By Leah T. Sakata
Isla Blanca: An island paradise that’s technically not an island.
If you’re looking for an escape from the congestion of the over crowded local beaches of Playa del Carmen and Cancun, look no further and get ready for a little adventure! Isa Blanca, a short drive out of Cancun, is a actually a peninsula and not an island as the name suggests that I would describe as a hidden gem and a perfect little hideaway for ultimate relaxation. It is clearly an area that is ripe for development but thus far, remains a picture perfect isolated strip of land where the neighbouring Chacmuchuc Lagoon shares its glory. There are kite surfers aplenty as the waters are shallow and breezes are consistent and not overbearing.
I recommend renting a 4 x 4 vehicle to get here as the terrain is not paved and very bumpy once leaving the main thoroughfare out of Cancun. My novio (boyfriend) and I at the time rented a white jeep for the occasion and I took off like a bat out of hell and headed straight for paradise. Ironically, while I was making light of my lead foot and the number of speeding tickets I was able to evade from sheer luck or for just being a charming woman (Haha), my BF turned to me and said: “No te preocupes. Estamos an Mexico. Jaja.” Translation: Don’t worry, we’re in Mexico. Haha. Suddenly out of nowhere, I heard sirens and their accompanying flashing lights that came closer and it became apparent that those now blinding, intrusive flashers were for yours truly!
I pulled over and well as to be expected, the police officer asked to see my license and promptly demanded $5,000 pesos (approx. $350 CDN) and to add insult to injury, I was promptly told that he would keep my license at the main station until the following day at 9 am. As you can well imagine, I wasn’t going to stand for any of this and yes, my fiery self began to emerge and I started to get feisty and a tad argumentative. My BF muttered, “tranquila, calmate” which was a signal to let him handle the situation. In the past, iI would have to say that the act of biting my tongue was very challenging for me but living in Latin America in general has taught me how to be more strategic in this regard and that holding back, just a bit can be advantageous in the long run. I promptly stood aside of course with the hopes of a far better settlement. About 10 minutes later, my license was returned and I payed $500 pesos which is a significant improvement from the original fine! Phew! Got out of that one relatively unscathed!
We proceeded towards our destination; a fabulous mix of a personalized Spotify compilation blaring in the background, windows rolled down and the soulful laughter that came from the feeling of pure bliss! U2’s “It’s a Beautiful Day” would best describe this particular moment in time to a tee. From pothole to pothole, we rocked and rolled our way to our destination and it became clear that this 4 wheel drive was the right choice as we saw others in sedans struggling to get over the very large crevices in the unpaved roads almost like inexperienced downhill skiers who get caught in the moguls on a black diamond that they were originally so confident that they could tackle with ease! I admittedly laughed out loud as I couldn’t help but look in the rear view mirror as we left them in the dust!
Upon arrival to the muddy surface that was the shore of the lagoon, we parked our jeep. The brilliant sunshine illuminated the areas where the water had evaporated and the breeze enhanced the mangroves that surrounded the lagoon. I leapt out of the vehicle and couldn’t wait to explore! My legs were covered in a muddy sediment before we got started but I could have cared less. It felt incredible touching the squishy bottom that hosted the murky and at times transparent waters with bare feet! After wading for an instant, I couldn’t help but do a happy dance in my sundress that I had purchased in Puerto Morelos from a beach vendor some weeks before. As we made our way across this piece of heaven and God’s glorious gift, I tried not to soak my dress but gave up as it shortly became a kind of collector of the lagoon’s inner makings. Ahhh! the feeling of freedom overcame me and I was completely in the moment with not a care in the world. I looked up at the perfectly blue sky to witness white herons that are indigenous to the region and and beared witness to the vibrant colours of the kite surfers go by as if in a synchronized kind of melodic movement that rhythmically went with the breeze that had transformed into a more potent, but still gentle wind. We stopped for a moment with the hopes of getting a few selfies with the surfers in the background but realized that our efforts were futile after losing our balance, laughing our arses off and luckily saving our phones from potential disaster.
We saw giant tree trunks along the way that seemed to float on the lagoon’s surface but had actually taken root and were in an integral part of the ecosystem. We tried a few more selfies of these unusual looking growths that acted as more stable backgrounds. This time we were successful and my BF took a few more pics of me posing and being my usual goofy self.
After entertaining ourselves for a while, we went back to the jeep and grabbed a few snacks and drinks; chelas (beer in Mexican Spanish) for him and jamaica (hibiscus water) for me. While sipping on our bevies we traversed to the other side and were greeted by the whitest sand I have seen to date and an absolutely stunning site of a kind of turquoise water that was surreal. I immediately ran for this picturesque sight and left my BF to enjoy his cerveza and shortly thereafter his usual quasi comatose style siesta. After doing a few laps and floating lazily, I started to get rather peckish and as per usual, I started to obsess over what we could have for lunch. As I headed towards the shore, I noticed amidst the odd beach chairs, some coolers where locals had set up for their family picnics. I wasn’t sure if what I saw at the other end of the peninsula was a mirage or not as I tend to get pretty squirrely when I’m ‘hangry’ but I shortly became convinced that deliciousness awaited us.
I had to shake my BF awake to get going. “Amor, vamanos pues!” (Love, come on! Let’s get going!) When we finally made it to the other end of the peninsula’s strip, we came face to face with my original hallucination and even though its physical form as a place that serves food was real, the catch of the day and other such yumminess had all been had. The expression, “you snooze, you lose” could not have been more appropriate and I kind of secretly blamed my BF for drinking too many chelas before his afternoon nap. Caramba! We were too late!
My advice: Bring a picnic lunch with you if you plan to go to Isla Blanca as there aren’t any modern conveniences and array of eateries until Cancun. The fact that this place is far away from these amenities is all a part of its charm so if you’re looking for something away from the hum drum beach clubs and all inclusive deals, this is the place for you and definitely worth a visit!