Life on the Water for $2,000 a Month on Isla Mujeres

John Pasnau releases the stern line on his 36-foot cabin cruiser, Fish Trap, and settles into one of the deck chairs. Chatting with his friends while his captain expertly motors the craft out of the harbor and into the warm, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, John is serving as host and guide for the upcoming day on the water.

“We’re doing the usual Sunday Funday cruise,” says John. “If the weather cooperates, we take a boatload of friends out for a day of snorkeling, diving, and spear fishing. Today should be awesome.”

John and his wife, Valerie, live on the small island of Isla Mujeres, just offshore of Cancún along Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya.

“We were fed up with life up north. The taxes were killing us, and the cost of living had gotten out of hand. We’d been to Mexico before, as well as other popular destinations,” John recalls. “But when we took our vacation to Isla Mujeres in 2010, it appealed to us like no other place had. We sold out and came to Isla in September of 2014. We knew we had found our place.”

John has been seriously involved with boating for years. “I’ve owned a boat for decades, even when we lived up in the northeast. I didn’t get as much use out of it then as I do now, of course,” he says.

Island life, for the Pasnaus, is centered around their community on Isla Mujeres. They are heavily involved with a local children’s charity, in which John serves as a mentor. They also help local artists market their work.

“There is plenty to do on Isla Mujeres, and we rarely go more than a couple of days without being on the water. Weather depending, of course,” says John.

“It’s not unusual for spear-fishermen, equipped with only a snorkel and mask, to take their limits of grouper, snapper, and lobster in a few hours,” John adds. “You don’t need to be Scuba certified. There is plenty to see along the reef and the hunting is good and not too deep, so snorkeling works well.”

John says his typical day on the water combines several activities, depending upon the wishes of the guests onboard. “We always set up a couple of fishing lines on the way out of the harbor. Might as well drag some bait behind the boat as we’re cruising, and we almost always bring home dinner.”

It’s easy to understand why John and Valerie love Isla Mujeres. The warm turquoise waters teem with fish, dolphins, and sea turtles; they’re ideal for all water sports. The island, while small at five miles long and a half-mile wide, has all the essentials. And what can’t be found on the island is available in Cancún. John and Valerie own two motor scooters, which provide the perfect transportation around the island.

According to John and Valerie, the cost of life in paradise is around $2,000 a month. But that doesn’t include any of the boat expenses.

“Our friends normally contribute gas money every Sunday. That’s always great, but to tell you the truth, even if they didn’t, I’d have the boat out on the water. It’s the Caribbean, after all,” John says.

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