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Reflecting on a Year on Isla Mujeres

As 2023 draws to a close, we are taking a moment to look back on an amazing year in Isla Mujeres. With some fun, and 'tasty' events that we here at Taste of Isla have had the pleasure to be a part of, to the island’s own celebrations and remarkable accomplishments, this year has been nothing short of wonderful for Mexico’s gem in the Caribbean. We also invite you to join us as we explore some of the new and delicious restaurants, as well as exciting businesses that have emerged on the island. There are plenty of great spots for you to try out during your visit in 2024 ... 

As we approach the end of the year, we're getting ready to say hello to 2024. This is the time when we reflect on the year that's gone by, make plans for the future, and set resolutions. Looking back on 2023, it's been an exciting year for Taste of Isla, with our participation in events like the Viva Mexico - Tasting Experience at Marina Bartolome. We've also enjoyed some fantastic events on the island, organized by the government, including a carnival, Mexico's Independence Day, Day of the Dead, and Christmas celebrations. We are thrilled to report that Playa Norte and Playa Centro beaches have once again received the Blue Flag status for the year. In addition, new parks and seaside statues have been opened, and many new businesses have emerged, providing visitors with some great new spots to explore. If you're on the island tonight, we have some recommendations for you on where to have your last delicious dinner of 2023 and what to do afterward. Take a look at what a fantastic year it has been on Isla Mujeres!

Taste of Isla Events 

In 2023, the Taste of Isla team had the pleasure of attending two food festivals at Marina Bartolome, even sponsoring the second one - Viva Mexico Tasting Experience, selling tickets, and giving out exclusive Taste of Isla merch with the sale of VIP tickets, including a one-of-a-kind engraved wine glass. The sale of tickets to the two events helped to raise money for the DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia) program in Isla Mujeres, and guests were taken on a yummy gastronomic journey (our favorite!).

Taste of Isla also gave back this Christmas by donating toys and items to the Toys + Tings toy drive on Isla Mujeres at Antal Cafe. 

Isla Mujeres 2023 Events and Celebrations …

Isla Mujeres hosted several exciting events this year that were enjoyed by both tourists and locals alike. In February, the island celebrated Carnaval in a colorful style with vibrant outfits, feathers, parades, music, and dancing. In September, Isla Mujeres marked Mexico's Independence Day with a parade down Avenida Hidalgo, fireworks, music, and dancing in the downtown main square. The downtown area of Isla Mujeres also hosted Day of the Dead celebrations that lasted for four nights in October and November. The event featured presentations, dancing, altars, and a parade from the cemetery to the main square. This December, the island was filled with Christmas celebrations, with Santa Claus, Minnie, and Mickey Mouse, among other characters, dancing in the main square, beautiful Christmas decorations in the square and around the island, and an amazing parade across the island.

In addition to these events, Isla Mujeres celebrated other achievements this year such as Playa Norte and Playa Centro, two of its most popular downtown beaches, being awarded Blue Flag Status again, meaning they are clean and safe. In the last couple of years, 12 new parks for children have been restored on the island and mainland, and energy-efficient LED lights have been installed around the island.

New Restaurants and Businesses Opened in 2023 …

2023, saw the opening of some amazing new businesses on the island, with restaurants, beach clubs, hotels, cafes, pizza joints, yoga and wellness spots, and more. Here are some of our favorites that we think you should check out on your next visit in the new year. Most recently opened is the downtown restaurant Rusticco, which opened mid-December, this spot is great for a special occasion, or a yummy unique breakfast or lunch on the island. Downtown Isla Mujeres has also welcomed many other restaurants this year, including Romano’s an Italian restaurant, which is located in the old location of Angelo’s; El Paso Taqueria, great for a snack on your way to or from Playa Norte; Mexa Posh on Avenida Hidalgo, and for pizza there have also been two new spots including Il Pomodorino which does delicious pizza by the slice, and Poker Pizza. Raw Bar from the owners of Fish & Gin graced the street with a new sushi, and Asian cuisine option. And 2023 also saw the arrival of our new favorite taco cart, Tacos Salsa … yum! 

In Isla Mujeres’ mid-island area, there were also new things happening, with the opening of Xaman, an artistic, and tasty restaurant specializing in Mexican and pre-hispanic cuisine. The breakfast spot Yayo opened its doors, as well as Aurora Cocina and Bar (formally Madera Food), with a new location with Caribbean views. Further south, El Trompo Loco started serving and delivering yummy tacos, while Laguna Tres Mujeres started offering up great food and snacks with views of the lagoon for those out exploring the island. 

As Madera Food got a new location, Madera Art also got a brand new location which they recently opened this December and is now known as Nalu, this art gallery is located in the serene natural area of Punta Sur, a peaceful and calm location, which is perfect for stopping by to do a spot of shopping during your visit to Isla Mujeres. 

The island also welcomed some new spaces where you can relax and unwind while practicing yoga or pilates. Island Yoga and Pilates opened mid-island by Chedraui and features unique pilates classes with Reformer Beds. In the island’s downtown Antal Cafe Holistico opened, with a yoga studio, and a quaint and peaceful coffee shop. 

Finally, Isla Mujeres saw the arrival of some great beach clubs. You can spend the day relaxing under the Mexican sunshine at Cañabar Beach Club on Playa Norte. Enjoy a day at the fun and beautiful ZAZA Yacht and Beach Club in Punta Sur. Or check out Unik Sky Lounge, on the rooftop of the island’s new and impressive hotel Impressions by Secrets … this luxury bar and beach club is a breathtaking place to spend the day with incredible views over the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. 

Seeing in the New Year in Isla Mujeres … 

If you're spending New Year's Eve on the island and are searching for a special dinner venue and some ideas on what to do, we've got you covered. There are several restaurants that we recommend for a special occasion like this. Mayan Beach Club on Playa Norte is a romantic spot for dinner most nights, but on New Year's Eve, they're hosting a special set menu with live music, souvenirs, and a wonderful atmosphere. Lola Valentina, Xantolo, and Rusticco on Avenida Hidalgo will also be open and are located in the heart of the island's main bar and restaurant strip, making it easy for you to be in the middle of all the action. Walking down this buzzing road will put you in the party spirit before heading to the main square to ring in the New Year with fireworks, live music, and lots of dancing!

If you're looking for other great dining spots in the downtown area that are not on the main strip or the beach, consider checking out Mahache, Grill Garden, or Javi's Cantina. For those who want to stay mid-island to see in the New Year, you can make a reservation at Rosa Sirena or Limon.

After a night of celebration, be sure to set your alarm or stay up until sunrise at 7:20 AM at Punta Sur. It's said that this is the first place in all of Mexico that sees the sun's rays each morning, so you can be one of the first people in Mexico to see the sunshine of 2024!

Wishing you a Happy New Year, and we hope to see you in 2024! 

Credit for photos from Isla Mujeres events and celebrations - Atenea Gómez Ricalde - Facebook

Thank you for the hard work of President Atenea Gómez Ricalde and her team at the Municipal of Isla Mujeres for providing us with the photos and information, so that we can invite you and keep you up to date with current events on the island.

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