Just returned from our one week stay on Isla Mujeres and want to add a trip report. We received so many great pointers prior to going from this site. A lot of great information that helped us plan our vacation. We want to add some good, some bad for future planners to use.
First off, the food on Isla is great, from the small mom & pop operations to the fine dinning. We read so much about ball park taco's but had no idea what to expect. Talk about cool, it is actually under the first base bleachers, they throw open the overhead doors and bang, you have the hottest spot in town. But don't get there before 7:30pm, we were warned, you could be banned from taco's for the night or even week. I guess the guy watched to much Steinfeld. Every thing we ate here was great including dessert. He is open until am, so if you get a late night hunger grab a cab and hit the ballpark. If you are really lucky there will be a game of Rapido Soccer going on, its right next door. For us North Americans, it basically indoor soccer played outdoors. For you Canadians, its hockey on a rink without ice with a ball. Fast action, lots of physical play, and only 2 peso's to get in. Now that's a hot date, Ball Park Taco's, Rapido Soccer and I dare you to spend more than $10 a couple. What a great night. But don't miss Turkey Taco's, the family raises their own turkeys and serve up about 8 different styles of tacos. Unbelievably good, and friends told us the Turkey soup was unbelievable. Go ahead gingo's, the places only look scary, the food is great and safe.
For fine dinning I don't think you can beat Rolandi's gourmet at their hotel. Yes it's a bit over the top for a laid back island, but the dress is still island informal and the service unbelievable. Besides, with all the cash you save with a couple trips to ball park and turkey taco's you deserve a pampering. Also can't say enough about the fine dinning at NaBalm, the upstairs restaurant is fantastic. I suggest the Mango shrimp and the Grouper, unbelievable.
As far as accommodations, we did research the site and took the advice to try Vila Las Brisas. Poor choice. Don't get me wrong, the location was great (mid island) easy to get anywhere. That would be if the owner actually followed through with getting us a golf cart rental he promised three days in a row. We asked each night, and early each morning with no success. I finally went downtown on my own, paid less than quoted at Las Brisas and had one within 10 minutes. It appears the owners at Las Brisas viewed their quests as an inconvience. We constantly felt we were getting 1/2 the information we needed to fully enjoy the island. In fact one night it was pouring rain and another couple asked if Curtis would mind calling them a cab rather than walk two blocks in a torrential downpour to the taxi stand. You would have thought it was the end of the world by all the excuses he gave not to call. Luckily a cab drove by as we listened to the reasons he can't use a phone to get some service to his hotel.
Then came the boat trip from hell. We were set up for a group of 6 of us to visit Isla Contoy by Curtis the owner. After the cab fiasco don't ask why I would expect more than what we got. We paid twice as much as any other trip to the island, but were promised great things. After all in Mexico, you get what you pay for, according to our host. Well we got it all right, to small a boat (it started private trip with 6 people, the captain and his assistant) in a 22 foot panga, going 16 nautical miles through rough seas. But add to the mess that the captain decided to help out another trip (one that sent a sizable boat with seaworthiness) and haul 4 of their guests that missed their boat. Lets see, that's 12 people in a 22 foot Panga with a sixty-horse motor. Guess what, we never caught the other boat until we made it all the way to Contoy, drenched and weather beaten. By the time the group of 4 found their boat on Contoy they couldn't be happier to ride home high and dry for their $45 fee, while we got to beat into the wind again for $75 a head. Oh, I forgot, half way to the island the captain decided it was a great time to drop the lines and fish, since he had no other options to serve for lunch. You can guess how this ended up, 12 people, a small Panga, lots of water over the rail. What the heck, I may as well add a Barracuda to the mix. So I did. The thing wouldn't die, we got it in the boat before it tried to snap off the Captains draw string on his shorts (I think it was aiming lower). I finally got a good rap on its head with a sandal that calmed things down, better than loosing a toe in the Kao's. Well that would have been enough fun for a day, except the captain wasn't really licensed to go on the island (they only allow 200 visitors a day) so we got pretty well told we were not welcome. Our lunch became Civiche Barracuda in the middle of the boat at the dock. What an adventure !
Villa las Brisas is a nice place, the rooms are small but clean. There is a real lack of storage space, so you basically live out of you suitcase. People told us the upstairs open air rooms are neat, but two nights it was unseasonably cool and the shutters started banging up there. I can't believe they slept a wink. Oh, and traffic noise ! when we signed on to the Island we imagined golf carts, bikes a few cabs. Total piece and quite, wrong ! Villa las Brisas is about 2 feet off the main drag that the taxi drivers and supply trucks use to hit the far end of the island due to the reduced speed bumps. Conveniently there is a big speed bump just feet past Las Brisas, so starting about am supply trucks barrel up to the speed bump, negotiate it, and then hit the gas. The noise is unbelievable for an island that bills getting away from it all.
After reviewing other property's on the island ( we heard great things about Hotel Secreto, La Casa dela Suenos and Playa la Media Luna ) I can't imagine why Villa Las Brisas got such rave reviews. The owners defiantly need a refresher coarse in hospitality and helpful island attitude.