Isla Mujeres is an island just 13 km off the coast of Cancun. It has beautiful beaches and cliffs, perfect places to go snorkeling on your own, offers lots of nightlife and also historical sites and Mayan ruins. So, here’s a guide to Isla Mujeres, with useful information on what to see and do and the best points of interest, how to get there on your own and on tour, where to eat and how to get around the island.
Isla Mujeres is a perfect day trip from Cancun, although if you have a little more time, we recommend staying at least one or two nights and exploring the island more thoroughly.
A little bit of history
Long before the first arrival of the Spanish in 1517, the island was already consecrated by the Mayan people to the goddess of the moon and fertility Ixchel. It was a place of pilgrimage for women, who visited the island in their symbolic passage from girl to woman.
Offerings with feminine forms were also deposited to the goddess, a fact that gave her the name of Isla Mujeres. Don’t miss all its attractions because, as we already told you, there are a few!
What to see and do in Isla Mujeres
There are lots of things to do in Isla Mujeres. Like every other island, Isla Mujeres offers a few great beaches to enjoy a day of swimming and sunbathing.
These are the best beaches on Isla Mujeres:
Playa Norte: is considered one of the best beaches in this area of Mexico. We were a little disappointed, it’s true that the postcard of crystal clear waters, white sand and coconut trees fulfills it perfectly, but the amount of people and the resorts a few meters away from the coast take away a little of its charm. Still, it’s worth a visit, especially at sunset. Access is free.
Playa Lancheros: This is a fairly large beach, where you will find several clubs with restaurants and bars. It is also usually quite crowded, so we recommend it to come for a drink, or to eat. We made it in the restaurant Playa Lancheros / La casa el Tikinxik , ceviches for 180 pesos (huge), and the fish Tikinxikla specialty of the house for 290 pesos for two people (it takes about 40 minutes to be served). Access to the beach is free.
Playa Garrafón: next to the national park with that name (where they have set up zip lines and other adventure activities) is the Garrafón de Castilla beach club. To use its facilities, including sun lounger, the price is 100 pesos per person. The beach is quite small and the sand is not that fine, but when you enter the water you will be amazed. It’s a super cool spot to snorkel, with hundreds of fish right next to the sand! If you don’t have your glasses, here they rent them for 50 pesos.
On the other side of the island, in its farthest part from the village, is the Punta Sur. Here you can admire a beautiful view of the cliffs, there is also a statue of an iguana and a lighthouse. If the ideal is to see sunset from Playa Norte, here the ideal is to come at sunrise.
But the most interesting part of this place is the park with 23 sculptures, and the ruins of the Mayan temple to Ixchel, the goddess of the moon and fertility, to whom the island is dedicated. In order to access both the park and the ruins, an entrance fee of 30 pesos is required.
If you’ve rented your own transport, you can’t miss the road trip on the East Coast. For us it is the most beautiful panoramic road of Isla Mujeres. It also has a bicycle path where you can walk quietly a few meters from the cliff.
You can not leave the island without taking a picture with the famous colored letters of ISLA MUJERES. This time it comes with a prize, as on the wall right in front of it there is a very cool and huge mural.
But it’s not the only mural, scattered throughout the streets of the island you’ll see samples of street art, some better and some worse, but free outdoor art after all!
At night the atmosphere is concentrated in Hidalgo Street. It is pedestrianized and there are plenty of bars and restaurants where choosing is almost impossible! We sat down at Lolo’s Taqueria because it had a special offer of 3 tacos (to choose from) and 2 beers for 110 pesos (the very good shrimp tacos).
Although if you want something a little more local, in the central square of the town, right in front of the AKI there are a few stalls with street food. There’s one for making your own tacos and several for churros, marquesitas and other fritangas. Oh, and a lady with some homemade pies to lick her fingers (a huge piece for 25 pesos).
In this little square stands the Parroquia Inmaculada Concepción, the main church (and maybe the only one in town). At night, the door is left open while mass is being celebrated, and even if you are not a believer and you don’t like that kind of thing, it is always good to get to know a little bit about the local culture. Also at night, very close to the village, basketball tournaments are held in the open air. If you’re up for it, why not show off your sports skills?
If diving is your thing, there are several areas on Isla Mujeres where you can enjoy yourself underwater. Some of them are the coral reef of Garrafón Park, the Cave of the sleeping sharks, the Underwater Art Museum (MUSA), Manchones Reef or the Cross of the Bay.
You can also swim with the whale sharks. Look here if you want to hire the experience.
How to get to Isla Mujeres
There are two ferry companies that arrive at Isla Mujeres from the ports of Cancun: Marinsa and Ultramar. The first one only departs from Puerto Juarez and the price is 300 pesos (round trip).
Ultramar is the most important and has departures from four ports along the coast of Cancun and in the hotel zone: Playa Caracol, Playa Tortugas, El Embarcadero and Puerto Juarez. A return ticket costs 300 pesos. The return is open.
The ferry takes about 20 minutes, the frequency is very high, every 30 minutes, practically nothing moves, and it leaves you at the main port of Isla Mujeres, in the center of town. From there to Playa Norte for example is a 10 minute walk.
If you prefer to visit Isla Mujeres on an organized day tour from Cancun, there are several options: we recommend a catamaran trip with lunch and snorkeling, or an excursion to Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy. Here are some more options:
How to get around on Isla Mujeres
Although the centre of the village is small and you can move around perfectly on foot, we strongly recommend renting your own means of transport to discover other more charming places.
The most typical way is to rent a golf cart. Here, almost everyone moves around in a cart, including the locals! There are lots of shops where you can rent one and almost all of them have the same prices. Normal prices are 800-900 pesos for renting from 9 am to 5 pm.
They also rent by the hour (not very interesting if you stay on the island) and for 24 hours (about 1000 pesos). In high season these prices usually go up a bit. We haggled with a man who was in front of the port and got 9 to 19 for 700 pesos. They ask for your driver’s license from your country (you don’t have to leave your license) and it’s very important that they give you a contract, with the phone number in case something happens. You don’t have to pay for the fuel.
Another option is to rent a motorbike. The price for a whole day from 9 to 17 is about 350 pesos. They ask for the motorcycle license, at least in the places we ask.
The third alternative is the taxi, they are fixed rates depending on the distance, but we don’t know the prices. In the past there was a bus that went around the island, unfortunately it has been removed and the only one that circulates now is one for local workers.
Where to eat on Isla Mujeres
There are lots of great places to eat in Isla Mujeres.
Q’Bravo: quite a local breakfast place with affordable prices (combos for about 50-60 pesos). There are 4 or 5 little tables and the treatment is very good.
Taquería Lalo’s: we stop for the offer of 3 tacos and 2 beers for 110 pesos. The tacos were good, especially the shrimp ones.
Playa Lancheros / La casa el Tikinxik: it’s in front of the beach, so the atmosphere is very cool. The huge ceviches are very good, fish for 180 pesos and shrimp for 190 pesos. The specialty of the house is the Tikinxikla fish, the minimum order is 1 kg for 290 pesos for two people. By the way, here they might invite you to some very tasty margaritas! Ask!
Other tips for visiting Isla Mujeres
There is a fairly large supermarket next to the main square of the village, the AKI. The prices are much better than for example the OXXO mini-market.
If you are wondering if there are ATMs on the island, don’t worry, there are plenty of them. Inside the AKÍ itself there is one from HSBC, but there are also other banks.
Let’s hope you’re not afraid of iguanas, because the island is full of them! Don’t worry, they are harmless and the only thing they will want is to sunbathe and spy on you :S
So much for our guide to Isla Mujeres, with useful information on what to see and do, the best points of interest, how to get there on your own and on tour, where to eat and how to get around the island. We hope it will help you plan your trip! Do you know Isla Mujeres?
Other Central America Destinations:
Cancun Travel Guide
Cozumel Travel Guide
Guatemala Travel Guide
Isla Mujeres Travel Guide
Mexico City Travel Guide
Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide
Tijuana Travel Guide
Tulum Travel Guide