The most horrible place in the world

Note from Sarah: The following post was written in a light-hearted way, a toungue-in-cheek account of this obviously gorgeous place. They say sarcasm is the lowest form of humour, and they may be right – so I apologize to anyone who took the following words literally and somehow missed the photos…

Please consider this a service from me to you. I know I’m always saying, “This place is amaaaaaazing!” and “You must go here! And there!” but I really need to warn you about a place you should never, ever go. It’s a place so bad, so horrible that people run screaming from it in horror, vowing to never, ever, return. There is even a ferry service to the mainland every half an hour to cater to the sheer numbers of traumatized people who simply must get off this island of abomination.

My friend Brenda and my Mum – happy, to be leaving.

Write this down: Isla Mujeres, the tiny island off the coast of Cancun, is the most horrible place in the world.

Do not go there.

If ever there were a place where the photos do not aptly describe it, this is it. I mean, we tolerated it, put on fake smiles for the camera and tried to make the best of things. My Mum, such a trooper, didn’t want to disappoint me since I was so excited to take her to her first Caribbean Island. A selfless Mother who has always put my feelings above her own, she was able to put on a brave face and endure the two long nights we spent in this hideous hell-hole.

I mean, the water might look nice, but honestly, it was really quite awful.

And the houses! Painted every bright colour of the rainbow! When just across the water on the mainland, the concrete wonder that is Cancun awaits in all its towering, monolithic glory?!

My friend Shelly to my Mum: “I mean, I just don’t know how people could live here!”

“Unfit for human habitation,” I believe are the words Brenda used to describe the place, at least I think that is what she said. She had been talking about the Canadian winter she would soon be returning to, but no, I’m quite sure she used that phrase to describe the island we were trapped on. I felt terrible that she had to endure it with us, with that lovely below freezing weather waiting for her back home.

The torture continues…

We decided to flee the hideous beach at the north end of town and rented a golf buggy to see if the rest of the place was just as bad. Though I didn’t think it could get any worse, it did.

Putting on smiles for the camera…

The situation was positively dire at Punta Sur, the southern tip of the island where the ancient temple of Ixchel, the Goddess of fertility, medicine and the moon was located. I mean, the place was a fallen down wreck and there wasn’t a concrete high-rise in sight to capitalize on the view. Just craggy limestone cliffs which rose dramatically from the wild, turquoise waters below.

It was all rather… meh.

Then there were the children, or should I say the mini militia – gun wielding child soldiers who are trained to kill. By sheer luck we were able to make it off the island alive.

Re-hydrating before the assault…

Look, I always recommend people make up their own minds about a place, so if you must go, I can’t stop you. But just know, you’ve been forewarned.

And if any of you, for one minute, think I would lie to you in the interest of keeping Isla Mujeres to myself so that whenever I return there will be a room available at my favourite apartments, plenty of space on the beach and not another living soul at the temple of Ixchel, well, I’m not sure what I can say to that except, shame on you.

I thought you were better than that 😉

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The most horrible place in the world — 85 Comments

  1. Excellent post! I agree, having been there I warn everyone to stay far, far away! But, at least I openly admit it’s because I want it all to myself.
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  2. it’s a beautiful island and you can go to hell, if you don’t know the people in there don’t talk shit about them, cause i have many american friends living here without problems, i guess the problem is you.

    i’m an island citizen, by the way

    • Hi Kande, I’m very sorry you didn’t pick up the sarcasm of the post,if you read it again and see the comments from my readers maybe you will understand that I obviously loved the island, as my photos suggest. Sometimes humour is lost in translation, which is the risk we take as writers, so sorry if you took it literally!

  3. What a great blog!!!! Livin the dream!!! What a beautiful place….have a wonderful time. Hi Pam…xoxoxo Tracy

  4. If this is sarcasm, you are a terrible writer. You may want to translate into Spanish as well. Half of the people who have viewed this are Spanish speaking with little English and as far as the know you are bashing their homeland. Are you trying to take a stab at their struggling economy? If I was a narrow minded tourist such as you depict yourself I would not visit this island after reading the first few lines of this article. So do yourself a favor and write an apology letter in Spanish and share I with the locals on the island and explain how you are a terrible writer and have trouble with “sarcasm”.

    • Hi Joe, thank you for your feedback on my writing. I’m sorry the humour was lost in translation, and I do sincerely apologize to anyone who took it literally and somehow missed the photos. I think you will see from the other comments that English speakers understood the sarcasm and that Isla is an obviously beautiful place. I have added a note to the top of the article to explain. I appreciate your suggestion about the letter, do you think you can help me write it in Spanish and let me know who to send it to? Thank you :-)

      • Hello Sarah, I am originally from Mexico and I am married to an American guy. I saw this post on the Isla Mujeres facebook page. I do think that it might help to write something in Spanish like Joe said, I love sarcasm and I see that some people are missing it in English, so I just want to offer my help in writing something that makes the Spanish speaking people see how much you appreciate the beauty and how you really loved the place if only people would take a look at the pics with an open heart and mind. Let me know if I can help.
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        • Thank you so much Maria!! That explains everything! I will write something and email it to you and would love if you could translate it for me!! Thank you so much!!

  5. perhaps you are a game or a way to express themselves, but for us islanders is an offense.
    Isla Mujeres is a wonderful, very quiet and nice place with the best beaches and restaurants.
    I recommend visiting restaurant velazquez

    • Hi Vale, so sorry to offend! Please rest assured that my readers all understand the humour, and that judging from the photos of beautiful beaches and big smiles, plus the note at the beginning and the end where explain what I was doing, they all understand what a beautiful island you have. I look forward to visiting restaurant Velazquez! :-)

  6. Sarah excelent post im from isla mujeres and my firts think was she are crazy but when i keep learn i understand i hope you back igain and i wait for you on the port nice post :)

  7. Sarha tu comentario o el sarcasmo que le pones a tus palabras no es bien recibida por nuestros compatriotas. A lo mejor lo hiciste de una manera de diversion o humor negro pero para los islenos que se desviven porque ustedes los turistas sean bien atendidos a sido muy ofensiva las palabras que has usado aunque las fotos sean hermosas tu bocabo no lo es, es mas es indignante hasta para ustedes lis americanos. Porque muchos de ustedes viven del trabajo de lis islenos.

    • Reina, I have apologized, and I have added a note at the top of the post explaining that it is a funny post. I’m not sure who shared this post around saying it was something it is not in order to upset people – I have a small readership of people who know me and my writing and understand what it means, and they know how beautiful the island is :-)

  8. Woow si es horrible vivir en una isla con un clima tan calido con unas hermosas playas y radiantes aguas cristalinas, yo como habitante de isla digo que si vienen pediran a gritos salir de esta isla..

    Como habitante de isla entendi el sarcasmo, no entiendo como otros pueden tomarlo mal cuando solo hablan maravillas de este lugar… saludos

    • Hi Jessi! You poor thing living in paradise!!!!! Glad you ‘got it’, please explain to others that tourists reading this will understand how beautiful the island is! :-)

  9. Estuve a Isla en 2007 y lo unico que puedo decir al respecto es que lo hotrible en realidad son la impresionantes ganas de regresar ! QUIERO VOLVER!

  10. Anyone who has ever been to Isla understands the sarcasm. I got a chuckle out of it because I’d like to claim it all for myself too! Wonderful place.

  11. hahhahahahhaha…..I totally understood your post- I have been going to Isla Mujeres for 20 years- I hate it so much that I try to visit 2-3 times per year to figure out what it is that bugs me so much about this dreadful island…your pics actually made it look even worse…Gracias! Sandia [and I do agree- Restaurante Velazquez is one of my favorites!]

  12. Looks hideous! Glad you and your Ma survived it! It’s a shame some readers misinterpreted your intent. I’d travel there in an instant based on your post!! X

  13. Well, all I can say is a lot of the people who read this (myself included) failed the “read thru before getting flustered” part. I did eventually get your sarcasm (last picture and last paragraf). I think your sarcasm just needs some work in the way of exaggerating things a cheerful way so people will laugh. As an islander, I’m happy it seems your intentions were good. Thank you for visiting my home island and I hope you return (but write a better article plz 😀 ).

  14. Its so bad here my sister moved here over 50 years ago and I made the move 12 years ago and told my kids if they wanted to see me come for a visit

  15. Hola sara
    Espero estes bien dejame decirte que vivo en isla mujeres y que me doy cuenta del sarcasmo y/o humor negro con el que hablas de mi isla ,agradecemos y nos hace sentir gustosos de recibir gente de otros paises y dar lo mejor de nosotros para que sus vacaciones sean innolvidables.
    Lo que tal vez no penso es que cada region o cada pais tiene una ideologia diferente y por eso se toman las cosas a mal si no conoce el pensar de la gente opino que no deberia hacer esos comentarios ya que se da a mal pensar como en este caso.
    Lo ideal seria que pida una disculpa aclarando las cosas ya que mucha gente esta mal pensando hacerca de este blog saludos cordiales

    • Hi Melchor, I do not write for everybody, I write for the people who follow my blog and are entertained by my writing. I’m sorry some non-English speakers mis-understood, or were misled by someone saying this was something that it is not. You will find my apology in the first paragraph of the post, thank you.

  16. very well written ….I loved the twist…….I hate to say that I mistakenly thought that you were talking about saint andres, an island off of venezuela… sister was on the island and a local drug lord took a liking to her….had her date beaten up for no reason and made her trip miserable they literally had to leave the island in the dark of night……

  17. Hey Ary Caballero Parra​​! I miss you and all the lovely people on your island. If anyone isn’t completely thrilled with their time spent on Isla Mujeres, you need to meet Ary! He is a Treasure to know while you are on island. The Avalon Reef Club is LUCKY to have someone like him working for them. He brought his local charm, amaizing passion for life and hospitality expertise to me and my fiancé on our romantic getaway. He single handedly was our friend, server, chef, guide, translator, handyman, front desk host, event planner, busser, teacher, and number one go to person for anything we could need while on Isla Mujeres​​! If you’re lucky you will meet him. Although he was hands down our favorite person on island, there were so many people that were so welcoming and helpful, that we were able to relax and just let go. That’s what a vacation is for. So go to Isla Mujeres for sure if you ever have the opportunity.

  18. Hilarious! Thank you for warning me about this place – we had been contemplating a trip and then we read your review. THANK GOODNESS we saw this because the brightly colored houses, the minimal people in the ocean, and the children….shudder. I don’t know how we’d manage…we have heard the food is atrocious as well….Glad you made it back safely!

  19. Ha oh Sarah, you poor thing! I actually struggle so greatly with how to write about these “paradise places” in a clever and creative way, and you truly nailed it here. So I am just laughing at the irony that you have ignited a tiny army of sarcasm deficient commenters. Perhaps we should send a load of Brits to the island to train locals in this ancient art…
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    • Thank you Alex, my first post to go viral and it was for all the wrong reasons!!! Oh well, it’s been an interesting experience about taking risks and pushing boundaries. Honestly, I thought it was pretty obvious and harmless, a bit like Miley and her twerking episode, hehe. I did actually hold back a bit to give people a chance to get it, but hey, you can’t win ’em all!!! Thank you for your vote of confidence, it means a lot coming form a great writer like you! :-)
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  21. I loved your article and your pictures brought back some “awful” memories. So awful we’re trying to plan another trip for 2015. I shared your article with some fellow travelers and they’re thinking of planning a trip.

  22. Hi Sarah,

    Some of the most talented and creative writers and people on the planet have been attacked about their writing or the way they express themselves by folks that just do not get it.I sent it to some local Mexican friends of mine and my Mexican husband and we all loved the way you did this article and I hope the folks that reacted badly do not change your adventurous and amazing style of writing or the way you have always wrote straight from the heart…keep it up and never bow to negative made us all want to go back to Isla Mujeres that minute! Such a fresh and original expression of one of your travels..we all get enough of the blah blah was was the was so lovely…etc etc etc ..please take another trip soon and write about it..hahahah and much love!

    • Thank you so much for your unending support and love Michele! You are such an amazing woman and I am so grateful for everything you have taught me! Love you!! xxx

  23. you are so fantastic! I love that you and your mom traveling together. and this place– – oh my goodness! Absolutely heaven.