My first reaction upon hearing I’d been invited to Acapulco?

I can’t wait for the tacos.

My second?

I just love Mexican culture! And Acapulco, isn’t that the glamorous spot where Old Hollywood used to getaway? Oh, and…the tacos!

The third?

Is it safe?

This third thought only arrived after I announced I was going. Friends, family, and perhaps even you, dear reader, were quick to proclaim your hesitancy for me.

“Be careful!”

“Is that a good idea?”

And my personal favorite, “Have you watched the news recently?”

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Though only a short ferry ride away from Cancun, Isla Mujeres (meaning, “island of women”) seems worlds away.  There are still resorts and beaches dotted with sunbathers, but the island on the Caribbean Sea is small and quiet for the most part. It’s only 7 km in length — in fact golf carts are a popular way to get around.

The island was a Mayan sanctuary to goddess Ixchel for about a thousand years.  If you find yourself in Cancun, but looking for something calmer and a little smaller in scale — with even better access to the natural beauty and culture of the Yucatan…the Isla is worth retreating to.

The laid back feel of Isla Mujeres translated to instant relaxation for me, so take a deep breath and come on a photo journey  there with me now.

Take Me To letters


Isla Mujeres Playa NorteThe white powdery sands of Playa Norte…
Isla Mujeres4Boat trips out on the warm Caribbean Sea…

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I wanted to like Cancun. I really did.

Mostly because I love moments where you’ve begun a trip with low expectations, embraced a place, and realized your relationship to that location has changed due to your experiences.  To me, this is what travel is all about — not mindlessly listening to the opinions of others, but having the courage to keep an open mind and go and see for yourself.

But there was something about Cancun in particular that brought the traveling Scrooge in me.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Californian and the other side of Mexico is neighboring and familiar. Maybe it’s because I like to think the “spring breaker” portion of my life has passed.  Whatever the excuse, Cancun simply wasn’t high on my travel wish list.  So when I booked a spontaneous flight there to attend a travel media conference (TBEX,) I had mixed emotions about what to expect.

And while Cancun itself didn’t foster a change of heart, I did find it to be a great base for exploring a few places that did.  Traveling to Cancun does not have to mean umbrella drinks and compound-like, all-inclusive resorts.  While I enjoy free-flowing cocktails, buffets, and lounging on the beach as much as the next person, these things alone do not pique my interest enough to warrant time away from my life at home.  I needed to go deeper.

Luckily, if you’re brave enough to take to the Mexican roads, a healthy sense of adventure, history, culture, and tradition isn’t very far.

day trips from cancun9

Many travelers head south to Riviera Maya, (more to come there) but I found heading west over into the Yucatan province to be a fascinating detour from the Cancun area.

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