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  Located just a quick 20 min. ferry-boat ride off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres offers travelers a unique getaway from the big hotels and nightclubs. This Caribbean island moves at an idyllic pace compared with bustling Cancun.

Sculpture Park Isla Mujeres If you prefer simplicity to pretense then you will feel completely happy in this beautiful small island of white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, complemented by a town filled with Caribbean-colored clapboard houses and rustic, open-air restaurants.

Numerous small hotels and boutique suites provide for a variety in lodgings, and while the island is fairly small, it is easy to get around with plenty to explore and do while you are there. It is very popular with European travelers year-round.

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Isla Mujeres: Simply another pace
Days in "Isla" -- as the locals call it -- can alternate between adventurous activity and absolute repose. Trips to the Isla Contoy bird sanctuary are popular, as are the excellent diving, fishing, and snorkeling -- in 1998, the island's coral coast became part of Mexico's Marine National Park. The island and several of its traditional hotels attract regular gatherings of yoga practitioners. In the evening, most people find the slow, casual pace one of the island's biggest draws.

The cool night breeze is a perfect accompaniment to casual open-air dining and drinking in small street-side restaurants. Many people pack it in as early as 9 or 10pm, when most of the businesses close. Those in search of a party, however, will find kindred souls at the bars on Playa Norte that stay open late.

Isla Mujeres small central village
Isla Mujeres twilight
Isla Mujeres sailing
What to do in Isla Mujeres:
The north end of the island is known for it's wide beaches and calm waters, perfect for wading or relaxing, and it's safe for children.

You will find great snorkeling and diving at El Garrafon National Park on the southern end of the island, or you can work on that perfect tan at beautiful North Beach.

Visiting Isla Mujeres without stopping by El Garrafon park, is like going to Rome and not visit the Coliseum. Much of the coral reef at this national marine park has died and so the fish have to be bribed with food. The park does have kayaks and a three-floor facility with restaurants and gift shops. Despite these efforts to keep you entertained, bring a book if you intend to spend the day, and try to claim one of the hammocks under the palms on the lawn. Marine-park tickets are available at the park entrance and at kiosks in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Next to El Garrafon, at the southernmost point of Isla Mujeres is the Sculpture Park, a space worth visiting due to its combination of modern mexican artists' works, and the great views of a cliff with spectacular waves breaking at your feet.

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