There are many good reasons to learn a new language, and traveling, is certainly one of the best motivations to do it. Today, we are going to look at a place so beautiful, that practicing Spanish there seems like a privilege only the “chosen ones” should enjoy.
We are talking about the beautiful Mexican island known as Isla Mujeres. This place is located about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of the famous Cancún in the Caribbean sea. It´s not a huge place, the island is approximately 4.2 miles long (7 kilometers) and 2,100 feet wide (650 meters).
This is a satellite view of Cancún (on the left) and Isla Mujeres (on the right)…
How to get there?
Well, as we just mentioned it is an island. Therefore, unless you are a great swimmer; the best way to get there is via the ferrys known as “Ultramar”. They are the fastest and nicest around (a one way trip only takes about 15 minutes).
To take this ferry, you will need to head to Puerto Juarez in Cancún. In case you are traveling with pets, you should go to “Gran Puerto” a different place, because no pets are allowed in the ferrys leaving from Puerto Juarez.
A few useful Spanish phrases to find the ferry terminal at Puerto Juarez may be:
- Where can I get a taxi?
- ¿Dónde puedo tomar un taxi?
- How much to go to Puerto Juarez?
- ¿Cuánto por ir a Puerto Juárez?
- That´s too expensive!
- ¡Eso es muy caro!
Learn more phrases over here: More
This is what the ferry looks like:
You can see the magnificent view from the upper deck!
This is what Isla Mujeres looks like when you arrive on the ferry:
Now, let’s take a looks at some interesting things to see in this beautiful tropical paradise along with a few phrases in Spanish for beginners who are learning the language.
1- Go to the beach and float around!
Isla Mujeres is a beautiful place, there is no doubt about that. One of the places that stands out because of its beauty is the northern area of the island. Make sure to visit the shallow beach in front of Avalon Hotel (you can’t miss it; it’s the big hotel on the last tip of the island.
Just walk left after getting off the ferry if you have Cancun behind you). The calm and shallow waters of this beautiful beach make it the perfect spot to float around and forget about everything. It is a unique place worth experiencing.
This is what the beach near Avalon Hotel looks like while you are sitting down enjoying a beer…
This is how the right hand section side looks like (it´s like a small crystalline pond!)…
This is what the beach near Avalon Hotel looks like from the sand (look at the little kid on the left at 00:25, he is so cute!)…
This is what it looks like from above (click on the map and drag it to look around)…
This is what the beach looks like from the bridge that goes to Avalon Hotel…
and this is what the beautiful sunsets at Isla Mujeres look like…
A few basic Spanish phrases to find this beautiful beach are:
- Excuse me, which way is Avalon Hotel?
- Disculpe, ¿para adónde está el Hotel Avalon?
- Excuse me, where can I rent Snorkeling gear?
- Disculpe, ¿dónde puedo rentar equipo para hacer snorkeling?
- Excuse me, where can I buy sunblock?
- Disculpe, ¿dónde puedo comprar bloqueador solar?
Learn more phrases here: Basic Phrases in Spanish
2- Rent a golf cart and drive around the island
Isla Mujeres is not huge (it´s about 5 miles long), because of this; renting a golf cart is a great way to go around the island (you can do it in 1 hour if you don’t stop too much).
This is what driving around in a golf cart looks like at Isla Mujeres (lots of fun!)…
A word of caution, there are MANY iguanas on the island, so please be careful with them while driving (seriously), here is one of the signs you will see…
If you decide to rent a golf cart, make sure to stop by “Punta Sur” for a few minutes. It is the south end of the island and the first place where the sun hits Mexico upon sunrise. It is also a beautiful place to have lunch, the view is magnificent.
This is what a quick visit to Punta Sur looks like…
There is a restaurant at Punta Sur with a magnificent view of the Caribbean, this is how it looks:
Near Punta Sur, there is a vantage point with a spectacular view of the Ocean and Cancún, It is a great place to take a photo and enjoy a moment of inner peace.
This is what the view looks like…
and these are a few photos of that view (you can see Cancún in the background):
Bonus tip, on the way back from Punta Sur, if you feel like learning a little about local culture, take a detour and stop by the church with the most spectacular view I have ever encountered.
Just ask for “Mango´s Café” (a DELICIOUS little restaurant located in front of the church). If you decide to visit the church, use a quiet voice and be particularly respectful and quiet if there is a service in progress.
This is what the church looks like from the inside (see the ocean in the back!):
These are some views from the East side of the island (the side facing the Caribbean Sea)…
These are a few simple phrases that may help beginners learning Spanish find a golf cart for rent.
- Excuse me, where can I rent a golf cart?
- Disculpe, ¿dónde puedo rentar un carro de golf?
- How much is it to rent a golf cart for 1 hour?
- ¿Cuánto cuesta rentar un carro de golf por una hora?
- Do you accept credit cards?
- ¿Acepta tarjetas de crédito?
Learn more phrases over here: More
3- Go snorkeling and say hi to nemo.
There are many different places to go snorkeling at Isla Mujeres, but one of the best places to visit is “Garrafón de Castilla”.
If you are a beginner with an independent spirit and want to visit a safe and inexpensive place, this is the way to go.
You pay a small fee to get in (around 4 dollars) and another fee for renting your gear (about 15 dollars for the entire day).
You can also buy food for the fish, an inexpensive treat worth every penny. They also have a niche beach and a simple restaurant with reasonably priced food. Most importantly, the snorkeling area is safe and the friendly fish are the stars of the show.
See what others have to say about it on Tripadvisor here.
This is what a snorkeling adventure at Garrafón de Castilla looks like…
This is what the beach at Garrafón de Castilla looks like…
and this is what the friendly and perpetually hungry iguanas at Garrafón de Castilla look like:
4- Go swim with the dolphins.
Swimming with one of the most amazing ocean creatures you will ever meet is another unforgettable adventure Isla Mujeres has to offer. If this is something that sounds interesting, Dolphin Discovery is the place to go.
and this is what it looks like from the street…
This is a quick overview of what the experience looks like (with a little Spanish in it, so you can practice)…
This is what it looks like from the inside…
and this is what the stars of the show look like in action…
5- Eat fresh fish on the beach
There are some amazing and inexpensive restaurants near the ferry terminal of Isla Mujeres. Just walk left (with Cancún behind you) and you will find some excellent alternatives. Just keep in mind, the simpler they are, the better and more authentic the food will be (and the less expensive they will be as well).
Following this logic, the best ones will be right on the sand, no fancy floor tiles. My favorite? Minino´s, inexpensive, authentic and delicious. Here, you will often see the fresh fish delivered straight from the beach.
It doesn´t get much fresher than that (maybe if you cooked it on the boat, but I haven´t found a restaurant like that yet).
Here are a few phrases that may be useful to find a Restaurant:
- Excuse me, do you know where is “Minino´s Restaurant”?
- Disculpe, ¿sabe dónde está el Restaurant Minino´s?
- We want a table for 4
- Queremos una mesa para 4 personas
- Excuse me, how much is this dish?
- Disculpe, ¿cuánto cuesta este platillo?
Bonus Tip, Walk around downtown and follow your palate…
There are many amazing Mexican and international restaurants around downtown, just walk around and find something that looks interesting. Here are a few recommendations…
Cuban Food: Qubano
If you feel like trying something different with an authentic (and refreshing) mojito by your side, visit this place. Try the “Torta Cubana” (shown on the left) or the “Tostón” (shown on the right):
You can also find little coffee places to relax like this one, Café Mogagua …
While walking around downtown, you may stumble with a few pintoresque guardians like these ones (they are friendly)…
Additional cultural bonus tip #1 – Learn a little Mayan playing “Lotería Yucateca”.
If you want to learn about the regional culture, you can play “Lotería Yucateca” (or “Bingo from Yucatán), it is a variation on traditional Mexican bingo with words in the Mayan language, many of which are still used in the region today.
Playing this game using mayan words is a challenge, even for native Spanish speakers. You can buy the game in several places in Cancún. This is their official website with some examples of the words and images included, along with places where it can be purchased: Lotería Yucateca
and here are a few photos from a physical set bought is Cancún (near the Central Bus Station)…
Additional cultural bonus tip #2 – Go shopping at local stores.
There are many local stores where the inhabitants of Isla Mujeres buy groceries, and visiting these places is a great way to get a vibe of the local culture and allowing yourself to be surprised while keeping an open mind.
Here is one example, at Isla Mujeres, all motorcycle drivers MUST wear a helmet by law, and so many people use small motorcycles that it is not uncommon to find people wearing their helmets inside the local stores.
This is something you will rarely see in other places in Mexico. The big store known as Chedraui is a good place to see this by yourself. Take a look…
Do you have any questions about Spanish or would you like to share a few interesting things to do in Isla Mujeres? Please share your thoughts in the comments section available at the end of this post, we would love to hear from you, even if it is just to say hi.
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