Colorful boats dot the harbor of Isla Mujeres. Despite a growing emphasis on tourism, the island maintains a strong fishing industry.
A rocky cove forms a protective half-moon around Hotel Secreto's semiprivate white-sand beach along the coast of Isla Mujeres.
Local vendors sell produce along busy Hidalgo Avenue, hoping to catch the eager eyes of tourists. Not far is the town center, just 4 by 6 blocks, which pulses with pedestrians and music.
The boutiques along cobblestone Hidalgo Avenue promise great shopping. Vendors sell everything from handmade hammocks and folk dresses to finely crafted masks and religious artifacts.
Nine suites in Hotel Secreto overlook the infinity pool, the rocky cove, and the blue ocean beyond. "The only thing to do here is relax," says reservations manager Omar Maldonado.
Visitors to Mexico can experience the best of both worlds thanks to frequent ferries that link peaceful Isla Mujeres to popular Cancún.
Plenty of local cafés await arriving visitors on Isla Mujeres' waterfront. This one, Café Cito on Matamoros Avenue, serves thick, decadent waffles for breakfast.
Even the youngest visitors can enjoy the calm, clear waters off Isla Mujeres.
On Playa Norte, the setting sun casts a golden path that leads from Hotel Secreto to the shore, perfect for couples strolling along the beach.
At Garrafón, an ecological water park on the island, travelers soar above the sea on a heart-racing zip-line ride.