A couple of days ago I received an email from a reader asking for my must-do list while visiting Isla Mujeres. This inspired me to put together a list of the things I wouldn’t miss. (In no particular order.)
1. Ceviche at Mininos
Almost every day I had octopus ceviche at this family-owned restaurant. The seafood is super fresh, right off the boat. You can sit near the water, take your shoes off, and dig your feet into the cool sand while dining. If you’re lucky, you’ll be there when the marimba players are performing. They are brothers and rumor has it that one stabbed the other once during a disagreement. This isn’t why they are worth seeing though. The music is a nice addition to the relaxed atmosphere and superb ceviche.
2. Skip the margaritas and have a mojito with Cuban rum.
Añejo 7 años to be exact. With its proximity to Cuba, Isla Mujeres is host to several Cuban restaurants and Cuban rum is plentiful.
3. Dinner at Lolo Lorena‘s
Each week Lolo opens her home to dinner guests and the experience is like no other on the island, or anywhere else for that matter. Dinner is served in the courtyard behind her kitchen, communal-style (unless you book a private dinner). Our group included a mixture of travelers and locals. Each dish was plated beautifully, similar to a gourmet restaurant. Lolo is Belgian and quite the artist, with food and tile (ask for a tour of the rooms she rents as part of her bed and breakfast). Call the number listed on her Facebook page to make a reservation.
4. Drink water from a coconut.
There are several fruit stands on the island, including one in front of Mininos that is strictly coconuts, where you can have the top cut off of a fresh coconut and drink the water directly from it. Delicious.
5. El Varadero Cuban Restaurant
The meal I had at El Varadero rivaled Lolo’s for the best meal on the island. Lolo suggested it herself when my husband and I stayed with her. It’s not an easy find. We found ourselves at the Embarcadero after telling our taxi driver El Varadero, so be careful! If you get lost, don’t give up. The camarones a la diabla is a magnificent dish and I still think about it.
This Italian run gelato and sorbetto shop (with espresso and pastries) became our nightly treat. After a long hot day, nothing else on the island compares. There are other gelato shops, but this is the best. The owner is a sweetheart and was my favorite person on the island to practice my Spanish skills with.
7. Fresh churros
Each night the churro stand sets up next to the plaza in El Centro. Go early. They are best when they are soft and fresh.
8. Chaya drink at Elements of the Island
Nice refreshing juice drink made with Chaya.
9. Sunset on Playa Norte
Watching the sun set over the beautiful turquoise water left tears in my eyes and it was the only time on the island that I needed my poncho. Our vantage point was on the beach outside of Fenix Lounge, where we lingered for tapas and wine.
10. Golf cart ride to Punta Sur
Renting a golf cart will set you back about $55 (US dollars) a day but it’s worth it. When you get to Punta Sur, walk past the sculpture garden to view the Mayan ruins. Follow the path a bit further and you’ll find yourself at the Easternmost point of Mexico. Go early to avoid crowds and even earlier to be the first in the country to see the sunrise.
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