On Wednesday we finally took our first day trip since arriving in Playa del Carmen on November 1. We traveled so much in the US over the past two years that I think we were just ready to settle down for awhile and not go anywhere. Yep, these traveling nomads were just enjoying being homebodies for a few months.
But finally an opportunity presented itself and got us out of our travel doldrums.
Cara, a "virtual" friend of mine that I'd originally "met" through our Belize blog, was going to be vacationing with her friend Mary for a few days at Isla Mujeres (the "Island of Women"), just off the coast of Mexico near Cancún. She suggested that we come up and visit. We'd been wanting to check out Isla for awhile, and meeting a friend there provided just the motivation we needed to get off our duffs and take a day trip.
Barry took so many great photos, and the island was so colorful and pretty, that I'm dividing this day into two posts. So, here's part 1 of our day trip!
A six-minute walk from our rental took us to the 20th Ave. ADO bus terminal, one of two terminals in Playa del Carmen. Mexico has a great bus system, and we'd used it extensively when we visited the country for sixteen days back in December 2012. This was our first time on an ADO bus since then.
We took the 9:10 am bus up to Cancún. Our one-way tickets cost us $60 MXN each, or about $4.25 US, a great deal. The bus was just as comfortable as we remembered, and not even close to full.
Once we made it to Cancún (about an hour and ten minutes), it was a quick walk across the road from the ADO terminal to catch an R1 city bus to Puerto Juarez, where we'd catch the ferry to Isla. This bus cost the equivalent of about $.75 US each.
The quick bus ride took us to the Ultramar ferry terminal.
And while we waited for the 11 am ferry, I got to hang out with Spiderman!
In the waiting area we had our first glimpse of the absolutely gorgeous Caribbean Sea.
We'd be taking a big catamaran across to the island. The dock was massive!
We chose to sit on the upper deck of the ferry for the best view of the water and shorelines. And the A/C was cranking in the lower, enclosed level. Way too cold for us! The upper deck was packed; guess we weren't the only ones heading to Isla on this gorgeous Wednesday!
Here's the view from our ferry as we pulled away from the dock. Bye bye Cancún!
The water was so, so pretty and clear. This aquamarine is a color I never tire of!
In no time at all, we were within spitting distance of Isla. The entire ride is just eighteen minutes long, and the ferry seems to go pretty slowly -- probably so they can sell more drinks and snacks!
I was a little surprised at how developed Isla Mujeres was; I guess I was expecting something a bit more like Ambergris Caye, Belize, which is getting more developed all the time, but is still sleepy compared to Isla. I guess as close as it is to Cancún, I should have expected it to be as developed as it is, if not more.
Not quite the small "fishing village" dock I was imagining....
After debarking the ferry, we followed instructions to get to Jax Bar & Grill, where we were to meet Cara and Mary. We had a nice stroll down to Jax, with a beautiful beach to our left. We discovered that there are lots of golf carts here on Isla, like in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye in Belize, where we used to live.
There were quite a few similarities to San Pedro on a busy tourist day, in fact, but there was no question that this was Mexico -- different souvenirs, different food, and a different vibe. Not to knock San Pedro, which has charms of its own, but this beach was much nicer than the beaches on Ambergris Caye. Wide, with lots and lots of white sand -- and no sargassum, at least not today!
Did we find Cara and Mary, what did we eat for lunch, did we succumb to the lure of souvenir shopping, and did we make it back to Playa in time for dinner?!
You'll have to stay tuned for Part 2 to find out!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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