Updated: 5 days ago
What would be the last thing you would expect to find in the middle of a tiny Caribbean island? Maybe a bar made out of 150 tons of ice? Well, that is what my daughter and I thought that we would check out this weekend, and we are glad we did.
Gaia and I are making it our mission to check out many of the unique things this island and it's surroundings offer that is child friendly and easy to do for a single parent. We were so happy to find that the Icebar fit this category, and it's not just for kids. A bar made of ice inside the Icebar serves drinks in ice glasses. Everything is made of ice.
The month of July in Mexico is a scorching one. It's the hottest month of the year, and with the added humidity thrown in, the ocean can be the primary source of relief, and even that can feel like warm bath water at times. But what if you were to know that there is a special little bit of extra craziness to be found on Isla Mujeres? A place where you can walk through a door and encounter temperatures of -18°c. It is the "coolest" place on the island at this temperature!
Where is it? You can find the Icebar on the island's peninsula, Sac Bajo, with views across the bay to Cancun. The bar is located on the beach, so you can enjoy a hammock beside those amazing turquoise waters of Isla Mujeres and come and go from the Icebar as often as you please once you have paid your admission. Gaia found the cold temperature a little difficult. She was born on this island and has never truly seen a cold Winter, so she found temperatures of -18°c a little confronting. We did the Icebar in 4 or 5 goes.
The bar was built around 2011, and about 110 people pass through the actual ice bar a day to enjoy it. The record time for someone staying inside the bar sits at 4 hours. Gaia was determined to beat this when she heard an unobtainable-for-a-child prize would be won. The award was a vast, alcoholic cocktail filled with lollies and vodka, but that didn't deter my competition-hungry five-year-old; she lasted about 10 minutes at the longest. The previous winner was probably a Canadian.
Every year a sculptor comes over from Cancun to make new statues and change the theme slightly. The old ones are put outside for one last viewing opportunity until they melt. The only thing that never changes is the ice bed. This is a favourite for photo opportunities and photo challenges.
Gaia loved the ice toilet; we saw an ice minion, and there were several ice thrones for photo opportunities; a Game of Thrones one (of course) and one with horse heads and wings. There was an ice hockey table, a dining table with four seats and an ice car to sit in. An octopus and Dori, jellyfish and a snorkeler, sharks, mermaids, and a huge seahorse. So much to see that we truly needed a couple of trips in to see it all; it's not huge inside, but there is plenty to see, and Gaia just got too cold to take it all in at once. Above all, for the big kids, there is the Ice Bar mentioned above that serves drinks in ice glasses, from a bar made entirely out of ice with ice stools to sit on and enjoy the drinks.
The muted and changing colours give it an ethereal feeling, and upbeat music is piped into the area. When you first enter, the rush of warm air meeting the cold air creates a massive mist to pass through. Don't worry; they have heavy fur-lined coats that you wear before entering.
The Icebar is located at a beach club, so that you can spend the entire day there. It is very tourist orientated with many catamarans passing by with loads of clients to eat at the all-inclusive buffet that is an option there. Inside the Icebar itself never feels overcrowded, though.
As it caters strongly for the tourist crowd, especially those that come over on Cancun day trips, there are many typical tourist options. Massages, hair braiding, and henna tattoos are all fun options, with many cool souvenirs. Please do NOT do the fish pedicure. The fish only eat dead skin from feet when they are severely starved. You can learn more about why this practice is not ethical or hygienic here, and you will see this in many parts of Mexico.
Located next to Icebar is Playa Tiburon, and it has a shark in captivity that you can have your photo taken with. Again, please do not do this. The enclosure, 2 meters by 2 meters, is tiny for an animal that usually has the entire ocean to explore. People pick this shark up repeatedly for photos, and the line to do this is enormous. This is not part of the Icebar, but people take time to go next door to partake in this animal torture. Every time the shark is lifted out of the water, it starts drowning on dry land, which is repeated hundreds of times a day. Please do not be part of the problem; avoid this place.
The beach where the Icebar is located is beautiful and shallow. Ideal for children. With hammocks and sunbeds everywhere, it is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the day or watch the sunset.
Would I recommend a day trip there? Absolutely. It is different to see in the most unexpected places; kids and adults alike can have a great time, and there is much you could do to fill a day. The best way to see it is from the island, where you are not time restricted.