Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Côte Fleurie: Trouville-sur-Mer, France - Seafood, Spa Treatments & Splendor

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Trouville villas (photo: Bertl123/Shutterstock)

It’s hard to say which is the prettiest town on Normandy’s “Côte Fleurie” (Flowery Coast), but Trouville is a contender. Even though it’s right next door to Deauville, it feels miles away, almost Mediterranean—bright, colorful, lively.
Trouville-sur-Mer was just a little, fishing port when Charles Mozin, a young Parisian artist, came to stay in 1825. He fell in love with the picturesque setting, the light, and the unspoiled natural scenery. An exhibition of his Trouville paintings in Paris enticed other artists to come to this scenic locale. Ever since, painters, writers, and vacationers have come to stay. Most of the things that impressed them in the 19th century are still here today—the beautiful beach, the magnificent villas, the freshest seafood, and the delightful ambience.

In addition to the beautiful quality of the light and the glorious beach, another alluring feature of Trouville is the fantastic architecture--splendid villas, built in the mid-19th century in different styles, ranging from Louis XIII to Neo-Classical to Neo-Italian, Neo-Moorish and even traditional Normandy, timber-frame. They’ve miraculously stood the test of time. The only change: several former, fancy hotels and single-family homes are now split up into apartments. Admire these lovelies as you wander around town:

La Tour Malakoff, Eugène Boudin
Villa Sidonia - One of the few villas to still belong to one family. Tour Malakoff - Artist Charles Mozin once lived in this castle-like villa. Villa Des Flots – Formerly-owned by the Eiffel family. Villa Persane – Marcel Proust was a frequent guest when the villa belonged to Princess de Sagan, who inspired a character in his novel, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time). Les Roches Noires - In the late-19th century, the Hôtel des Roches Noires was the most elegant hotel on the Normandy coast. Marcel Proust and international aristocracy stayed here. In 1949, it was converted into apartments. (The renowned author Marguerite Duras owned an apartment here until her death in 1996.) Villa Montebello – Built in 1865 in the Second Empire style for the Marquise de Montebello, it’s now Trouville’s museum.

Halle aux Poissons (Fish Market)
152 Blvd Fernand Moureaux
(photo: JCarnegie)

At heart, Trouville-sur-Mer is still a picturesque, fishing port. Small, old-style trawlers go out for scallops and shrimp and various saltwater fish (sea bass, mackerel, sole, turbot) then head straight back into town. Hence, what’s on offer at the stalls in the famous “La Poissonnerie,” the covered fish market on the quay, just came off the boats. Tables are set up, so you can order a “plateau de fruits de mer” (seafood platter) right there. You couldn’t get a fresher catch unless you dove in the water yourself. This “Marché aux Poissons,” a national heritage site, is open 7 days a week, all year round.
Also on the quay, try the famous brasseries: Le Central (158 Blvd Fernand Moureaux) and Les Vapeurs (160 Blvd Fernand Moureaux).

In the 19th century, the upper classes became preoccupied with their own well-being. To assuage their fears of frail health and disease, going to spas--with
(poster: H. Gray/Henri Boulanger) 
warm, medicinal, mineral springs and therapeutic bathing—became de rigueur. By mid-century, physicians began touting the curative qualities of fresh air, exercise, and sea bathing. European elites beat a path to the beach, making “villes balnéaire” (seaside towns) and “sea cures” all the rage. What made the resort famous in the 19th century, is still popular today, combined with the latest advances in “wellness” care.
Les Cures Marines - Hôtel & Spa 
(Blvd de la Cahotte) - The French have perfected “Thalassotherapy” treatments--the use of warm seawater, algae, seaweed, and alluvial mud--for restorative effects. (Thalasso is Greek for “sea.”) At Trouville’s The Purist Retreat & Spa, the benefits of sea water are combined with the latest techniques along with massage, fitness & relaxation exercises, nutritional assessments, and beauty treatments.

So many artists have come to Trouville to paint magnificent seascapes and other seaside scenes: Eugène Boudin, Gustave Caillebotte, Corot, Paul Huet, Eugène Isabey, and Claude Monet. More recently, the eminent poster artist
Raymond Savignac was an enthusiastic resident until his death. (The Promenade des Planches boardwalk along the ocean, constructed in 1867, is now called Promenade Savignac with several of his posters on display.)
On the Beach at Trouville, Claude Monet (1870)
Next came writers in search of solitude and inspiration. When Alexandre Dumas showed up in the 1830s, he declared the village: “the most picturesque in Normandy.” When Gustave Flaubert arrived in 1836, he fell in love--with an older married woman, who became a character in his stories. (There’s a Flaubert statue by the casino.) Marcel Proust stayed here many times in the early 1890s as a guest of friends in various villas and at the Hôtel des Roches Noires. Proust greatly admired Trouville’s long beach and the Belle Époque villas and manor houses. Many of the places he stayed and the people he met became the inspiration for characters and locations in his famous novel, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time). Several of Marguerite Duras’ literary and film projects were conceived here. From 1963 on, she came every year to stay in her apartment in the former Hôtel des Roches Noires (a long staircase leading down to the beach is named after her). Creatives are still coming to chill and be inspired. But anyone would thrill to holiday on the “Reine des Plages” (Queen of Beaches) as Trouville’s stretch of sand has been known for centuries.

Art & Sea Views
Villa Montebello
Musée Villa Montebello (64 Rue du Général Leclerc) - The museum is housed in this magnificent villa up on the hill with great views out over the water. Learn more about Trouville’s history as a “ville balnéaire” (seaside town) through the collection of paintings, prints, photographs, and temporary exhibits.
Galerie du Musée (32 Blvd Fernand Moureaux) – A gallery dedicated to the poster art of Raymond Savignac.
Here’s a selection of other cultural activities.
Les Jeux Sont Faits
Casino Barrière de Trouville (Place du Maréchal Foch) - When the casino opened in 1912, it was the largest in France. Today, there are slot machines, board games, a poker room & even electronic games. Or, just come to see the splendor, have a drink at the bar or dine in the restaurant.
A Fist Full Of Festivals
Several festivals to choose from; this is an annual favorite: 
Festival Off-Courts (Sept) - a very-popular, Franco-Quebec short film festival.
Some Sports Activities:
(poster: Savignac)
Lots to choose from such as surfing, kayaking, boating, etc., plus:
Trouville Tennis Plage – What could be better than playing tennis at the beach on faux-grass courts!
Complexe Nautique – Both an indoor & outdoor pool, open in season, right on the beach.
Wander Around
The word in French is “flâner”--just stroll around town. Check out the little side streets and the Rue des Bains, with all sorts of boutiques with local goods and shops full of regional specialties. The Trouville App might come in handy.
Where To Dine: There are several choices of restaurants on the quay, in town, and along the beach as well as tapas bars, wine bars, and tea & coffee shops.
Where To Stay: You’ll find everything from luxe accommodations to quaint Airbnbs.
Villa Persane

Getting There: Take the fast train (TGV) from Paris to the Trouville-Deauville train station (2hrs). Or, drive. It’s around 120 miles/194 km (2hrs) from Paris to Trouville on Autoroute A13 (with tolls) or meander along discovering other lovely areas of the Normandy region on the way.
Nearby Jaunts:
Visit all the towns along the “Côte Fleurie” Calvados coastline such as Deauville, Honfleur & Cabourg

Monday, July 1, 2024

6 Ways To Experience The Great Outdoors Right in New York City

By Jacquelin Carnegie
photo: Courtesy Church of  St. Luke
For New Yorkers, the “great outdoors” could be just a rooftop bar or a stroll along the river—Hudson or East. Here are some cool places to hang out:


A Secret Garden
Barrow St Garden - The Church of St. Luke in the Fields
487 Hudson St (at Barrow St);
(Open: Mon-Sat, 10am-dusk; Sun, 12:00pm-dusk)
“Right smack dab in the middle of town/I've found a paradise that's trouble proof.” No, not up on the roof, but in this hidden-gem of a garden in the West Village. The Church of St. Luke in the Fields was built in 1821 and the first planting in this delightful garden was in 1842. How wonderful that this pretty place of “respite and quiet contemplation” still exists in this skyscraper-mad city. Food is allowed, but smoking, alcoholic beverages, and cellphones are not. Do stop by and be enchanted. (Afterwards, stroll along Hudson St from Barrow to 14th St. There’s any number of eateries, great for dining &/or people-watching.)

Great Entertainment
Little Island
Pier 55, West 13th Street on the Hudson River, NY;
(Open: Daily, 6am-12am; Free admission; some concerts & events require paid tickets, other are free.)
Little Island (photo: Michael Grimm)

The latest edition to Hudson River Park is the loopy Little Island—like a Disneyland ride without the ride! There are several, terrific “vista points” and an outdoor food court. But the best part is all the wonderful entertainment for adults and kids in the magnificent amphitheater overlooking the Hudson and in the lovely, smaller venue, The Glade.

An Army Post Open to Civilians
US Army Garrison Fort Hamilton - Interpretive Trail
Harbor Defense Museum, 230 Sheridan Loop, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY
For centuries, to protect New York harbor, there were fortifications in each borough. Now, Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn is the last active Army Garrison Post in New York City. On the base, in Bay Ridge on magnificent grounds overlooking the Narrows tidal strait, there’s a 10-stop Interpretive Trail of special interest to history buffs that can be visited by the public. Of particular note, is the last stop: a marker to honor the Marquis de Lafayette, a Major General in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Ft Hamilton, Lafayette Marker (photo: J.Carnegie)

How To Visit: Arrange a free, guided tour of the Interpretive Trail thru Fort Hamilton’s Harbor Defense Museum, Tel: 718/630-4349;
Visitors must have 2 forms of ID (State or Federal) to access Fort Hamilton. Enter thru the Main Gate, at the end of Fort Hamilton Parkway at 101st Street, for a background check at the Visitor Control Center.
Getting There: Subway: R – Bay Ridge/95th St, then 5-minute walk to Fort.

Take A Walk On The Wild Side
Newtown Creek Nature Walk
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY; (Open: Dawn to dusk)
Newtown Creek (photo: J.Carnegie)

This is an outing only for the brave—a true mix of the beautiful and the ugly. On the one hand, the actual walkway, designed by artist & “environmental sculptor” George Trakas, is magnificent. On the other hand, what you’re looking out onto is the Newtown Creek, one of the most polluted waterways in the U.S, and Whale Creek, what I refer to as “scrap metal gulch.” However, almost unbelievably, the overall concept is aesthetically pleasing: ship-inspired design elements, historic granite slabs, native plants, and unassuming “artworks” such as stone circles, under a Honey Locust tree, engraved with place names used by the Lenape people, who once inhabited this area. So, take a walk on the wild side to experience this exquisite ½-mile walk within this gritty setting.
Getting There: Subway: G - Greenpoint Ave. Use the Greenpoint/Manhattan Ave exit. Walk east on Greenpoint Ave, take a left on Provost St, walk several blocks down, then take a right onto Paidge Ave & you’re there; about a 20-minute walk. (The Newtown Creek Nature Walk is right next to the Wastewater Treatment Plant!)

Skyline Views
Gantry Plaza State Park
Long Island City, Queens, NY; 
Gantry Park (photo: Courtesy SWA/Balsley)

This lovely spot is easy to get to by subway or ferry, yet you’ll feel transported. Right on the East River with fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline, there are several sections to the park located on a former dockyard. In fact, the name “Gantry” comes from the restored gantries–-gigantic structures that once transferred railcars onto rail barges. In summertime, there are often concerts and other fun events.
Getting There: Subway: 7 - Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave. Walk west 2 blocks to Gantry Park. Or, NYC Ferry

Farm Living: Right in the Heart of the Big Apple
Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, NY; Tel: 718/347-3276; (Open: Daily, 10am-5pm, Free)
(photo: Courtesy Queens County Farm Museum)

Once upon a time, New York City was all woodland and farmland. Even up to the 1920s, there were some 800 farms within the city limits. Now, only one working, historical farm still exists. So, grab the kids and head to Queens. This 47-acre farm, established in 1697, has lots for youngsters to enjoy from farm animals to hay rides. Adults, who like to cook, will thrill to the heirloom produce available at the farm stand (May to November) and other goodies at the farm store. Throughout the year, there are several, fun, family-friendly events.
Getting There: Subway: E/F - Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike, then #Q46 Bus (eastbound on Union Tpk) to Little Neck Parkway. Cross Union Tpk, walk north on Little Neck Pkwy, 3 blocks to Farm entrance. LIRR: Port Washington Line to Little Neck station, then taxi or Uber (5-10mins).

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

5 Free Fabulous Summertime Things To Do in New York City

By Jacquelin Carnegie
In the summertime, many cities around the world empty out and all cultural activities come to a halt. But, during the dog days of summer, New York lives up to its reputation as "The City That Never Sleeps." Cool cultural and fun events never stop! Here's a sampling of not-to-be-missed happenings: 

Battery Dance Festival
Battery Park City - Rockefeller Park (Aug) 
Battery Dance Fest, Trainor Dance (photo: Steven Pisano)
Every August, this festival gives dance lovers a reason to rejoice. Wonderful international dance companies are showcased in the most beautiful setting in New York City! But, even if you know nothing about dance, it's worth checking out this festival as each night a selection of five dance troupes performs giving you the chance to discover that you're really a dance fan after all. Plus, the Statue of Liberty is in the background!

Summer Concert 
(photo: Cory Weaver/Metropolitan Opera)
All throughout the summer there are wonderful, free outdoor concerts featuring all kinds of music, but these last until Fall: 
(; June thru Oct) This music fest has expanded beyond Rumsey Playfield in Central Park to 18 parks in all five boroughs. You'll hear cutting-edge music--everything from Indie to Afrobeat, Latin to Soul, Reggae to Fado, etc.--plus you'll see contemporary dance. All performances are free, except for benefit concerts. For jazz fans, there's the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival (Aug). 
(photo: Courtesy Bryant Park)
Bryant Park – Picnic Performances (; June-Sept) – In this beautiful setting—the lawn behind the stunning main NY Public Library—you can enjoy fab, free performances of jazz, classical music, opera, pop as well as dance & theater. Bring your own picnic or garb some tasty goodies at the food tents. Bryant Park will even provide the picnic blanket!

Hudson Classical’s Shakespeare in Riverside Park
In the summertime in New York City, Shakespeare is king! The best-known offering is The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park (July thru Aug) at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. (During the theater's renovation, enjoy performances throughout the 5 boroughs by the Mobile Unit, on Film & online.) There are also some lesser-known productions such as Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, Shakespeare in Riverside Park & Shakespeare Downtown.

Have a drive-in experience without a car! Check out all the lovely outdoor locations to watch movies under the stars in the middle of the city from Coney Island Flicks to Rooftop Films

Governors Island
New York Harbor,
Open: Daily, year-round; Ferry fee, but free on the weekends before noon.

Governors Island (photo: JCarnegie)
This glorious getaway, just 5 minutes from Manhattan Island by ferry, was for many years a base for the US Army and Coast Guard. But, the Island has been transformed into an artsy recreational area with lots of interesting events. One of the wonderful ways to get away while staying right in the city. (Here are some other great options to stay cool while sightseeing:

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

New York City: 8 Great Ways To Sightsee by Boat

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Pioneer sunset cruise (photo: SoStSeaportMuseum)
Here’s a sampling of some boat rides with terrific views that will help you experience the city in a whole new light, along with some fantastic sightings of Lady Liberty!

Staten Island Ferry
Whitehall Ferry Terminal, 4 South St.;; Free, year-round
(photo: Staten Island Ferry)
Think of this pleasant 25-minute ride as a mini-cruise with some of the world’s best views--the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and lower Manhattan. On Staten Island, get out and explore all the wonderful sights such as the Alice Austen House Museum ( showcasing photography in a lovely setting, the Tibetan Museum (, and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Garden (

Governors Island Ferry
Battery Maritime Building, 10 South St.;
Open Daily, year-round; Ferry: Free, Sat & Sun before noon. Otherwise, $5, except seniors, kids, military
Gov Island (photo: J.Carnegie)
This 7-minute ferry ride whisks you from Manhattan (& Brooklyn on the weekends) to a little bit of nature with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan. After 200 years as a military base, Governors Island is now a lovely public park. The former barracks, for the US Army and Coast Guard, make it look a bit austere, but all the new recreational features are fun to discover and, almost every weekend, there are entertaining activities, concerts, and events. 

NYC Ferry
(photo: NYC Ferry)
For just the price of a subway ride ($2.75) you can travel on the East River between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx--even to Rockaway beach & soon to Coney Island. Get off and explore the offerings at specific stops or just stay on and enjoy the ride. From the 17th to the 19th century, ferries traversed the city's waterways but, as bridges and tunnels were built, the ferries were fazed out. Now, they're back in full-force and a thrill to ride. The major hubs in Manhattan are at East 34th Street and Pier 11 near Wall Street & the So St Seaport.

These kayaking and rowing options are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, but you need to reserve them in advance, so sign up early. (You also must know how to swim.)
Kayaking on the Hudson
The Downtown Boathouse;; May-Oct; Free, Weekends (Pier 26, North Moore) & (Pier 101, Governors Island, but currently closed due to construction) 
On the weekends, The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking on the scenic Hudson River. The equipment—boats, paddles, life jacketsand instructions are free. Wear shorts or a swimsuit.
Kayaking in Brooklyn: Pier 2Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse
(photo: Downtown Boathouse)
June-Sept; Free, Sat & Sun, afternoons; Wed & Thurs evenings.

Row Your Boat – Manhattan
Village Community Boathouse, Pier 40, Hudson River Park, at W. Houston St.;
April-Nov; Free, every Sunday at noon & Wednesdays, 6pm

The Village Community Boathouse offers free, group rowing sessions. The aim is to provide safe, public access to the city’s fantastic waterways and to introduce people, especially kids, to the joys of rowing and boatbuilding. 

Hurricane Sandy dealt a blow to the South Street Seaport Museum. While there are currently only a few small exhibits on view, the museum offers wonderful boat rides:
W.O. Decker - Tugboat
South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St; Pier 16; May - Oct; Sat & Sun; Fee, 
Boat ride Museum Admission 
(photo: SoStSeaportMuseum)
We think of tugboats as the "worker bees" of the waterways. This one (refit with a diesel engine) was built in 1930 when steam tugs were a common sight in New York Harbor. Today, enjoy a bit of history on a truly-enjoyable, 75-minute ride on the W.O. Decker, the last-surviving, New York-built, wooden tugboat. Delight in stunning views of the lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
(photo: SoStSeaportMuseum)

Pioneer - Schooner Sail
South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St; Pier 16; May - Oct; Sat-Sun Daytime Sail & Wed-Sat Sunset Sail; Fee, Boat ride with/or without Museum Admission (2-hour cruises)
Enjoy an afternoon or sunset sail on this historic vessel, first launched in 1885. Bring a picnic lunch or dinner and revel in the sights of New York Harbor.

Monday, May 20, 2024

10 Great Reasons To Explore 3 Fab Islands Near Cancun, Mexico: Holbox, Isla Mujeres & Cozumel

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Isla Mujeres (photo: Quintana Roo Tourism)

Cancun is a fantastic destination that’s easy to get to from almost anywhere. It’s on the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo which also includes the magnificent islands of Holbox, Isla Mujeres, and Cozumel—all worth exploring as part of your vacation experience. 

On Holbox, there is something magical in the air. Once you arrive, you will absolutely not want to leave. Situated at the northeast corner of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Holbox is a 26-mile-long island separated from the mainland by the Yalahau lagoon. Holbox (pronounded Hol-bosh) is a Maya word meaning “black hole,” referring to the lagoon’s dark water, which you cross in a 30-minute ferry ride to the island from the tiny town of Chiquilá, 2-hours north of Cancun.
Holbox (photo: JCarnegie)
 Holbox is located in a unique oceanic spot: where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea converge. So, the surrounding waters are teeming with marine life—turtles, dolphins, whale sharks--in addition to some 500 bird species that nest in the area. Hence, the Island is part of the protected Yum Balam Nature Reserve. Originally a fishing village, the picturesque town on Holbox has colorful, wooden houses, a smattering of little shops, bars, restaurants, a pizza & ice-cream parlor—plus, lots of street art. Isla Holbox is a laid-back place with only sandy, dirt roads and no cars; just golf carts and 4x4 taxis to get around. With friendly locals and magnificent beaches, you’ll soon discover that Holbox is a true paradise on earth.
Unique To Dos
Blue Waves Holbox
Tours offers several cool ways to experience the island:
Bioluminescence Tour – This is done at night to see the phytoplankton’s luminescent effect in the ocean around Holbox that looks like fireflies underwater. Wade in the water, swim in it or kayak around to experience this beautiful, natural phenomenon.
Three Islands Tour - Isla Pájaros: See bird species such as white ibis, egrets, pelicans, spoonbills, herons & flamingos. Isla Pasión: Climb up the observation tower on this little, deserted island with a beach awash in seashells. Yalahau parque ecoturistico: Swim in a crystal-clear “cenote.”

Where To Stay: From basic to luxurious, there’s lots of accommodation choices from rustic bungalows to hostels to lovely boutique hotels such as Hotel Villas Caracol - Great beach location, super-friendly staff, nice rooms & pretty pool, plus delicious meals in their Las Hamacas restaurant & beach club.
Getting Around on Holbox: No cars, just golf carts to rent and 4x4 taxis—yellow ones waiting at the ferry.
Holbox town (photo: Quintana Roo Tourism)
Getting There: Holbox is a 2-hour drive north of Cancun, plus a ½ hour ferry ride from Chiquilá to Isla Holbox—worth every minute. From Cancun Airport or downtown Cancun to Chiquilá (87 miles/140 km) there are several options (but I wouldn’t recommend renting a car as none are allowed on Isla Holbox); prices in Mexican $: Shared or Private Shuttle

Cancun Airport–Chiquila Port (Holbox ferry); ADO bus: Cancun airport/downtown-Chiquilá, Quintana Roo, Mexico (the cheapest option); Ferry: Holbox Express

Just a 30-minute ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres is only 5-miles-long and half-a-mile wide, but it’s a vacation wonderland known for beautiful, white-sand beaches and aquamarine water. You can be as active or relaxed as you’d like.
Go snorkeling, scuba-diving, kayaking, or biking around the island. Or, just chill-out at a lovely beach club. Playa Norte is the most famous beach, also known for great sunsets. In ancient times, Isla Mujeres was a sanctuary for the Maya goddess Ixchel. At Punta Sur, you can explore this history and see splendid sunrises. Other activities include: exploring the island by golf-cart, swimming with whale sharks, or boating to the nearby Isla Contoy National Park. For shopping, entertainment, bars and restaurants, stroll along Isla Mujeres’ main drag, Avenida Hidalgo. In the evenings, there’s live music and dancing in the street.
One thing to keep in mind: Isla Mujeres is an extremely popular destination. If possible, consider a visit during off-season, May-October. Otherwise, there are an enormous number of tourists, not only those staying on the island, but also many day-trippers as it’s so close to Cancun.
Punta Sur (photo: JCarnegie)

Unique To Dos
Beach Clubs - Hanging out at a Beach Club is a very popular way to spend the day on Isla Mujeres. Most offer food & drinks, the use of sunbeds, loungers, palapas, hammocks, toilets & showers. Some even have sports activities & swimming pools. Depending on the club, there’s either an all-inclusive entrance fee or free entrance with a food/drink purchase. (Some popular ones: Guru, Zama, Amazona)
Amazing Seafood - Mar-Bella Fish Market Raw Bar & Grill restaurant - From the ocean to your plate. An incredible seafood selection served in a lovely, beachfront location. (The Amazona Beach Club in right next door.)
Punta Sur & Sculpture Park (entrance fee) - Punta Sur is a stunning, cliffside location with incredible views. It’s also the site of Templo Ixchel ruins, thought to have also been a Mayan lighthouse. And, the Punta Sur Sculpture Garden. Mexican and international artists have created sculptures that represent the spirit of Maya civilization. Take a stroll around this beautiful site, also renowned for sunrise-watching.
Swim with Whale Sharks - Whale Sharks congregate near Isla Mujeres (June-Sept), go for a memorable dip with them.
Baby Turtle Release - During the Sea Turtle nesting season in the Mexican Caribbean (May-Nov), there’s a release program (ask where at your hotel as the Tortugranja Turtle Farm is currently closed for renovation).

Where To Stay: North end of the island - to be in the middle of the action or South end - a quieter location. There are options for every budget from hostels and Bed & Breakfasts, to boutique hotels, private villas, and deluxe, all-inclusive resorts. For day-trippers, Hotel Riu Caribe in Cancun is a really nice, all-inclusive, near all the ferry ports.
Getting Around on Isla Mujeres: 
Ferry Cancun to Isla Mujeres (photo: JCarnegie)
Rent a golf cart (carrito de golf) bike or motorcycle on Rueda Medina right across the street from the ferry. Taxis at the ferry.
Getting There: From Cancun, it’s a 30-minute ferry trip. There are several ferry ports, easily-reachable by local taxi: Puerto Juárez, El Embarcadero, Playa Tortugas or Playa Caracol. Ferry: Ultramar

Cozumel is a terrific vacation destination about a 45-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen, an hour south of Cancun. Cozumel is a bit larger than the other islands, some 30-miles-long and 10-miles-wide, with spectacular coral reefs perfect for scuba diving or snorkeling, amazing beaches, water sports, and a history of Maya culture.
On Cozumel, 75% of the land is a federally-protected, natural reserve as are its’ famous arrecifes (reefs), Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, which are part of the Mesoamerican system, the largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere. In fact, the famous French explorer Jacques Cousteau declared Cozumel one of the most beautiful scuba-diving areas in the world.
Cozumel Punta Sur (photo: JCarnegie)
 While Cozumel may be a diver’s paradise, there are many other things to do on this beautiful island. It’s a very popular stop on Caribbean cruises. The town of San Miguel has great shopping and dining, and the not-to-be-missed Cozumel Museum has incredible exhibits on the fascinating history, culture, geography, and ecosystems of the island.
Unique To Dos
Pueblo del Maiz (entrance fee) - Experience the ancestral heritage of the Maya culture in this recreated, ancient Mayan village. Learn about the goddess Ixchel, the importance of corn, and the origin of chewing gum. Make authentic tamales and chocolate from cocoa beans. Find out how the Maya respected the natural world, made thread for textiles from plants, and let nothing go to waste.
Punta Sur – Eco Beach Park (entrance fee) - Punta Sur is an ecological park at the southern end of the island; a nature preserve with beautiful beaches. Experience Cozumel’s incredible natural habitat as well as go for a swim & soak up some rays. Take a boat ride on the lagoons through the mangrove marshlands to see crocodiles and birds, then hang out at one of Punta Sur’s snack bar/beach clubs. Before leaving, climb to the top of the lighthouse for great views.
Chankanaab Park (entrance fee) - Located inside Cozumel’s National Reef Marine Park, this adventure park has something for everyone: picturesque grounds with gardens and nature trails; diving and snorkeling tours on the Chankanaab Reef; a sea lion show for the kids and tequila tastings for the adults. There’s a lovely beach area, spa, and restaurants.

Where To Stay: Lots of options from budget to boutique hotels and all-inclusive resorts. Try some place unique such as Ventanas al Mar an eco-friendly, oceanfront hotel on Cozumel’s unspoiled East Coast.
Getting Around on Cozumel: Car Rental – It’s a big island with lots to see. 
Other options: Rent a jeep or bikes, take taxis or just go on a selection of island tours.
Yucatan, Quintana Roo map

Getting There: The 45-minute ferry ride to Cozumel leaves from Playa del Carmen, about an hour south of Cancun. Getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen: ADO bus: Cancun Airport–Playa del Carmen (Once in Playa, the ferry terminal is just a short walk from the bus station.) Shared or 
Private Shuttle: Cancun Airport–Playa del Carmen; Ferry from Playa del Carmen: Ultramar (Blue/Yellow) or Winjet (Orange). Onboard the ferries, there’s great live-music that makes the trip fun. Fly: Cozumel has an airport (CZM) with direct flights from many destinations.

KEEP IN MIND: All major airlines fly into Cancun. Quintana Roo is taking steps to protect its cultural and natural heritage. Please use biodegradable sunscreen & bug spray; while swimming in a cenote or diving on the reefs, no sunscreen is allowed at all. Please help keep this natural wonderland as pristine as possible & have a terrific time on the Mexican Caribbean!