Isla Mujeres, meaning the Island of Women, is a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea right off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. The entire island is only 5 miles long and half a mile wide at its widest point, but this little island packs a punch despite its size.
You see, there are so many things to do in Isla Mujeres that you might never want to leave. Whether you are here to relax, shop, enjoy fabulous Playa Norte, or enjoy some of the fabulous water sports of the area, Isla Mujeres, Mexico, has you covered!
For hundreds of years, this little island was a fishing village. Although tourists have since discovered it, Isla Mujeres still retains much of its small-town charm. Artists, fishermen, musicians, divers, and ex-pats call Isla Mujeres home.
Combine all that with the beautiful Caribbean Sea, and you have a diverse island just waiting to be explored.
Since this area of Mexico is only a 3-hour plane ride from Dallas, we often visit. We love the hospitality and the true genuine kindness that we experience from the people in Mexico. The Riviera Maya region including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Mujeres has so much to offer that we keep returning time and time again.
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How to Get to Isla Mujeres: Isla Mujeres Ferry
Many people first want to know how to get to Isla Mujeres. So, let’s start there.
Getting to Isla Mujeres, Mexico is actually pretty easy. After flying into the Cancun airport, you can choose your mode of transportation to take you to the Puerto Juarez ferry docks to catch the Isla Mujeres ferry. Many people do a day trip from Cancun to Isla Mujeres from the Puerto Juarez ferry docks also, so the ferries are very popular.
For the journey from the Cancun airport to the ferry docks, you can hire a private car, take public transportation, or do shared transportation.
If you are choosing to hire a private car, I would recommend you pre-book this. This will allow you to pre-pay and have little to no wait time at the Cancun airport. This is a great option for families or those people traveling as a group with others.
For this option, you pay by car instead of by person. Once you exit the Cancun airport terminal, you will see many companies holding signs. Look for the one with your name on it, and you’re off.
The ADO Airport bus is another option if you would like to save some money. After exiting the airport, look for the stand with the large “ADO” sign in red to purchase your ticket. Buy a ticket to downtown Cancun (usually about $5).
The bus runs every 30 minutes or so, meaning you might have to wait a little while. Once at the downtown Cancun bus station, you can take a taxi to the Puerto Juarez ferry terminal (about $5), or you can get on the “Ruta 13” city bus and get off at the ferry dock.
Shared airport transfers are another option, but again, be prepared to wait. This option is usually cheaper than a private car because the price is split between all travelers riding. Here you pay by the person.
You will have to wait until the van is full and you will probably be the last one to be dropped off, so this can be a time-consuming option.
Of course, you can always take a taxi straight from the airport, but this is REALLY EXPENSIVE and will set you back about $70! We don’t recommend this option as hiring a private car is just as efficient and often cheaper.
Once at the Puerto Juarez ferry dock, purchase your ticket for the Isla Mujeres ferry, and you will be on your way. You can buy a one-way ticket on the Isla Mujeres ferry for 160 pesos or a round-trip ticket for 300 pesos per person.
The Isla Mujeres ferry leaves every half hour beginning at 5:00 am and ending at 9:30 pm. The ride to Isla Mujeres from the Cancun hotel zone takes about 15 minutes. There is luggage storage onboard, as well as refreshments.
You can also take the Isla Mujeres ferry from Cancun’s hotel zone, but the fare is more expensive ($14 one way per person). These leave from three different locations near the hotel zone: Playa Tortugas, EL Embarcadero, and Playa Caracol.
Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres is full of great places to stay. Whether you are looking for a great boutique hotel, a 5-star all-inclusive resort, or the best Airbnb in Isla Mujeres, they have you covered!
There are great places to stay in Isla Mujeres, but one of the most popular places is Playa Norte. Playa Norte is known to be a world-class beach and a favorite beach in the Yucatan Peninsula. Playa Norte is also one of the best places to stay in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Some popular places to stay on Isla Mujeres include Mia Reef Hotel, Isla Mujeres Palace, and the Ixchel Beach Resort. Some of the resorts are couples-only, and Mia Reef is a nice all-inclusive resort. The Mia Reef is a top pick for sure!
A fun fact, the Ixchel Beach Resort is named after the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel, that used Isla Mujeres, Mexico as a sanctuary.
Things to do in Isla Mujeres
There are many things to do in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, without stepping foot in the water. This little island of Isla Mujeres in the Yucatan Peninsula is full of Mexican charm and just waiting to welcome its visitors.
We love that an escape to Isla Mujeres is just so laid back. Isla Mujeres is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Cancun.
Here, people just take life a little slower and move to a different place. Also, you won’t find the number of crowds on Isla Mujeres that you find in other parts of the Riviera Maya.
Explore the Island on a Golf Cart (a Must-do)
As we said before, Isla Mujeres is a small island, making it easy to navigate. One of the best ways to do this is to rent a golf cart and go exploring. A golf cart rental is a really fun way to see the island while you visit Isla Mujeres.
There are many golf cart stands on the island to rent from, and prices for the golf cart are usually around 1140 pesos for 24 hours. While you have your golf cart, explore all of the following items around Isla Mujeres on our list.
A visit to Isla Mujeres requires a golf cart! A golf cart is just so much fun to have on the island!
Remember to keep the basic rules of the road in mind while operating your golf cart (even though others may not). During our time in Isla Mujeres, we loved having our golf cart but were often frustrated that some of the other golf cart drivers were just plain rude! Don’t be that person. Be a friendly golf cart driver.
Visit Isla Mujeres Centro For Some Shopping
The island’s Centro area is easy to explore as it has a fun, laid-back attitude. The entire area is contained in four by six blocks, making walking around easy. Here you will find fun and quirky souvenir shops mingle in with loads of restaurants and bars.
It is also here that you will find some of the island’s colorful ceramics and clothes, making for great photo Isla Mujeres opportunities. The great thing about the Centro area is the many colors and textiles that surround you here. The variety of rugs, hammocks, glassware, and silver jewelry is amazing.
Explore the stores and find the perfect treasure to take home with you. Of course, there are plenty of t-shirts and touristy shops here, but I like to look for local treasures like the shops that sell local artisan goods.
While you are here, be sure to try some of the local cuisines. Grab an ice cream at one of the many ice cream shops, enjoy some authentic Mexican food, or sip on a delicious homemade sangria or margarita while in Isla Mujeres.
Eating some delicious Mexican food is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres. You can find incredible tacos at Los Tacos de Humo. This small “hole-in-the-wall” establishment is an incredible place to feast on tacos! For a great Mexican food restaurant, head to La Lomita. La Lomita serves up big portions of delicious food at a reasonable price.
While in Isla Mujeres’ Centro area, look for the great murals also. There are also some great statues in town. People love to walk around Malecon as well. There is even a pirate’s tomb in the cemetery.
Have an Adventurous Day at Garrafon Natural Reef Park
Garrafon Natural Reef Park is best known for the incredible reef that it is a part of. The park offers many recreational activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and zip-lining. Of course, you can do as little or as much as you choose.
For those of you just wanting to chill out at Garrafor Natural Reef Park, that is an option as well. You can enjoy the sauna, swim in the pool, or lounge around on a lounge chair at Club De Playa at Garrafon Natural Reef Park.
Garrafon is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Park-goers can choose from several packages, including an all-inclusive offer that takes care of everything you need to have a great day in the park, even your meals!
Take note that Garrafon Natural Reef Park offers different packages, so check out their website to find the one that fits your needs.
Be sure you bring whatever you might need for the day to the park with you. When you’re purchasing sunscreen, be sure to buy biodegradable sunscreen so that you don’t harm the reef in the area.
Making this one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.
Relax and Snorkel at Garrafon de Castilla Beach Club
Garrafon de Castilla Beach Club is a fabulous place to go and enjoy some snorkeling. Of course, they also have all the amenities you need to have a fabulous day.
This is the perfect place to ensure that you have a great underwater camera to capture some great pictures of marine life!
After snorkeling and swimming, you can relax on their beach chairs while enjoying a delicious lunch of fresh seafood. We love that Garrafon de Castilla is reasonably priced and rarely gets too busy, making for a perfect day in Isla Mujeres.
See the Mayan Ruins and Great Views at Punta Sur
For the perfect sunrise, head to the southern tip of Isla Mujeres to Punta Sur. Located 20 meters above sea level, this tip of Isla Mujeres, Punta Sur, is considered the highest elevation in the Yucatan. Not only that, but it is also home to the Mayan ruins of an ancient temple honoring the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel. You will also find a lighthouse and a sculpture garden here.
Visitors to Isla Mujeres love looking over the cliffs of Punta Sur toward some stunning views of Cancun. The Punta Sur Sculpture Garden is also located in this area, and displays work from 23 Mexican artists.
You can access Punta Sur through Garrafon Reef Park. Once at Punta Sur, you will probably run into some iguanas surrounding the giant iguana statue. If you’re hungry, you will find a couple of small souvenir shops and a couple of restaurants around Punta Sur as well.
People also enjoy doing stand-up paddleboarding in Punta Sur. We have personally not tried this here yet, but after reading this great guide to stand-up paddleboards, I might have to give it a try!
Watch The Sunset Over the Ocean
Is there anything better than taking in a sunset view over the ocean? Lucky for you, several places on Isla Mujeres have great sunset views.
Of course, many people flock to Play Norte to sit on the beach and watch the sunset. While Playa Norte offers a great view, it is not the only sunset view on the island.
Head to Playa Sol for an incredible sunset as well. Playa Sol is less crowded, so you will often have the beach virtually to yourself. So grab some drinks and picnic supplies and make your way to Playa Sol for the perfect sunset over the Caribbean.
Swim With Dolphins at the Dolphin Discovery Center
Dolphin Discovery is the perfect place to fulfill your bucket list item of swimming with dolphins. Dolphin Discovery offers several packages that you can choose from.
In addition to swimming with the dolphins, the park also offers an opportunity to interact with other animals, including sea lions, manatees, stingrays, and more. After you have had your fill of time with the animals, you can also enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, or riding the zip line into the ocean.
A day at Dolphin Discovery includes several amenities to make sure you have a great day. All visitors have access to the swimming pool, showers, free Wi-Fi, and lockers.
In addition, you get to enjoy the buffet meals and drinks that they offer at the facility for the duration of your stay. They even have a VIP lounge that is well worth the extra cost.
They have the Dolphin Encounter, Dolphin Swim, or the Dolphin Royal Swim, all offering different encounters with the dolphins. Make reservations in advance as this is a popular Isla Mujeres attraction.
Explore Some Island History at Hacienda Mundaca
History states that a Spanish pirate named Fermín Antonio Mundaca de Marechaja, and slave trader fell in love with a girl from Isla Mujeres and was inspired to build Hacienda Mundaca. At its origination, Hacienda Mundaca occupied almost 40% of Isla Mujeres!
Today Hacienda Mundaca is a large park containing several crumbling structures, including the house built by Fermin. There is also a well-tended botanica garden and a lake on the property that visitors to Isla Mujeres seem to enjoy.
At the southern end of the property, an impressive stone arch served as the entryway to the property. This is a great addition to your trip to Isla Mujeres.
Visit a Turtle Farm
Come to Isla Mujeres between May and September, and you just might witness giant sea turtles laying their eggs in the soft sand of Isla Mujeres. To keep the eggs safe, they are gathered and placed in pens at the Turtle Farm on the island.
Visitors to Isla Mujeres are invited to visit the farm. Depending on the time of the year you visit Isla Mujeres, you might see hundreds of baby turtles in the holding tanks! One of the highlights is the release of the baby turtles between August and October.
While at the farm, you can also see aquariums with sea horses, crabs, lobsters, and tropical fish. The turtle farm has worked tirelessly to ensure that the sea turtle population continues. They are open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
There is a small entry fee that goes toward caring for the animals.
Check Out Isla Mujeres’ Fabulous Beaches
The beaches of Isla Mujeres are known for their beautiful soft white sand surrounded by crystal clear Caribbean waters. While the major beaches on Isla Mujeres are on the north and west sides of the island, there are white sand beaches.
Playa Norte (North Beach) is one of the best beaches not only on Isla Mujeres but in all of the Caribbean. Combine the powdered white sand with crystal clear waters and gorgeous palm trees, and you will quickly see why Playa Norte is so popular.
Playa Norte is a short walk from the ferry dock, but most people prefer to take a taxi or rent a golf cart to Playa Norte, especially if they have a day trip to Isla Mujeres. Rent a golf cart for a fun way to explore Isla Mujeres!
It is on Playa Norte, where you will see yachts and boats anchored offshore, allowing their guests to enjoy the swaying palm trees and crystal clear waters of Playa Norte. There are also many beach clubs in Playa Norte if you would like to check one out, especially if you are making a day trip to Isla.
Playa Norte is one of my favorite soft sand beaches, for sure. I love that you can wade out far and still only be waist-deep in the clear blue water of Isla Mujeres. Playa Norte has beach chairs, umbrellas for rent, water toys, and snorkel gear.
Just note that Playa Norte can get crowded, so keep that in mind when planning your visit.
You will find Playa Posada, Playa Paraiso, Playa Lancheros, and Playa Indios on the west side of Isla Mujeres. These beaches are less crowded than North Beach, yet still beautiful.
Here you will have access to restrooms, gift shops, chairs, umbrellas, and beach toys.
Scuba Dive at MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum
One of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres is to experience the MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum. In collaboration with marine biologists and other experts, artist Jason deCaires Taylor developed the underwater Museum.
MUSA is an underwater museum containing sculptures explicitly designed to be part of this outstanding and unique exhibit. The museum officially opened in 2010 and will eventually contain 12 galleries and over 1,300 unique habitats.
The sculptures will change in appearance as the coral and ocean life grows around them. The sculptures will help turn empty sections of the seafloor into thriving aquatic habitats once the coral reefs come fully into fruition.
The galleries at the underwater museum have great artwork, including artwork from local artist Jason DeCaires. Jason’s art is highlighted in the underwater exhibit titled “The Silent Evolution,” which features 400 sculptures.
You can revisit this museum time and time as it changes year to year as the vegetation evolves on the sculptures. The environmental changes bring new species to the area as well as lobsters, shrimp, turtles, and more.
You can visit the museum and either snorkel or go scuba diving to enjoy the exhibits while you’re in Isla Mujeres. They also offer glass-bottom boat tours for those that would rather stay out of the water but still want to enjoy the sculptures.
Enjoy a Massage or Spa Treatment
Most people visit Isla Mujeres to relax. Enjoying a massage while on vacation is a great way to unwind. Whether you want a laid-back massage on the beach or in a relaxing spa facility, Isla Mujeres has you covered.
You can find tents on North Beach of Isla Mujeres offering beachside massage, or book one through your hotel. There are even mobile massage therapists that will come to you. Now that’s service and one of the fun things for your itinerary!
Go Snorkeling In the Caribbean
Snorkeling tours are one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres. The beautiful blue water surrounding the island makes it easy to see the ocean life in the water surrounding the island.
Many tour companies will take you to Isla Contoy for your snorkeling adventure. A day trip to Isla Contoy is a fun experience and well worth some of your vacation time.
There are several tour companies to choose from and most will offer you more than just snorkeling. Many include all of your equipment and most offer a lunch option as well. This is a great option while visiting Isla Mujeres.
Go Scuba Diving
Scuba diving is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres. One of the most popular locations is the Manchones Reef which begins just off of the island’s shore. Of course, you are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, so you can also explore the surrounding area including the Banderas Reef.
Diving in Isla Mujeres is such a treat. As the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean are always welcoming to dive in, there are so many interesting dive spots specifically around Isla Mujeres as well.
The diving around Isla Mujeres allows divers to explore caves, underwater museums, and more. All of the dive sites around Isla Mujeres are easily accessible by a short boat road.
Just keep in mind that Isla Mujeres is a popular dive spot, so reserve in advance is this tops your list of things to do in Isla Mujeres.
If you are not yet dive certified, there are many resorts that offer dive courses and will certify you to do shallow water dives. For experienced scuba divers, there are several dive options in Isla Mujeres to choose from.
The waters are clear and calm making it a great diving experience for beginning or advanced divers.
Try Some Deep Sea Fishing
Like we mentioned before, Isla Mujeres started out as a fishing village, so you know there are fish just waiting out there for you to catch! While on a deep-sea fishing journey, you have the opportunity to catch sailfish, marlin, and more.
Of course, the best part is that you charter the boat and the captain and their crew take care of all of the necessities for you.
They provide the equipment, the bait, and even refreshments to ensure you have a great day out on the water from Isla Mujeres.
Swim with Whale Sharks
One of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres during the summer months (June to September) is to swim with whale sharks. You see, the whale sharks naturally migrate to this area in the summer months making this an unforgettable experience.
A lot of tour companies include Isla Contoy with your swim with whale sharks adventure. Isla Contoy is a great spot to visit for a day trip from Isla Mujeres.
Although massive in size, whale sharks are docile creatures. Whale sharks are actually considered the world’s largest fish and are happy as can be to share the waters with the snorkelers around them.
This is such a great adventure. I think I love the fact that swimming with the whale sharks actually occurs in the animal’s natural environment. You get to actually see the whale sharks in the wild instead of them being held captive in an area of a park.
Be warned though, this is not a cheap excursion during your visit to Isla Mujeres. The price is regulated and is set at $125 minimum per person. This is a highly regulated industry and the tour operators must be licensed.
Do Some Beach Yoga
If you are unlike us and you enjoy waking up early and experiencing some sunrise yoga, then you are in the right place. Sunrise yoga on North Beach is actually a really popular activity on Isla Mujeres and some people do it every day.
As for Marty and I, we will watch from a lounge chair with a fruity cocktail in hand and get our exercise walking around the island. LOL!
Final Thought on Things to do in Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres and the Cancun region are one of our favorite getaways from Texas. The region is packed full of amazing food, kind people, and incredible ocean activities. Visiting Isla Mujeres, Mexico proves to be a fabulous, relaxing vacation. We find ourselves returning to Isla Mujeres time and time again. (I think the golf cart rentals and the beautiful Playa Norte have something to do with it!)
Actually, the entire Riviera Maya peninsula is full of great places to visit. We love spending time in Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen. Each of the cities in this area has their own charm and personality. It is well worth your time to spend more time in the Mexican Riviera region that is the Riviera Maya, including Cancun and Isla Mujeres.
I hope we have inspired you to explore the Cancun area and to especially spend some time on the glorious island of Isla Mujeres. We know that you will fall in love with it as much as we did!
While You’re Here, Check Out Our Other Posts About Mexico
10 Unforgettable Things to do in the Riviera Maya
Where to Stay in Cancun: Best Hotels and Areas
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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight:
We love using CheapOAir, Kayak, and Kiwi to search for the best flight prices. We love using these search engines because they search the web for airlines worldwide to ensure you get the best deal! In addition to flights, you can also find great hotel prices on Kayak and Kiwi.
Book Your Vacation Package:
If you want to book an entire vacation package, we suggest using Expedia. We love how easy Expedia is to use, and we always find good deals on entire vacation packages on their site.
Another great site for vacation packages is BookVIP. BookVIP offers super cheap vacation packages to incredible destinations. You are sure to save money using their site!
For full guided vacations, including hotels, some meals, transportation, and guides, then we book with Trafalgar. Trafalgar is a trusted tour company that will meet all your needs while ensuring a great experience.
Trip.com allows you to book flights, hotels, train tickets, rental cars, airport transfers, tours, and more all on one site. Owned by the parent company that also owns Skyscanner, this is a trusted resource for travel booking and a great “one-stop shop.”
Book Your Accommodations:
We always begin our search by checking out honest reviews on TripAdvisor hotels. This allows us to narrow our search for specific properties once we are ready to book. Of course, you can also book directly on the TripAdvisor site!
There are several accommodation sites that we like to use. One of our favorites is Booking.com because it offers a wide variety of hotels and guesthouses at a good price.
Another “go-to” hotel booking site for us is Hotels.com. We love their loyalty program that allows you to earn free nights, and their “secret prices” for members are fabulous deals!
HotelsCombined is another cool site. They allow you to compare all the top travel sites with one search to ensure you find the best deal out there. Kayak works in this way as well.
If you want a luxurious all-inclusive vacation, consider checking out the Sandals/Beaches properties. Sandals properties are for couples only and Beaches are for families. We have visited Sandals in the past and absolutely love the attention to detail and the service they provide.
Tour Companies We Trust:
We love taking guided tours when visiting new places. Our go-to tour companies are Viator.com and Get Your Guide. Both of these companies have been in business for years and provide excellent customer service. You can trust booking tours from their sites for sure!
For a guided city tour, check out City Sightseeing and BigBus Tours. These bus tours are so much fun and easy to hop on and hop off at top attractions in cities around the world.
CityPass is a great way to save money when visiting large cities. CityPass allows you to get free admission to major attractions once you buy their pass. The savings add up quickly with this pass, often saving 50% with combined admissions.
Another great pass to save money in larger cities is the Sightseeing Pass. This pass allows you to save valuable time and money by combining admissions to major attractions. They also have a handy app that keeps everything you need at your fingertips.
Looking to Save Time and Money?
Check out our resource page for all of our favorite vendors. These companies help us to save time and money on our travels!
About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.
Sunday 19th of July 2020
I’ve been to Mexico 27x - it’s my happy place. We stayed on Isla Mujeres last year and loved it...will definitely return and try some of your recommendations.
Sunday 19th of July 2020
We love Mexico also! It is so beautiful there. I'm glad we could give you some new ideas, especially since you have visited so many times. :)
Sunday 5th of July 2020
Lovely post. Pinned. We have been to Cancun a few times but never to this island. Sounds like a wonderful place to go the next time we make our way down to Mexico. Thank you
Saturday 4th of July 2020
I am 100% sure I would love it there!!! Beaches, turtles, snorkeling...I am so in!!
Sunday 5th of July 2020
It is such a great place, Julie. I know you would love it!
Sunday 14th of June 2020
What a beautiful place and this is such a detailed article. Saving it for my future travel to Mexico.
Tuesday 16th of June 2020
Thanks so much!
Sunday 14th of June 2020
The turtles and the whale sharks convinced me to go to Isla Mujeres! and now that I got my diver license would be awesome!
Tuesday 16th of June 2020
Oh wow! That is awesome. You should totally go dive this area!