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Back in Margaritaville

I may bristle at Jimmy Buffett’s cutesy, gettin’-drunk-in-the-sun lyrics — aren’t his fans the same parents that didn’t let us do that? — but the man knows how to live, sunburn notwithstanding. Case in point: Puerto Morelos, Mexico.

After another visit to this sleepy little beach town on Mexico’s eastern Riviera Maya, just south of Cancun, I may have to rethink my Buffett intolerance. Apparently Puerto Morelos was his inspiration for the song “Margaritaville.”

I’ve written about this fisherman-filled town before. (In the photo above they’re bringing in their catch around 4 p.m. in the town’s main pier.) You heard it here at CultureFix first, but I’ve also covered Puerto Morelos for New York magazine and most recently in Travel & Leisure’s February 2010 issue.

Check out this crazy building someone’s constructing in town. It’s part cave, part Mexican palapa and part Indonesian, with intricate carved-wood doors and windows. I can only hope this is going to be a hotel.

But there’s so much more to this little enclave. Yes, it has beautiful white-sand beaches and inexpensive hotels ($380 for a month two blocks from the beach!), but it’s also the kind of place where you’d get to know the locals (and hippie ex-pats) if you stayed a while.

During the day you can snorkel the second-largest barrier reef in the world minutes from its shore. At night, restaurants let you can pick out which live fish you’d like to eat from their coolers, then dance in the town square afterwards. I think I have new respect for Buffett. Those Parrotheads are another story…

Here’s the band shell in the town square. They were holding an adorable music festival the night we were there.

And here are some shots of the new La Suegra de John Gray restaurant I wrote about in Travel & Leisure. American-born Gray married a Mexican woman and opened two restaurants in nearby Playa del Carmen, one in Cancun and another in Puerto Morelos. He’s well-known in Mexico and just took part at the South Beach food and Wine Festival.


He decided his suegra (or mother-in-law) needed a project so he opened this humble beach shack for her to run. You have to walk through the kitchen …

to get to the back patio and tables down on the beach. Pretty awesome view of the sunset for dinner.

Suegra de John Gray menu


And I just loved the sun-bleached menu stapled to the door.

Wish I could have stayed all season, like Buffett.



  1. Becky

    Loved this article and sent it to a fellow adventurer who wants to travel in the fall. They loved it too!

  2. Pingback: Travel Icon: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Puerto Vallarta |

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