TRAVEL: Isla Mujeres, a sanctuary of Mexican culture

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The Caribbean side of Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is a location where many green sea turtles crawl up the beach to lay their eggs, attracting many travelers. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

On the island of Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo, Mexico, major attractions for travelers range from the whale shark tours traveling out twice a day to the white sandy beaches at Playa Norte.

Playa Norte is a common destination, and many decide to stay with the “All Inclusive Resorts,” but then they don’t travel to the middle and south end of the island where the true culture of the isle resides.

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The sun sets over the waters of Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

At Polos Mango Café, you can grab the best breakfast on the island, and later at the Soggy Peso Bar, “¡puedes beber muchas cervezas con tus amigos!” or “drink many beers with your friends” as Gustavo, the bar’s owner, likes to hear.

The Soggy Peso is just a hut with a bar underneath it on the beach, naturally, but it is a common location where many visitors enjoy their strong margaritas — and one of their signature drinks, Pain Killers (the name does not mislead).

The island also includes a beautiful park at Punta del Sur, or the south point of the island, where the ruins of the Temple of Ixchel lie.

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Isla Mujeres, Mexico, holds a park on the south end of the island. The park is dedicated to the ruins of the Temple of Ixchel where many other pieces of art populate the park. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

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The south point of Isla Mujeres holds a park dedicated to the Temple of Ixchell. Many repeat visitors will stack up rocks to see if the rocks still stand when they return. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)
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Isla Mujeres, Mexico, holds a park on the south end of the island. The park is dedicated to the ruins of the Temple of Ixchel where many other pieces of art populate the park. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

There, you can walk through the different metal sculptures created by artists all over the world, and down to a trail leading to a view of Cancún with aqua colored waters.

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At the park of the Goddess of Ixchell, a small path leads travelers to walk near the channel separating the island from the mainland. Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is a common vacation spot across from Cancún, Mexico. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

This is how many of my trips to Isla Mujeres turn out. My family and I will go to Mango Café in the morning, then while it is still cool on the beaches, we go to find sea glass or lie out on the white sand.

After around 3 p.m., my family and I usually head to the Soggy Peso Bar, where we spend hours speaking to the owner, Gustavo — or “Goose” as we usually call him — Danny, and the bartender, Jorge.

After the bar and the many drinks, we love to lay out by either the pool or the beach and wait for dinner time to roll around.

When it does, there are a multitude of restaurants serving anything from Mediterranean to Yucatan islander cuisine. A notable dish is conch ceviche, made with the meat of a conch, pico de gallo and lime juice.

The island offers a special sort of sanctuary as well. In the 1980s, Isla Mujeres hosted a major fishing industry until conservationists visited the island and showed the local population how beneficial it can be to focus on conservation efforts.

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Spider lilies grow near rocky outrcrops on the southern point of Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Many different varieties of flora grow on the island where travelers can enjoy. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Today, the island thrives off of whale sharks and scuba tours, a sea turtle sanctuary, a dolphin discovery park and beautiful places to snorkel in the aqua-colored Caribbean waters.

If you ever decide to visit Isla Mujeres, make sure to give Qubano a visit downtown. Vivian, the owner, serves traditional Cuban dishes, and her chihuahua, Cuba, never fails to come to your side and beg with her big round eyes.

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Cuba, Vivian's chihuahua, happily awaits her next bite of hamburger. Qubano is a restaurant owned by Vivian, a local on Isla Mujeres who serves traditional Cuban cuisine. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Olivia Bergmeier is a sophomore in journalism and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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