Great Dining on a Tropical Mexican Island

Isla Mujeres is a Caribbean island with a gourmet streak—the ideal spot for foodie scuba divers Jim and Daisy. ©

Names: Jim and Daisy Silver
Ages: 58 and 59
From: New Jersey and Belize
Living in: Isla Mujeres, Mexico

“At the end of a long day, Daisy and I love to visit one of our favorite restaurants,” says Jim Silver of his new life on the Caribbean island of Isla Mujeres, just eight miles offshore from Cancún. “The hard part is selecting which one. Most folks don’t think of Isla Mujeres as a foodie paradise, but it is. Obviously, living on an island means great seafood, but that’s not all you’ll find.”

And it’s not only the food the couple enjoys on this Mexican island. Clear, azure waters and white-sand beaches are never far away, and the cost of living is far lower than a similar lifestyle would cost back in the States. A couple can live a very nice life on Isla Mujeres for around $2,500 a month, including rent. Rents range from $900 to $1,500 for one- or two-bedroom apartments and groceries for a couple typically total around $600 a month.

Isla Mujeres is about five miles long and about half a mile wide. Golf carts are perfect for local transportation. There is a small medical clinic in the central downtown area and the Navy hospital is located mid-island. For more critical care, you can easily access one of the seven hospitals on the mainland by ferry.

Jim and Daisy (who is from Belize) married in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2012 that they moved to Isla Mujeres. “We love lots of things about Isla Mujeres,” says Jim of the couple’s decision to relocate here. “There is a constant stream of visitors from all over the world, which is good for our business. We have beautiful blue water, and with Cancún so close, it’s easy to get back to the States when we want to. Plus, the cost of living here is moderate compared to other islands in the Caribbean.”

Both Jim and Daisy are dedicated foodies. As a young boy, Jim would pull crabs from his own traps off the Jersey shore and trout from local streams, preparing them in the family kitchen.

The couple owns an established diving business called Aqua Adventures. They spend their days taking clients out to enjoy the fantastic scuba diving to be found offshore. “My favorite days are when we take family groups out,” says Jim. “The whole family is in the water having a blast. I really love seeing that.”

And when not running their business, the couple still has plenty of time to savor the island’s diverse dining options.

“We love the lime-seared ahi tuna and the mussels au gratin with roquefort hollandaise sauce at Limón [a restaurant on the island],” says Jim. “Another of our favorites is Oscar’s. Their pork chop is handcut and the size of a Porterhouse steak.

“Rooster’s offers a superb turkey breast with mango chutney sandwich on home-baked bread. If we just want to go out for dessert, the cinnamon-roll bread pudding with bourbon sauce at Marina Paraíso is tough to beat.

“You can get a great meal of fish tacos for about $4 to $5, or you can easily spend $100 or more for a wonderful dinner for two, with a nice bottle of wine and a killer view.”

While the couple loves the laidback vibe of island life, living on Isla Mujeres means they have not only Cancún but also the rest of the Riviera Maya within easy reach. So there’s no shortage of places to go and things to see.

“We can go to the beach and relax, or hop on a ferry and go shopping or to the movies in Cancún,” says Jim. “We also like traveling in the area: Mérida, Belize, Tulúm, Isla Holbox…there’s so much so close here.

“Isla Mujeres is more than a great dive destination,” says Jim. “It has it all.”

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