Where we’re at: I’m recapping my travels in 2019, including this trip to Mexico in November.
We slept in a giant seashell. We rang in thirty with a mermaid-themed rager. We went under the sea to an underwater museum. We drank like fish at a beach club. And the trip wasn’t over, not just yet.
We had one last stretch of adventures left in our epic ocean-themed girl’s trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Picking up where my last trip recap left off, as much fun as we were having at Guru, we decided to go on a beach club crawl and make our way to some of the other hot spots on Playa del Norte.
We didn’t make it far before climbing into an unattended cabana — however when a waiter showed up and quoted us a ridiculous minimum spend with just an hour to go before closing, we decided to keep moving. Hey, we got this cute photo out of it at least.
We eventually found ourselves at Buhos Beach Bar & Restaurant, which is kind of in the heart of the buzzy Playa Norte vibe. We were drawn this time to the swing chairs surrounding the central bar, and found ourselves quickly turning the bar into a playpen.
I mean… having figured out by this point that the nightlife was pretty sleepy, we were quite thrilled to dedicate ourselves to the art of the epic day drinking session.
And I had apparently reached that perfect tipping point where I’ve had just enough rum to think that turning a beach bar into an aerial arts studio is a great idea, but just enough water to actually be capable of executing said vision.
Before we knew it, nature was putting on the perfect sunset show.
Now, I said there wasn’t much nightlife going on. But girls gotta eat — especially girls who have been dranking all day, typo intentional — so of course we got dressed up for dinner.
And, apparently had a full blown photoshoot with the seashell decor of our Airbnb. Sorry not sorry, superhosts.
The next morning we were at it again, Drake’s shell phone song on blast once again, our personal joke never getting old.
The pool in our second Airbnb was definitely on the smaller, plung-ier side and at first I thought dang, we’ll never be able to all lounge around that. But we ended up spending almost all our time at the nearby beach anyway, and just splashing around here in the early mornings and late evenings, enjoying the gorgeous shadows the shade structure cast around the room.
It was a stunning way to start the day.
So was a bit of yoga. I was so happy when Shannon and Steffi were keen for an early morning wake up for treehouse yoga despite (or perhaps due to) the copious amounts of piña coladas we’d been consuming since arriving in Isla Mujeres.
A short early morning stroll brought us to Treehouse Yoga, conveniently located right above Buhos Bar where I’d been flipping around the rafters the day before. Schedules seem to ebb and flow a bit with the season, but right now vinyasa flow classes are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9am.
We loved our dynamic, creative class led by a friendly Israeli instructor who greeted the regulars warmly and gave us enthusiastic recommendations for her island favorites after class. With ocean breezes and views from the treehouse shala, I was only sad that we could make just one class — it’s a must for any future trips to Isla Mujeres!
By the time we finished savoring savasana, we met the rest of the crew for brunch and then decided to hit up the final beach club on my wish list: Green Demon.
While skeptical of the name — I generally prefer to avoid all demon-related activities on my lighthearted girlfriend getaways — I’d been drawn in by photos of the brightly colored beach beds and rave reviews of the fun music and lively atmosphere.
It didn’t disappoint! While our bodies were definitely starting to feel the effects of multiple days of free rounds of tequila shots, our spirits couldn’t have been higher to be beachfront with this crew.
After seeing the results of Heather’s amazing photoshoots with the girls the day prior — remember, she’s a professional at this! — I regretted not ducking out for one of my own. So Heather was a true friend and dragged me away from the action for a bit to take advantage of all the island’s incredible natural backgrounds for a little snap session of my own.
I am so grateful to her for capturing this moment in my life for me — new decade, big smiles, filled up with love.
What do you think — can bikini shots count as professional headshots, when (at least one of your) jobs is running women’s dive retreats?!
Back at Green Demon, photo fever was spreading…
I can’t tell you how much I treasure every moment of this trip. Isla Mujeres gave us exactly what we needed: a fun, easy island to play, bond, and make memories on.
That evening was our final one together and we had one last “wow moment” to make it truly special — a private chef making dinner on our very own gorgeous rooftop.
Steffi had been sweet enough to gift me an organic, hand-dyed piece from Hanoux, and of course once again a photoshoot ensued. I love this piece because while I’ve admired Steffi’s for years, I don’t know if I’d have been bold enough to buy one for myself. And by sharing it here, I support another female entrepreneur building a sustainable businesses — talk about a girl power explosion!
All the girls in this group captured me so perfectly with their gifts (as if their presence on this trip wasn’t present enough!)
Up on the rooftop, we were thrilled to spoil ourself with our second private chef extravaganza of the trip. The first, at the shell house, had been a super casual affair of simple Mexican classics — and it was fantastic. This one was a pricier setup and I’d hand selected dishes from various menus to make something truly custom I thought everyone would love, from custom cocktails all the way through to a homemade dessert.
While I hate to end this trip coverage on a low note, it was… weird. Nothing on the menu was exactly what we ordered, and I was surprised when they popped the plastic off a store-bought cake for the dessert. I was just going to let it go because, well, what the hell. But then things got even weirder. Not everyone had been super hungry but we were all happy to have leftovers for the next day… until we saw the chef carrying them out with her. When we expressed surprise and asked to keep them — anytime I’ve hired an expensive chef before, the leftovers are packed up and left in the fridge for ya — she was pretty aggressive and told us she had promised them to someone else! It was very uncomfortable and definitely bizarre after our whole check in drama, too.
So while I loved the Airbnb and know that there’s nothing else quite like it in that location, I can only recommend it with the caveat that some weirdness may or may not go down during your stay, ha — be warned!
Needless to say we had to sage the air of that tension, and we did so with one perfect final drink at Lola Valentine’s, and a few hours of sweaty dancing at a local bachata club that was finally popping off. Bad juju officially cleared.
And just like that, we were hugging goodbye promising to meet again long before my next big milestone birthday. (When I proposed a yacht in Greece for forty, it was immediately argued that 31, too, is an enormous moment in one’s life to celebrate.)
Isla Mujeres means the island of women and when I realized that (and um, spontaneously rented a giant seashell house there) I knew I needed to ring in this decade with the most amazing women I know.
These babes have been there for me through thick and thin and in all phases of my life. My Brooklyn girls from college and beyond, my Real Housewives of Koh Tao from my life in Thailand, and some fellow wanders fate put in my path on the road (my high school besties couldn’t make it but were there in spirit.)
Many had never met before this trip and I can tell you it was honestly one of the great joys of my life to watch them not just have a good time together but click like crazy and form deep bonds — some have already reunited and now have their own special friendships that fill my heart with happiness.
I love all my friends but there is a special bond between women, a sisterhood that runs so deep. I’ve always been blessed to be surrounded by really incredible women and felt very called to nurture these relationships — my gratitude for this and my belief that we need these bonds is a big part of what causes me to create Wander Women Retreats.
Ladies, thank you for keeping me grounded through thick + thin, highs + the heartbreaks, through the different chapters + phases of life, for growing with me, for being my family. And thank you for the privilege of letting me do the same. I can’t wait to grow old with all of you.
Here’s to the Island of Women, and the best damn group of them I could ever have the pleasure of befriending.
How bloody lovely
Thanks for reading, Jo 🙂
woow!!! really awesome