Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres is a small island just 20min. off the coast from Cancun Mexico.
The island was a Mayan sanctuary for hundreds if not a thousand years and the name, Isla Mujeres, means Island of Women – but it only received that name once the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s and named it after the many statues of a Mayan goddess they found on the island.
The island is tiny, only about 4miles long and as narrow as ½ mile wide at places and with a full-time population <15,000. Most visitors to the island come only for a day trip but, if you have the time, it’s really worth a few days of exploring and relaxing to get a real feel for the place.
Enjoy our Travel Guide to Isla Mujeres.
How To Get There
Assuming you are arriving to the Cancun airport or are already staying somewhere along the Riveria Maya, the only way to get to Isla Mujeres is by a short ferry ride from the primary ferry port of Puerto Juarez. The UltraMar ferry company offers a couple other locations for pickup closer to the Cancun hotel zone but Puerto Juarez should be your preferred departure option as it’s the cheapest and offers the most frequent departure times.
A round trip ferry costs about $25 bucks. The boats leave roughly every 30min and the trip takes only 20.
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This is a great travel find and should be included included in your carryon luggage.
How To Get Around
The ferry will bring you to the main pier directly adjacent to the primary town on the island called El Centro.
Walking vs. Golf Cart: The town itself is quite small and you can get around only on foot if you just want to hit the north island beaches and check out the town area. For just a day or two, that should be fine but if you really want to see the island, you’ll want to rent a golf cart or scooter. We’d highly recommend a golf cart.
All the rental companies are within a few blocks downtown and the cost is pretty consistent between them at around $65 for a standard cart – so the real choice is about the quality of cart and the service of the company. We’d recommend Ciros (Zeros) as they have slightly better pricing if you pay USD cash and they have the best golf carts. They are four blocks away from the ferry pier.
Where to Stay
The island is small so the primary choice for lodging is do you want to stay around the main town area with the prime beaches and most nightlife or do you want to stay further south with a more quiet and local feel.
Town – Most of the bigger hotel options are here but there are quite a few smaller options too. If you want to be in the thick of things and do a bunch of partying, this area is where you’ll want to stay.
If you prefer things a little more quiet and casual, or you’re more of an AirBNB type person, then staying a bit further south will be your preference.
Here is where we stayed….. Casa de Los Suenos
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Hi There! I’m Lara and I am from Scottsdale, Arizona. I have lived here for more than 30 years and Iove it. My hubby and I are fortunate to be able to travel the world to explore exciting destinations. When our son went off to college we became empty nesters and decided to go for it. No sense in staying at home when the world is your oyster!! Follow along with us and learn about interesting places an “off the beaten path” experiences. We are not the type of people who like to stay in fancy hotels all the time – for us its about the experience! Well let me rephrase that, I do like those fancy hotels but the only way to learn about the city and the people is to immerse yourself.
This travel blog originated in 2018 and since then we have really traveled the world, check out our passport page and read about some of the exciting places we traveled to the last couple years.
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What To See & Do
We’ll group the primary sights into a circular tour which you can easily do on a day trip by renting a golf cart or scooter.
- First up, head south out of town to the Western edge Ave. Medina. The first thing you’ll come to is the Whale Shark Statue. Stop and get a quick couple of pictures.
- Beach Clubs – along the west coast of the island there are multiple beach clubs but we’d recommend two:
- Garrafon Reef Park – two options
- The fancy park with zip lines and all inclusive options from $69/pp. You can also swim with Dolphins here if that is your thing.
- Or the more authentic locals place directly next door called Garrafon de Castilla. They also have food and drink and you can snorkel the same reef area for 150P entry fee.
- Next up, is Punta Sur, It’s a small park at the southern most part of the island. There’s a area around the entry where you can get out and take some pictures but we recommend paying the small 200P entry fee to walk to the very end of the island and also explore the waters edge walkways they have around the point.
- Now, making the turn north and coming up the East side of the island, you’ll see that the coast is more rocky – but there are a number of small but secluded beaches to consider as you drive along the coast road. One is specific is designated as a dog beach – that’s pretty cool.
- There are three primary sights to see on the East coast
- One is the Cemetery which is on a small hill overlooking the ocean. It’s a place to be respectful but do check out how some of the various plots in the cemetery and the unique way they decorate and maintain the tombs of their loved ones.
- As you move further north up the East coast, you’ll next come to a smaller town near the center of the island. This area is a lot less touristy than El Cento with all its trinket and t-shirt shops and if you really want to try out some basic local dining options, you’ll find them here.
- As you move further North(or West I guess),you come along a very nice ocean promenade to check out and one more interesting local sight to consider – Guadalupe Chapel. It’s a tiny Catholic church overlooking the ocean with some small grounds to explore.
- Finally, continuing North you’ll pass the abandoned local airport on your left and arrive at the SE edge of the main town, El Centro. Here you should explore the Malecon. Usually, Malecons are a major destination for most beach towns but not here, It’s a quite nice walk with great ocean view but there is really nothing else around and very few people. However, there are sights to check out.
- One is the Tiny Gecko Bar. It’s a tiny bar at only about 500sq.ft. but they have great views, a large drink menu, and live happy music on most nights. This too is pretty much a local’s bar so you won’t find it inundated with tourists.
- The other sight at the north end of the Malecon is quite popular and it’s the main Isla Mujeres sign for Instagram pics, etc. Get one quick and keep moving!
- After visiting this Malecon area, you’ll finish back at the main downtown where you rented your golf cart or scooter. Take your time to wander around. Its relatively easy to hit up all the streets in about an hour – but the two main areas on the North side of the island are Playa Norta or North Beach and Hidalgo Street, the main dining and entertainment street.
- Playa Norta, and Central beach right next door, and loaded with tons of beach bars, people, and a party atmosphere. Take your pick of the many options but our recommendation is Las Hamacus.It’s a small park at the southern most part of the island. There’s a area around the entry where you can get out and take some pictures but we recommend paying the small 200P entry fee to walk to the very end of the island and also explore the waters edge walkways they have around the point.
Las Hamacus – this place gives off a really chill vibe with hammocks all around along with a cool bar and live music. It’s easy to spend the whole day here.
- Hildago Street runs south from the Playa Norta through the center of town and it’s the main shopping and nightlife zone on the island. I’ll talk more about this a bit later.
- That’s already a lot to do if you are just making a day trip but if you happen to be lucky enough to spend a few days on the island you have other options to consider too.
- Whale Shark Tours: Perhaps the most unique and a bucket list experience is to swim with whale sharks. The season for this is roughly June to Sept. with prime time being July and Aug. We’ve done this in La Paz and it was awesome. We’d highly recommend it if you are there in season and if you want to check out our visitor guide for La Paz just search Scottsdale chick La Paz.
- Snorkeling and Diving Tours: Beyond the whale shark option there are also numerous snorkeling and diving trips to consider, although we’d say Cozumel might be a better option for that. One unique option is to dive the MASU or the underwater museum.
- Fishing Charters: If you don’t want to get in the water with whale sharks or snorkeling with fish, then another fun thing to do is book a fishing trip. It’s one of the most popular places in the world to catch Sailfish…
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