Isla Mujeres is a small island paradise off the coast of bustling Cancun. Here you can expect gorgeous white powdered sugar beaches, rough rocky cliffs and different underwater adventures. All information about how to get there, accommodation and the highlights and sights of Isla Mujeres can be found in our travel report.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
How to get to Isla Mujeres?
It is very easy to get to Isla Mujeres. First of all you have to go to Cancun. You can get there from any other place in Mexico very easily by ADO bus. You can check online on their website for tickets and schedules.
From the bus terminal in Cancun to the Ferry
From the bus terminal in Cancun you can either take a cab or a much cheaper bus to the ferry terminal.
By Cab to the Ferry Terminal
You can also grab a cab that leaves right in front of the bus terminal and see a fixed price of 100 Pesos. If you walk 100 meters out of the terminal, you can hail a cab on the street for as little as 75 Pesos. However, we found the bus ride much more fun.
By Public Bus to the Ferry
If you want to save money, just walk out of the bus terminal to the right and cross the main street. There you will see a McDonalds store (here is the exact location on Google Maps). There you can wait at the bus stop for the line 6 direction Puerto Juarez. This will take you to the ferry terminal in about 20 minutes for only 9.5 Pesos (about 50 Cents). If you tell the driver where you want to go, he will tell you when to get off (Puerto Juarez).
If you don’t want to rely on that: Here you can find the ferry terminal on Google Maps.
By Ferry to Isla Mujeres
From the ferry terminal (Gran Puerto) the Ultramar ferry leaves every 30 minutes. This costs 160 Pesos for a one-way trip and 300 Pesos for a round trip. The crossing takes about 15-20 minutes. For more info, check out Ultramar’s website: Here is the link.
Cab on Isla Mujeres
By the way, on Isla Mujeres you can get a cab quickly if you go outside the terminal a few meters left up the street. There you will find the cab stand. A ride in the city area costs 50 Pesos.
Where to stay overnight?
Unfortunately, we did not research this extensively enough in advance and therefore looked for accommodation in the center of the island. The center of Isla Mujeres was nice and quiet and really comfortable, but also far away from the hustle and bustle. There was a restaurant and a supermarket nearby, but for everything else you need a means of transportation or have to call a cab.
That is annoying. We would therefore recommend to stay in the north of the island in downtown. This way you have a huge choice of stores, restaurants and everything else. And if you look for a hotel a little outside the city center, then you will not have it too noisy. After our research we can recommend the following hotels on Isla Mujeres.
Hotel Recommendation for the small purse
The Hotel Sol Caribe* is centrally located in downtown and has very good reviews. For just under 40 euros you get a double room with air conditioning and private bathroom.
Hotel Sol Caribe at Booking.com*
Nice Hotel at the beautiful Beach
If you like luxury and want a hotel directly at the beach, we can recommend the Ixchel Beach Hotel*. Here you can spend about 150 Euro per night for a double room with sea view. You also have a pool and direct access to Playa Norte.
Ixchel Beach Hotel at Booking.com*
Things To Do on Isla Mujeres
Besides swimming, lying on the beach and driving a golf cart around the island, there are a few other things to do, which we would like to introduce to you below.
Playa Norte is the main beach on Isla Mujeres. The beach stretches across the entire northern part of the island and is within walking distance of downtown. The sand is super fine and the water is crystal clear. Palm trees line the beach and everything could be so paradisiacal. Could be… if it weren’t for all the other people.
It is really crowded on the beach and especially in front of the hotels one sunbed follows the next. Directly in front of the coast hundreds of sailing and sport boats anchor and spoil the view. Just because of the crowds we really could not feel comfortable there. We found it simply much too crowded.
Nevertheless, it is the most beautiful beach of Isla Mujeres and if you are there, this beach is a must for you. And if you don’t mind the many other tourists to your left and right, then all the better. There are also sellers on the beach from time to time, where you can buy ice cream, drinks and souvenirs.
This is the southernmost point of the island and costs 30 Pesos to enter. For just under 100 Pesos you can take a cab from downtown. Punta Sur is the most southeastern point of Mexico and with its 20 meters above sea level also the highest point of all Yucatan. Crazy!
You’ll find rugged cliffs and endless views of the sea to the horizon. You can also find a small Mayan site, which is not worth mentioning. But what we found coolest were the cliffs and the waves that constantly crash against them. The sea here has a wonderful turquoise blue and you can hike around the cliffs on several paths above or just above sea level.
We took many beautiful photos here and also just stared at the sea for a long time. Bring your camera and spend the sunset here. The park is officially open only until 5 pm, but you are still allowed in after that and also not kicked out if you stay longer.
Golf Cart Ride
This is a favorite activity of many tourists on the Yucatan Peninsula. We could already experience this on Caye Ambergris and also in Caye Caulker in Belize. Also on Isla Mujeres you can rent a golf cart for 40-50 USD per day. But since we didn’t want to be on the road the whole day, but went to the beach or to Punta Sur in the south once, a cab ride was cheaper for us.
Diving/Snorkeling at MUSA
The MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte) is a kind of underwater museum in the sea in front of Isla Mujeres. At a depth of several meters, many different statues and even a VW Golf have been sunk. Since this only happened in 2009, the statues haven’t really grown coral yet. Nevertheless it must be crazy to see something like this while diving.
But since the statues are supposed to be very far apart and the sea is not supposed to have much else to offer (fish, corals) at this point, we did not go on this tour. But if you are interested, you can find more information on the official site of MUSA.
Swimming with Whale Sharks
This was on our list for a long time, but in the end we decided against it. Because of the high costs and also for reasons of animal welfare. In the Caribbean Sea off Mexico you can see many whale sharks (after all the biggest fish in the world) between May and September.
And since they collect their food (plankton) very close to the water surface, they are also very easy to observe. On a tour, you take boats up to the open sea and when you see a whale shark, you are let into the water next to the huge animals and can snorkel next to them. There is a maximum of 2 tourists allowed per animal. This is to serve the animal welfare.
The tours are with 150 – 200 USD not quite cheap and as we have heard the boats often race in column after the animals. We did not want to do that to us and the animals and have waived with a heavy heart on such a tour.
Who would have thought it… in the tourist district in downtown you can buy souvenirs. It’s kind of obvious. But on the main street between Playa Central and Playa Norte there are really miles and miles of souvenir stores. And in the downtown itself, of course, very many. Interestingly, the souvenirs become cheaper and cheaper the further south you go. So don’t buy your souvenirs at the very first store.
Why we didn’t liked Isla Mujeres
We imagined Isla Mujeres as a small island paradise and hoped to find there almost deserted beaches (okay, maybe a little exaggerated thought) and beautiful cliffs. The beautiful cliffs has indeed been true but there were no deserted beaches at all. Rather the opposite. Isla Mujeres is praised as a quiet alternative to the bustling Cancun.
If Isla Mujeres is supposed to be quiet and tranquil in this comparison, then Cancun must really be the true tourist nightmare. Unfortunately, we have only traveled through Cancun and can therefore not say more. But the descriptions we have read were already enough to get a picture. The fact that Isla Mujeres is only 15 minutes by boat from famous Cancun is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Blessing, because it is a snap to get from crowded Cancun to Isla Mujeres and hope for your island dream there.
Curse, because Isla Mujeres is no longer an insider tip, but every Cancun vacationer takes at least one day trip to the island. The island of women is really very beautiful and has paradisiacal beaches, but by the sheer crowds we have not really felt comfortable on Isla Mujeres. On Isla Mujeres there was no real island feeling for us, like for example on Caye Caulker in Belize.
The capital (Downtown or El Centro) is really crowded with cars, many golf carts and of course restaurants and hotels. This can be an advantage, because to buy souvenirs the city is really very good. But at some point it is also annoying.
The beaches, especially Playa Norte, are also very crowded. There is a beautiful coastal road that leads from downtown to the highly recommended Punta Sur, but the rest of the island is more bustling small town than paradisiacal Caribbean island.
Unfortunately… With our current experiences, we would skip the island on our round trip through Mexico and Yucatan. As an alternative we have already chosen Isla Holbox. Due to lack of time, we have this (in comparison smaller) left out this place and went directly further inland to Valladolid.
Do you also have experiences with Isla Mujeres or did you experience the island in a completely different way? Then write us your opinion in the comments column.