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An easy, laid-back island just a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres seems a world away from modern Cancun.
Several Cancun marinas offer tours to Isla Mujeres, and ferries leave from Puerto Juarez every half hour and also from Punta Sam. The snorkeling is excellent here; Garrafón National Park or the Manchones Reef are both good spots to don a mask and snorkel. Another good location is Bahía Mujeres, at the southern tip of the island.
Isla Mujeres is also part of a National Park containing the Mesoamerican Reef System. Reef dives are often done off the west coast of Isla Mujeres.
A new sculpture park on the southern point offers a glimpse of marine themed works from Mexico and the world’s artists. The shell by Pedro Cervantes is a fine example of this prominent Mexican sculptor’s powerful work.
The island’s turtle sanctuary is one of the most interesting sites, enjoyed by adults and children alike. This reserve is home to six species of sea turtles, various ages of which can be seen paddling around a series of indoor and outdoor pools. Turtles are raised and returned to the wild; some are rescues that now call the sanctuary home. The sanctuary is a wonderful opportunity to see wild turtles of all ages in the process of being repatriated.
One very special boutique resort is the Villa Rolandi, operated by the locally famous Italian restaurant family. This is a deluxe property, with private ferry to and from Cancun, and the restaurant is an attraction in and of itself. Other good options on this very quiet island include the Avalon Reef Club and the Na Balaam Beach Hotel.