I remember like it was yesterday … Thanksgiving 2019. We barely escaped Denver’s biggest snowstorm of the year to head to Mía Reef Isla Mujeres, an all-inclusive resort on the north end of Isla Mujeres island, which is just off the coast from Cancun. By “barely escaped,” I mean we were literally one of the last planes allowed out of Denver International Airport for the day.
I’m now using this time of lockdown to go back and write about places we have been, so we all can try to plan for future trips when life returns to normal(ish). If you take just one thing away from our review: the absolute highlight of Mia Reef is the bath-like beach that basically surrounds the resort. (And if you would like to see ALL our photos of the trip, here is a gallery post full of them.)
Wouldn’t we all love to be there right now?
Review of Mía Reef All-Inclusive Hotel Isla Mujeres
How To Get to Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is a small island off the coast of Cancun, only 7 kilometers long and about 650 meters wide. It’s tiny compared to the diving-mecca, Cozumel, that sits about 100 km south, off the coast of Playa del Carmen. Getting there isn’t difficult, although there are a few extra steps. We flew into Cancun International Airport and scheduled a shuttle to take us from the airport to Punta Juarez to catch the Ultramar ferry.
The ferry runs every half-hour or so depending on the season, and you can purchase tickets at the Ultramar booth for about $7 per person each way. You can buy tickets ahead of time online, but everything about the ferry station was well organized and easy to understand, so I don’t think there’s any benefit. When the ferry arrives, line up in the “tourist” line (versus resident), hop on, and get a drink to relax on the 20 minute trip across the beautiful water.
Once on Isla Mujeres, the next step is to catch a quick taxi to Mía Reef. The easiest way we found is to exit the Terminal Maritima Isla Mujeres building, turn left, and walk a block or two to the taxi station. There you can get in the queue and get a taxi. You could use one of the taxis or golf carts outside the ferry building as well, but it was pretty hectic, and our Spanish is weak, so we felt better getting in the queue.
Mía Reef is less than 1.5 km (1 mi) north, so the trip takes less than 10 minutes, and you’ll be able to see some of the shopping and restaurants that you may want to explore later. We would have walked if we weren’t carting luggage!
Mia Reef – The Hotel
Mía Reef Isla Mujeres *IS* the absolute north end of Isla Mujeres. In fact, Playa Norte is one of the most famous beaches in the world, and Mía Reef is a bit further north than that, on its own smaller island. You even need to cross their private bridge to get over to the resort. This gives Mía Reef a more exclusive feel, which is an added benefit to the members who invested in the beautiful private villas. (If you are interested, you can find out more about those in the hotel lobby, but thankfully the sales team isn’t pushy.)
As soon as you pull up, the welcoming staff will help get you and your luggage up to the modern-styled lobby for check-in. Artist Frida Kahlo was the inspiration for the decor, and you’ll see many references to her throughout the hotel.
The resort has a variety of rooms and suites with either ocean or channel views, so pick the one that suits you best. Ours had a king-size bed and a pull-out sleeper couch, making it the perfect fit for our 17-year-old son and us. Mía Reef is a small resort comparatively (with only 163 rooms total), but we did not feel cramped at all. We aren’t morning people, so we took the channel side and were treated to amazing sunsets over the water every night.
If there is anything to quibble about, it’s the food. But again, this is a small resort, and one of the few all-inclusives on Isla Mujeres. The sit-down choices were nice but the buffet was very limited and repetitive. Although, personally, I can eat beans and eggs for a week straight. The vegetarian options (for our son) were also iffy, although the staff tried to make substitutions as much as possible. Again, we don’t go to these resorts for the food – but I know many people do!
Amenities and Activities
Mía Reef Isla Mujeres had a variety of activities and options either on site or close by. There was a day spa, fitness center, game room with billiards, ping pong, and foosball, and access to kayaks and paddleboards. There were also golf carts and bikes to rent for exploring the rest of the island (which we did).
Cars are limited on the island, so golf carts are one of the best ways to get around. We spent a day exploring, ending up at Punta Sur, the southernmost tip of the island, taking in the beauty of the rocky coast, and meeting some local wildlife. We also toured through the town, checking out the plethora of shops and restaurants in the heart of the Isla Mujeres.
If you are up for a little more adventure, the Mía Reef staff can get you set up with a wide selection of activities either on the island or the mainland. There are both snorkeling and scuba diving all around the island, the Dolphin Discovery, the no-frills Tortugranja farm, and the extensive Garrafon Adventure Park that includes zip lines over the open ocean!
We decided to spend a day snorkeling at the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA), a series of submerged sculptures designed to build up an artificial reef. The dive boat picked us up at the hotel dock, took us out for an incredible day in the water, and brought us back to our dock at the end. It couldn’t have been easier and we had a stellar time. (Huge thanks to Mexico Divers for a great day!)
Again, with Mía Reef being a smaller resort, of course the pool is small too. (Yes, this triangle is the extent of it.) Basically, it’s a nice stop for a drink at the swim-up bar on the way to the real showstopper of the resort …
… The Beach!
For us, the best part of the trip was the beach. While Mía Reef doesn’t have a large ocean-side area, it does have a shallow channel that runs between it and the main part of the island, creating a perfect lagoon-like spot to relax and recharge. It was like having the ocean to take a bath in!
The powdery-soft white sand beach slowly drops into the water so you can wade at whatever depth you prefer with a fresh drink in hand. A quick swim under the bridge toward the ocean side reveals a small protected reef for easy snorkeling with a variety of colorful fish. The resort also boasts a swim lagoon on its rocky side called the “King’s Pool,” however, it was always closed up when we went to that side of the island.
No problem! We spent most of our time on the beach, alternating lounging in the water, and swimming with the aquatic life.
I hope you enjoy this post and the photos of Mía Reef Isla Mujeres. We had a great stay, and we hope to go back someday and explore more of the island.
P.S. Check out my other posts about our travels to Mexico!