Isla Mujeres, "The Island of Women," lies eight miles to the northeast of Cancun, in the Mexican Caribbean. The island enjoys a slower pace than Cancun and a pleasant tropical climate (the average temperature is 81°F). Meeting venues in Isla Mujeres are smaller than their Cancun counterparts, which can work well for small groups.
Isla Mujeres is easily accessible from Cancun International Airport, Mexico's 2nd-busiest airport with direct flights from 24 American cities, as well as various international destinations, including Paris, Munich, Vancouver, Sao Paolo and Mexico City. It is a 20-minute boat ride from Cancun with departures every 30 minutes from the eastern part of Cancun, from Puerto Juarez, Gran Puerto Cancun or Playa Tortugas. Alternatively, groups can charter a Cessna and fly directly to the island's airstrip or arrange with the host hotel to take a private boat to the island.
Hotels venues in Isla Mujeres include the Isla Mujeres Palace Resort, which offers 1,000 square feet meeting space and 62 guest rooms and suites, complete with outdoor pools, a swim up bar, pool volleyball and a fitness center. The Unik Island Resort and Spa offers 9,000 square feet of meeting space, 84 guest rooms, a health club, whirlpool, spa/salon and an on-site restaurant. Also, with brand-new facilities and 124 luxury rooms, Privilege Aluxes Hotel, near downtown Isla Mujeres, is set along Playa Norte, considered the most impressive beach in the area. This architecturally sophisticated hotel is as modern as it is ideally located, and offers one of the most comfortable meeting venues in Isla Mujeres. It is perfect for weddings on the beach and incentive travel for up to 100 people.
Today, many people make the journey to Isla Mujeres for yoga and spiritual retreats. One could say that the island has been a gathering place for those interested in health, fertility and spirituality since the 13th century. The island's first post-Colonial inhabitants established the village of Dolores in the 19th century, on the site of what had been a sanctuary to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility. The temple, once filled with clay figurines of Mayan goddesses, can be seen on the island's southeastern tip and is reached by walking through an impressive sculpture garden.
One can snorkel, scuba dive and swim with dolphins in The Garrafon National Park (Carretera Garrafon), visit the Turtle Farm (Tortugranja), explore the Hacienda Mundaca ruins built by Caribbean pirates and the archeological site of Ixchel Temple. Between June and September, krill-eating whale sharks congregate near Isla Mujeres by the hundreds. Visitors during those months have the chance to observe – and swim with – the world's largest fish.
The island's entertainment is more laid-back than Cancun's. Along the vast stretches of beach, you will encounter volleyball games beside beachfront bars and restaurants where one can indulge in fresh seafood. For those who wish to experience Cancun's cosmopolitan nightlife, ferries run throughout the evening and start again at five in the morning.