So sorry this has taken nearly a month to start, but life has been stressful.
I'll break things down into lodging, food and attractions. As always, your mileage may vary. What WE like (and we know what we like!) YOU may not. Any questions, please PM me and I'd be glad to share our experiences. This was our 8th trip to Isla in 10 years. Hoping for many more.
First up, LODGING:
POSADA DEL MAR
Last summer (Isla trip #7), we stayed at Posada del Mar for the first time (we stayed there for the first half of our trip to save money so we could stay some place nicer for the last part.) For $53 (paid via money order through Morning in MX) it was a great location in Centro. We were underwhelmed with our Old Building room – the worst part was our A/C unit that hammered loudly all night long. The room was quite tired (layers of caulk around the leaking sink and toilet.) No mini-fridge or in-room safe. Flash forward to this summer (trip #8) armed with our knowledge from last year, we reserved our NEW building 2nd floor room (which wasn’t even open last summer) through hotels.com (free cancellation if needed!) for $65 (with a nice balcony that actually had more of an ocean view than our “ocean view” room in the OLD building last year – Plus a mini-fridge and in-room safe. The nearly silent (but highly efficient) split A/C was wonderful. The room was smaller than the OLD bldg. room, but the wall angles were nicely modern, and the bathroom/shower was beautiful. It was so nice to see our old friend Jorge back in the office again – he was so helpful last year. The whole hotel seemed to have a fresh coat of paint and the grounds were nicely landscaped. The areas behind the hotel are being landscaped now (they have always just been an eyesore.) They seem to have a bit of their swagger back. Nice to see. The only negative this time (and it wasn’t the fault of the hotel) was election “celebrations” seemed to be organized and paraded down Centro streets nearly every night, and could get fairly loud and go late into the night. Not a deal-breaker though – we enjoyed watching the democratic process and the sheer number of the demonstrators (especially the “blue” vs. “red” aspect.)
All in all, we would not hesitate to stay at Posada del Mar (NEW building only!) to save some pesos. It’s an amazing Isla bang for the buck.
Last summer, we just had lodging reservations for the first half of our trip (Posada del Mar.) We decided to rent a golf cart and check out a few places for the last half. One of our stops was at La Joya (pronounced La HOYA.) We were blown away by the amazing beauty of these unique rooms built and stacked into the side of a cliff over-looking the “Cancun” side near Punta Sur (South.) Every flower, every leaf a perfect work of art. At the time, we hadn’t banked (literally $) on having a golf cart for the rest of the trip. Yes, there is wonderful seclusion, but it comes with a cost of not being close to places to eat and activities. So we went elsewhere (and ended up at Playa la Media Luna.)
Fast forward to 2013, and we chose La Joya for the 2nd jaunt of our trip (lodging 2 of 3.) We made reservations with the hotel and had to make payment in full (in pesos) when we checked in.) Since every room is different and unique, it took a great deal of input here on the forum (thank you!) to make our minds up. We ended up in room #6 (the one with the private lawn terrace. The room was beautiful, but had a few quirks: the sliding door to the room simply did not lock (the “key” had stripped the “lock.”) We never did have any security problems, though. Also, the louvered glass “window/vent” in the gorgeous bathroom was right next to the office and restaurant. No one could see in, but you could hear every conversation and sound. We just kept the bathroom door shut (which cut off the A/C in there.) Again, not a deal-breaker. We did have a few people hop onto our private terrace and take photos of the view (not fun when you’re changing your clothes!) I just remedied that by blocking the entrance with one of the lawn chairs. To access wifi, you had to go outside of your room (you’ll see that problem below.)
That view is breathtaking. The flowers, foliage and palm trees are just perfectly conceived as a form of natural art. The whole concept is simply amazing. The manager, maid, chef and his assistant are there to make your stay heavenly (they bend over backwards to please you.) Your complimentary breakfast (which is just toast coffee and orange juice) as well as any meals or snacks you might order (at any time) are served on your terrace – how cool is that! Unfortunately, here comes that deal-breaker: mosquitoes. They ate us alive whenever we stepped outside our room. I spent about 10 minutes in the heavenly hammock, but paid the price in mosquito bites. We ate our breakfast and snacks in our room because of this. Even while swimming in the beautiful pool, the beasts would dive bomb us. All this beauty and we were unable to enjoy it. I’m hoping that we were just there at a bad “mosquito” time, but many other people had the same experience as us. Being on the Cancun side, there isn’t a strong breeze like on the Caribbean side to tame the beasts. It’s a real pity (one that we hope the management can change: spray for mosquitoes so you don’t lose your clients.)
Two more negatives for us: the stone stair steps are steep and uneven. They are beautifully authentic, but hard for my wife (who has some mobility problems) and even me to safely navigate. Just be careful. Also, the beach is pretty and we were delighted to find lots of shells and coral washed up, but it’s hardly swimmable, and you would definitely need water shoes to try to snorkel. Our king suite with private terrace was around $100 a night. A+ for beauty, authenticity, personal care and seclusion. F for mosquitoes. Our favorite memory: the large iguana that would show up at breakfast time to beg for pieces of toast. Yes, our room came with a complementary iguana.
PLAYA LA MEDIA LUNA
LAST summer (remember our lodging search?) we ended up at Playa la Media Luna and we were just STUNNED by the beauty. They had a 2nd floor king room available and we just fell in love. We KNEW it was where we wanted to end our trip THIS year (lodging #3 of 3.) This time we booked a standard (2 full sized beds) through expedia.com ($84 per night – again, free cancellation if needed.) We ended up on the 2nd floor, but closest to the main building (a little less privacy than the king suites. Next time we will gladly spend the extra $15 per night to get a king suite, if available.) The rooms are small but quite luxurious. The beds are the most comfortable we’ve slept on anywhere on Isla. The balconies are heavenly. Best part? Hearing and seeing those wonderful waves. And the delightful seclusion! Since half moon bay is not a swimmable beach, there are no vendors or tourists – just you. We LOVE watching the sunsets on the beach – every minute the sky looks different. How romantic. The included breakfasts are sufficient (fresh fruit, cereals, toast, jam, peanut butter, breakfast bars, coffee and juices. It’ll get you through ‘til lunch. A short walk will take you around to the bay to the Avalon bridge where we love to snorkel (free!) A few more steps take you to Playa Norte and the mind-blowing beauty there. Negatives: stubborn wifi, even in the lobby. Can’t use their computer to print boarding passes. No restaurant on site or near (just a short walk to Hidalgo.) There is a bar/bartender at the pool are on certain nights at certain times (unpredictable.) All in all, even with the shortcomings, one of our favorite spots in the world. The view will put you under its spell.
The great thing about Isla is that you will always have your favorite places to stay and eat, but each trip expands your horizons, presenting you with many NEW places to check out. We already have new preliminary places in mind for our NEXT trip!