It’s easy to be put off by the onslaught of kitschy souvenirs and cheap T-shirts that greet you as soon as you step off the ferry. But fear not: Isla Mujeres has a number of genuinely good specialty stores, especially for Mexican artesanía, if you keep your eyes open.
A jewel in a street of T-shirt shops, Aztlán (Av. Hidalgo at Av. Madero, tel. 998/887-0419, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) sells gorgeous Mexican masks and folk art from every corner of the country. The owners, transplants from Mexico City, also make popular religious art that fills one section of the shop.
Galería de Arte Mexicano (Parque Central, Av. Guerrero 3, tel. 998/877-1272, 9:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun.) has fine Talavera pottery as well as an extensive selection of silver jewelry. The prices are somewhat higher here than elsewhere, but so is the quality.
La Sirena (Av. Morelos near Av. Hidalgo, tel. 998/877-0223, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) is a tiny shop that’s jam-packed with high-quality folk art from all over Mexico: textiles from Chiapas, masks from Guerrero, skeleton art from Mexico City, and alebrijes from Oaxaca. The prices are somewhat inflated, but bargaining is welcome.
Mañana Café (Av. Matamoros at Av. Guerrero, tel. 998/877-0555, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) has long housed Isla Mujeres’s best foreign-language bookstore. You can buy, sell, and trade everything from beach trash to Maya history; there are titles in English, German, Hebrew, and Spanish.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition