ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO
Modern Isla Mujeres is a beautiful blend of cultures, with its Mayan roots, Spanish influence, and the international community. Aside from the pristine beaches and the beautiful greenery, the people of the island are truly what makes it so special. The fishing culture is alive and well on Isla, and most people dedicate their lives to sharing the wonders of the sea with visitors through scuba diving, snorkeling, wingdiving, fishing tours, whale shark expeditions, and much more.
Due to its proximity to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest coral reef system in the world, and the turtles that visit every year to nest, there is a strong push for ecological sustainability and marine conservation. Tortugranja, in the Sac Bajo peninsula, specialize in the protection of momma turtles, eggs, and hatchlings during the nesting season (July to October), and fund their programs with help from the thousands of visitors who come to see their aquariums, turtle care facilities, and educational installations.
Although the island may be famous for what lies off its coasts, there is much to do on land, as well. Isla Mujeres boasts various historical and archeological sites, including the temple to the goddess Ixchel in Punta Sur, where you can see the first sunrise in all of Mexico (due to its eastern-most position) and walk along the rocky paths leading to and from the ruins. During turtle mating season (May to June), you may even be able to spot some happy terrapin couples from the cliffs!
Isla Mujeres is proud to boast some of the top-ranked beaches in the world, and the #1 ranked beach in all of Mexico. Between the crystal clear water and the bright white sand, the ocean appears turquoise close to shore, fading to a beautiful inky sapphire farther off the coast where the seagrass begins. On Playa Norte (North Beach), you’ll find lots of shade underneath the hundreds of palm trees that sway in the wind. Just make sure to look up and check for ripe coconuts! Falling stars are a beautiful sight to see during new moon nights on the island… Falling coconuts, not so much!
The island is also home to a wide-array of gastronomic delights that will thrill even the pickiest of palettes. From hole-in-the-wall mom&pop taco joints to gourmet, fine dining on the sea, you’re guaranteed to find your treasure in this foodies’ paradise.
Another plus of the island is its proximity to Cancun, where you can book a tour, rent a car, or take a bus to the numerous other spots-to-see in the Riviera Maya. Quintana Roo is home to three other well-known islands besides Isla Mujeres: Isla Holbox, Isla Contoy, and Cozumel. Cozumel is no doubt the largest and most-developed of the islands and is a cruise ship hotspot, but despite its bustling downtown, there are still many natural areas to see and wonderful places to surf! Isla Holbox is quiet and charming, its streets still made of sands. Isla Contoy is a nature reserve with some amazing birdwatching opportunities.
Cancun itself has some great activities. You can surf the waves at Plaza Forum, enjoy the lush landscapes and the wild tejones in Parque Kabah, or go see a movie in Plaza Las Americas. Cancun has a vivid youth culture and art scene, as well. The Casa de Cultura is always buzzing with activity, and there’s always a new local band or an art exhibition to find.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MUJERES FROM THE CANCUN AIRPORT
This is the cheapest option, though it can be a little more time consuming. First you take an ADO bus from the airport (look for signs as you're walking out), to the station in downtown Cancun. The bus is air conditioned and currently priced at about $5USD per person. From the bus station, you have a few options. You can find a local taxi and haggle a price to the ferry, should be another few dollars total, not per person. Alternatively, you can find a convi (minivan) or local bus that goes to the ferry which costs about $0.50USD per person. It's about a 10 minute ride from the ADO station to the ferry terminal.
This is a much simpler option, and you can book a round trip ticket back to the airport. You can pre-book online or once you arrive at the airport. They can also include the ferry ticket in the price, to make your experience easier. All you do is look for the uniformed driver holding a sign with your name and enjoy the ride. The average drive from the airport to the ferry is about 25 minutes without traffic.
UltraMar Ferry - Puerto Juarez
The most popular ferry company to get to the island is UltraMar which leaves from Puerto Juarez in downtown Cancun. The ride is about 20 minutes long and they leave every thirty minutes during peak hours, once an hour at night. To see the schedule, click HERE. They are very punctual, so make sure you get there a few minutes early to buy a ticket. Buying the round trip option may not save you any money, put it will save you time on your return to not have to wait in line to buy a ticket again.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MUJERES FROM HOTEL ZONE
GETTING TO THE FERRY
You've got a few options to reach the ferry if it's not within walking distance to your hotel. First, you can ask your resort if they happen to offer a shuttle service to reach the terminal. If they don't, the easiest way is to take a taxi. Prices can vary depending on how far you are from the terminal. You can have your front desk call for one or stand on the main road and one will stop shortly. Make sure you agree on a price before getting in. Prices should be for the ride, not per person. The second option is to take the city bus. Depending on where you're staying, you should be able to take the R1 or R2 buses to reach the terminal. Ask at your front desk to make sure you take it in the right direction! About $0.75USD per person.
There are two ferry stations in the hotel zone. Lock at THIS map to find the closest one to you. They are both run by the same company, UltraMar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Isla Mujeres Info
How far is Isla Mujeres from Cancun?
Isla Mujeres is 8 miles (13 km) North East from Cancun.
How long is the ferry ride? Is there a lot of space?
The ferry ride from Cancun to Isla Mujeres and back is approximately 20 minutes. The ferry is spacious, however, we recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before your desired ferry to make sure you get a spot, as it can sometimes get busy.
Can I exchange pesos at the Ultramar ferry terminal in Cancun?
No, there is currently not a currency exchange at the ferry terminal in Cancun. However, at the Ultramar ferry terminal in Isla Mujeres there is a currency exchange.
Can I buy medicine on Isla Mujeres?
Yes, there are several pharmacies located around the island where you can buy medicines that you need. (You may need a prescription for certain medications).
Is there a grocery store on Isla Mujeres?
Yes, there are several grocery stores on the island. The largest grocery store is Chedraui, located mid-island. You can also find Super Aki, a smaller grocery store in the main plaza in downtown Isla Mujeres, and one in Colonia La Gloria. There are also smaller convenience/corner stores dotted around the island with essentials (look for the signs that say SIX).
Is beach access free?
Can we drink beer on the beach?
Yes, you can take your own alcohol to the beach. If you are at a beach club, you will not be able to consume your own alcohol. Remember to use the trash cans provided afterwards to keep our beaches clean!
Can I smoke cigarettes on the beach?
Yes, you can smoke cigarettes on the beach, use ashtrays provided at the beach clubs, or clean up after yourselves when not at the beach clubs, using the trash cans provided.
Where can I buy cigarettes on the island?
Most convenience stores, supermarkets, and corner shops sell cigarettes.
I am traveling solo, what is the best transportation on Isla Mujeres?
If you are traveling solo, you can rent a Golf Cart or scooter, or even a bicycle to explore the island at your own pace. You can also travel via a taxi or on the local bus.
I am traveling with my family, what is the best transportation on the island?
If you are traveling with your family a Golf Cart is probably the best option, (for up to 4 people) or you could all rent bicycles. The taxis can take 4 people maximum, or there is the local bus.
If I get sick is there a local doctor on Isla Mujeres?
Yes, in the unlikely event that you need a doctor while on Isla Mujeres, there are several English speaking doctors you can visit, or who can do house calls to your accommodation if you need.
Is there a hospital on Isla Mujeres?
Yes, there is a public hospital on the island.
Can I bring CBD products from home to Mexico?
There are laws in place which restrict you from bringing products from your home country to Mexico.
Is cannabis legal in Mexico/on the island?
Cannabis is illegal on Isla Mujeres, and throughout Mexico.
How is the internet access on the island?
As we are located on a small island in the Caribbean, off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres’ internet sometimes suffers from bad/flaky internet access due to tropical weather, and when there are lots of people using it on the island. This is the perfect time to disconnect and enjoy Isla Mujeres!
What is the local currency on Isla Mujeres? Can I bring USD?
The local currency on Isla Mujeres is Mexican Pesos. You can use USD, but many places make their own exchange rate. You can change USD to Mexican Pesos at locations downtown in Isla Mujeres.
Where can I exchange USD to Mexican Pesos on Isla Mujeres?
You can exchange money downtown - at the ferry terminal in Isla Mujeres, at Elektra white good store, or at one of the banks (HSBC, Banamex and Cibanco)
Can I take money out? Are there ATMs on the island?
There are several banks in downtown Isla Mujeres, including HSBC, Banamex and Cibanco, which have ATMs inside. You can also find ATMs in the grocery stores - Super Aki and Chedraui.
Do I need a passport or a visa to get to Isla Mujeres?
If you are coming from another country (USA, Canada, Europe etc.) to Mexico you will need a passport to enter into Mexico at the airport/border. You will also need to fill out a visa form before you enter which they will check with your passport at immigration when you arrive. Here you will be issued your visa for your stay for maximum 180 days (KEEP THIS SAFE in your passport during your stay).
Do I need a license to drive a golf cart?
Can my 12-year-old son drive the golf cart?
No. Anyone driving the golf cart must have a valid driver’s license. For your safety and the safety of others, and the community on the island, please be responsible while driving the golf cart and do not allow your child to drive or steer the vehicle.
I had a couple of beers with lunch and feel fine, can I drive the golf cart that we rented?
No. Do not drink and drive on the island. There is zero alcohol tolerance on drinking and driving on the island (on golf carts, scooters and in cars). This includes having open containers in the golf cart. Choose a designated driver who will not drink while out exploring the island. And do not have any open bottles, cans or containers of alcohol while on the vehicle, if you are stopped by the police they can fine you and/or take the vehicle away. There are often random checkpoints set up around the island, and police are constantly patrolling in their vehicles. These rules are in place for your safety and the safety of others on the island.
Can I drink the tap water while on the Isla Mujeres?
No, it is not recommended to drink mains-supply water, this can make you sick. Buy bottled water or drink from the garaffons available at your accommodation this has been purified and is drinkable. Ice on Isla Mujeres has been made from purified water.
Why are there signs saying not to put paper down the toilet? What do I do with the paper? What can go down the toilets?
What is the extra cost that has been added to my bill at the bar/restaurant?
Check your bills carefully. Some places may add a ‘suggested tip’. Others may add on the tax to the total separately, (the item price shown on the menu usually shows this while the bill may not), don’t be afraid to ask or to check a menu.
How much should I tip at the bars and restaurants?
Tips in bars and restaurants is recommended at 15% (plus). Check that a ‘suggested tip’ hasn’t been added onto the total, before tipping twice. Check bills carefully!
How many people are allowed on a scooter?
Maximum 2 people are allowed on a scooter, despite what you may see. If there are more than 2 people you will be stopped by the police.
Do I need to wear a helmet on a scooter?
Yes. Both the driver and passenger on the scooter must have a helmet, this is a legal requirement in place for your safety. If you are not wearing a helmet, you will be stopped by police.
How many people are allowed on a golf cart?
There are 4 person and 6 person golf carts available to rent on Isla Mujeres. You should stick to the maximum capacity. If you have more than 4 people on a 4 person golf cart, the police can pull you over.
How can I fish on the island?
Yes there are tours that go out where you can fish. Including Sport Fishing, Deep Sea Fishing and Bay Fishing.
Where can I swim on Isla Mujeres safely?
Are there yoga classes on the island?
Yes, there are yoga classes available on the island. There are several great teachers on the island who can provide private lessons or have schedules at some great spots, including on the beach, with views of the Caribbean, and more.
Can I surf on Isla Mujeres?
If you are an experienced surfer, there are some spots along the Caribbean coast where you can surf when the tide is right. There is nowhere to rent boards, if you have your own you can go out opposite the gas station, but be aware that there is a strong tide here and it is very rocky.
What language is spoken on the island?
Spanish is the primary language on Isla Mujeres, however, due to the amount of tourists that visit the island many people can speak English.
Can I bring my pet to the island?
Yes, you can travel with your pet to the island. Dogs and pets are allowed upstairs on the Ultramar Ferry. When you are on the island there are several accommodation options that allow animals. Also there is a dog beach along the Caribbean side of the island, especially for your four-legged friend to enjoy the Caribbean.
What public transportation is available on the island?
Taxis are very easy to catch on the island. Prices vary depending on your location and destination. There is also a local bus that you can catch on the main roads along the island.
What vehicles are available to rent on Isla Mujeres?
Golf Carts are the most common form of rental vehicle on Isla Mujeres. You can also rent scooters or bicycles.
Is there live music?
Yes there is live music on the island. There are several bars and restaurants that have live music.
What time do the bars and restaurants close?
Closing times depend on the license that the business has on the island. During the current contingency of COVID-19. Businesses have to be closed by 12am, (update 09/02).
We want to dance and party, where can we go?
Right now during the current contingency for COVID-19 partying is not possible in the normal places. Many places do not allow dancing inside the bar/restaurant due to social distancing.
I would like to get my nails done, is that possible?
Yes, there are places where you can have pedicures and manicures on the island.
Is there someone to do my hair and makeup on Isla Mujeres?
Yes, there are hair stylists and makeup artists on the island.
Are there dentists on the island?
Yes, there are dentists on the Isla Mujeres.
Are there any dangerous insects or animals on the island?
Can I bring a rented car over from the mainland?
Yes you can bring over a rented car, on the car ferry, from Cancun.
Can I take shells and coral when I am snorkeling/diving and take it back home with me?
No, help us to protect our oceans and underwater world, unless it is human produced trash, please do not remove anything from the sea or our beaches. Please do not touch the sealife or coral when snorkeling or diving.
I see a lot of dogs in the street, are they strays? And how do I adopt one?
Most of the time, the dogs in the streets on Isla Mujeres do have owners, they may not be wearing a collar, but usually have been allowed out to roam for the day. If you are looking to adopt a dog or a cat from the island, you can go to Isla Animals or Delfino’s Veterinary Clinic, who can help you to adopt an island animal that needs a home.
What are some activities to do on rainy days on the island?
While we have many sunny, beautiful days on Isla Mujeres, there are also days with bad weather and/or rain. On these days there are some activities that you can do including cooking classes, art classes, bead making workshops etc.