue and we hoped to each other that everything else would go as smoothly. Until, someone caught eye of the hotel bracelet still on me. My gosh, they were so extremely militant about it. I was already in the departure van for the airport when they stopped the whole queue to argue about whether we had actually "checked-out" or not. They finally sent someone over from the desk with scissors to cut mine and Molly's bracelet off (Rob and Caitlin had managed to rip theirs off).

We were definitely ready to go home at this point. At the airport, we repeated the whole check-in process, but at least, it was so early that the airport was near empty. No delays - hurray! Thank goodness, we said when they closed the airplane's door and pushed away from the gate.

Hello USA πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ! We are back across the border! I know, right?! I'm shocked too.

Day 12 - SURPRISE!

Nice! We woke up to $800 ($200 each) from Southwest Airlines for the flight delay. Gonna book our next trip.  And yes, returning to Mexico!  Valladolid and Tulum.  Any suggestions for us?  

Hope we have convinced you to travel to Isla Mujeres.  We highly recommend that you stay on the island and rent a golf cart.  It makes all the difference.  Safe travels my friends.


  1. Your stories, your photos, your humor: the next best thing to being there. Thank you!

  2. Thank you Jane! Means so much to me to read your kind words. Safe travels my friend. May we all get to the island for some r&r :)