Roughly eight miles off of the coast of Cancun, there is a small island just four miles north to south and a mile wide at most; this island was once the sacred Mayan island temple to the god of childbirth and medicine, Ix Chel. Today, Isla Mujeres is a tropical getaway for natives and tourists in Cancun who are looking for cheaper beer, quieter activities and quaint island life.
Isla Mujeres is primarily a fishing village, though tourism has brought many changes to the island. El Centro, or “the Center” of town is a strip of five to eight intersecting roads with anything from travel agencies to real estate firms with all of the appropriate restaurants and bars dotted between. Naturally, there are many boats available for charter if you’re interested in big game fishing or snorkeling. Fresh catches of the day are often the main dishes available on dinner menus at the oceanfront bars. Beaches that are friendliest are on the northern and western shores. It’s possible to walk this entire island up and down within a day’s time – more often people prefer to rent a golf cart to explore the southern tip of this magical, tropical place.
On the way to the south end of the island, there are two giant salt lakes that aren’t open for swimming or fishing, though a variety of local birds and creatures make their homes there. Almost in the center of the island is Salina Grande, the larger of the two lakes. As you get to the southern tip of the island, you’ll notice that there are primitive huts and shelters built on the outskirts. A few larger domiciles exist but they’re mostly owned by expats. At the southern tip of the island you’ll find the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple.