In Cancún, I headed straight for Puerto Juarez in a collectivo (small mini van that costs about $8 pesos), booking my ferry to Isla Mujeres! What a day for it too, it was stunning. The round ticket cost approximately $140 pesos, about the equivalent of €8.75 and I joined a big crowd of day-trippers and backpackers on the fifteen minute ferry ride to the island.
Isla Mujeres (Spanish for ‘island of women’) is a small island off the coast of the Yucatán peninsula, only about 7km x 650m wide and with around 12,000 inhabitants. I booked into Pocna Hostel , further to my friend’s recommendations and also it is pretty much the only hostel on the island! The hostel wasn’t too far away (as nothing is really too far away on this island!), but in walkable distance from where you arrive at the dock. It’s right on the beach too which was lovely and had a bar and restaurant where you could buy breakfasts (if you didn’t fancy the toast and occasional fresh fruit offered for free), lunch and dinner.
I spent about four nights in total here and I have to say, I LOVED it. Unfortunately, because of some ‘incident’ around New Year’s this year, Pocna’s infamous beach bar and bonfires were shut down. It was a real pity because most people who I had talked to about it had raved about these parties…but sure what can you do?! The island itself closes up pretty early on but there are a few bars that stay open late for the young folk!
During my stay, the hostel held free yoga classes every morning at 9am just on the beach, which I went along to every day. Greg the yoga “teacher” from Birmingham was really nice, but not exactly trained and very fond of downward dog (that sounds rude but it’s really not meant to be!)
My first day there, I met Britney and Caitlin, two Aussie girls, and we took off for the day in a golf cart around the island. There are golf carts everywhere and we hired one for about 400 pesos from 12 – 6pm or thereabouts. Thankfully I had my driving license on me (they actually asked for one!), and we sped off for the day exploring the Tortugranja Turtle Farm and driving out to the South Point for some gorgeous (and windy) views. I wasn’t too sure what the deal was with the turtle farm, as I had heard some stories about certain farms keeping turtles there just for tourists but I found out that it’s a volunteer run organisation that protects the sea turtle population by reestablishing them and releasing them back into the sea. YAY!
We stopped off in ‘Soggy Pesos’, recommended by some lovely Canadian girls I had met earlier that day, along the way for what was a delicious meal of beef and chicken fajitas served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa.
Later on that evening I went out for dinner with two Danish girls I met to ‘La Lomita’, a typical Mexican restaurant on Juarez, that served the most delicious bean soup – a huge bowl of black beans, rice, avocado, coriander, tomato, and probably more that I can’t remember! It was so, so filling. The restaurant is recommended by Lonely Planet and there were definitely more gringos there, but later on more Mexicans arrived too 🙂The next day I spent chilling out on the beach and later that evening, I met a lovely girl called Yael from New York and we decided to go snorkelling together the next day with the tour that the hostel offered. It was amazing – we went out on the boat with the divers, which definitely made up my mind about whether or not to learn how to dive, eh…no thank you! They looked in serious pain! I know it is amazing etc etc but I think I’m fine snorkelling, thanks very much!
We dived in to the clearest sparkling blue water and at first explored an underground ‘museum’ that they’ve set up – basically a load of statues created by a local artist which lie on the bottom of the sea. It’s not that far down so really easy to see and check out the little fishies. We were about to get picked up by our boat and we were chatting about how we really wanted to see sea turtles when I ducked my head under for another look and there it was! A sea turtle!! I almost choked trying to get everyone’s attention, probably saying something like ‘smeaa trurrktle!!’ and we followed it for a while before it disappeared – ahh it was amazing! The boat picked us up again and took us to the reef further out where we saw even more turtles and swam alongside them in the beautiful Caribbean sea.
After the snorkelling tour, our guide unfortunately had a scuba oxygen canister dropped on her foot (OUCH), so myself and Yael helped her with some ice and hobbled over to the nearest bar for a much-needed beer (for her, obvs…) and watched a beautiful sunset.
That evening, through random meet ups and room-mates, a bunch of seven girls (from Holland, US, Australia x2, Sweden, Israel and Ireland!) went out to dinner in Velazquez on the sea front and had a delicious fish dinner and cocktails (of course).
The following day was spent on the beach with Carolina from Sweden and we made friends with the cutest eight week old ever. Lupita, a Xoloitzcuintli (Xolo) which is a Mexican hairless dog. It was so adorable and decided to snuggle up and watch the sunset with me and Carolina whilst his German owner played frisbee in the sea with friends. Awww!
Carolina was headed the same direction as I was to Tulum, so we decided to travel on together and continue our Mexican adventure further south!