Lots of people go to Cancún. Millions. Cringing a little bit at the sardine effect of resorts along the main stretch of pristine, white sand that defines Cancún, we came and we left and I can’t even say that I saw.
Anna is Tim’s old work mate from New Zealand, who is now living in Canada. She flew down to Mexico for about a week to visit, and we spent it on the Yucatan Peninsula. After a false start and a missed flight from Vancouver, we met up with Anna about twelve hours later than planned on the ferry dock to Isla Mujeres. Anna had been to the area once before and had suggested a trip to the island straight away. As she was escaping a dreary, if not overly rainy, Vancouver winter and the demands of a full-time job at PwC, we were happy to go along with the suggestion and log some proper island time.
Isla Mujeres is reached by an easy ferry ride from Cancún, tickets running 146 pesos round-trip. Isla Mujeres is a manageable island, though we only managed to explore the northern section of the island where we were staying; the south will remain a mystery to me. The island is known for beaches, sailing, diving, and snorkelling. The most popular beach is Playa Norte, which was close to where we were staying. The sand is almost pristine, the water clear, and the only real issue is that this (of course) brings the crowds and sometimes a patch of sand is hard to come by. Neverthless, we enjoyed our afternoon on the beach, particularly because of the slackline we set up. Despite my apprehensions of space and weight during our packing session in New Zealand, Tim had insisted on bringing along his slackline. It has been a consistent form of fun and entertainment, and always gets attention from locals and travellers alike, ranging from curious to enthralled. It’s a surefire way to make friends on the beach, though it became so popular that I think Tim only ending up spending about four minutes on it all told.
We were planning on doing some diving in cenotes once we got further south, but neither Anna nor I had been diving in quite some time, and we both have problems equalising. We were keen to do a dive before the cenotes to get back into the swing of things. Tim discovered that Isla Mujeres boasts a very unique diving spot: the underwater museum. A number of sculptures have been placed in the water, designed to create an artificial reef. They are mostly people, and the sea life sprouting over the sculptures is just enough to begin resembling the crew of the Flying Dutchman from Pirates of the Caribbean. It was pretty surreal diving amongst the sculptures, which also included a Volkswagen Beetle. Our second dive on the trip was a reef dive where we were lucky enough to see a handful of puffer fish, lion fish, and two huge eagle rays.
We left the island with the next in mind: we breezed through Cancún for the second time, this time catching a shuttle down to Playa del Carmen where we hopped the next passenger ferry, this time destined for Cozumel.