A Fun Family Vacation To Isla Mujeres & Cancun, Mexico
After a short flight at 6:00 in the morning on a fully packed Southwest flight with a couple crying babies and two big guys with bad breath and lots of elbows sitting next to me, we arrived in Cancun Mexico for a weeks vacation. Customs was a breeze, a big van was waiting for us right outside the airport, and it was only a 13 minute ride to the ferry followed by an 8 mile boat ride across clear blue water to Isla Mujeres, which is "Spanish for "island of women."
Isla Mujeres, which is only 4 miles long and 2100 feet wide, is just across the bay from Cancun and it's known for it's laid back and tranquil vibe, white sand beaches, calm crystal clear turquoise waters, and friendly locals plus it's fun bars and good restaurants. The major mode of transportation is motor scooters and golf carts - and the roads downtown are packed with both. The locals drive fast and its not unusual to see a family of 4 buzz by you on their tiny red scooter loaded with groceries and their two young kids!
Our first stop once we got off the ferry was a bar for the first of many margaritas, Pina Coladas, and lots cold beer and appetizers! Then we (the wife and I, our Dallas daughter , husband and two kids, and our Austin daughter with her husband and three kids) jumped in a taxi for a ride to our beautiful house right on the beach and one house down from a beach bar. Five minutes after arriving we were in our bathing suits and in the pool followed by a dip in the ocean. Our rental house was amazing - three stories, 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, a large outdoor patio, a pool, and 15 steps to the ocean. It came with two golf carts, a chef and helper to cook us breakfast each morning, a maid, a concierge who checked on us each day, made recommendations on things to do, arranged for transportation, and made restaurant reservation - we didn't have to do anything but eat, drink, and have fun. That's my kind of vacation.
Over the next four days, some of what we did included:
- fast golf cart rides that covered the entire island
- checked out the Dolphin Discovery, discovered it was $150 to swim with a fish, and left
- stops at several bars for lunch, apps, and drinks - our favorite ones had swim up bars
- some time at the north end to check out the bars, beaches and do some snorkeling
- took the house's kayaks and paddleboards out for fun paddle
- watched some local Mexican teams battle it out in rousing game of soccer
- dining and drinking at several more beach bars
- cart ride to the southern tip of Isla Mujeres and Punta Sur to check out the beautiful view, the hundreds of iguanas, the Punta Sur Sculpture Garden, and the lighthouse
One morning we chartered a 40 foot catamaran from Cancun Sailing which picked us up at the dock next door to our house for a 5 hour sailing and snorkeling cruise. Unfortunately, it was an overcast day, with sprinkles on and off, and 30 knot winds. The wind made for great sailing but when we arrived at the snorkeling spot an hour later, it was too windy and rough to snorkel! So we had them sail us back to the house and we rescheduled a trip while we were in Cancun. We still had an enjoyable sail, some laughs, some beautiful scenery, and several margaritas.
All too soon we were packed, back on the ferry to Cancun, and a van ride to Moon Palace Resort & Spa which is just a few miles from the Cancun airport. Moon Palace Cancun is a huge resort with thousands of rooms spread over 3 adjoining properties, a multitude of restaurants, lots of activities, a spa, several swimming pools, beach activities, fitness center, and tons more. We stayed at a couple different all inclusive resorts before and the service was bad, the drinks were watered down, and the food was mediocre! Not the case with Moon Palace who is a pioneer in the all-inclusive concept. We thought the free drinks were excellent, the variety of restaurants and cuisine was very good, and the service was unbelievable - fast, courteous, and a high ratio of staff to guests. And I never had to carry money, worry about the exchange rate, or stress over how much I was spending on food and drinks. As such, I ate and drank way too much!
We also liked the variety of shows at Moon Palace that they had each night - we saw fire dancers, a magician, and a Michael Jackson show. My favorite was the Circus with a lot of stuff going one simultaneously - dancing, juggling, contortionists, muscular pole dancers, fireworks, and more.
The same crew we had on the catamaran in Isla Mujeres was waiting with our favorite drinks in hand as we walked down the dock one morning to board Cancun Sailing's 40 foot catamaran for a 3 hour sail and snorkel trip. The crew of 4 was fantastic and waited on us hand and foot and always with a smile on their face! As soon as my drink was close to empty they were asking if I wanted another one and they were always there to offer a helping hand or do what they could to make our sail fun, relaxing, and pleasant. . The sun was out, the breeze was gentle, and the snorkeling was good at two different stops.
First stop for snorkeling was the Underwater Museum of Cancun which is divided into two sections and consists of more than 470 life-sized sculptures. The second stop was at a fishing boat that sank in shallow water just off the shore of Cancun.
The highlight of our trip to Cancun (besides the free food and drink, sailing, and the Circus) was playing three Jack Nicklaus Signature Courses. Each course had it's own unique personality and characteristics, the conditions were near perfect, the greens were excellent, and the layout was fun and challenging but fair. Here is a link to our review of the Moon Palace Spa & Golf Club Dunes and Jungle courses and the review of Riviera Cancun Golf Club.
All to soon we were back in Austin with a bigger tummy and several pounds overweight, sun burned from head to toe, and wishing for another free Margarita or Pina Colada! And at each meal I kept wanting to go back for seconds and waiting for someone to hand me a drink!