In stark contrast to Cancun, Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) is a laid-back, simple and comfortable island where visitors go to relax and take part in a wide variety of water sports.
The feel here is tranquil, rustic and easy-going. You can count on the hotels being comfortable, without the commercialization of their Cancun counterparts.
People who travel to this island tend to live out an experience involving some water-based adventure or just relaxing completely on the island’s soft white beaches next to the deep turquoise-blue waters.
It’s also a top destination for honeymooners and couples who want to spend quality time together. Families do holiday here as well, although they tend to day-trip from the mainland as a week or two permanently on the island may prove a bit too quiet for the energetic.
Day-trippers from Cancun arrive on ferries during the day and make the island a hive of commercial activity as they wander around the town, shopping, eating, drinking and haggling with the numerous souvenir and crafts vendors. The beaches are also busier during the peak daytime hours as they too, fill up with the day-trippers. But when the evening ferries leave, the island calms down and returns to its natural serene and tranquil state.
If you want to experience a fervent night life, glitzy hotels and a faster pace, stay in Cancun, across the water. But if you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a place to relax, unwind, dive, snorkel, swim and enjoy some wonderful sight-seeing, silky white sand beaches, accompanied by a tranquil and restful atmosphere then head for Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres Beaches
Now called Playa Norte, this beach is the best (and most popular) on Isla Mujeres. Soft, white sand and turquoise-blue waters greet you and set the perfect scene for sunbathing, swimming and relaxation.
Honeymoons on Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is one of the preferred destinations for couples going on honeymoon in Mexico. The island offers tranquility, privacy and a number of excellent hotels. Once the day trippers leave, the island’s character changes and becomes more serene and romantic. The island provides rest and intimacy as well as access to a number of activities and easy access to Cancun (a short ferry trip across the water) for more activities and day trips to places like Chichen Itza, Tulum, Coba and Xel-Ha Water Park.
See Also: Weddings and Honeymoons in Mexico
A good place to snorkel on Isla Mujeres is Playa Garrafon (see below for details) where you’ll be treated to views of brilliantly colored tropical fish. Another good place for snorkeling is the Machines Reef and Bahía Mujeres (Women’s Bay). Both locations require boat transport out, and this can be arranged locally.
Fishing from Isla Mujeres
Fishing trips can be arranged locally with the boatmen’s co-operative. The costs can be shared by grouping together with other people and include a boat & crew, equipment, bait, food and refreshments. See Also: Sports Fishing in Mexico.
Swim with Dolphins on Isla Mujeres
Isla mujeres offers you an opportunity to swim with doplhins in a specially-design sea-water enclosure—distinct from a swimming pool, where most doplhin swims take place. Consult the Mexperience Tours and Acitivies page (see below) for details and to make reservations. See Also: Swimming with Dolphins in Mexico.
Access to Isla Mujeres is by ferry from Cancun and other docks along the Rivera Maya. Ferries make frequent crossings and take only 15-20 minutes each way.
By Ferry – You can board a ferry to Isla Mujeres from five main places on the mainland:
- Puerto Juarez 1.5 miles north of Cancun (most common / popular)
- Punta Sam 3 miles north of Cancun
- Playa Linda at Cancun
- Playa Tortuga at Cancun
- Club Nautico Dock at Xcaret
Taxis – Taxis are not metered on the island, so agree your price before you get in. Taxi travel is very affordable in Mexico, in comparison to the USA, Canada and Europe, and so provides a viable means of public transportation in Mexico. Your hotel can arrange taxis for you; some post their rates on a board in the lobby; taxi hotel rates are usually higher than cabs you hail off the street. If you speak Spanish, you will have a distinct advantage and be able to negotiate a price with the driver. For detailed information, read the Mexperience guide to Taxi Travel in Mexico.
Golf Carts – Many people on the island get around on golf carts; they are clean and quiet, and because the island is quite small, they are very effective. They are not expensive to rent and make an ideal vehicle to explore and get around the island during your visit. There are a number of special rental agencies along the main street, near the market.
Moped / Bicycle – As an alternative to a golf cart, you can also rent a moped or pedal bike to get around the island. Because the island’s traffic is limited, riding a bicycle is relaxed and safe.
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Telephone: Connect to the Communications in Mexico page on Mexperience for detailed information about keeping in touch and the latest table of national dialing codes.
Exchanging Currency: Banks with ATM machines can be found in the downtown area of the island, close to the main port. During business hours, they and the Casas de Cambio will buy traveler’s checks and cash from you as well. For detailed information about exchanging and managing your money, read the Mexperience guide to Money in Mexico.
Travel Insurance: We recommend that you are adequately covered with travel medical insurance and/or travel assistance insurance when you are visiting Mexico. Read the Mexperience guide to Travel Insurance in Mexico for full details and links to specialist insurance suppliers.
Internet Access: Internet cafes can be easily found in towns and cities across Mexico and WiFi is increasingly commonplace–from cafes, shops, hotels, and some cities even offer free WiFi in some defined public spaces.
Busy Times: Because of its location and appeal, the tourist season on the island is a little different to that of other places on the Yucatan Peninsula. The most expensive months are December to the end of May. If you want to save money, go between June and November. The island can get quite busy during the daytime but calms down again in the evening and night when the day-trippers from the mainland and the nearby island of Cozumel leave.
Snorkel Safety at Playa Garrafon National Park: At times the water on the snorkeling reef at the national park can get a bit choppy, making snorkeling difficult or perhaps dangerous. If you’re not a strong swimmer, don’t venture out too far; although most of the reef is shallow, there are some steep drops.
Bucaneros. International, Argentine food. Hidalgo, No. 11, Centro. Tel: (998) 8770126
El Sombrero de Gomar. Mexican food. Av. Hidalgo, No. 5, Centro. Tel: (998) 8770509
El Nopalito. Vegetarian Food. Av. Guerrero, No. 70, Centro. Tel: (998) 8770555
Although Isla Mujeres is not strictly speaking a party town at night, you can get some entertainment when the sun goes down on the island at local bars and restaurants.
If you want clubs, loud bars and all night dancing, you’ll find these in abundance across the water in Cancun.
A barrage of vendors will be out in force trying to sell you an array of crafts including rugs, glassware, onyx and silver as you arrive on the island and as you wander around elsewhere. Isla Mujeres is not really a place to shop for anything specific other than jewelry (see below), although with all the eager ambulant salespeople, some bargains on Mexican arts and crafts can be struck—and prices can be lower than those in Cancun or Cozumel.
Isla Mujeres is known for its jewelry, and you could take home a fine piece of craftsmanship from here—be it a ruby, sapphire or diamond. Loose stones may be bought if you prefer and then crafted into fine gold and silver jewelry to your specification.
The climate on Isla Mujeres is very much like that of Cancun: hot and humid, but the humidity is not as drenching as it can be in some other places in Mexico. July through October is hurricane season in this part of the world, and the weather becomes more changeable and less predictable during these months. The rainy season is May through October.
Weather & Climates in Mexico
Learn more about the weather and climates through the seasons and regions by connecting to the Mexperience guide about Weather and Climates in Mexico