Every photographer should have a bucket list; a list of places that they want to visit and shoot at some point in their life. As you visit a place you can then mark it off your list. The island of Isla Mujeres is a place I put on my bucket list, and after visiting there I gave it a permanent spot on my list. One, because it is a beautiful, ever-changing place and two because it is an affordable destination.
If you’re not familiar with Isla Mujeres, don’t feel bad. It’s is still not as overdeveloped as other parts of the Caribbean are. It’s located 8 miles off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.
You get there by flying into Cancun and then taking a short ferry boat ride to the island. The island itself is small; only 4 miles long and less than a mile wide. Because it is in the Caribbean Ocean it boasts year-round temperatures averaging 82 degrees F. The main town of Isla Mujeres is a small, classic Mexican tourist town with a market place, wonderful street art, and some of the best food I’ve ever had.
Now, why do I say this is a photography bucket list destination? Quite simply because nearly everywhere you look is beautiful. The east side of the island faces the Caribbean Ocean and is mostly rocky, jagged rock.
Not great for sunbathers, but perfect for Oceanscape shots. And because of the constant force exerted on the coastline by the Caribbean Ocean, the coastline is ever-changing. Just shooting the coasts could easily occupy several days. But that’s only part of it. Then there are the ruins of an ancient Hacienda, Hacienda Mundaca, towards the south. For about $3US you can roam the ruins and take images all day.
Not old enough? How about the Mayan ruins of Ixchel? The temple of the Mayan goddess Ixchel has been on the island for over a millennium, and it is now surrounded by a grouping of modern art sculptures.
This is at the southern tip of the island and the view is amazing. While you are down there you could always visit Tortungranja, the sea turtle sanctuary. They have everything from baby sea turtles to full-size turtles that need rehabilitation.
Now here are a couple of suggestions if you want to visit Isla Mujeres.
1. Make a quick stop at the airport to buy some pesos. The airport often has the best exchange rate. Most everywhere they will take $US, but you will end up paying more than if you have pesos.
2. Plan your visit around the weather and tourism. After about December 15th, you do not want to be on the Island because of a major influx of tourists. From June until the middle of November is the rainy season and it does rain quite hard then.
3. Pack light; the weather is warm and relaxed attire is acceptable most everywhere. Leave the sweater at home.
4. Remember you are in the tropics. Sunscreen, bug repellent, and a wide-brimmed hat are not a bad idea. Consider a water bottle a must-have to stay hydrated.
5. Because of the humidity, avoid leaving your camera gear too close to any air conditioning. If you don’t, you will find you cannot shoot for a while once you go outside due to condensation.
6. You are going to have a wide range of photographic options, so bring a wide-angle and a telephoto lens.
7. Because you are close to the ocean at all times, bring a couple of lens cleaning cloths to keep the front of your lens clean.
8. A small travel tripod is not a bad idea for sunrise and sunset photography.
9. Because the island is so small, you get around by renting a golf cart. Bring a small strap or cord to secure your camera bag while you are driving.
10. If you are a dog person, you’ll like Isla Mujeres. There are a fair amount of friendly dogs on the island; consider bringing some treats. I put a few in my pocket each day for making new friends.
So, put Isla Mujeres on your bucket list. I go every year, and if you want to join me, click here