We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Day 52 Trip Report

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
1,315 posts
12 reviews
Save Topic
Day 52 Trip Report

Day 52 trip report:

We've spent over 500 days on Isla over a 7 year period. We obviously love the island or would have never gone back. 7 years ago there was no Privilege Aluxes or Palace and the Ixchel was under construction. There were many snowbirds and expats that would spend 2-6 months on Isla. Over the years prices have escalated so that many of these long term visitors have gone elsewhere. Instead Isla seems to be turning into a place for day trippers and 1 week all inclusives. I don't see this trend changing and find it a shame.

Anyway, we had a great time as usual and met up with many Isla friends.

The downside was being constantly harassed by vendors, massage practitioners and even some outright beggars which we've never seen before. For a day or week trip one can put up with almost anything but when you're staying 2-3 months it gets really old.

Perhaps it's the 7 year itch but I don't think we'll be back to Isla for at least a few years. Mexico used to be a really cheap holiday but not any more. There's always Thailand, Hawaii, NZ or Europe etc.

Don't let this post dissuade you from going to Isla as it truly has as great beaches as anywhere.

It's just changing as every place seems to do and now it's time for us to move on.

Hasta Luego Isla :)

New Carlisle, Ohio
Level Contributor
1,169 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

Still, it's a heck of a lot nicer than Ohio. At least for a getaway vaca of a week or three.

Good luck and happy travels to you.

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
1,315 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

Thanks fotodude. I haven't been to Ohio but I'll take your word for it ;)

new york
Destination Expert
for Isla Mujeres
Level Contributor
20,112 posts
97 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

"Mexico used to be a really cheap holiday but not any more. There's always Thailand, Hawaii, NZ or Europe etc. "

LOL, never heard of Europe or Hawaii mentioned in the same sentence as cheap ;)

I agree that Isla has changed, and I've been going a lot longer than you. The changes from when I started going way back, to 7 years ago when you started, were amazing. Things like paving streets that used to be all sand, giving streets names where there weren't any, restaurants all over when there used to be just a handful. Hidalgo wasn't even paved past Matamoros. Avalon was still the El Presidente, Nautibeach was hailed as the new Antichrist (just as PA is today) that will ruin Isla, and you could drive down to Punta Sur without condos and private villas blocking the view. So yeah, it's changed and it's not the charming tropical fishing village I fell in love with but love changes and while I'm no longer infatuated, I still love it and will continue to go :)

Canada
Level Contributor
1,181 posts
83 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

"Mexico used to be a really cheap holiday but not any more. There's always Thailand, Hawaii, NZ or Europe etc. "

I would say none of these options, save for Thailand, are anywhere near cheap. I once spent 1 month touring NZ, the food was so expensive that we quickly realized there was no way our backpackers budget could even allow restaurant meals. In a small town, a greasy-spoon had a $12 corndog on the menu. I nearly fainted....

new york
Destination Expert
for Isla Mujeres
Level Contributor
20,112 posts
97 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

I know everything is relative and what is cheap to one person is expensive to another but when I can find a beautiful, airy hotel room with a large bath, AC, balcony with water view, and all meals and beverages for two people, for less than the price of an average, dumpy hotel room in Venice or Florence, well, I don't think Mexico is expensive in comparison to Europe, lol. BTW, I'm European and have not been back to visit in quite a while due to the cost of hotels and meals there.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
62,091 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

I wonder where you were harassed by vendors or where you saw people begging? The one thing we kept saying during our stay was how different Isla felt from the other parts of Mexico where there were many beggars and many harassing vendors! We didn't see any of that but I suppose during a long stay you get to see a lot more!

I imagine that seeing a place you love change so much is very difficult!

Sometimes it is just good to go somewhere new for a change.

For US that was Isla since I usually go to Europe once or twice a year.

I think that now I will be alternating Europe with Isla and the Yucatan for a while.

Good luck on your new adventures!

Olathe, Kansas
Level Contributor
1,768 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

Good luck in saving money while in Europe or Hawaii. We were in Spain for two weeks this past year and I encountered more beggars and street vendors than I have in recent trips to Mexico. While we have not been to Isla Mujeres we have been to many other parts of Mexico and I much prefer Mexico to Spain any day. Really enjoy yourself in Europe.

Wyoming
Level Contributor
2,042 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

I stay on Isla for 2-3 months. It is the least expensive place we have ever vacationed. Since we are technically living there and not on vacation(tongue in cheek) we choose to stay in the Colonias. Very nice modern apartment for $600 per month. We have looked at others on the area in the price range of $600 to $900 per month. Since 1999 I have been approached by one beggar. That was on Hildago and the restaurant owners at several places ran him off. I don't spend a lot of time on Hildago, but after the first couple times the vendors recognize me and just smile and/or say hello. On the beach there are regular vendors and I never tire of saying "no gracious". They work very hard to support their families. Walking through that sand all day in 90 degree temps, carrying about 60lbs of stuff is harder than I want to work. In fact, I often buy or bring them a bottle of water. If you are talking about the massage place by Ixchel, i pass by them everyday on my way to the beach. They are all very nice and again, after the first couple days they just smile and say Hi. Most of the people on this board know that I eat at the small out of the way places, so for us food is very cheap. We also cook our own a lot of the time. I have never been to an AI. Don't really see the need to go that route. I have seen lots of changes. Some are good, some I don't like, but that is going to happen anywhere. I have been to a lot of places in the Caribbean. For beggars, go to Jamaica, for expense go to Aruba. I feel safe on Isla, I love the people and the reasonable prices allow me to spend more time there. I could go on, but you get my drift. Can't wait till Friday!

Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
1,315 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

Sorry. I didn't mean to come off like I was trashing Isla but then again I'm just being honest about our experiences. I'm just saying that the cost difference of going to Isla and some other places has narrowed. The Euro is cheaper than its been in years and same goes for the USD (we're Canadian).

So it may be a good time to check out some other places and give Isla a break.

Have fun on Isla (I'm sure you all will) and save me a spot under palm tree #13 on Playa Norte.

Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
353 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Day 52 Trip Report

Been going close to 20 years to Isla - it's changed a bunch it has and I wish there were less paved streets and less people in general. But it is growing and thriving, same for my home town (Austin TX from 200K people to over a 1M now ). I don't like the growth at home either.

That being said - I don't find the 'harassment' factor to have changed that much on Isla the past 10 years. I was always asked if I wanted to buy stuff on the beach, go snorkeling, fishing, a coco, an ice cream, jewelery, etc. In town it was cuban cigars - or something better, golf cart, mopeds, random junk and Avalon time shares.

The beach vendors that come back time after time on the beach - I actually get to know them and their name(s), I introduce myself and my family. We make it a positive and I either buy something or not and then we reunite each trip. When I see them I say Hola - 'Phillipe, Jose, Tomas, Willy, Paco, Arnold, Omar, etc' how are you today, your family, hows business. They talk for a few minutes and leave us alone for the rest of the trip other than an hola as they pass by us each day.

The guys along the streets have always been barkers and try to get you into their stores - so maybe there are a few more barkers I don't really notice a big difference. I tell them No Gracias or even better Estamos Saliendo (were leaving) or yo tengo uno (I have one) if it's a golf cart, time share, tour operator.

To me these folks are all entrepreneurs trying to make a buck and support their families. They generally make $20/day on a good day, usually less after costs.

As for prices - the thing that seems to have gotten expensive is AIR FARE and well that is out of Isla's control.

It is true that it's not the little fishing village anymore and that more people are coming and I think thanks to the internet almost all the little 'gems' are being discovered so I'm trying to enjoy Isla as it grows and not go on a search for another 'gem'. I was not happy to see Ixchel or PA or Palace personally but I know it's gonna happen. Nautibeach and Avalon/El Presidente were the evil monster hotels of their times too.

With the small island size, the water, the sand, fishing, snorkeling, the 6 mile moat to the mainland and the ferry requirement for transportation, the navy base and the political structure on the island itself - it's one of the best places to go, relax and enjoy a day at the beach still.

Mis dos Centavos,

Mike

.