This is a day trip guide to Isla Mujeres, a small caribbean island located off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.
The island was first discovered by the Mayans, and soon became a sanctuary devoted to the Mayan goddess of the moon, fertility, healing and feminine forces, Ixchel. Because of the many female statues on the island, the Spaniards later named the island Isla Mujeres, meaning the Island of Women.
Getting to Isla Mujeres from Cancun
To get to Isla Mujeres we recommend you take the UltraMar Ferry, as it is quick, comfortable, safe and reliable. Depending on where you are staying, you can catch the ferry from 4 different locations in Cancun.
1. From Downtown Cancun:
The ferry leaving from Puerto Juarez is the cheapest off all the UltraMar Terminals as it is located outside the tourist areas. To get to the ferry terminal you can either take the R-1 bus towards Puerto Juarez for $9.50 pesos, or the shuttle vans that leave from “El Cruecero” for $7 pesos, both will leave you directly in front of the UltraMar port.
Round trip fare cost: $146 pesos
Ferry Schedule: From 5am-8:30pm the ferry runs every 30mins after that it runs every hour until 11:30pm. The last ferry from Isla Mujeres leaves at 12am.
Time to get to Isla Mujeres: 18 mins
2. From the Hotel Zone:
Conveniently enough, UltraMar has three ports in the hotel zone: El Embarcadero, Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol. Any bus going to the Hotel Zone will take you directly to one of these ports for $9.50 pesos.
Round trip fare cost: $19 USD
Ferry Schedule: Ferry schedule differs for each locations, however the first ferry going to Isla Mujeres leaves at 9am and the last ferry from Isla Mujeres departs around 5pm.
Time to get to Isla Mujeres: 22-25mins
Once you get to Isla Mujeres, the ferry will leave you in the heart of downtown and just a few kilometers walk from Playa Norte (North Beach). We recommend you do not go there first because once you set your eyes on this piece of heaven, it will be hard for you to leave and explore the rest of the island.
Getting Around on Isla Mujeres
Getting around the island is fairly easy as it is only 5 miles long and ½ mile wide. Though the island is walkable we recommend against it as it gets really hot and can be very exhausting.
The most popular mode of transportation on the island are the Golf Carts which can be rented in the downtown area. The average price is around $50 USD for an entire day. If you only want to rent a Golf Cart for a few hours the price ranges from $14-$16 USD per hour.
A more budget friendlier way of getting around is by renting a Bicycle or Scooter. Both can be rented by the hour or for the entire day. Renting a bike for the entire day is around $120 pesos and a scooter is around $250 pesos. We went with the bike option and rented two bikes for $200 pesos (got a deal here). However, we later realized that we should have gone with the scooter instead as it would have been pretty much the same price, and would have required less effort from us.
The last options are taxis. Taxis can be rented for the day, and will take you from sight to sight for a negotiated price.
Best Things to Do on Isla Mujeres
Turtle Farm (Tortugranja) was created to help preserve and protect the endangered sea turtles in Mexico. In Tortugranja, you can see turtles in all the different stages in their lives, touch different sea animals as well as see some sharks. The admission fee per person is $30 pesos (~$3USD)
Punta Sur was one of our most favorite places to visit on the island, second only to Playa Norte of course! The breathtaking natural attraction such as the panoramic cliff view and what we would call the “Iguana Resort” (we call it that because there are so many iguana’s around) is a must see. Punta Sur is at the southernmost tip of the island where you can find a sculpture garden, a light house and the ruins of a temple dedicated to the Goddess, Ixchel.
Playa Norte is located at the northern tip of the island and just a few minutes walk from the Ultramar Ferry terminal. The beach is very popular and is enjoyed by both locals and tourists alike. The water is calm, clear, and is simply amazing. You might even get the chance to see some fishes. This beach is the perfect spot to watch the sunset on the island. We promise it’s one you will never forget.
Garrafon National Reef Park is located on the south end of the island. The entrance fee gives you full access to all their facilities as well as life vests, inner tubes and kayaks. The park offers many activities such as zip-lining, snorkeling, kayaking and many more.
Underwater Museum has over 400 different underwater sculptures of life-size figures by Jason de Caires Taylor. The Museum is said to be a must see, and shouldn’t be missed. For a comprehensive guide about the underwater museum click here.
Dolphin Discovery provides you with the opportunity to swim with dolphins that perform a variety of different water activities.
Where to Eat on Isla Mujeres
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in the downtown area. If you want to eat authentic Mexican seafood we recommend you walk on Rueda Medina, the street that runs alongside the beach where you will find a number of good restaurants with decent prices. There are also a few American, Chinese, and Italian restaurants in the heart of downtown. However, we don’t suggest going there unless you want to pay almost double the price for your food.
If you rather eat with the locals you can walk a little bit outside of the touristy areas and find random street food vendors with tacos, empanadas, tamales, and more.
Isla Mujeres is an interesting day trip, and if you are ever in Cancun with some free time you should definitely go and explore the island for yourself.