We arrived on June 16th for our first visit to Isla and after 8 days we came home on June 23rd. Our group consisted of myself and my daughter and a girlfriend of mine and her son (they have visited Isla for eight years). Like others we all experienced many new things and enjoyed a good sampling of what Isla offers.
* Chili Loco's, wonderful food, service and attention. Enjoyed meeting Donna and her mango pineapple marmalade is wonderful!
* M & J's for breakfast was good, you must try their asparagus crepe (fabulous!!!!).
* Angelo's - great Italian food.
* Rolandi's - of course it was excellent.
* A restaurant straight across from Chili Loco's that I can not remember the name of, but it has been open since December. The owners are a young couple and the food and service was excellent. The kids ordered chicken fried steak, because they were craving American food. When it was served they looked at it and thought, "this does not look like it does at home." By the time they finished, everything on their plates, they were exclaiming that it was the best chicken fried steak they had ever eaten.
* Zama's Beach Club - Great food and service. The feel of being on an island was stronger here because the hustle and bustle sounds of being in town was not in the air - only the sea breeze and the sound of the waves. If you are out in a boat, request to stop here for a drink and/or a meal, you will not regret it. There are three pools to enjoy and the bathrooms are clean and have showers for you to use so you will feel fresher while eating.
* Carolina's - I was not adventurous enough to eat here for breakfast, but everyone else liked it.
* All of the above restaurants.
* Posada del Mar Hotel - request the new building because the beds have springs instead of the mattress on a cement block as in the old building. We were told that they are not reserving bungalows any longer and the palm trees are so tall that they obstruct the view from the second and third floor of the old building. Posada has been in business for over 50 years and it has the charm of the island, the service is excellent, it is very clean and if there is a problem they correct it immediately.
* Hortencia's - you will find her little shop on Carlos Lazo street between Matamoros and Lopez Mateos (closer to Lopez Mateos) see map at http://www.isla-mujeres.net/maps/centroprint.htm It isn't marked for stores, but you can see where the streets are. Purchase your Isla souvenirs there before you shop on Hidalgo. It is fun to select your material and let her make something for you, but do not expect any thing elaborate - she only stitches straight lines. The wrap-around pants (fisherman pants) are $13, a short wrap-around skirt and top was $11. I had already purchased a purse at another store and Hortencia was $10 less for the exact purse. Be sure and look at her beaded purses, she told us that she makes them herself and it takes her three months to make one purse and they are worth the $50 that she ask for them. She also makes necklaces, bracelets, and anklets all at prices less than on Hidalgo.
* Hire Lorenzo for a snorkeling or fishing trip. You can contact him by cell phone - 011-52-998-578-1928. We were invited to go on a snorkeling trip with him so I do not know what he charges, but I enjoyed his experience, knowledge and felt very safe.
* If there is one recommendation that I could make to someone traveling to Isla for the first time it would be to make reservations for round-trip airport transfer to and from the ferry through Cancun Valet, cancunvalet.com It was nice to walk out of the airport, see your name on a sign, your luggage loaded in the van for you, air conditioning turned on, and the driver is clean, friendly and converses with you. We took a taxi returning to the airport from the ferry and I decided it would be worth the additional $20, the difference between taxi and Cancun Valet.
* If you are a coffee drinker and an early riser - take a coffee pot, coffee, etc. with you. You will not find any thing open prior to 7 or 7:30.
* Being in line for customs and realizing that it was the luck of pushing a button and that "I" had to push it to know whether I received a red or green light. I was the last of our group to go through and I was laughing so hard at how absurd this was that all the custom officers were laughing with me. I'm sure that I would not have been laughing if the light had been red though!
* The bed being so hard that when I turned over I bounced!
* Waking up the first morning to the sounds of birds talking back and forth, opening the drapes hoping that it would be some exotic birds, but to find that it was the same black birds that we have at home!
* Sitting in the Posada del Mar restaurant, over looking the street, and watching a pickup truck go by with an uncovered container full of two slabs of meat jiggling at every bump in the road. Thinking of it being served at restaurants that day so I would only eat pasta.
* Feeling lucky that I experienced one beautiful sunset the first evening, crossing the Mujeres Bay from Cancun because clouds and rain obscured the sunsets the next six nights.
* The water being so clear and so many shades of turquoise that is intensified by the softest white sand that is only found in paradise.
* Being invited to go snorkeling for the first time and being so proud of myself for over coming my fear. Now I understand why people learn to scuba - you just have to get closer.
* After snorkeling stopping at Zama's to have lunch. The view and food were excellent. But more import was the new friends we were with and the time that we shared with them.
* The kids going on a fishing trip and shortly after they left it started raining and moms started pacing with worry. Then only two returned early and the other two remained until a fish was caught to win a bet and returned soaked to the skin, but with a grin from ear to ear.
* Going shopping in the raining and not caring.
* Walking the streets of Isla and obsorbing the sounds of their daily life.
* Having dinner at Chili Loco's when the rain shower turned into a thunderstorm and the electricity went out. A total blackness like that is never experienced living in a big city.
* Meeting several members from this board and getting to know them. Sharing Isla stories, knowledge, generosity and friendships.
* My daughter forming a special bond with other visiting teenagers and promising each other to return each year.
* Savannah, that lives in Isla, that will forever be our friend.
* While unpacking being able to smell the saltiness and feel the sand one more time before it is washed away.
* As each day ended I realized that one week would never be enough time to do all of the things that I wanted to do and understand why others start planning their next visit upon leaving so that we can continue the "want to do" list.
To do list ~
* Request more information about the needs of the children and families of Isla and how to make donations.
* Learn Spanish.
* Learn how to scuba dive.
Lessons Learned ~
* That the "Isla want to do" list will never be finished and as long as there is a list I will return.
* That there are two time zones on Isla - Mexican and American. When the pace of life is slower new adventures last longer.
A Thank You ~
* A special thank you to GP for your friendship and including our little group with yours. Our memories of Isla will always include you and the boys.
* Upon arriving at this little island you immerse yourself in the vibrant sun, the cleansing of the sand and air, and become enchanted and embraced by the warmth and charm that is within the souls of the native islanders.