Island of the Ladies... or perhaps of the Shopping Spree!

Isla Mujeres Travel Blog

 › entry 14 of 21 › view all entries
Leaving Cancun on the ferry to Isla Mujeres.

From Piste we travelled second class to Cancun, which took much longer than we thought it would.  I mention the second class because in comparison to the luxury I'd been used to, this bus although comfortable was much more squishy.  I amuse myself writing this because of the chicken buses else where in Central America... I do almost feel like... how dare I complain because by comparison I was spoilt by our transport options.  Anyway, we arrived in Cancun a bit after lunchtime and decided to get a taxi to the Hotel Las Palmas - we thought a taxi would be easier.  Sadly as is often the case, the taxi driver had no idea where he was going, so we drove around and around as he asked various people for directions, while poor Al tried to point out the street on our mildly helpful guidebook mini map.

Looking back at Cancun.
  Ironically, the hotel turned out to be about a 10-minute walk from the bus terminal.

Hotel Las Palmas has dorm rooms as well as a hotel section, but the cost for us to share wasn't terrible and having your own room is always nice.  The room... was massive, with double beds and an incredibly huge bathroom.  We also had aircon and cable tv.  Considering we were only using Cancun as a pit stop, this was more than adequate.  Yes, no fancy hotels, restaurants or beaches for us on this occasion.  In fact we took it easy, checked emails and bought rolls etc to take back to the hotel room for dinner.  The following morning we caught a cab to the port so that we could get a ferry across to Isla Mujeres, which we'd heard good things about.

The beach/bar area behind Hostel Pac na.
  The ferry was air-conditioned and fast.

We stayed at the Pac na hostel, which was highly rated - you get a free drink coupon on arrival as there is a bar onsite and a basic breakfast.  Once we'd dumped our stuff in the dorm room we went for a walk around town, stumbling across the coolest craft shop!  We spent ages wondering around checking out all the crafts, most of it made out of metal in to various sea life and other creatures.  We loved it so much that we all ended up with purchases on hold, Al and Maree mini turtle wall hangings and geckos, me... well... I have mentioned my love of carrying large items cross continents - this day would be no different.  Not forgetting I already had purchased a ceramic Mayan mask, now I had a large metal turtle wall hanging and some other knickknacks - oh I do like a challenge.

My yummy veggie paella

Once our purchases were put away - we needed to draw money to actually pay for them - we went for lunch along the main road running parallel to the beach, where we stopped at this little cafe overlooking the sea.  I'd been dying for a mango daiquiri since my strawberry one in Flores, and got one at this cafe which was yummy.  I also ate the most amazing veggie paella - probably the best I've had since Barcelona in 2003!

After lunch we headed back to the shops.  On the way Al started to enquire after diving options, and well Maree and me just plan got caught up in the excitement of potentially going diving again.  In the end we ended up booking two dives for the following afternoon at the Carey Dive Centre.  After picking up our purchases we ended our evening with an ice-cream dinner and cocktails at the hostel after a free magic show - which Maree participated in twice and I signed a playing card (an important role.

Maree and Al in the golf buggy.
.. of course of course).

It rained all night, and we woke up to to an overcast day that was threatening to rain some more.  So, after breakfast we went past the dive shop just to check that the dive was still going ahead, and our ever friendly dive master - Roberto assured us with confidence that the weather would hold out and it was still good to dive. 

As we had the morning free we decided to head out to the turtle sanctuary, but seeing as we only had a couple of hours to get there and back (it was on the other side of the island) I suggested we hire a golf buggy - popular on the islands we'd been to so far.  Hiring the golf buggy for a couple of hours turned out to be not much more expensive than hiring bikes, so we beetled off across the island at speeds of erm a 100 year old lightening.

Al hiding in the entrance to the turtle sanctuary.
  Al did most of the "driving" there, but Maree and me took a turn.

The sanctuary wasn't very big, but had turtles of all sizes and various kinds of fishes in tanks.  While we were wondering around the sanctuary the skies opened and poured down buckets and buckets of rain.  We decided to wait it out as the golf buggy was open to the elements.  Luckily we didn't have too long as it was only really a quick down pour.  On the way back Maree - our unlicensed driver - drove first, followed by me - who hadn't been behind a wheel in over 4 years.... but hey... going at 30km/hr there really wasn't too much damage we could do. 

We returned the golf buggy and went past the hostel to collect anything that we wanted for the dive that afternoon.

Turtles of different ages.
  At the dive centre we got our kit and headed to the pier, where we got on a speed boat and picked up another diver from a resort on the lagoon.  Both dives were drift dives, which we'd not done before.  Basically the current pulls you along the reef, so in some ways it was more relaxing as you could drift along, but when trying to go against the current it was hard work.  Thankfully at the end of each dive the boat came and picked us up - no swimming back to the boat... phew.

Our sea entry was not our usual step off, but a backwards entry, i.e. falling backwards off the boat - which wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.  I must say we saw an incredible amount of fish on our first dive, swam through massive schools of fish as we drifted along with the current.

Don't know this guys name - but he's bright.
  Our second dive was more like ebbs and flows, with the current moving forwards and then backwards, so it was a bit more work to swim along.  We saw a moray eel, a nurse shark, a large conch, large angel fish, a little eel and a cow fish - need to invest in an underwater camera!  After the dive we were starving, so went for an early dinner - soup followed by pasta - awesome after diving.

The following morning we left to get the ferry back to Cancun as the weather was pretty rubbish.  We stayed another night at the Hotel Las Palmas, but this time the room was more pokey.  We needed to sort out a few last minute things for Cuba, such as getting Euros to exchange in to Cuban currency - which you can only do in Cuba.  We were told Euros gave you the best exchange rate, and seeing Cuba is not a cheap country to travel through we wanted to get the best exchange rate we could.

Seahorses - love these guys.
  So, we got a cab to the local shopping centre to withdraw cash, and eat some lunch.  Getting Euros proved to be quite a challenge - we went to several banks none of which had any Euros.  When we did eventually find a bank with Euros it was too late in the day and the cashier refused to process the request as they were closing in 5-minutes.  We got back to the hotel stressed and frustrated only to discover that the laundry we had put in when arriving was not ready.  This just topped off our frustrations as we were told it would be ready in the evening, which was important as our flight was at lunchtime the following day - meaning we had to leave mid morning to get to the airport.  Aaaaaaaaaaah.

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Leaving Cancun on the ferry to Isl…
Leaving Cancun on the ferry to Is…
Looking back at Cancun.
Looking back at Cancun.
The beach/bar area behind Hostel P…
The beach/bar area behind Hostel …
My yummy veggie paella
My yummy veggie paella
Maree and Al in the golf buggy.
Maree and Al in the golf buggy.
Al hiding in the entrance to the t…
Al hiding in the entrance to the …
Turtles of different ages.
Turtles of different ages.
Dont know this guys name - but he…
Don't know this guys name - but h…
Seahorses - love these guys.
Seahorses - love these guys.
My favourite little cute/ugly guy.
My favourite little cute/ugly guy.
On the ferry.
On the ferry.
Me and Al on the ferry.
Me and Al on the ferry.
Maree on the ferry.
Maree on the ferry.
Looking back at Cancun.
Looking back at Cancun.
The back entrance to Hostel Pac na.
The back entrance to Hostel Pac na.
Me at the back of Hostel Pac na.
Me at the back of Hostel Pac na.
The back beach behind Hostel Pac n…
The back beach behind Hostel Pac …
Yes... of course... an iguana at t…
Yes... of course... an iguana at …
Walking around town.
Walking around town.
Walking around town - yummy ice-cr…
Walking around town - yummy ice-c…
Walking around town.
Walking around town.
Walking around town.
Walking around town.
Walking around town - Al standing …
Walking around town - Al standing…
Maree playing around.
Maree playing around.
Me playing around.
Me playing around.
The view from the cafe by the sea.
The view from the cafe by the sea.
Al, me and Maree at the cafe by th…
Al, me and Maree at the cafe by t…
Me and Maree with our drinks - yum…
Me and Maree with our drinks - yu…
Me with my mango daiquiri.
Me with my mango daiquiri.
Me with my paella.
Me with my paella.
The amazing craft shop.
The amazing craft shop.
The amazing craft shop.
The amazing craft shop.
The amazing craft shop.  My turtle…
The amazing craft shop. My turtl…
The magic show at the hostel.
The magic show at the hostel.
Maree involved in the magic show.
Maree involved in the magic show.
Maree involved in the magic show -…
Maree involved in the magic show …
Maree involved in the magic show.
Maree involved in the magic show.
Another guy involved in the magic …
Another guy involved in the magic…
Picking up the golf buggy.
Picking up the golf buggy.
Me sitting in the back of the golf…
Me sitting in the back of the gol…
On route to the turtle sanctuary.
On route to the turtle sanctuary.
Me driving the golf buggy.
Me driving the golf buggy.
Me driving the golf buggy - speed …
Me driving the golf buggy - speed…
Me driving the golf buggy.
Me driving the golf buggy.
All the golf buggies in a row.
All the golf buggies in a row.
The golf buggy.
The golf buggy.
Outside the turtle sanctuary - bef…
Outside the turtle sanctuary - be…
Lots of baby turtles.
Lots of baby turtles.
Turtles of different ages.
Turtles of different ages.
Turtles of different ages.
Turtles of different ages.
Turtles of different ages.
Turtles of different ages.
Some big turtles.
Some big turtles.
Baby stingray.
Baby stingray.
Baby stingray.
Baby stingray.
Two baby stingrays.
Two baby stingrays.
Crayfish in a rock.
Crayfish in a rock.
Strange alien looking see creature.
Strange alien looking see creature.
Its nimo!
It's nimo!
Yellow fish.
Yellow fish.
This is not nimo.
This is not nimo.
Still not nimo.
Still not nimo.
Check out the fish on the left... …
Check out the fish on the left...…
My littiel cute/ugly fishie! (Cow …
My littiel cute/ugly fishie! (Cow…
My favourite little cute/ugly guy.…
My favourite little cute/ugly guy…
Seahorses.
Seahorses.
Seahorses.
Seahorses.
Seahorses.
Seahorses.
A conch.
A conch.
A conch.
A conch.
Sea anenomea.
Sea anenomea.
Still not nimo.
Still not nimo.
Fishy caught on camera.
Fishy caught on camera.
Fishy caught on camera.
Fishy caught on camera.
Scary fish.
Scary fish.
Scary fish.
Scary fish.
A fish.
A fish.
Scary looking fish.
Scary looking fish.
Scary looking fish - stare down.
Scary looking fish - stare down.
Scary looking fish.
Scary looking fish.
The pouring rain.
The pouring rain.
Calm after the storm.
Calm after the storm.
Calm after the storm.
Calm after the storm.
Isla Mujeres
photo by: Shunya