My husband and I are frequent travelers to Mexico and have been to Cabo St. Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Cozumel, Puerto Penasco, Oaxaca, and Cancun. On a trip a few years ago to Cancun, we discovered the lovely Isla Mujeres (island of the women) on a day trip and decided to go back there for a vacation some day. We were there for four days in February. The weather was perfect, low '80's and sunny, lots of puffy clouds; no rain. Isla Mujeres is a wonderful place to relax. No cruise ships, no parasailing, few jet skis, and other annoyances. Just laid back beach and beautiful turquoise waters. Pretty much everything is walking distance and it's easy to get around the island on golf carts and mopeds. The main street in town, Hidalgo Street, is full of charming restaurants and shops and everyone seems very relaxed and happy. Lots of tourists from Canada, Europe and Mexico also makes it cosmopolitan. Overall, it is a destination well worth the effort (short and enjoyable ferrry from downtown Cancun).
This resort bills itself as a small luxury hotel, and although it is nice and we enjoyed the stay overall, it is not luxurious in any way. It does not compare, for example, to the beautiful Hotel Twin Dolphin, a small luxury hotel in Cabo. Na Balam is also over priced, given the overall experience. We asked for a beach front room, with king size bed. The room was large and airy, but had few amenities and was quite monastic. The bed was like sleeping on a rock, there was no rug on the floor, very few wall decorations, and no pretty touches, such as fresh flowers, were ever put in the room.
The beach experience is strange. You get towel tokens, which you have to exchange for beach towels, but when we arrived in the late afternoon on Valentine's Day anxious to relax in the sun, not a chair was to be found on the beach! We later learned the hotel rents the "sun beds" and chairs to visitors who are not staying at the hotel, which led to that fun sport of "sharking" early in the morning for a spot and then having to fend off "invaders" looking for a spot. The hotel was having a special dinner on the beach on the day of our arrival (majorly expensive), so the staff kept asking us to move so they could set up, while we were simply trying to enjoy the lovely beach. Kind of annoying.
The beach was eroded significantly by Hurricane Wilma, and there are sand bags everywhere in the water as well as spiked wooden sticks, which are an attempt to save erosion; but this is not a pretty sight.
We met many other tourists who were not staying at our hotel (but who frequented and used most of the available chairs/umbrellas). Everyone seemed to agree that the Na Balam beach was one of the best, but it was not a great value.
One other strange thing - my favorite sandals went missing the first day (later found by one of the staff in the outdoor shower). My husband's bathing suit also went missing, but was recovered in the hotel laundry. Not sure what happened. Front desk staff was charming and helpful. Bar and beach employees were not particularly friendly but that may be because we do not speak much Spanish. Unlike many Mexican resorts, many locals do not speak English.
Overall, I would not return to Na Balam, but will return to Isla Mujeres.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The love for nature, an admiration to the Mayan culture and a concern for holistic wellness are reflected in this haven of peace and serenity. Na Balam offers you a place to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean sea and its sunsets with personalized services and attention. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Na Balam Beach
- Na Balam Beach Isla Mujeres