We stayed at Ixchel Phase 1 for a week for our honeymoon July 22nd – 29th. It was by far the best vacation I have ever had. We decided against getting an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya because we really wanted to experience our vacation, not just lounge on a beach all day. We like to explore our surroundings, and Isla was the perfect place to do that. In reality, we spent less than what we would have on an all-inclusive and we got much, much more.
We rented a 1 bedroom suite through vrbo.com and thought it was a steal for what we got. The condo was huge – a full kitchen (minus an oven), a king sized bed (firm, but still comfortable), living room, dining room, and a huge bathroom. The shower alone (big enough to share) was to die for! The balcony was large as well, and every condo in the place has a great view of the ocean. The staff was by far the most helpful I’ve ever encountered. If you needed anything, they would go out of their way to accommodate you. Giovanni was the main one when we were there and he was fabulous. Almost all of them speak near-perfect English which is also a plus. Upon check-in, you receive a towel card for each person that you exchange in for a beach towel when you need one. The towels are huge and soft. There are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas right in front of the building (the blue ones) that are free to guests.
The location is perhaps the best part. Ixchel is located on the best beach on the island – Playa Norte. The water is crystal clear, calm, and shallow. It really is a great beach for kids for that reason. It is also only a block from downtown Isla where all the restaurants, bars, and shops are located. You can pretty much walk almost anywhere.
We are planning on making many more return trips to Isla and Ixchel in the future!
• Reserve your condo through vrbo.com. That way you can see actual pictures of what you are getting. Make sure you get one in the Phase 1 building – supposedly it is much better than Phase 2.
• Book a transfer before you leave. We used USA Transfers and they were great. We paid $50 USD upon arrival, plus a $5 tip, and then we paid $15 when they picked us up to go to the airport, plus another $5 tip.
• Do NOT bring traveler’s checks. Very few places on the island take them. We had to exchange them at the bank.
• Make sure you let your bank/credit card company know that you will be vacationing in Mexico and when. If you don’t, your card may not work.
• Print off a map of Isla from one of the main websites (just google them). If you ask the concierge, he will gladly point out places to check out for you.
• When you get off the ferry, get someone to carry your luggage in one of those tricycle things. Ixchel is only a few blocks away, but it can be a cumbersome few blocks with luggage! Usually these guys will do it just for a tip – tip them well!
• Make sure you tip the right people – give the concierge a few dollars here and there and then a bigger tip when you check out. Tip the housekeeping staff 2-3 dollars each day and you will be supplied with extra towels and they will even do your dishes for you.
• Save your leftovers from dinner – they usually make a great (and cheap!) lunch. We also went to the grocery store on the island and got snacks, soda, beer, and a few other items.
• Unless the seller prompted the bargaining, I didn’t feel comfortable bargaining for lower prices. Once you see how some of them live compared to how we live, you’ll understand why.
Suggestions for Activities:
• On your first full day in Isla, rent a golf cart and take a self-guided tour of the island. There is a road that wraps around the entire island and it is quite scenic. This will help you get a feel for where everything is and will help you plan out the rest of your trip.
• Punta Sur – this is the south end of the island and is owned by Garrafon Park. For about 30 pesos a person, you can walk the pathways along the ocean. It’s absolutely breathtaking, so make sure you take your camera! There is also a pretty good restaurant with a nice view and a cool lighthouse that will also give you an excellent view.
• Garrafon Park – we didn’t visit Garrafon b/c we didn’t feel it was worth the money for us. However, if you have older kids, it would probably be great. There’s snorkeling, a really neat looking zip-line, kayaking, and hammocks. It is right next to Punta Sur and there are signs everywhere directing you to it.
• Turtle Reserve – this was one of our favorite places. It only costs 20 pesos per person. When we were there, 2 sea turtle nests hatched and we were allowed to help place the baby sea turtles in the aquarium. It was amazing!
• Dolphin Discovery – we did not do this activity, but we really want to next time. We drove by it on our snorkeling tour and it looked neat.
• Entertainment Plus ATV tour – Book this before you get to Mexico and you will not be disappointed. For $90 USD per person (make sure you bring a nice tip for your guide), it was by far our favorite day of the trip. The tour picked us up at Puerto Juarez and took us to Puerto Moralos (about 20 min south of Cancun). We then got a quick lesson on driving the ATVs and we were on our way. We drove through the town, down the main road, and then through the jungle. We stopped at 2 different cenotes to swim which were amazing! We ended with a lunch of quesadillas (included) under a palapa on the beach. It was really worth it and so much fun.
• Snorkeling – there are many tours available. We took one for $25/person which included lunch. Try to go as early as possible in the morning when there aren’t as many people and more fish to see.
Places to Eat
• Amigo’s had by far the best Mexican food. Bucanero’s wasn’t bad either.
• Check out Angelo’s for fabulous pasta – try the shrimp pasta w/ white wine sauce – lovely!
• Rolandi’s on Hidalgo has the best pizza.
• Jax has great hamburgers and American food if you feel homesick. They also have Corona buckets for 60 pesos. Make sure you ask how long it will be if you order food. Great food, but the service can be slow, especially if they have a party going on upstairs. If you don’t mind waiting, though, it’s well worth it.
• For a special night, ask the concierge to make you reservations at Casa O’s. It’s further down the island, so you will have to take a taxi or rent a golf cart, but it is by far the best place on the island to eat. The view is incredible and the food is wonderful. Make sure you time it so you can watch the sunset – it’s breathtaking.
Places to Drink
• Most places on Hidalgo have 2-for-1 specials. Keep in mind, though, that you must order 2 of the same drinks to get the special.
• If you are young, adventurous, and like to dance, ask someone how to get to Poc-nos. It’s a beach bar that’s located behind the youth hostel. It doesn’t open until 11pm, but it gets goin’ pretty quickly. They have the cheapest drink specials on the island – 2 drinks for 40 pesos, beer for 20 pesos, well drinks for 35 pesos. Lots of good music, fun people, and a dance floor in the sand.
• OM is another eclectic bar. It’s 2 stories and it seems like you are in a tree house. Sometimes there is a guy selling handmade jewelry there. Check it out – he has some really great stuff.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Among the best hotels in Isla Mujeres, visit Ixchel Beach Hotel, a two wing, two phase condotel complex with 117 rooms in Isla Mujeres. East Wing (Phase One) with 48 rooms, 5 stories and opened in June 2006; West Wing (Phase Two) with 69 rooms, 6 stories and opened in August 2007. Both properties (see Accomodation Remark below) are designed in Mexican casual and modern stylish buildings located at the beautiful North Beach on the colorful island of Isla Mujeres (Women Island).Ixchel for the Mayans was the Goddess of love, fertility and the moon. Walking a few steps from downtown of this friendly island and facing the most beautiful white sand & powder touch beaches of Isla Mujeres, in the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mexican Caribbean, our Isla Mujeres hotel offers warm personable service in an upscale, intimate island experience perfect for families and romantics.If you want a great escape to a Isla Mujeres hotel, our hotel is ideal for the relaxing weekend getaway or a romantic honeymoon retreat. Treat yourself to all of the luxury that our Ixchel Hotel in Isla Mujeres has to offer and enjoy the surrounding areas, activities and beauty.Premier in Isla Mujeres hotels, the Ixchel Beach Hotel offers luxurious amenities, outstanding service and a tranquil atmosphere to completely relax and enjoy your Mexican vacation. You won't find a more beautiful or more convenient location to soak in the sun and experience this amazing island of Isla Mujeres.If you are looking among hotels in Isla Mujeres, look no further than the Ixchel Beach Hotel. You won't be disappointed. You, the guest, are our number one priority and your comfort and enjoyment during your vacations in Mexico and lodging experience are our primary concern. We will do everything we can to make your stay nothing short of spectacular. ... more less
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