Isla Blanca: So This Is Where All The Kite Surfers Hang Out

Ok, fine. I didn’t actually do any kite surfing myself, but I found out where everybody else is doing it!

On Saturday morning, Jorge woke up to a text message from his friend Benja saying his family was going to Isla Blanca, and did we want to join them? I was dying for a beach day and since we don’t have a car, I jump at every opportunity to get a ride all the way up there.

I’ve been to Isla Blanca before (read about that in this old blog post!) and it had always been pretty busy, but this time we had the beach almost all to ourselves. Something tells me Isla Blanca must just get really busy on Sundays. Isla Blanca is a strip of land with the ocean on one side and a huge, shallow lagoon on the other. The best part of all: it’s virgin land. Apart from one or two little seafood restaurants and a handful of beach homes on the way there, it hasn’t been touched. With tourism booming, we don’t have many places like this left in the Mexican Caribbean. Every time I go, I see so many birds!

The downside was the large amount of seaweed on the beach. We’ve been getting a lot of seaweed in Cancun this year, but I hear it helps prevent erosion to make the beaches bigger! Nobody seems sure what is causing it this year, but I guess that’s nature for ya. 🙂

It’s not that easy to reach. Isla Blanca is about 30 minutes north of Downtown Cancun, and a large part of that drive is unpaved road. You really need a car (preferably a sporty one!) to get to Isla Blanca. But it’s so worth it.

When we got there, Benja’s parents had already set up lunch under the shade of a lone tree. A very cool location!

After chowing down on some chips and ceviche, we headed to the lagoon to explore a little. In addition to some brave guys wakeboarding behind a truck, which looks REALLY FUN, we also found some baby mangrove trees, a family playing with their dogs, and even a horseshoe crab! (I was so excited about seeing my first live horseshoe crab, but later my friends from Philly tell me they see them all the time back home… I guess it all depends on where you’re from!)

A 5-minute walk by the lagoon led us to a campsite with trucks and tents, which turned out to be a big group of kite surfers. It was the first weekend of “Semana Santa” (a 2-week Catholic holiday in Mexico), so I’m guessing that’s why it was so busy. I may be wrong. But there were dozens of kites over the shallow lagoon water taking full advantage of the windy day. We saw some jumps, some pretty fast kites, and even a few wipeouts!

There’s not much to say about the rest of our day at Isla Blanca. We spent the afternoon exploring, watching the ocean, eating and listening to music. Can’t wait til my next chance to go back!

Mahahual Road Trip!

Over my 9 years in Cancun, I’ve made an effort to explore all the main travel destinations in the state of Quintana Roo. I’ve made it to Holbox, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Akumal. All the big ones. All that was left was Mahahual, Bacalar, and Sian Ka’an. A few months ago, I got to cross two of those off my list!

My friend Julie (another gringa) and I planned a little weekend road trip to Mahahual and Bacalar… not an easy thing to because they’re 4 – 5 hours south of Cancun. We took her car down the main highway, and we gossiped and reminisced about 90s music along the way. There was an overnight stay in Tulum before we made it to the little beach town of Mahahual for the afternoon.

The original plan was to stay a night in Mahahual, but since it was Semana Santa (“Holy Week”, kind of like Mexico’s Spring Break when they all go on vacation), all of the hotels in Mahahual were booked solid. So a few hours would have to be enough!

When we arrived in Mahahual, I wasn’t too excited. All the action is set along the Malecon, a beachfront pedestrian street, and it was packed. I don’t mind a busy beach, but this was ridiculous. And Mexicans don’t do beach days quite like Americans do. Americans will spread out a towel, tan, order a few drinks and play in the water. On the other hand, when Mexicans travel with the family, they will usually grab a table on the sand so they can eat and drink all day. (Let’s be honest, the Mexican way is so much better.) Unfortunately, this meant that the beach I’d dreamed of visiting for years was filled with plastic tables and chairs.

Luckily as Julie and I walked further down the Malecon, the crowds thinned out a little and we were able to find a beach club with some space. We ordered some drinks and a light lunch, and spent all afternoon hanging out in the water!

Just off the beach, there’s a reef where the waves break, so the water right by the beach is shallow and still, like a pool. It was HEAVENLY.

Our stretch of beach was pretty quiet, but I could see the Semana Santa crowds further down. My next Mahahual trip will be during low season!

For now I’ll leave you all with pictures of the beach and the Malecon, which was pretty cool! I’ll definitely be back to Mahahual.