13 Unmissable Things to Do in Isla Mujeres – Mexico + Insider Tips
Among all the amazing things you can do if you travel to Cancun, visiting Isla Mujeres is a must!
A small island located a few miles off of Cancun’s pristine coasts, in the state of Quintana Roo, Isla Mujeres (the island of women) is one of the top favorite destinations for beach lovers.
Whether you decide to stay for a couple of days or just visit on a day trip, you will fall in love with the island. In this post, I will tell you all about it!
Although it has become super touristy with shops and infrastructures to welcome swarms of tourists every day, Isla Mujeres hasn’t lost its original Mexican Caribbean charm of a small lazy town.
The town of Isla Mujeres is tiny, with a few houses around the main street, lots of noisy street vendors, colorful souvenir shops, and restaurants.
If you move along the south coast, you will get to the southern tip of the island on the rocky coast, whereas on the opposite side, you will find the popular beach Playa Norte.
On the famous beach, you can enjoy the typical Caribbean soft white sand beach lined with palm trees and washed by the blue turquoise sea.
If you have spent your Mexican vacation around the Yucatan Peninsula checking out the Mayan ruins and learning about the local history, you should check out Isla Mujeres then, one of the best places to have some beach time and enjoy the turquoise-warm water of the Caribbean sea.
Make sure you bring your snorkel gear, though as this is the perfect place to enjoy the marine life and the nearby coral reefs, besides a very unique underwater museum of art.
Planning a trip soon: Here are My Recommended
- TRAVEL INSURANCE – Safety Wing or TRAVEL INSURANCE MASTER
- BOOK FLIGHTS – Expedia, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and always remember to compare
- BOOK TOURS – GetYourGuide or Viator. Some of their tours are refundable up to 24h in advance.
- HOTELS & HOMES – Booking.com – VRBO
- CAR RENTALS: Discover Car Rentals
The beautiful Isla Mujeres is only a convenient 20-minute ferry ride from the coast of Cancun. In this post, you will also find information on how to get there.
I will tell you all about the island and its beautiful beaches and fun things to do in a moment, but first thing first, let’s clarify the name.
How do you pronounce Isla Mujeres?
Since I have been reading and hearing Isla Mujeres being called all sorts of names, let’s make it clear and get it out of the way once and for all.
The beautiful island has only one name and it is ISLA MUJERES, pronounced ‘izla mu’xeɾes‘. Repeat after me I S L A M U J E R ES
Isla Mujeres means Island of women.
It’s not la isla mujeres, islas las mujeres, islas mujeres, isla mujer, my favorite one, isla de las mujeres, isla de la mujeres, la isla de mujeres, isla de los mujeres, islas de las mujeres.
You will need to forget all those variations, which are nice but it’s not what it’s called. It’s only ISLA MUJERES.
So now you can brag with your friends that you know what the real name is. 🙂
How do you pronounce Isla Mujeres?
ISLA MUJERES is pronounced ‘izla mu’xeɾes‘
Why is it called Isla Mujeres?
The island was discovered by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba in 1517. In pre-Hispanic times the island was dedicated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of the Moon, love, and fertility, and believers would bring offerings in feminine forms and leave them on the Beaches.
When the Spanish conquerors arrived and found those feminine figures, they named the island Isla Mujeres.
The 13 best things to do in Isla Mujeres
1. Rent a golf cart and explore the island
First thing first, rent a golf cart or a mountain bike so that you can ride around the island. It’s only about 21km to completely circle it and it’s 4km wide.
Golf cart rental is very common on the island also because you cannot rent a regular car but also because driving around on Golf carts is much more fun.
You can drive around the entire island in 30 minutes if you don’t stop, but what’s the point right? It was just to give you an idea of how small is the island.
The rental companies are normally in town close to the ferry pier.
2. Have lunch on the beach
Riding towards the southern points you will find on your right a few restaurants on the beach where you can chill and have your lunch there. But the best beaches are on the north side, in particular Playa Norte (North Beach) and Playa del Sol.
If you stay in one of the fancy beach clubs in Isla Mujeres you can have all the comfort they offer, including laying on a lounge chair instead of on the beach.
A great option is Zama Beach Club. I haven’t been but it has outstanding reviews and many people are raving about it. So I thought I would share it.
3. Pay a visit to the statue of Ixchel in Punta Sur
On the very southern tip of Isla Mujeres, you can admire the statue of Ixchel, the goddess of fertility in Mayan history, and a sculpture garden right on the cliff where you can admire fantastic views including a magnificent sunset or sunrise on the very further edge you can have both.
4. Have a full day of adventures at the Garrafon
The Garrafon is a park located in the southern part of the island close to Punta Sur, in a beautiful rugged coastline with incredible snorkeling spots, but also offers many other services such as zip lining, biking, kayaking, but also great food and drinks.
It’s a very popular attraction in Isla Mujeres but I was tempted not to include it in this post because they do the infamous swimming with dolphins activity which I don’t want support as I believe dolphins should not be responsible for our entertainment but swim-free in the ocean.
So here I am hoping you won’t sign up for that activity. 🙂
👉 If you are coming from Cancun you can prebook your VIP full-day access to El Garrafon with a ferry included
Book through VIATOR
5. Admire the spectacular views of the eastern side of the island
On the way back you can ride along the eastern side of the island where you can find a few small beaches but not recommendable to swim as it’s the open sea with crazy currents.
6. Dive through the underwater museum of Art (MUSA)
👉 I recommend booking your incredible diving experience at MUSA in advance to make sure you can choose your preferred day.
Book through VIATOR
Go diving in the underwater museum, one of the most popular activities in Isla Mujeres. It’s called Musa and it is indeed an underwater installation made of statues from different artists with the purpose to promote conservation.
It’s a spectacular scene and being in such shallow waters, you can scuba dive there even if you are not certified. You can also book this tour from Cancun in one of the dive shops of your choice.
It’s not necessary to be in Isla Mujeres to dive into the Musa.
7. Check out the unmissable Playa Norte
Playa Norte is one of the most popular beaches in Isla Mujeres and, let me say that, one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in Mexico.
Spending some time basking in the sun on Playa Norte, chilling on the beach swim in the tranquil crystal clear waters is a must! It’s located just a 10-minute walk mt from the ferry terminal on the left side.
Playa Norte is probably even more appealing than the beaches on the Riviera Maya, for its calm waters and green and turquoise shades
I recommend you to stay till the sun goes down behind the city of Cancun coloring the sky with all different shades of orange, pink, and yellow.
8. Swim with the whale sharks
👉 Are you planning to join a whale shark tour? I recommend booking in advance so as to make sure you won’t miss it.
Book through VIATOR
If you happen to be around from June through September, you will have the opportunity to sign up for one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Swimming with whale sharks is possible in Mexico either from Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Holbox, or also from Baja California.
9. Spend one night on the island
Spend at least one night in Isla Mujeres and hang out in the small town, which comes to life with music and great food as soon as the sun sets behind the sea.
There is quite a good variety of restaurants of all sorts and tastes where you can choose from and a variety of great boutique hotel choices or Airbnb.
Here are a couple of accommodation options in Isla Mujeres to help make planning a little easier.
- Budget option: Posada Paso del Sol – Check rates and availability on Booking.com
- Mid-range option: Isla Caracol – Check rates and availability on Booking.com
- Luxury option: Zoetry Villas – Check rates and availability on Booking.com
You can check out all the luxury hotels in Isla Mujeres in this detailed post linked above.
10. Watch the sunset from Playa Norte
The perfect way to say goodnight to a beautiful day on Isla Mujeres. If Playa Norte is too crowded check out the less populated Playa Sol for a more tranquil experience.
11. Take one of the snorkel tours
If you love the water you must take a snorkel tour in Isla Mujeres and explore the underwater world, swim among tropical fishes and sea turtles by the coral reef, or explore the famous underwater museum.
👉 SAVE YOUR SPOT! Book your snorkeling tour in Isla Mujeres in advance with this highly-rated company.
12. Scuba dive from Isla Mujeres
For more experts, it is possible to scuba dive from Isla Mujeres. I would suggest you should contact local dive shops directly to explore the diving sites and make a plan.
There are many diving spots that you can reach either from Isla Mujeres or Cancun. They basically share the same dive sites, which means that if you go to Isla Mujeres just for diving, it’s not necessary if you are already in Cancun.
However, if you are vacationing in Isla Mujeres for a few days, you should definitely join a diving trip from there.
Is Isla Mujeres Safe for a woman traveling alone?
The short answer is: “Yes, it is”. If you are concerned about traveling alone as a solo female, worry not. Isla Mujeres is a tiny island and relatively safe.
With all the bars and hostels, it’s very easy to meet like-minded people on the same journey, if you want of course. Or you can just enjoy the island on your own without being bothered.
Then, as usual, the most common-sense rules apply just like everywhere in the world. So, as I usually say, be friendly but not naive. 🙂
You can definitely do all the following activities alone with no problem at all. You can read about other common-sense rules that apply to stay safe when traveling in Mexico.
How to get to Isla Mujeres
👉 If you love things made easy, book your transfer land+ferry from wherever you are through this convenient platform.
How to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun by Isla Mujeres Ferry
If you wish to go to Isla Mujeres on your own, which I always recommend, here are the best ways to do it.
First of all, you must reach the ferry terminals (see below) either from your hotel or from Cancun airport. I would suggest you grab a taxi. it’s faster.
Isla Mujeres ferry runs quite often all through the day and from different terminals from 7 am to 11.30 pm.
The ferry ride is only 20 minutes and just the ride itself makes it all worth it. The views of the turquoise water, while you approach the island, are just breathtaking. Here are the different terminals:
- Puerto Juarez – there are different ferry terminals from Puerto Juarez but the most convenient and modern is the Ultramar. You cannot miss it and it’s the most practical place to get to Isla Mujeres if you reach the terminal on your own car, since that’s where you can easily find a parking spot, either within the terminal ( a little more expensive) or just outside.
You can either join a tour or get to Isla Mujeres on your own by ferry, which I recommend so that you will be free to enjoy the island at your own pace.
Here are the places from where you can get the ferry. Click on the links to check their schedule and price.
Zona Hotelera (Cancun hotel zone) – In the hotel zone you can find 3 terminals from which you can get your ferry to Isla Mujeres.
They have more or less the same schedule. If you are staying in one of the hotels in the Hotel Zone you should definitely leave one of them.
It’s a little more expensive than the ferry from Puerto Juarez but it’s closer and you can get there by bus. You can jump on any bus running along the hotel zone and tell them where you are heading to. They will tell you when it’s time to get off.
How to get to Isla Mujeres from Tulum
Whether you are coming from Tulum Merida or Playa del Carmen, you will need to get to Cancun where you would catch the ferry at one of the above-mentioned departing points.
From Tulum, you have two public transportation options either by bus (ADO), direct to Cancun, or Colectivo, which you change in Playa del Carmen.
Otherwise, you can get a taxi for about 800 MXN, more expensive but more comfortable. It’s about 2 hrs, 30 minutes in ADO, and 2 hrs by Colectivo. 1h 30” in a taxi.
Check how to get from Cancun to Tulum to Cancun in detail.
How to get to Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen
From Playa del Carmen you will need to get to Cancun first and then to the Cancun Marinas to get the ferry. Take either the bus or the Colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Cancun ADO station and then a taxi to the ferry.
You will always find a taxi to take you back and forth from the Ferry to the bus station. Make sure you negotiate the price before.
Isla Mujeres Tours from Cancun
There are quite a bit of interesting Isla Mujeres day trips from Cancun either on a catamaran or a private yacht.
These are like guided tours organized by different local tour operators where you usually enjoy some snorkeling in the bright blue water off the coast of Isla Mujeres but you also have some free time to enjoy the island on your own.
I would recommend you check the previous reviews before booking yours.
Some tours also combine Isla Mujeres with Isla Contoy, another spectacular uninhabited island, a protected national park, and a natural paradise.
👉 Book one of the top-rated day trip tours to Isla Mujeres in advance!
How to get around Isla mujeres
Moving around Isla Mujeres is very easy. You can either rent a golf cart or a bike and have a nice tour around the island. Remember to bring water, especially in the humid summer season, but mainly all year round you will need to stay hydrated.
You can also ask your hotel concierge or reception to book it for you as they normally have the best deals.
If you are close to town, it’s best to just walk around and to the beach as it’s everything within walking distance, including the ferry terminals.
Bikes and golf carts are needed if you wish to explore the island and check out other beaches along the coast or try different restaurants.
When is the best time to visit Isla Mujeres?
In general, I believe it’s always a good time to visit Isla Mujeres, however, there are a few things you should know to better decisions about when it is the best time to go to Isla Mujeres for you
The winter months, from December through April, is the high season with Easter week being the peak season when prices are higher and the places are more crowded, but the water is cooler
In the summer months instead, the prices are lower and you will find warm waters to swim in the Caribbean Sea. Ironically it is also less crowded except for July and August when there is no school.
September through the end of October there is more chance of rain and even hurricanes, although rare.
Summer is also whale shark season for those passionate about wildlife and whales encounter.
Where to stay in Isla Mujeres
Your most elegant hideaway on the island, a design hotel, simple, chic, elegant, and right on the beach at a few minutes walk from the beautiful Playa Norte.
Hotel Secreto has it all, quiet, and simple, with astonishing views, exceptional service, and close to town and beaches.
The delicious breakfast is also served in your spacious contemporary rooms, including a sofa, iPod dock, and a plasma TV.
And if you wish to end your day with a relaxation massage you can enjoy the spa service of the hotel as well. Hotel Secreto has been selected by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as one of the 50 Best New Hotels in the World.
Check prices on Booking.com | Hotel.com
Zoetry Villa Rolandi – all-inclusive
Among the few All-inclusive hotels in Isla Mujeres, I would definitely choose Zoetry Casa Rolandi. It is one of the best hotels in Isla Mujeres.
I haven’t seen this property since it was rebranded, but I know very well the brand, which belongs to AM Resorts, a guarantee of quality among the Top All-inclusive Resorts.
Besides, you can also enjoy turquoise beachfront views and the tranquility of a small boutique hotel, rare to find among this type of property.
If you are looking for peace and quiet and planning not to leave the resort for your stay this is the place for you.
Check prices on Booking.com | Hotel.com
Icaco island village
Icaco island village is what I call laid-back luxury; cozy, minimalist, and sexy.
Although it is not located right on the beach, it still offers great views of the ocean on the eastern coast of the island and the concierge would organize everything for you: tours, romantic dinner, a private chef, or anything you need.
The rooms and public areas’ elegant interior design combines the modern white polished cement furniture and linen with wooden homemade decorations and finishes and fine art.
The cozy rooftop terrace and pool add up to the fancy style of the property.
Check prices on Booking.com | Hotel.com
Find a home to rent in Isla Mujeres
Sometimes I love to rent a place on my own, mostly an entire house, or apartment because I love to go grocery shopping and cook my own meal with fresh veggies and also because I have more privacy.
Renting an apartment is the perfect solution.
I have selected the most beautiful Airbnb in Isla Mujeres and other gorgeous apartments for different price ranges to help you find the best home for your Mexican vacation.
Also, you can navigate through the map here below to compare prices and select your place by location.
Visit Isla Mujeres FAQ
How much is the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres?
A return ticket to and from Isla Mujeres is 300, one way is 160 for adults 15 yrs and older or taller than 120 cm, and younger kids get a discount. You can pay either by cash (MXN or USD) or by credit card. You can check the schedule here.
Is it possible to take a car to Isla Mujeres?
It is indeed possible, but only from the Punta Sam ferry service, located just 10 minutes drive north of Puerto Juarez. You can check the price and schedules here.
You will need to arrive at least one hour before departure and buy your ticket before boarding.
Mind though, that it’s really not recommended to take a rental car to Isla, and pretty much a useless and time-consuming hassle.
Parking on the island is very limited and it’s much more enjoyable to get a golf cart or a bike to move around the island and walk around the tiny village.
What’s the weather like in Isla Mujeres?
The weather in Isla Mujeres is exactly how you would expect Caribbean weather, perfect for long sun-soaked days, boat tours, and watersport activities.
It’s summer all year round in Isla Mujeres. The only thing you should consider is the high humidity levels in the wet season from June through October.
That means more rain but it will be only a quick and passing shower to make your day hotter and more humid when the sun comes back :).
So make sure you pack light but always bring with you a strong sunscreen, better if eco-friendly, such as Raw Elements.
Is it better to travel to Isla Mujeres or Cancun?
This is a good question that requires a long answer and I’ve got you covered as well. In my detailed post Cancun vs Isla Mujeres, you will find some interesting comparison points that will help you understand which one of these two top Mexican Caribbean destinations is for you.
How many days do you need in Isla de Mujeres?
The number of days you’ll need in Isla Mujeres really depends on what you want to do and see. But generally, a good amount of time to spend there is around 2 to 4 days.
That gives you enough time to check out the beautiful beaches, have fun with water activities like snorkeling or scuba diving, and visit cool places like the Punta Sur Eco Beach Park or the Garrafon Natural Reef Park.
Plus, you’ll get a chance to try the local food and soak up the island vibes. Of course, if you’ve got more time, you can totally stay longer and make the most of your visit!
Is Isla Mujeres worth going?
Absolutely! Isla Mujeres is definitely worth visiting. It’s a small but stunning island located off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life.
In the above sections on the things to do in Isla Mujeres, you will find all the reasons why Isla Mujeres is worth visiting!
Which side of Isla Mujeres is best to stay?
It depends on what you are looking for. If you are a party animal you want to be in the town of Isla Mujeres near Playa norte, which is where the action is.
Otherwise, if you love peace and tranquillity you may want to choose different areas towards Punta Sur.
What’s the best month to travel to Isla Mujeres
If you are looking for lower rates and fewer crowds and decent weather you should choose the shoulder season such as April, or May.
September and October should be good too but there is more risk of bad weather.
If you like it when there are more people around and the best weather you will want to choose from December through March.
Can you swim in the ocean at Isla Mujeres?
Yes of course, in Playa Norte the water is very shallow and calm and there are no difficult currents.
On the Atlantic side, though it’s a bit dangerous and swimming is not advised.
Is it safe to walk around Isla Mujeres at night?
Isla Mujeres is a small island where everybody knows each other and there are a lot of safety measures taken.
However, some common sense and extra caution don’t hurt.
Especially if you are a solo female traveling, I would still avoid isolated dark roads at night and stay in the most touristy area.
What is the dress code for Isla Mujeres?
There is no dress code in Isla Mujeres. Everybody is very casual and chill. Flipflops and light clothing are usually the norms.
Is Tulum or Isla Mujeres better?
They are two very different destinations whose common features are amazing beaches and sun all year round.
Isla Mujeres is an island with all the limitations that it brings. Tulum has much more options, in terms of restaurants, places to stay, and things to do.
However, Isla Mujeres offers a more chilled and safe environment.
Is it better to stay in Isla Mujeres or Playa del Carmen?
The reply would be the same as above. More options in Playa del Carmen, but more chilled and safer in Isla Mujeres.
However, the climate would be the same.
Also, when is Sargassum time, Isla Mujeres beaches are usually clean.
Is the water clear in Isla Mujeres?
Yes, the seawater in Isla Mujeres is so crystal clear that looks unreal. That’s why snorkeling in Isla Mujeres is one of the best activities.
Things to do in Isla Mujeres: Final thought
Now you have an idea of what Isla Mujeres is like, a captivating destination embraced by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Whether you seek relaxation or outdoor exploration, Isla Mujeres is one of the best spots in the Mexican Caribbean.
I hope this guide was helpful to plan your trip. Please let me know if you have any questions! I’ll be happy to help!
About the Author
Hello there! This is Isabella, the author of this blog, and a cat lover. I am an Italian expatriate with a Mexican permanent Residence. After 7 years of living in Cancun, I have decided to leave my job and explore my beloved Mexico and the rest of this beautiful world, starting from South America, while sharing my travel stories and offering useful travel tips about traveling as a solo female traveler and digital nomad.