Who doesn’t love being on an island? Isla Mujeres is the beautiful quiet little sister of its rowdy big brother Cancún. Just a short ferry ride away from mainland, “the Island of Women” is a wonderful “vacation from your vacation”. Here, you can try out adventurous activities like zip lining, or simply lay by the beach and work on your tan. From my in depth guide, you can craft your perfect Isla Mujeres day trip from Cancún. I even created for you itinerary examples to suit your travel mood, so make sure to download the printable towards the end.
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Isla Mujeres is the beautiful quiet little sister of its rowdy big brother Cancún. Click To Tweet
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Best time to go to Isla Mujeres
The best time of the year to visit Isla Mujeres is arguably between May and September. This is the season for swimming with whale sharks, a popular activity on the island. But if you are arriving at a different time, don’t worry. The island has many other fun things to do all year round.
Try to avoid visiting on the weekends as locals flock to this paradise along with tourists, making the beaches more crowded than ideal.
How to get there
From central Cancún, you can take the R-6 bus to Puerto Juarez for 10 pesos. There are several ferry companies from which you can purchase tickets to Isla Mujeres. A round trip ticket with Naveganto cost 225 pesos. (Make sure to not lose your return ticket for the trip back!) The ferry leaves every 2 hours. I recommend taking no later than the one leaving at 8:05 A.M to allow sufficient time on the island.
There is also a ferry for cars from Puerto Juarez, that is rumoured to be a lot cheaper at 80 pesos one way if you get on as a no car passenger. I was not able to find this dock. If you do, please let me know how you found it.
For a detailed guide on how to get to Isla Mujeres, check out this website here.
How to get around the island
Being just 8 km north to south, Island Mujeres is very small and cute. There are a couple ways to get around:
By Golf Cart: If you have a party of 3 or 4 people, have yourself a party on wheels and rent a golf cart. You will see rental shops everywhere as soon as you get out of the port. Prices usually go from 700-800 per vehicle.
By Moped/Scooter: If you have less than 3 people, it’s not worth getting a golf cart so luckily there is the moped option good for duos or solo travelers.
Bike: This was my ride of choice. It’s the cheapest and you get some exercise. Win win! I recommend Isla Easy Tour for bike rental. (It’s not on Google Maps but it’s a small office on the same street as Pelicano’s Bike Rental) The cost is only 150 pesos and you can return the bike whenever you want. Even the next day! The owner is very kind. He explained to me that if the office is closed when I return, simply lock up the bike and drop the key in the mailbox.
Isla Mujeres Activities
Now for all the fun! There are so many things you can do on Isla Mujeres. Let’s explore.
Swim with whale sharks
As mentioned, swimming with whale sharks is the it thing to do between May to September. There are many companies that offer tours to see these majestic giants. If this is on your bucket list, Isla Mujeres is the perfect place to check it off. However, know that there are rules you should follow to swim with whale sharks responsibly and ethically. World Wildlife has a great infographic that you can find on this page.
Drive/Bike to Punta Sur
Punta Sur is the southernmost point on the island. Here you will find the statue of Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility, moon, medicine and happiness. She is worshipped by Mayan women and the reason the island is called Isla Mujeres “The Island of Women”. There is also a white statue of a giant iguana 10 steps away from Ixchel. If you are lucky, you’ll spot some real iguanas lurking not far around the coast. For 20 pesos, you can visit the sculptures gardens at Punta Sur as well.
Visit the MUSA Underwater Museum
A Museum that is UNDERWATER. Imagine that. This unique attraction was the brainchild of Marine Park Director Jaime Gonzalez Canto. 500 sculptures stand between three to six meters deep on the ocean floor, and you can see them by scuba diving or snorkeling. The objective of the project is to save the coral reefs through providing 1. An alternative destination for divers. And 2. Beneficial material for fostering new reef growth. Artworks protecting the ocean. Have you heard of anything more wholesome? I truly think this idea deserves a Nobel Prize.
You can join a tour that combines snorkeling around the reefs and MUSA. The price is usually $40-$50 USD and last for three to four hours with an included lunch.
Tan and dine at Kin Ha
Kin Ha is a private restaurant tucked away behind on the southwest coast. It was a random awesome gem that I discovered. So consider this a Blessing Bucket exclusive 😉 The outside is very low key, but once you walk in, a gorgeous deck area comes into view. There’s an infinite pool, a bar and restaurant, and many lounge chairs, all overlooking the ocean. For 400 pesos, you can be here for as long as you want. You will get 300 pesos back in food and drinks you order, and you can borrow the properties kayaks, paddleboard, and snorkel gears at no extra charge. The water and view here are incredible and the best part is, you are away from the rest of the tourists. Definitely worth it. There is also WIFI at Kin Ha. So yes. I had trouble leaving this paradise.
Play at Garrafon Reef Park
If you are after an all inclusive experience, check out Garrafon Reef Park. This park has all the adventurous water activities you can think of, ziplining, kayaking, snorkeling. On the other hand, you can relax in the hammocks garden, eat to your heart’s content at the buffet, grab a drink at the open bar, or have a soak in the jacuzzi.
Chill at the beach
Of course, the beach is always a good idea. While Playa Norte is popular, Playa Sol is less crowded. It is also a better spot to watch the golden sunset over the sea. So lay out a blanket, slather on some sunscreen, and relax. This is the island life baby!
Buy souvenirs on Avenida Miguel Hidalgo
Best visited at night time, Avenida Miguel Hidalgo is the street where you will find many quirky shops. It is located near the beaches on the northern end of the island. Come here for a stroll post dinner (walk off that food baby amirite?) and pick up a souvenir before catching a ferry back to Cancún.
Note: Isla Mujeres also has a Turtle house and Dolphin experience. But I chose to not introduce them here as whether the housing and caring of the animals are ethically handled have come under questioning by some visitors.
Isla Mujeres best places to eat
Mango Cafe Hands down the best breakfast cafe. Don’t miss the stuffed poblano pepper, loaded with scrambled eggs, onion, cheese, and bacon. Served with potatoes on the side. It is delicious and very filling.
La Lomita Authentic Mexican food for a reasonable price. I liked the pretty flowery paintings over the restaurant walls. The outside seating area is quite Instagrammable if you go at a time with no one else around.
Reuben’s I’ve heard many recommendations for this restaurant but did not try it personally. It’s a budget friendly choice. If you visit, make sure to let me know what your favorite dish is.
To be honest, the food on Isla Mujeres is very overpriced comparing to Cancún. It makes sense as they must ship everything to the island. For those on a budget, you can bring your own food for the day, or buy snacks from the supermaket Súper Akí Isla Mujeres
What to pack for Isla Mujeres
Swim suit Duh right? You WILL get wet so pack your swimwear for the day. I recently discovered prAna and their swimwear line is awesome. I have two sets of pretty bikinis from them and they are both very comfortable.
Snorkel gears You can rent snorkel gears on the island but I recommend bringing your own. Rental equipments can often be old and worn. Plus the mouthpiece can be unhygienic. Invest in a high quality snorkel goggle like this one here and you will save money in the long term.
Coral safe sunscreen It’s important to protect the reef from the harsh chemical of regular sunscreens. I never really thought about this either until I learned after arriving in Mexico. Many tours actually make it mandatory to purchase reef friendly biodegradable sunscreen if you don’t have some already, so better be prepared ahead of time.
Beach Towel Ditch the regular towel and opt for a travel towel. This one here is lightweight, antibacteria and quick drying, perfect for hitting the beach and not bringing any sand home.
Underwater camera Deep blue with pockets of aquamarine, the water on Isla Mujeres is simply mesmerizing. Diving under is a whole other world. I saw so many fishes while snorkeling at Kin Ha. You will definitely regret not capturing the sights. The Go Pro Hero 7 is the newest addition in the Go Pro family and is said to produce the best quality footage.
Waterproof cell phone pouch If you just have your good ol’ phone, here’s a cheap fix for taking videos underwater. I love my waterproof pouch. It’s completely safe for my iphone to get wet. The videos are definitely not as great as a Go Pro but they are pretty decent.
Isla Mujeres day trip from Cancún itinerary examples
With so many options, how should you allocate the hours of the day? To help you further, I created two example Isla Mujeres itineraries. One for those who are looking for some adventure and one for those who are looking for a more relaxing time. You can find both options in this free printable. Enter your email below to get the download link in your inbox. By signing up, you will also receive the TBB newsletter where I share monthly travel tips, new itineraries, and exclusive goodies like free printables.
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