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Trip Report Feb. 2014

Dallas, Texas
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Trip Report Feb. 2014

My husband and I just returned from a quick three night stay in IM, our first. I'll post in two parts, I can get long-winded. ;)

Day one: Our flight arrived early, we breezed through customs with our carry-on luggage to Canada Transfers and walked onto the ferry. The blue water is just stunning as you cross to the island. Before we knew it were sitting at Bally Hoos for fish and shrimp tacos, pico, and margs. The shrimp tacos and pico were fantastic, my husband thought the fish tacos were okay.

We then made our way to Hotel Secreto. After a settling in we visited Hortensia so I pick out material for a dress, and then went down to the beach outside Hotel Secreto and made our way across the rocky portion of the beach to Playa Norte. We strolled along the beach, taking in the different sites, and then stopped for a drink at Sunset Grill. We enjoyed the sunset, and continued our stroll around the beach.

We weren’t very hungry after our late lunch, so stopped at Rolandis for calamari. We thought it was just okay, but we loved the coconut with kahlua ice cream.

Day two: This was our golf cart day. By 9:30 we were headed south and following MapChick’s tour. I loved going through the neighborhoods and exploring the island. Our favorite stop was the Turtle Farm, I was entranced by the sea horses. At Punta Sur we followed the trail up to Rick’s chairs, but alas, there are only remains left. It was a beautiful spot.

We then went to El Vardero for lunch, but alas they weren’t opening until 1:30, so we went to Zama Beach Club for an appetizer and drinks. We shared the fried fish quesadilla which was FANTASTIC. I loved Zama, and would have returned the next day if we’d had the golf cart again. From there we visited Richart at Bottle Island and loved our time talking to him and Henry.

We then returned to El Vardero and shared the torte, which was very good. What a wonderful place to sit and relax and enjoy good food.

We’d had off and on rain, so we returned to our hotel with the plan of venturing out again to visit Villa La Bella and then Casa de los Suenos for happy hour, but mother nature had other plans. We experienced very heavy rain until dark, and so decided to stay in town and eat at Los Fueguitos. I loved our meal more than my husband, but our thoughts aren’t that important since it was the day before closing.

We strolled through town after dinner, doing some shopping, and then stopped at Rolandis for dessert.

Dallas, Texas
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1. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Part two:

Day three: We got up early to go shelling and have breakfast at Mangos before returning our cart. We each loved our meals, the stuffed poblano and coconut french toast. We would have loved to return to Mango Cafe.

We debated renting the cart for another day so we could return to Zama as well as visit Villa La Bella and Casa de los Suenos, but decided instead to shop a little and then spend the day in town. Renting the cart would have been cheaper then shopping as my husband finally found the ring he has been wanting at Opal Fire. Actually, he worked with Alex to create the ring he has wanted and I am so glad we stopped there. We then relaxed at the pool at Secreto, enjoying the lovely view, shade, and drinks. We shared a sandwich from Qubano for lunch.

Later we again walked along the Playa Norte, enjoying drinks and the sunset at Sunset Grill before having a very good dinner at Jax.

Day four:

We had a wonderful stroll along Playa Norte before eating an excellent breakfast at the market. We then explored the cemetery and more of the town before heading to the hotel to pack up. After checking out we went to Bally Hoos, again with our luggage, and enjoyed one last meal. My husband had the calamari, which was excellent, and I was very content with one last margarita, chips, and pico. We had just enough time and pesos to share a treat from ParadICE before boarding the ferry.

A couple of thoughts:

Playa Norte was extremely crowded, which is why we spent the day at the pool at Hotel Secreto and why we would have liked to return to Zama Beach Club. I loved Hotel Secreto, and while it was a splurge to stay there, I was okay with it because we aren’t able to travel much and we only stayed for three nights. If we were to return, I’d either stay somewhere less expensive and plan on renting a golf cart and I’d likely stay elsewhere on the island.

There have been several questions about how much time to budget on return. We flew home on a Saturday during high season, but WOW, the airport was crowded and chaotic. The Delta check in line was over two hours long. We were flying AA and not checking in luggage and were able to use the machines and check in very quickly. Security wasn’t that bad, it was really the lines at the airline desks that were out of control. From talking to others, I do believe that people were missing their flights.

It is kind of silly, but we loved the large iguanas we encountered, in part because we knew our boys would love the pictures we took. We loved the gathering of iguanas in the fenced off field we passed on our way to Hotel Secreto.

I feel like I’ve failed to capture what a wonderful time we had, but this was the perfect quick relaxing trip that my husband and I needed. IM is so lovely, I can’t imagine staying in Cancun when there is such a magical island so close by, although I guess we should appreciate that others disagree.

Dallas, Texas
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2. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

oops, deleting duplicate post

Edited: 05 March 2014, 18:23
Dallas, Texas
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30 posts
33 reviews
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3. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

I would like to add my great appreciation to this forum, and those who contribute so much. I've been very impressed with the helpful attitude and general lack of controversy. Thank you for helping us to enjoy such a wonderful place.

Chicago, Illinois
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for Isla Mujeres
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4. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Sounds like a great start, including many of my favorites. Seahorses also fascinate me, and when we visited Cozumel in 2011 I told our divemaster that I had never seen them in the wild. He promised to find some for me and, sure enough, on our first day he called me over and this is what I saw:

…photobucket.com/user/DMartin216/media/Cozum…

ETA: my, that was fast!

When you get your second half of your report posted I'll add them to the Trip Reports Top Question. Thanks for sharing!

Edited: 05 March 2014, 18:28
Chicago, Illinois
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for Isla Mujeres
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5. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Thanks for the second half and for mentioning the 2-hour-long lines at the airport. With more lines at security, this is why we constantly recommend allowing the full three hours when departing. Yes, I've made it to my gate in less than an hour, but have had other trips where we needed that full 3 hours.

Edited: 05 March 2014, 18:33
Dallas, Texas
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6. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Wow, very cool picture. I honestly had a bit of a spiritual moment watching the seahorses, thinking big picture thoughts. Trying to recapture that as I set at my desk now ;)

Edited: 05 March 2014, 18:34
new york
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for Isla Mujeres
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7. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Great trip report, thank you! Sounds like a wonderful trip. So glad you got to tour "bottle island.' It's fascinating, isn't it? Also thank you for the airport description. People tend to think it's ok to cut it really close but as we try to warn them, you can't predict how crowded or chaotic it can get.

Lafayette, Indiana
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8. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Sounds like a great time! We love the fried calamari at Bally Hoo! And DMartin, that seahorse pic is fantastic! They are cool, little creatures!

Cincinnati, Ohio
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9. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Thanks for such a great report! I don't think you failed to capture what a good time you had- it sounds like you had a wonderful trip and were able to do a lot in a few days :)

I'll add my thanks for the airport info- sounds like it was crazy! Good to know about Delta and checking in yourself at the self serve machine.

Glad you had such a relaxing vacation :)

Berkeley, California
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10. Re: Trip Report Feb. 2014

Oh, DMArtin, what a fabulous pic! Thank you. did you "meet" sea horses in the wild, while diving around Isla?