The strong wind and obnoxiously blinding sun had me squinting for the entire twenty-minute ride. It was a good thing we were at the top of the double decker tour boat, or I would be squinting purely to avoid an eyeful of the salty caribbean water. Even through the slits of my eyelids the ocean looked like a fluid blue crystal. Seagulls flew overhead, closely following our boat as we approached the small island of Isla Mujeres. Just 13 kilometers off the coast of Mexico, the luscious green island poked out from the water. It was the kind of sight one hopes to see when hearing about a surprise family trip to Cancún. Of course I did not imagine the trip would include being serenaded by a live performance of Despacito by a local on the boat, but I surely wasn’t complaining.
Upon arriving at the island, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was much more lively than it had seemed from afar. The streets were occupied by more mopeds and golf carts than cars, and the sidewalks were busy with tourists.The scene was similar to that of New York City, just with less crazy people and more sunburns. Small shops and restaurants lined the narrow streets directly in front of the island’s boat dock, half of which were golf cart and moped rentals. After all, there is no better way to tour an island than being set free on a tiny motorized vehicle with no idea of where you are going.
My family and I zig-zagged between people until we reached one of the golf cart rentals. The man working there showed us our cart, handed my dad the keys, and snapped a picture of us all before we took off onto the streets of the island. I sat on the back of the golf cart with my mom, taking in the views as they flew by while trading off the GoPro with my little brother who sat up front. Deeper into the island were more houses where the locals lived, centered around a school; all of which looked quite run down and overgrown with plants. It seemed as if most of the homes had mopeds and motorcycles parked outside rather than cars. On such a tiny island, cars probably are more of a hassle than back on the mainland.
Eventually, we came across something we all found an interest in. There was a little sign pointing towards a sea turtle rehabilitation center. My family happily agreed to check it out. We turned down the path leading towards it and parked in a large patch of dirt occupied by at least 20 other tourist golf carts. We made our way to the main building where we found the tourists, turtles, and thankfully, air conditioning. I approached whatever everyone was looking at and found myself staring down into a tank of adorable baby sea turtles, some of which were albino. Throughout the rehabilitation center there were turtles of all sizes. Behind the building there was a large section of the islands coast closed-off from the rest of the water where there two beautiful fully grown sea turtles.
Although it’s quite small, Isla Mujeres was full of so much to experience. Being able to explore an island on our own left us with so much to see and do while we were there, and yet there was still much left that we haven’t seen. My family had an amazing time and I hope others get the chance to share the experience that I did.
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