The tiny coral island of Isla Mujeres is close to Cancun but, unlike the gaudy mega resort, hasn’t yet lost its charm writes Kaye Holland
Cancun can be fun if you’re looking for cheap drinks and liveliness but when you need a break from the hordes of Spring Breakers who haunt Mexico’s most popular destination, make for Isla Mujeres - aka island bliss. Unmarred by the glitz and bling of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is proof that there are pockets of paradise which haven’t been lost in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Only an hour’s boat ride away from the mainland, this laid back island is antithesis to Cancun which is all hormones and hedonism - think party nights and sleeping late. By contrast you won’t find any clamouring package tourists on Mujeres. The island is seductively slow paced: it’s the sort of place where everyone seems to have nothing to do except sit in the shade/sun while the sound of lapping water soothes the senses. There’s a distinct lack of development here (locals still get around the island by golf cart) - it’s just you and the crashing waves.
As previously mentioned the Quintana Roo island is within easy day tripping distance of Cancun, but I’d recommend staying on the island for a couple of nights so as to open that book you’ve been dying to read and to check out the diverse dining scene. For Mujeres boasts a smattering of excellent restaurants that are a world away from the 'all you can eat' boozy buffets of Cancun. Rather Mujeres' restaurants are the kind you wish you lived around the corner from, owing to their super friendly service and interesting menus.
Little wonder then that for many who come, Isla Mujeres immediately becomes their favourite holiday hot spot. I met several travellers during my two day sojourn who confessed that they had come here on holiday one year and, as the island’s small town vibe and slack pace worked its magic, booked to return.
And for good reason. At the risk of descending into copywriting, the beauty of Mujeres - all sparkling white sands and the smell of coconut in the breeze - is truly dizzying. Even commitment phobes like me will want to get married, just to have a honeymoon here.
All told, Mujeres is the perfect place to begin Chinese New Year. Enjoy it - before the crowds really start rolling in.