The exchange rate is about 12 Pesos to the dollar, but many places will take US dollars. You're better off withdrawing pesos from an ATM. There are many machines at the Cancun airport, and several on Isla Mujeres. There's an ATM conveniently located across from the ferry terminal at HSBC Bank. If you use dollars, the exchange rate will be about 10 pesos / $1 (not to your advantage).
When shopping, you're expected to bargain with the vendors. Folks are very friendly and many speak English well. There are many shops to choose from on Calle Hidalgo -- the main shopping and dining street running through the center of town. It's reasonable pay between 75%-50% of the asking price. The phrases "Cuanto cuesta ...?" (How much does it cost?) and "Es muy caro!" (That's very expensive!) can come in handy. You can usually get a good discount by purchasing multiple items.
Barlito's – At the main corner of Hidalgo, you'll see Barlitos – an amazing breakfast and lunch place, as well as the island's communication center! Tiffany and Brad serve paninis, salads and more – all of them super-fresh and original. Tiffany bakes all the bread and desserts herself daily. Tell them we sent you!
Lola Valentina – A beautiful, romantic space with a wonderful fusion menu. You'll love Lola's surprising blend of Indonesian, Caribbean and Mexican flavors, and the exciting live music.
Mango Cafe – Just a couple of blocks' walk from the condos! An amazing place for breakfast and lunch, and some nights, dinner too. They catered our wedding! They serve an eclectic, unique kind of Caribbean fusion cuisine, so you'll enjoy incredible breakfast chile rellenos, stuffed with scrambled eggs and bacon, as well as the BLGT sandwich – bacon, lettuce, tomato guacamole and green apple on wholegrain bread. Say hi to Mango's owner, our buddy Polo.
Poc Chuc – This family café is on Abasalo Street, just off Hidalgo. It's diagonally across from one of our favorite laundries – so drop off your clothes, have them washed, dried and folded for about $5, and have a great meal any time of day! Everything is terrific at Poc Chuk, but we especially love the empanadas (both chicken and cheese), whole fish and fried chicken.
Soggy Peso – Just a short golf cart ride from Isla 33, you'll see this beach bar, which serves just one perfectly-prepared dish a day, and the best damned margaritas. We can't decide whether our favorite day is Sunday – Texas barbecue – or Monday, when you get American-style crunchy tacos. Say hi to native Texans Sally and Mel – and expect to make a whole bunch of new friends on your first visit.
Taquerilla Medina – This simple, and simply amazing family taco place has two locations . One is just around the corner from Isla 33, and the other is right on Hidalgo Street. Fresh tortillas, a whole menu of different taco fillings and delicious side dishes.
Qubano – Chef and owner Vivian offers dishes she created herself, drawing on her rich Cuban and Hungarian culinary heritage. Don't miss her extraordinary Cuban sandwich – the real thing, perfectly prepared. Alice's favorite is the unique Toston sandwich, a chicken creation served between fried plantains, not bread. The Hungarian potatoes are absolutely scrumptious!
Velazquez – You'll find this family fish restaurant (and fishing business!) on North Beach. For less than $10 per person, you'll get your choice of that day's catch, prepared to your liking, guacamole, chips, salsa, rice and beans! Sit at a table in the sand, and kick your shoes off.