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Isla Mujeres, Mexico: Near Cancun but a world away

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 4, 2014 at 10:02 am •  Published: February 4, 2014

ISLA MUJERES, Mexico (AP) — A half-hour ferry ride from the nonstop party that is Cancun sits an island seductively named Isla Mujeres, or Island of Women.

Less than 5 miles long (8 kilometers) and just a half-mile (.8 kilometer) wide, the tiny Mexican island is an oasis that caters to every set except the rowdy students sowing their oats across the bay. They most certainly would get bored.

Frankly, there just isn't that much for them to do on the island. For everyone else, that's kind of the point.

The escape begins as soon as the cab from the airport drops you off at the dock, where there is, of course, a bar. Grab a couple beers and relax until it's time to board.

Some hotels, such as the idyllic, Italian-themed Villa Rolandi or the perfectly located Avalon Reef Club, will cart you directly to their doors. For others renting a house or staying at a budget hotel, ferries go to the island's main pier downtown.

Try to find a spot on the back of your ferry in the open air to enjoy the view and fresh sea-salt air as Cancun and its thumping music fade slowly away. It's the perfect introduction to your new temporary home in the Caribbean.

Once you arrive, first things first. Get to a beach. Now. Don't worry about where you'll eat, don't worry about unpacking, just throw on that bathing suit and get out there. You'll never forget your first sunset in Isla.

At some point in the first couple days, you'll want to rent a golf cart, the most popular mode of transportation on the island, along with scooters. The cheapest options — roughly $40 a day — will be downtown and include carts styled like Jeep Wranglers and pink Cadillacs.

The next few days depend on how much energy you can scrounge up amid the seductively slow rhythm of the island.

My plan had been to go swimming with whale sharks, play with dolphins, go on a few runs along the ocean, maybe hop over to Cancun for a day trip.

None of that happened. Like I said, island rhythm.

My boyfriend and I would wake with the sun around 6 a.m., eventually wander out to the private beach at our hotel, Villa Rolandi, sip our hot mugs of coffee and stand up to our knees in the warm-enough water as we listened to the ocean and stared in the sky.

The rest of the day would include some combination of lying in the sun, reading, napping, eating fresh lobster, drinking beer and swimming in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

Outside of the private beaches at house rentals and hotels, there are public beaches on the southern side of the island, facing Cancun, with calm, beautiful waters but not a lot of sand or space.

There's the popular and sprawling North Beach on the tip of the island near the tiny, quaint downtown, excellent for people-watching or finding a game of beach volleyball, if you're into that sort of thing. This beach has the closest thing to a party vibe you'll find on the island.

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