Escape to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel

Two magical islands, nestled in cerulean waters just off the Yucatan coastline and easily accessible by ferry, are great getaways for visitors.  Isla Mujeres or Island of the Women earned it name in 1517 when Spanish explorers discovered statues of Ixchel, the Mayan Moon goddess. Ixchel´s temple is still here, perched atop a rocky cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea in Garrafon Reef Park. It´s were Mayan women once travel to pray for a fertile marriage. Today visitors come for snorkeling in the fish- filled coral reef, zip-lining above Mayan ruins and taking the short jitney ride to the bustling shopping plaza on Avenue Rueda Medina in the island´s only town.

Historic San Miguel on the island of Cozumel is known for its open-air cantinas, flower-bedecked, wrought iron balconies, horse-driven carriages, and brightly painted stucco buildings. But this town also has its trendy side. Upscale boutiques, European and American chains, and enough perfume and jewelry stores to send any tourist over the limit abound.

Be sure to see the Atlantic side of the island, more rugged and wild with an occasional palapa-topped bar filled with surfers and those looking to getaway. Take a horseback ride through the jungle past Mayan ruins and along the sandy beaches. Snorkel or dive in Chankanaab Park. Embrace all that these islands offer.