Following on from my previous post about Isla Mujeres, I wanted to go into more detail about the afternoon I spent at Capitan Dulche. This is a unique beach club which mixes relaxation with culture, as it also has a sculpture garden and hosts the only museum on the island.
Like all other attractions from the island, Capitan Dulche can easily be reached by fixed rate taxi or by renting a golf cart for the day. If you order food and drink at the bar the entrance fee is waved and you are welcome to spend all day on the private beach which includes loungers and a volleyball net.
By far my favourite thing about Capitan Dulche is the extremely unique boat bar – you can see the ship’s mast rising up from the surrounding landscape. The style evokes imagery of pirates sailing the Caribbean and the barrels of rum they’d consume.
The beach has a small dock that expands out into the bay, providing a scenic walkway or place to sit and watch the local wildlife.
The grounds of Capitan Dulche also act as a sculpture garden, with maritime pieces and musical figurines dotted on the dock, grass and hillside.
The main building hosts a formal dining veranda that can be rented for events and weddings, while the downstairs is the island’s Maritime Museum. The museum collection includes model ships and items from throughout the local naval history, including details about Mexico’s most famous diver and oceanographer, Ramon Bravo, along with his even more famous contemporary, Jacques Cousteau.
I found Capitan Dulche to be a real treat while on Isla Mujeres as it managed to mix the two things I love most while travelling; beautiful beaches and cultural history.
Isla Mujeres is a small island situated closely off the coast from Cancun. While it’s only 6.8k away in distance, in terms of atmosphere it’s a world away. While I was only on the island for around 24 hours I was able to see many of the sights and get a great feel for the atmosphere.
Isla Mujeres is a short ferry ride from Puerto Juárez, just north of Cancun. The port is easy to reach either by bus or taxi from Downtown Cancun or Zona Hotelera, and a return ticket should be $146.00M.N. (as of December 2014).
The best beach on the island is Playa Norte (North Beach), which curves round the tip of the island by the town centre.
You can walk along Rueda Medina from the port with the white sands of the beach to you left or enjoy the local restaurants and shops on the right side of the road.
Playa Norte is the best place to watch the sunset on the island, as you can see it dip below the skyline of Cancun across the water. Walking along the tip of the island towards the easts gives you the best area to see the golden hour of dusk and how the beach sand turns into soft honey hues. This area is where most of the hotels are, but access to the sand is free and easy, with much smaller crowds than on the mainland.
Walking Through Town
The town centre is the best place to stay and has a personality all of it’s own. Most of the buildings are brightly painted, cantinas open up onto the sidewalk and cheap local food can be found everywhere. One thing I really loved about the island were the massive murals found on the sides of buildings adding even more character.
Things To Do in Isla Mujeres
If you want to more than just enjoy the perfect sand and sun of the beach and atmosphere of the town, Isla Mujeres has plenty other things to offer. To get around either rent a golf cart for the day (Yes, a GOLF CART!) or use one of the many relaxed taxi drivers. Rates are fixed and can be found on the wall by the taxi bank by the port.The buggies are the funner option, but you still need a valid driver’s licence in order to rent one.
- Punta Sur, the southern tip of the island, is a park with sculptures, a lighthouse you can climb, and small mayan ruins
- Captain Dulche’s Beach Club, where you can enjoy a drink or meal from the pirate ship bar, lounge on the private beach, stroll the sculpture garden, and even visit a maritime museum. I loved my time here and will be sharing with you further details in a dedicated blog post.
- Book a day trip to go snorkeling in the Museo Subacuatico de Arte, Mexico’s underwater art gallery, or to the nearby bird sanctuary of Isla Contoy
- Visit Tortugranja (Turtle Farm) to see the conservation of the beautiful sea creatures in person
Where to Stay
- Poc Na is a great party hostel, best for long term travellers who want somewhere cheap to meet others and dance the night away. The dorms are pretty basic relying on fans to keep cool, and some of the bunks are precariously high – but the atmosphere is worth it.
- For high end luxury give the amazingly highly rated Hotel Secreto a go.
- For those looking for an affordable family holiday, Hotel Chac Chi is a good option.
Isla Mujeres is an adorable island I hope to spend more time on in the future, hopefully as part of a long term trip through Central America. However, it’s also a great option for those looking for a beach holiday with a bit of character, away from the crowds of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Hierve el Agua (“The Water Boils”) is a serious of natural rock formations 45 miles outside of Oaxaca in Mexico. The area visitors can reach is a smaller cliff called Cascada Chica contains natural and artificial pools for swimming.From here the larger cliffs can be seen along the scenic moutainous landscape.
These unusual formations are caused by fresh water springs containing calcium carbonate cascading over the cliffs and into the valleys, creating structures that look like solid waterfalls, similar to how stalactites are formed.
Swimming to the edge in these beautiful infinity pools was one of the highlights of my trip to Mexico, and gave me a welcome break from hectic city to city travelling.
To reach Hierve el Agua it’s easiest to join a day trip that visits Mitla and other nearby attractions. Most hostels and hotels in Oaxaca will be able to arrange this for you as last minute as the night before. Expect to pay around 150-200 MX Pesos for a full day tour, excluding entrance fees.
- Find hostels in Oaxaca such as Casa Angel on Hostelworld
- Read more reviews of Hierve el Agua on TripAdvisor
- Find the best hotels deals for Oaxaca on Expedia
For my second post about my bucket list for my upcoming trip to Mexico, my thoughts are still with the turquoise waters of the Yucatan.
The Mystical Cenotes
The Cenotes found along the Riviera Maya are sinkholes formed in limestone bedrock, creating cavernous pools from a few meters to a few hundred metres deep. While some are a scuba diver’s dream, others are suitable for paddlers like myself to try out for a splash. The Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza is the most famous and accessible, previously being a central site within the Mayan community and now one of the main tourist spots. Once I’m in Mexico I’ll ask the locals which Cenotes they recommend and how to avoid the crowds, hoping to float in the cool waters serenely.
Photograph by Catherine Karnow via National Geographic
Photograph by John Stanmeyer via National Geographic
The Hidden Beach
The Playa Del Amor hidden beach is part of the Marieta Islands, just off the coast of Puerto Vallarta. These uninhabited islands were used by the Mexican Government in the early 20th Century for military testing. The results were damages to the local coral and fauna, but also this one of a kind beach joined to the Pacific Ocean by an eighty foot tunnel. Visitors have to swim through to access the shore, but with plenty of headroom there’s no need for scuba gear. I can’t wait to see it for myself next month.
For more Mexico inspiration read my first post about Cancun’s Underwater Museum
I’m finally heading to Mexico next month! This means that I’ll be able to tick off some of my Mexico bucket list activities, although I’m sure they’ll be plenty left for a another trip in the future. Somethign that I’ve been eyeing up for some time is the Underwater Sculptures of Jason DeCaires Taylor in the MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Artes) between Cancun and Isla Mujeres.
The exhibition called “The Silent Evolution” was placed in the water in 2009 and aims to deflect tourists from the natural reefs, providing them time to recover and regrow. Initially I was worried that I’d need to learnt o dive to visit the sculptures, however the websites shows that both snorkeling and glass bottomed boats are available for at least some of the locations. While I’m sure diving provides the best experience, it’s not really an option for me.
The photos below are form the artist’s website where there are even more amazing shots. you can also see where over time these sculptures have become part of the ocean bed, with the reef starting to crawl across their surfaces.
I also need to decide whether the nearby Isla Mujeres is worth a visit. The beaches look lovely but a bit overrun with tourists, so I might decide my time is too precise to try it out. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve been!