Oddly enough, it was my husband who suggested we take a tropical vacation to Mexico over a year ago (usually I dream up our vacations and he goes along for the ride – like our honeymoon to Fiji ♥). I jumped all over his suggestion like white on rice, and thanks to TripAdvisor’s ever-honest forums came up with the destination of Isla Mujeres, which is called the Island of Women. With historical references to the Maya goddess of childbirth, it is rumored that women would visit the island to honor Goddess Ix Chel in hopes of achieving a successful pregnancy and healthy birth. Oddly enough, we planned this vacation before knowing I was pregnant! Karma or whatever you want to call it…#strange.
So we paid and planned…and planned…and planned. I made a long list of
things to do places to eat. We got a passport for Mr. George and renewed my passport. I mapped out every destination on a map I printed – but soon enough said screw that noise and bought a $17 MapChick Guide – which was so much better. We researched traveling abroad with children and discovered the best apps for making plane rides bearable. Not surprisingly, George wasn’t all that interested in apps but mostly enamored with pictures and videos of himself. Early selfies if you will. Then, around Thanksgiving, we got our first huge snowstorm in Minnesota and IT. WAS. TIME:
Time for Isla!
The weather was perfect – only slightly cloudy on the day we arrived and the day we left! The only negative of the whole trip was the fact that I couldn’t drink – but I could eat. So I ate and ate. I really can’t complain about the non-alcoholic piña coladas, either. Something about the fresh pineapple and fresh coconut made me not-so-forlorn. George was an all-star traveler – the only rough patches came when we were leaving the beach for naptime. We travel lightly – carry-ons only, so even travel days went really smoothly. George insisted on pulling my luggage which was so adorable. I love this kid.
The best thing about this destination was (of course!) the beach – so we spent as much time as possible there. The water is amazing – crystal clear, calm and deserted (if you’ve found the right corner of the island). This picture and video really show the clarity and calmness of the ocean:
Seriously deserted, seriously beautiful beach
We could wade almost all the way to the hotel on the opposite side of this inlet. It was the perfect depth for small children. And drunk adults.
Our daily routine always started with walking (or driving the golf cart) to breakfast – Mango Cafe was our favorite and I wish we’d eaten there more often. The food and coffee couldn’t be beat. We also wish we’d asked about purchasing their coffee instead of the mundane variety we bought at the Chedraui. It was the best coffee we’ve ever had, and we’ve tried coffee from all over the world (we buy bulk and roast our own beans via Sweet Maria’s).
I didn’t teach George cheese-face, but it does come out on occasion.
After breakfast we’d head to the beach. For the first few days we visited the beach right outside our hotel, Hotel Ixchel, but after massages at Spa Onali the owner advised us to try the beach by Mia Reef Club, which was calmer. His advice was golden – we drove our golf cart to that beach from that day on. The last day we decided to try the hotel pool which was a lot more thrilling than we ever imagined – George practically swam by himself with his puddle-jumper life vest. We had the pool to ourselves, and we used the floaties we brought to laze around, taking turns swimming with George.
When George was ready for a nap, we would go back to the hotel and shower, nap and get ready for dinner. Lola Valentina was one of my favorites – we both really enjoyed our meals and had a delicious dessert which was some kind of traditional Mexican chocolate-filled tortilla.
Mamma Rosa was one of my favorites – I had an amazing pasta with white sauce, but Ross was not happy with his sausage pasta. We also shared a tiramisu which was exceptional. This restaurant had a great location right in the middle of town and it was fun and lively. Dad bought George a toy monkey from a street vendor which at first interested him then terrified him. That monkey didn’t make the trip home.
Abuelos was a wonderful locally-owned restaurant that had delicious food prepared in the nearby kitchen. You could smell, hear and watch your food being prepared and you could tell ingredients were fresh. We ordered the featured fish entrees which were perfect.
It was a perfect, low-key vacation for a budget-conscience family with a small child and pregnant mommy. We were very happy with our decision to visit this small island and with our minimal investment in a week of relaxed beachfront fun!
Mom at Bally-Hoo beachfront restaurant