I stayed at Maria Leticia for the week. I had a nice efficiency apartment at the back of the property -- clean, quiet, comfortable, basic, and most importantly, inexpensive. ML is not luxurious -- no bar, no pool, not even any beach towels -- but I had plenty of extra change in my pocket for drinks and a splurge or two. I loved that I could make my own coffee, cook my own eggs, keep my juice, water, and leftovers refrigerated, and enjoy simple meals in the open-air courtyard. I had a small TV, a microwave, A/C and ceiling fan. Complimentary wifi is available -- just ask for the code at the desk, but be prepared to sit pretty close to the office to use it. I felt very safe and comfortable here, and loved the convenience to pretty much everything. One block to Playa Sol, Jax, Hidalgo, etc. It's an ideal spot for solo travelers or couples who simply want comfortable and inexpensive accommodations.
My Favorite Haunts:
Having made friends with a number of folks at Posada del Mar (which backs up to ML), I spent untold hours at Romi's Bar (the PdM's new Palapa Bar) and at PdM's beach club (loungers are free for guests; 50 pesos for non-guests). I confess I even took a few dips in PdM's pool with my friends. Romi was always attentive and friendly, and the 2x1 drinks were reasonably-priced. For those who enjoy a game of pool, Romi's bar is one of only a handful of places w/a table (Jax and Miguel's are the other two I know of). Speaking of Jax and Miguel's, I enjoyed time there as well. Jax is in a great spot and has a great bucket special. Miguel is a fun guy, and treated us warmly. Though I spent most of my time on Playa Sol and Norte, I also ventured out to beach clubs at Garrafon de Castilla and Zama. For 50 pesos, I snorkeled to my heart's content at GdC, and briefly enjoyed their surprisingly nice beach club. And then there's Zama -- wow! Just a beautiful place. My friends and I spent a relaxing couple of hours there... nobody hassled us about a minimum, but they did warn us they'd be closing early for a wedding reception. Their tri-level pool is pure bliss. The beach is relaxing, but the mushy bottom can't compare to Playa Norte.
La Lomita - excellent dinner served with tasty black bean soup at a very reasonable price.
Rosticeria La Mexicana - 90 pesos provided a delicious and filling meal for three hungry hombres. Smaller meals are available as well (eat-in or take-out). Their Hidalgo location is now open for dinner too.
Taqueria Medina - it's easy to make a meal of three tortillas (favorites include al Pastor and Barbecue). With cheese, tortillas are a mere 15 pesos and delicious.
Loncheria Alexia y Giovanni - Frequently visiting the market to get fresh OJ anyway, I treated myself several times to a great and inexpensive breakfast at Dona Leonore, aka Alexia y Giovanni. Yum.
Cafe Mogagua - The ambiance here is hard to beat. Sitting under the orange globe lights in comfortable chairs, it's easy to spend a few evening hours here people-watching. Our waiter was friendly and attentive, and brought us complimentary shooters of sangria with the check.
Honorable Mentions - Sunday morning cochinita pibil from the market (bought a half kilo - with tortillas, made for great snacks for several days), Marquesitas (favorite variety, nutella y banana) and pretty much any street food, Cafe Hidalgo, Poc Chuc, Amigos, Sancochos.
(there are also many places I'd promised myself to visit, but couldn't squeeze them all in; next time, for sure!)
Favorite Watering Holes:
Romi's Bar at PdM, Miguel's Moonlight, Jax, Zama, Garrafon de Castilla, Soggy Peso, Modelorama Drive-through (probably my favorite for it's novelty), Sunset Grill. The Queen Bar was worth a visit, but I'm too cheap to pay those prices consistently. Your typical Mexican beers are everywhere, and almost always very reasonably-priced. (I wish I'd found time to visit OM Lounge and La Luna)
- Meeting my new good friends from Dallas and Boulder, some of the most beautiful people one could hope to meet.
- Cruising around the island in golf carts, visiting special places like Sac Bajo, Las Colonias, Zama, and Modelorama.
- Being introduced to Lupita, the kind woman who cares for the ferral cats of the island. Such a beautiful person.
- Meeting Gladys, another island institution, and visiting with her dogs
- Snorkeling at King's Pool and Garrafon.
- The many times where I did nothing at all. :-)
Like so many others, I find myself under the island's spell. As much as I'd like to put my resources towards new and different vacation destinations, I think Isla Mujeres will continue to call me back.