Welcome Aboard ......
Isla, Isla, Isla. So much fun and a great place to stop. If it wasn't for hurricanes, we might never leave. The food here is fabulous. Be sure and try the street vendors. The food is inexpensive and great. My personal favorite, pescado frita at Picus. Ummm...I can't wait to go back again.
April 2008: Roy of the Rio Dulce Chisme checked into Isla. Quite different that last year, but check-in procedures seems to change every year. Here is his report:
We pulled into the new Milagro Marina (very nice and inexpensive) and Jaime the dock master (speaks excellent English) made a few phone calls and the lady from the Health Dept. showed up quickly, had us fill out some forms then left. No money involved. Then the fellow from the Agriculture Dept. showed up, looked around the galley, told us we couldn't pop open any cans that had beef products (mad cow disease), filled out some forms then left. No money involved (but he did indicated he'd be happy to accept a tip to cover his expenses, so we gave him $20). The fellow from customs didn't even go on the boat. We met him in the marina boaters' lounge, filled out some papers, then he left. No money involved. We had to go visit the Port Captain to get checked in and out at the same time. You'll need four copies of your crew list, a copy of your boat documentation and a copy of the passports of everyone on the boat. Total cost $54. And you don't have to take the money to the bank and deposit it. They took the fee right there in the Port Captain's office. We met Immigration here at the marina and got stamped in. To get stamped out, you have to get all of your exit papers (Zarpe) from the Port Captain, get them and your passports stamped and you're set. No money involved with Immigration either. Total cost $54 (not including the tip to the ag guy and another $20 tip to Jaime the dock master). I don't know if the other marinas make you use an agent as in the past, but Milagro didn't even mention it. Freya's guide also says you have to use an agent .. but apparently not anymore.
Note: The Port Captain's office is directly across from the dinghy dock ... located on Rueda Medina.
The Importato is causing great confusion right now. We have heard you must get it within 5 days of checking in, within 10 days of checking in, not at all if you don't leave your boat in Mexico longer than your tourist visa. Honestly, we can't get a straight answer anywhere. We do know that without the Importato, your boat must leave Mexico when your Tourist Visa expires (30, 60, 90 days). The Importato lasts for 10 years and the Mexican government seems to think it's very important...that makes it important to me as a visitor. We have heard reports of people that did not get their Importato and left their boat in Mexico after their visa expired and then were surprised when their boats were impounded. News from the NW Caribbean net says this can now be done over the internet by going to the following site: Importatas. However, that takes the fun out of going to Cancun via ferry, catching 2 buses to the airport and finding the right building to make the application. We kind of enjoyed the process!
Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico's Caribbean Coast, Including Guatemala's Rio Dulce by Freya Rauscher is a must have for cruising the NW Caribbean.
Download the NW Caribbean Charts eBook. This book was put together by several sailors. As always, hurricane, etc. change waypoints and information. Be sure to check with fellow cruisers for the most up-to-date and common sense rules. You will need Adobe Reader to view this ebook.
2008 update on Marina Pariaso by Susan Wyatt, s/v Genesis :
1 Day 0.85 per foot
Marinas in Puerto Morelos: El Cid Marina
If you have an SSB, 6209, with an alternate of 6212, at 1400z (8:00 am central daylight time) is the NW Caribbean Net. They keep track of cruisers under sail and share information about weather, conditions, etc.
In Isla, there is a cruiser's net on VHF channel 13. Varies from 7:30 am to 8:30 am depending on daylight savings time.INFO ON PETS
U.S. visitors to Mexico may bring a dog or cat by presenting the following certificates at the border:
Isla's largest grocery store is San Francisco located on Morales at the main square. You can buy most everything you need there. They have a veggie section, deli counter (although don't expect Boar's Head or any good lunch meat ... but the Manchego cheese is really good), meat market, bakery, etc.
There is also a more traditional Mexican market down the street from San Francisco. You can buy vegetables and meat there, however, nothing is priced so I often feel like I'm getting Gringo'd there. Sometimes though you have to go there when San Francisco runs out of things like avocados. I'm also pretty sure you can get some very good meat there if you can figure out how to ask for it and then bargain for it.
Meritita's is a smaller grocery that has meat, veggies, canned goods & liquor. Located at the corner of Juarez & Bravo.
The fisherman's coop offers fresh fish and lobster. They are located at right behind Minimo's at the dinghy dock.
Homemade tortillas can be purchased just around the corner from San Francisco on Hidalgo. Watch for a small sign hanging on the north side of the road. Walk down the cement small pathway between buildings and you'll see the tortilla place.
There are several small tiendas (stores) scattered through out town if you are interested in exploring.
If you are ready to make a trip into Cancun, you will find a Sam's, a Walmart, Mexciana Commerical (our favorite) & several more large groceries where you can find any item you need.
Be sure to fill your propane tanks before coming to Isla. As of 5/06, you have to take your tanks into Cancun, via the car ferry (the fast ferry doesn't allow them). Then it's about 20 minutes in a taxi to the propane place.
Take a photo tour of Mexico: Heart of Gold's Mexican Adventure
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