Isla Mujeres, Mexico- Trip Recap: Day 1

*Edited after I first posted to add some specific details such as names of hotel, restaurants, etc. I realized I didn’t include many detailed specifics, which is not helpful to someone wishing to plan a trip here!*

Okay, so I was thinking that since I didn’t blog “in the moment” while we were away, I would just do a brief, general recap of our trip now in a single post and call it good!

But then I realized- this was an awesome trip!!! It felt really special and memorable, and I really want to document it in words AND pictures. And I’d also like to share some details about this beautiful island, in case it inspires others to visit it someday. So, I’m going to go all out and do a full blown trip recap. Hope you follow along! And if travel posts aren’t your thing, no hard feelings. 🙂


First up- where is Isla Mujeres? 🙂 It is a 5 mile long island off the coast of Cancun, off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Around the blue dot! Map for reference.

Here is another view:

The island, as seen from the air as we flew into Cancun!

Flight/ Arrival

We flew out of Milwaukee on Thursday morning. The boys stayed home (my parents drove to our house on Wednesday afternoon to stay with them), and then later that evening we (just me and Ivan) drove to their house (they live about 15 minutes from the Milwaukee airport). We stayed overnight at their house since we had to be to the airport by 5:30 a.m. on Thursday morning (our house is ~an hour and 15 minutes from the airport).

We dropped the car in the Super Saver parking lot, took the shuttle in, checked in and it was smooth and easy in to our gate. The flight was just around 3 hours- direct to Cancun! It is really an easy destination from Milwaukee, especially with the direct flight option! I feel like we should go more often! lol.

Once we arrived to Mexico, we did the usual immigration/ customs stuff and got our single suitcase (we shared one). Now we needed to get to the Ultramar FERRY dock (to take us over to the island). “Most” people either arrange a pre-paid shuttle service, or just pay an overpriced taxi fare. But with Ivan being Mexican, and us speaking the language, we decided to try to take the cheaper (albeit slightly more complicated) route…but still very easy.

From the airport, we took an airport bus to the Cancun bus terminal (98 pesos per person, or about $5.) From there, we walked out of the station onto the street (because the taxis cost more from inside the terminal entrance…) and hailed a cab from there (for a lower price) to get to the ferry dock.

The ferry is the ONLY way to get to the island. It’s pretty far! It’s a 30 minute boat ride over. We bought ferry tickets and soon after, we boarded and were on our way.

ferry dock

There was live music on the boat ride- a pretty talented guy who played multiple instruments at once!- and a fun atmosphere. Many people who are staying in Cancun will actually day trip over to Isla Mujeres, so there were a lot of “alegre” people on the boat. 🙂

live music
We had interior seats, so I didn’t get the best pics, but the color of the water was UNREAL!!


Once we arrived to the island, it was early/mid-afternoon and we were STARVING!! We had planned to head straight to our hotel (a taxi ride away), but we couldn’t wait. We found a place advertising the “island’s best tacos” and went right in, suitcase and all. (*Editing to add- the taco place was called “Los Tacos de Humo”.)

We started with guacamole- YUMMY.

I also had a Mexican coke. It’s funny- on all the “unhealthy” foods in Mexico, they label them with a big warning that they contain “excess calories” and “excess sugar”. haha. Thanks, but I already knew that!! 🤣

Mexican coke is made with real sugar, whereas Coke in the United States is made with high fructose corn syrup! I actually prefer the HFCS!!!!! But many people are die hard Mexican coke fans.

We liked this little place and after the morning of travels, we were happy to start to ease into “vacation” mode.

We giggled at the Spanish “vocabulary” words strung around the restaurant on the wall…..

“El borracho” or “the drunk”, next to a seductive “la sirena”, or “mermaid”. Haha.


After lunch, we skipped seeing the rest of downtown (for now) and got a taxi to our hotel. (*Editing to add- there is a Taxi stand right next to the Ultramar Ferry dock. It’s probably the best place to get a taxi from downtown. Just know that they have SET RATES, so don’t let them tell you otherwise. From downtown to the far South side of the island, the current rate is 100 pesos ($5). When you get in the taxi, act like you know this! Say, “It’s 100 to Punta Sur, right?” or wherever. The prices are posted at the taxi stand, so don’t let them mess with you. 😉 )

I had booked a smaller, NOT big resort type place on the Southern (much quieter) side of the island. Basically, all the “action” is on the Northern end, where the little downtown is, plus tons of hotels and the public beaches. I decided that was not what I was looking for on this trip- the idea was a relaxing couples escape, not party time!

(I am 1,000% happy with our choice to stay on the quiet end of the island!!! If I go back, I’ll do the same thing. And remember- the whole island is only 5 miles long. So it’s not hard to get back and forth to the action, if desired.)

After a 15 minute or so taxi ride, we checked into our hotel. I was THRILLED with the initial impression, the views, and our room!!! It was just as good, if not better, than the pictures I had seen online. It was full of palm trees, flowers, trees, etc and cute straw roof overhangs on each room’s balcony. (I think there are only 12-14 rooms in the whole complex! So very small and intimate.)

Editing to add- the name of the hotel is Hotel La Joya! Located about 1 mile from Punta Sur, on the western side of the island.)

When they took us to our room, my jaw dropped open at the view! It was just stunning.

view from inside the sliding doors to our room

I loved how we had a hammock, plus rocking chairs PLUS a table and chairs! All to ourselves.

It was already getting later in the afternoon, so we decided to just basically explore the hotel/ beach area and hang out. This hotel does NOT have the best beach area, which we knew. I mean, there’s water access, but the beach itself is quite small and rocky. It’s not a big manicured beach like the bigger resorts have on the other end of the island. But that was okay with me! We aren’t really big ocean swimmers anyway- I mostly just wanted a water view. 🙂

My “Look! We made it to the beach!” pic. 🙂

It was the most beautiful day, and the water was crystal clear!

We walked out onto a pier next to our hotel and spent at least an hour just sitting and talking, dangling our feet over the edge, lying back on our towels and enjoying the sunshine.

Stairs down to our little beach. It did extend some in the other direction behind me, with big rocks to sit on and also several wooden benches, etc.
Around this big rock was more beach- we just waded through the water to get over there!

After a while, we headed up to the pool for a drink and to watch the sunset. There was a nice little beach bar, with a very friendly bartender that Ivan kind of befriended and talked to a lot over the days we were there. It was just beautiful!!!

Ivan relaxing on a lounge chair with a beer. Our room was just up those stairs, to the right, in the second building up (not closest to the pool! We had a more private balcony, which I really liked.)


Our room was the one with the purple hammock. I loved our room! Would stay there again. I also loved this fountain, which was so relaxing to sit and listen to.

The view from our balcony at sunset was stunning:

I swung in the hammock for a little while until it got dark.


Since our hotel was not in the most “happening” side of the island, and we didn’t have a vehicle (many people actually rent golf carts when in Isla Mujeres! But we didn’t really think we would need one, given the small size and cheap price of taxis/ buses), we decided to just walk to the hotel next door for dinner. (Our hotel La Joya had a small restaurant too.)

The place next door was actually a hotel/ “beach club”, with pools, beach activities, etc where people can pay and go for the day. (Editing to add- this hotel/restaurant/ beach club is called Kin Ha.)) It looked like a really fun place, but it was pretty dead at night. Right on the water and a very pretty atmosphere, but very quiet that Thursday night! That’s okay. We were tired anyway from traveling, so we just had a relatively quick dinner before walking back to our hotel.

Who would have thought though that we could see the Wisconsin BADGERS playing basketball while on an island in Mexico?! Too funny!

Back at the hotel, it was almost 10 pm already (9 pm at home), so we talked to the boys quick, sat out on the balcony for a few minutes and then CRASHED for the night! We had woken up at 4 am and I was tired!!!

Whew! That’s all for Day 1! 🙂

Gratitude Challenge Day 20 (will fill in the days I missed in another post- just going to keep going, on schedule for now!):

Name 3 things about your body that you are grateful for:

1- I have to say it, because it’s very true….I am grateful that I am generally “naturally” quite slender. It’s genetic, I’m lucky, I know. (Doesn’t mean I love all things about my body! I don’t and still have my issues. But the truth is, obesity/ being very overweight just does not run in my family. So I feel very lucky to not have had a lifelong struggle with this, as some people do. I can eat quite freely and not really gain much weight (for now- not blind to the fact that I’m getting older…), and I am very, very, VERY grateful for this.)

2- I like my hazel eyes! They are Ivan’s favorite physical feature about me too and he talks about it a lot.

3- I am grateful that I have a healthy, strong, well functioning body that allows me to hike, walk, run, swim, be active with my kids, etc. I am SOOOOOO grateful for this- and I think we all need to thank our bodies more often for what they do for us, rather than always talking so critically to them.

4 thoughts on “Isla Mujeres, Mexico- Trip Recap: Day 1”

  1. Hi, I am a new reader, and have been following your blog since the new year. I like your gratitude Challenge Q&As. I loved this travel post, I love places near water (river, sea, anything). Excited to read more about your trip and so glad you could take an adults only trip.


  2. Ahhh, these pictures are giving me life! It has been terribly cold here this week so I am craving warmth and sun. This place sounds so cute and I like that it’s a smaller resort! I’m really hoping that by next December, we can plan a getaway like this!


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