Situated in the Mexican Caribbean just a half-hour ferry ride from Cancun,Isla Mujeres offers visitors a quiet retreat from the hectic pace of everyday life. At just 8 kilometers long and .8 kilometers wide,this tiny island is home to several luxury hotels and amazing beaches,and there are plenty of opportunities for trying new outdoor activities and sampling the area’s fantastic cuisine.
Named one of the Top 10 Islands in the World by TripAdvisor in 2013,getting to Isla Mujeres – which translates to “Island of Women” – is a breeze from the nearby Cancun International Airport thanks to the ferry,which docks at the island’s main pier downtown. Many of the hotels pick visitors up here and provide complimentary shuttle service,but renting a golf cart or scooter is another fun and very popular way to get around. There are also houses and condos for rent on the island,along with a few budget hotels.
“Between January and September last year,Isla Mujeres saw 227,540 visitors,according to statistics kept by the Mexican state of Quintana Roo,” writes ABC News. “Cancun had 3.2 million visitors in the same time period,proving that Isla is still a well-kept secret.”
The expansive and always lively North Beach lies near the island’s quaint downtown and is an excellent spot to people watch or play beach volleyball while soaking up the sun. On the eastern end of North Beach there are also beach beds available for rent at a modest price,and the turquoise water is warm,shallow and quiet,making it the ideal spot for swimming. There are also private beaches at many of the house rentals and hotels,as well as a public beach on the southern side of the island facing Cancun. At the island’s southernmost tip,visitors can explore Garrafon Natural Reef Park for a small fee,where a series of idyllic paths lead down to the ocean’s edge.
“The park’s designers have managed to make it feel like you’re standing in the middle of the wild ocean,” writes ABC News. “It’s humbling and beautiful.”
Swimming with whale sharks is one of the most unique activities for travelers visiting Isla Mujeres and has prompted a rise in eco-tourism in recent years. The season runs from June through September and gives visitors the unforgettable experience of swimming alongside these enormous yet docile creatures. As the world’s largest known fish species,whale sharks are filter feeders and typically pose little or no danger to humans,despite their immense size and large mouth,which was captured here in a photo taken by marine biologist Simon Pierce and published by the Huffington Post.
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