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Once a small fishing village, colorful Isla Mujeres has become a favorite for travelers seeking natural beauty, island serenity, and a slower pace of life—all without compromising its cultural traditions. Winter months offer excellent sportfishing, and the calm surrounding waters are great for snorkeling and swimming year-round.
During high season, boatloads of visitors pop over from
Cancún for a taste of the island life. The midday rush is a boon for vendors and hagglers offering every kind of service from braided hair to beach massages. By late afternoon, though, the masses disappear and return to their big-city nightlife and the comforts of the mainland. Those who stay behind discover that on Isla Mujeres, worldly concerns fade with the setting sun.
Isla’s permanent residents include nearly 100 Canadian and American expats (most operating hotels and restaurants) and 15,000 Maya, many of whom earn a living selling fish at the docks or plates of food outside their homes. There are plenty of opportunities to practice your Spanish, and you’ll find that most locals beam when you try. Taxi drivers are genuinely interested in sharing details of the island’s history and telling you about their families who were born and raised here.
The minute you step off the boat, you’ll get a sense of how small Isla is. The sights and properties are strung along the coasts, and there’s not much to the interior except for two saltwater marshes where the Maya harvested salt centuries ago.