Our last week or so in Cancun left us with more grey days and a few just spent making the most of the time to relax, read and catch up on The Crown. But our friend Jess (hi Jess if you’re reading this!) had recommended we go across to Isla Mujeres, a small island just off Cancun and we really wanted to see it, so we optimistically booked some tickets and waited not so patiently for the best weather day to go. NB – the weather forecasts in Cancun are to be completely ignored, in fact just assume the opposite and you’ll be about right.
There was the option of a ferry, but we hadn’t partaken in many activities those first two weeks so splashed out on an all inclusive trimaran excursion. Our tour included snorkelling and seeing the underwater museum, lunch, all the cocktails we could manage, some free time on the island and a go on the ‘spinnaker’ on the way back home.
We boarded early and the crew were already offering cocktails, but as a first time snorkeler and not too confident a swimmer I stuck to the agua. To say the sea and I share a wary relationship would be an understatement. I’ve rowed on the sea and on the choppiest parts of the Thames and never felt very afraid, but when it comes to swimming in the sea it’s fair to say I am a big scaredy-cat(fish). I first swam in the sea properly at 18 and it frightened me. I hated how vulnerable the vastness made me feel, the seaweed and the fish around me and the inability to just swim to the side and get out when I wanted to.
This was our first trip to the Caribbean sea though, and I was determined to conquer this and make the most of our surroundings, so I sat on the trimaran steeling myself to overcome my fear. Distraction from my rising blood pressure came via a couple of American guys we got chatting to, Charles and Chinadu. Those guys were so funny and happy I completely forgot for a while that I was supposed to be getting worked up about jumping off the trimaran in to the sea.
The time came, however, and we were passed flippers and masks and the leader of our snorkelling group gave me a beginner’s lesson in cleaning my mask and how to wear it best. Just as I had the mask in exactly right place and had practised breathing etc. they explained I had to take it back off again to jump in. Drat.
We reached our spot and the water was so very blue and clear and inviting I knew I couldn’t wimp out. He jumped in first, confident and cool and very patiently waited for me. Charles and Chinadu felt they were not strong enough swimmers to join us so sat and encouraged me to jump from the boat. And….. I went for it!
Ok, so I didn’t jump jump, I sat down on the edge and sort of splashed in from there while swear words coloured the air. Either way, I ended up in the water and apart from the mouthful of salt water it wasn’t so bad. He supported me while I figured out my mask again and got used to my surroundings. It was like being in a bath, so warm and clear and after a few minutes of acclimatising to the breathing and the waves and finding the best head angle for not ending up with water down the snorkel (it was quite choppy), I got the hang of it.
The rest of the day trippers who were joining us made their way in to the water and we set off. For the first few minutes I must have looked up to find him about once every 30 seconds and he, again very patiently (if you know him, you know this is without doubt his strongest asset – especially when it comes to putting up with me…) calmly waved and made sure he stayed fairly close by.
We were led on a route towards the underground museum and we looked down at the statues of figures, including a whole actual car with a figure laid on top. The water was also home to beautiful, brightly coloured shoals of fish which surrounded and followed us as we moved along.
Photo by 2ilorg via Flickr
There were many divers down there too who no doubt saw much more than we did, but it was a truly unique sight. All in all we swam for about an hour and I have to say, I was really blooming proud of myself. And I accepted a margarita within seconds of setting foot back on the trimaran.
Lunch on the island was a perfectly lovely buffet before hopping back on the trimaran to journey around to the north side of the island. Our captain reliably informed us we passed by Ricky Martin’s house (who the Americans had never heard of) and if that’s the case and you ever have the chance to make friends with Ricky I say get chatting, ‘cos it was beautiful.
Once we reached the island we hopped off to explore and found a stretch of beach where the sea was quite shallow fairly far out. The guys dived in and soon persuaded a group of holidayers who were throwing a ball around to let them join in.
After that we had a quick wander, picked up a delicious gelato (which I promptly spilled down my white kaftan – gran sorpresa) and headed back for our return journey.
A quick stop on the way back was made to offer us a go on the ‘spinnaker’ sail. He was first to volunteer and bravely jumped back in the sea to try and clamber on to the thing. It looked like pretty hard work (there were minor rope burns) but the result was pretty spectacular.
The journey back involved mucho Cuba Libres and much dancing to the crew’s reggae beats.
If you’re ever in the area I would recommend this trip, which was with Trimaran Lupita and pretty reasonably priced for what we got, but we wished we had taken the trip a bit earlier in the week (cheers weather) so we’d have had time to go back to the island on the ferry to explore more. The vibe there was so much more relaxed and bohemian than Cancun (which, in case you hadn’t been able to tell from our previous posts, we weren’t great fans of) and would make a great full day out on it’s own.