When planning my escape to Cancun a day-long detour to a nearby offshore tropical island named Isla Mujeres or “Women’s Island” in Spanish seemed exotic enough and while I failed to return with a female in my carry-on I did enjoy a memorable day on a bike exploring this slender island from north to south.

While lying a scant 8 miles off the Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula Isla Mujeres seems a world away from the country’s mega-tourism capital of Cancun with a far more laid back, low-key lifestyle. The island’s Spanish name was given by 16th century conquistadors due to the many images of the Mayan goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ixchel, a fact I thought of as the Ultramar fast catamaran ferry laboured through some choppy seas to deliver me to the Terminal Marítima at the island’s northern tip.

photo by author

Don’t believe the advice from hotel concierges that the best transportation option to the Ultramar ferry terminal at Puerto Juarez is an expensive cab ride when the local bus that runs the length of the resort corridor runs right to the   terminal  USD$1 one-way per person.

While most gringos opt for the ubiquitous golf cart that has become the island’s favored form of transportation I opted to rely on pedal power to wheel me around the barely 4-mile long island. I stopped at a local bike rental shop recommended by the local tourism office and minus USD$12 daily rental fee rode away with a stylish Cape Cod Cruiser sporting under inflated tires but a sturdy frame.

photo by author

From the more urban area around the ferry terminal I headed south along the coast and near the airport came upon this sign with a replica whale shark.

photo by author

At the southern tip of the island is Punta Sur, an ocean side park sprinkled with modern art.

photo by author

On a ledge is a plaque letting visitors know that they are standing at the southernmost spot in all of Mexico.

photo by author

The views on three sides of the rough surf pounding against the island are more than worth the small price of admission to the park.

video by author

The skyline of Cancun looms on the horizon.

video by author

Pedaling north from the island’s southern tip takes one along a spectacular stretch of road that skirts the coast for miles.

video by author

The mostly downhill ride from Punta Sur brought me to to the island’s most popular beach, Playa Norte.

photo by author

There are a growing number of hotels and resorts in Isla Mujeres and some locals commented that it wasn’t like it used to be however the island still retains that small town atmosphere

Isla Mujeres is a Pueblo Mágico or Magical Village program. a status granted by the Mexican government to 111 towns & villages to recognizes their cultural, historical, and natural interest and beauty and after spending a day cycling around this island soaking up it’s stunning scenery and enjoying its warm & friendly residents the magic of its unique culture was revealed to me and I look forward to my next visit which is hopefully longer.