Week 1 – Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres means the women’s island because it was an island sacred to the Mayan godess of childbirth, the Spanish named it after all the images of women they found there. It is extremely beautiful and holds the world’s 5th most beautiful beach, Playa Norte.

The reason we chose to go to Isla Mujeres instead of just relaxing in Cancun for a  few days, is that it is just not relaxing. It is also in the middle of springbreak, and our family is just not so much into nightclubs, dressing up and blingbling for the moment, and Julian already went to Spring Break in Cancun 2005, just before meeting Andrea! It is just off the coast from Cancun so was easy to get to from the airport.

Our first day started at 5.30 with all of us wide awake, after a long lie in (Swedish time!). We went to the beach, where the sun hadn’t risen yet, the kids chased birds on the beach, finally unleashed after 24 hours travelling! Instantly, the crazy journey felt worth the effort, feeling free and ready for a long adventure.

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Elisa and Edward wide awake at 5.30am after chasing birds on the beach

We spent the day hanging out at the pool, walking around, having a big breakfast and went back to the beach that evening. Alexander’s diet evolved to eating sand and Edward and Elisa loved playing in the waves until they both inevitably got smashed around and drank sea water. Suddenly as the sun was setting, out of nowhere, 2 older men arrived with a bucket of soapy water and fishing rods. They waved around their sticks and filled the air with giant bubbles. It was totally magical and all the children on the beach started chasing them. It is amazing how these simple, natural things like staring at fire are the most amazing!

Elisa only wanted to eat hamburgers, Alex would eat anything, especially the soil and grass in the garden and Edward wanted to eat chicken nuggets so we learnt quite quickly not to ask the children what they wanted and instead tried a few places we read about on trip advisor. A local fruit market kept us topped up with bananas (eaten by all 3 of our monkeys) and Loncheria Alexia y Geovanny next door was a favourite with 4 different holes in the wall with plastic chairs and tables serving tacos and Aguas Frescas from fresh fruit. Andrea can recommend the shrimp ceviche!

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One day we hired a golf cart, the easiest way to get around the island. The roads are full of these little slow cars, and you feel safe despite the lack of windows, doors or safetybelts…  Alex was in his babybjörn on Andrea’s tummy, Julian was driving with Elisa at the back and Edward at the front wedged in with the folded pushchair to avoid him falling out as soon as he falls asleep (instantly in a car). We went to a Turtle farm, had lunch at a lovely restaurant, the Mango Cafe, which is probably the best lunch we’ve had so far.

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We strongly recommend the beautiful beach just opposite the Mia reef hotel (a hysterically luxurious hotel that charges you 45 usd per person just to cross the bridge over to the hotel… not really for our family). The beach opposite though is unbelievably beautiful, has lots of shady palmtrees, turquoise water, very shallow water suitable for kids and hundreds of fish to see (you don’t even need a snorkel, the water is so clear). Bring some bread and 100s of big fish will come and swim in circles around you.

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Overal, Isla Mujeres is low key and with lots of families, and loads of American and Canadian retirees that come to spend 1-2 months there in the winter so an odd mix, but not so backpackery. It’s basically a long island with touristy town on the north with lots of hotels and restaurants and the incredible Playa Norte, then a very thin strip with the local town in the middle and beach hotels and restaurants along the west coast all the way to the southern tip. The East coast is pretty quiet with very rough waves and no swimming or beaches. So 6-7 days was just enough for us, but it was the perfect start, with very easy and relaxed family travelling on Isla Mujeres.

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