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International > The picture of the week > Isla Mujeres Beach (off Cancun)

Picture of the week (No.19): The beaches of Isla Mujeres (Cancun), Mexico.                     Share

Each week (actually about 2 or 3 times a month), Willgoto selects here a nice picture. The island Isla Mujeres in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Cancun (Mexico) is the theme of the nineteenth picture of this series.

The coast of the Yucatán Peninsula and the neighboring islands are indeed popular beach holiday destinations especially - but not only - with American and European tourists when their countries face cold winters. They are also amazing destinations for divers who want to explore the Great Mayan Reef.

Isla Mujeres Beach (Cancun)
Beach of Isla Mujeres, an island in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Cancun (Yucatán Peninsula), Mexico: Playa Norte.

The country. With 35 million foreign visitors a year, Mexico is a popular tourist destination. Both the west coast (including the seaside resorts of Acapulco and Los Cabos) and the east coast (especially the Yucatán Peninsula and the Costa Esmeralda) offer wonderful sunny holidays.

To the east side, the Yucatán Peninsula is famous for its seaside resorts (mainly those of the Caribbean Sea: Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, but also the island of Holbox in the Gulf of Mexico), for its great historical places (Yucatán is often considered as the heart of the Maya civilization), its natural sites (particularly the cenotes, i.e. lakes in sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone grounds), and its numerous haciendas (former farms dating from the colonial era).

Tourism. Very well served by its international airport which has become the main point of entry to Mexico (it handles more than 21 million passengers per year), Cancun is currently, with the Riviera Maya, the main tourist destination in Mexico.

The tourist zone of Cancun is however of relatively recent creation since its development started only in the 1970s. It has the form of a strip of land which extends over 23 km between the vast Nichupte Lagoon and the Caribbean Sea: it is actually an island that is connected to the urban area and the continent only through two bridges at its north and south ends. It is crossed by Kukulcan Boulevard.

Most all-inclusive hotels, beaches and tourist attractions of Cancun (the Maya Museum of Cancun, El Rey archaeological site, El Mirador, and more) are located in this tourist area that is therefore commonly called "Hotel Zone" of Cancun.

Isla Mujeres, a 7 km long island located about 13 km off Cancun, is connected to Cancun by many ferry services so that Isla Mujeres welcomes many day trips of vacationers staying at Cancun in addition to the guests of its own hotels.

The beautiful beach Playa Norte, the Underwater Museum of Cancun (consisting of approximately 500 underwater sculptures), the archaeological site of Punta Sur, and some recreational activities (e.g. the beach club El Garrafon) are the main attractions of the island. Tourists visit the island mainly in mopeds, golf carts or taxis.

Isla Mujeres


Chichen Itza


To the south of Cancun, the Riviera Maya (not to be confused with the Costa Maya, a smaller coastal zone located further to the south) is the coastal area which extends over 130 km along the Caribbean Sea between Puerto Morelos and Punta Allen. It includes particularly popular beach holiday destinations such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum (also famous for its seaside archaeological ruins). As a whole, the Riviera Maya hosts annually as many visitors as the tourist zone of Cancun alone (about 6 million per year for each of them). 

About 19 km off Playa del Carmen lies Cozumel, a 48 km long island which welcomes not only numerous day trips from the Riviera Maya, but also, in season, many international cruise ships. 

In the north-west of Cancun, in the Gulf of Mexico, the island of Holbox is a quiet holiday destination that is quite different from those of the Caribbean Sea which are much more directed towards mass tourism. Holbox Island is 42 km long (including 34 km of beaches on the north coast) and only 1.5 km wide. In the island, cars are scarce and people go around on foot or in buggy, golf cart or moped. 

The author of the photos. All above pictures belong to Willgoto.

See also
Picture of the week 1: Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. It is endemic to Cuba.
Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
Picture of the week 3: Seychelles beach. Seychelles is a perfect destination for a dream holiday.
Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.
Picture of the week 7: Firewalking in Mauritius. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice.

And many more: see all our "Pictures of the week".


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Cancun and the nearby Isla Mujeres island are popular beach holiday destinations especially when it's winter in Europe, the United States and Canada.