Have you got a weekend trip planned to the island? Join us as we take a three-day trip to Isla Mujeres this summer …
Are you wondering how to spend three days on Isla Mujeres and how to make the most of your time here? Stunning white sand beaches, gorgeous Caribbean views, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and so many incredible eating and drinking opportunities. There is a lot to be enjoyed and savored when exploring Mexico’s beautiful jewel of the Caribbean. Join us as we travel to the island in the sun, and spend three days exploring Isla Mujeres.
We will show you how to get here, what to do, where to go, what and where to eat and drink, and how to stay cool in the heat of Mexico’s summer … we have got you completely covered with our step-by-step trip, perfect for a cheeky, last minute get-away in the next couple of months.
Picture the scene: it's summer, you are sitting at your office desk, reading this blog, dreaming of white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, sitting with your feet in the sand and a cocktail in your hand, and you decide to look at flights for next weekend to Cancun, Mexico. Because why not? You find a last-minute deal, and you look for accommodation on Isla Mujeres … you go on a whim and book the flight and a hotel room for three nights, back in time for work the following Tuesday. Amazing. Now what? How do you make the most of your three days in Isla Mujeres? Is it going to be worth it? Well, we have the answer, and it is … MOST DEFINITELY! Find out how…
SOME TOP RECOMMENDATIONS:
Book transfers, golf carts, and trips in advance.
Stay in the island’s downtown area or close to downtown so that you are only a short walk to food, drinks, nightlife, and the beach, this will also help you to save time and money on taxis/transport. (Downtown is the north end of the island where you can find the ferry terminal, Playa Norte, and many of Isla’s bars and restaurants).
Ask your accommodation for an early check-in, or to store your luggage.
Guarantee space at beach clubs and restaurants by calling them ahead of time and making a reservation for beds and tables.
Stay hydrated - Isla Mujeres in the summer is HAWT, be sure to stay hydrated, fill your water bottle up at your accommodation, or buy a 5-liter bottle at the local corner shops (remember you can’t drink the tap water here).
Friday - Day 1 in paradise, arriving on the island, exploring via golf cart, cooling off, tacos, Mayan ruins, and cliffside adventures, with a gorgeous sunset to end the day:
The first thing to do upon arrival to Cancun is to get to the island. We recommend reserving your private transfer in advance to take the hassle out of your trip, making it easy, safe, and comfortable for you to travel, (the plush vans also have AC, which you will be so grateful for).
For those of you who don’t know, the ferry terminal is approximately a 30-minute drive from Cancun Airport, you can also book your ferry tickets in advance online, or buy them at the ferry terminal when you arrive. The ferries leave for the island every 30 minutes or every hour. Once on the ferry, head up to the top floor to take advantage of those stunning Caribbean blues that shimmer so proudly in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Enjoy the ocean breezes, glorious views, and possibly even some live music as you travel for 20 minutes from Cancun, arriving at Isla Mujeres where it is time for the fun to begin! Woo!
Golf Cart Adventures
Start your Isla Mujeres adventure in the best way possible! Rent a golf cart for the day in advance, and have it ready to pick up as soon as you step off the ferry. This is also a good way to transport your luggage to your accommodation. If you are arriving in the morning, ask your accommodation beforehand if you can store your luggage with them, or even if an early check-in is available. Check-ins are usually from 3 PM and you don’t want to be carrying your bags around until then if you’re on the island early, but in case you have to, remember to pack lite.
Once you have your cart, and you’ve sorted out your bags, it's time to jump straight in and go cruising. Drive your hot wheels around the island, and enjoy those gorgeous Caribbean breezes and beautiful island views.
Head down to Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres’ south end of the island, and stop off at the beach club, Kin Ha, where you can take a refreshing dip in their pool or even jump from the end of their dock, with a rope swing that you can use to drop into the sea. Cool off with a drink at their swim-up bar, they have a range of cocktails and cold beers on offer, (as well as soft drinks - remember to get one for the driver - Isla Mujeres has a zero-tolerance policy on drink driving, so make sure to have a designated driver).
Is it time for lunch yet? Travel further south along this road and stop in at Rancho “Capricho”, where they claim to have the best tacos on the island … we can’t argue with this statement! They are a firm favorite of ours, with some great varieties on offer. We love the arrachera, fish, and shrimp tacos. They are so tasty and cooked to perfection, dressed with delicious salsa on top. And this location is not just a yummy taco stop, they are also a working ranch, with horses, geese, and other farm animals that you can go to see.
Why not walk off your lunch at the farthest and highest point of the island? At the end of Punta Sur, you will find El Templo de Ixchel, the Mayan ruins of a temple dedicated to the Mayan Goddess of fertility, Ixchel. No trip to Isla Mujeres is complete without a trip to the cliffs of Punta Sur, paying to enter to see the Mayan ruins, and the recently installed statues depicting Mayan traditions and culture. Walk to the end, and down the stairs where you can walk around the cliff paths, with some amazing views of the bay between the island and Cancun.
On the way back if you have time, why not go into the Women’s Beading Co-op and take a look at their handmade accessories and jewelry, and learn about their story.
Dinner and Sunset
Return the golf cart, and if you're staying out of the downtown area get the bus or a taxi to your vacation rental or hotel for a short break and to refresh yourself before the evening.
Watch the sunset with a cocktail downtown at the beautiful restaurant and beach club Marina Bartolome, where they benefit from some gorgeous views of the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Stay here for a delicious dinner, they have some fresh, and OH so yummy seafood options available, we recommend their grilled salmon with red chimichurri, as well as their lobster bisque. Once you have eaten check out Avenida Hidalgo, Isla's main bar and restaurant strip, and stop in for a cocktail or two at Los Mariscos de Humo. Head back to your accommodation for an early night, ready for your early morning tomorrow.
Saturday - Day 2 in paradise, going on a Caribbean safari - swimming with whale sharks, dinner and island nightlife
Summers on Isla Mujeres provide the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the planet’s biggest fish. A visit to the island would not be complete without seeing the whale sharks, book a trip on this memorable encounter before you travel to the island so that you are guaranteed a spot on a great boat for this amazing day trip. The whale shark season only runs from May until September, so summer is the only time that you can experience this magical tour and get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.
Your day will start early at approximately 7/8 AM, where you will meet your experienced, bilingual guide and your boat captain, and you will get your mandatory life jacket and board your boat, before embarking on your adventure. It is recommended to take a motion sickness tablet in the morning (even if you don’t usually get seasick), as the boat sits in the middle of the ocean bobbing in the waves while viewing the whale sharks for a couple of hours, and this can sometimes cause motion sickness even for the sturdiest of tummies (you can buy these in the pharmacies on the island). The boat ride out is about 45 minutes to an hour north from the island to the area where the whale sharks are feeding, there isn’t an exact time as you are on a safari, hoping to view and swim with these wild, gentle creatures.
Once your captain and guide have found the whale sharks it is time to get your cameras ready to get some incredible photos! You will be given the chance to jump into the sea (two people at a time, with the guide), and swim alongside these beautiful fish, viewing them in their natural habitat, marveling at them as they glide through the water feeding on the plankton in the area. Depending on the size of the group you may be allowed to jump in more than once. And if you are lucky you may even see manta rays in the area as well. With even more luck dolphins, sailfish and turtles have also been known to be seen on this incredible trip, so remember to keep your eyes open on the boat and in the water.
After this amazing experience, it is time to head back to the island, where you will stop at Playa Norte, and have some free time on the boat, to swim around, or relax on the boat and catch a tan while your guide makes you some delicious ceviche (seafood cooked in lime juice) - yum!
Relax, and unwind on the beach, or explore some of the shops downtown
Your wonderful trip with the whale sharks will be over by early afternoon, which allows you some time to relax and unwind before Saturday night on Avenida Hidalgo. Why not go back to your accommodation and refresh yourself? Then head back out again for some free time - go to the beach and relax on a towel or sarong on the sand. Why not go for a massage? Or have a pamper and get your nails done or a pedicure at Diosa Tropical. There is also an abundance of shops to explore, go for a spot of souvenir shopping downtown … check out El Negrito Boutique, Gianeti Apothecary, Peluches de Bordego, Hippie Market, and Galeria Elemento Arte for some unique and in some cases handmade clothing, accessories, home decorations, toys and more. And while you’re out exploring we highly recommend stopping into paradICE-CREAM for some yummy pre-dinner gelato in the island’s main square.
Dinner, drinks, live music, and dancing…
Have you got Saturday night fever? Why not head to Xantolo for dinner? This authentic Mexican restaurant is located on Avenida Hidalgo, Isla Mujeres’ main bar and restaurant strip. Here they have a live salsa band every night, and it usually gets pretty busy at the weekend, with a buzzing atmosphere. They also have a delicious dinner menu. We recommend getting some appetizers to share to kick off your evening such as stuffed jalapenos, cheese sticks, and guacamole …yum! Our mouths are already watering. For dinner, they have some great options available, with some favorite Mexican options that not only include tacos, but also Yucatecan ribs, barbacoa de picana, and Michoacan carnitas. For those in your group who prefer something different, they also have pizzas, plates of pasta, steak and seafood, and more. All to be washed down with some delicious cocktails from their menu … try one of their margaritas, some of the best on the island, with flavors such as the mango and tamarind, or the watermelon and jalapeno margarita… and now its time to start dancing. Stay at Xantolo for a while to practice your salsa dancing, watch out for street entertainment also, these guys are great, from dancing, to mariachi, to acrobatics, and more. For more live music you can also check out El Patio, stop into Rock Bar on the way for an arm of five lemon drops, or tequila shots for MXN 100/ approx. $5. And finally, if you are a karaoke lover, why not head to Stingray to sing a song or two, or watch others? If you’re looking for more electronic music, and a bit more of a party scene on a Saturday night, there is also usually a DJ and a party at the beach bar at the downtown hostel - Selina.
Sunday - Day 3 in paradise, relax and unwind with a Sunday Funday on Playa Norte
Wakey wakey! It's Sunday morning in paradise and your last full day on this three-day trip! Kickstart your day with a delicious breakfast! If you’re a meat eater, you can’t come to this region of Mexico on a weekend without having a Sunday morning breakfast of cochinita pibil. This is a Mayan-influenced dish traditionally served on Sunday mornings in Mexican family homes in the region, it is available at the market downtown, as well as at some stands close by, by the post office. Get there early, they can run out by 10 AM. Get a cochinita torta or some tacos. Cochinita pibil is a slow-roasted pork dish, you can sometimes smell them beginning to cook it on the Saturday before. If you are not a meat eater, go to one of the economic kitchens loncherias in the market and get something yummy and for a great price from there for breakfast, check out Letty’s, Tacos Tumbras or Loncheria Alexia y Geovanny. If you need to energize a little more, grab a coffee to go from Rooster on Avenida Hidalgo.
Now that you have woken up, eaten, and energized, it's time for Sunday Funday! Get a bed at Green Demon Beach Club on Playa Norte, where you can enjoy food and drinks throughout the day underneath the Mexican sun. Refresh yourself throughout the day by taking dips in the shallow, crystal-clear waters of this beautiful beach. Enjoy live music and a DJ at this great spot, and make sure to stay for the sunset! The sun sets directly in front of Playa Norte during the summer, and you can witness one of the most beautiful sunsets here (in our opinion). Reserve a bed at Green Demon Beach Club for a Sunday in advance to guarantee a space.
After you have witnessed the gorgeous island sunset at Green Demon, it's time for dinner, and we have a recommendation for the perfect end to your beautiful, and fun day on the beach ... with dinner on the beach at another beach club - Mayan Beach Club.
However, Mayan Beach Club is not just another beach club. At night it transforms into a lovely and fancy dining experience on the white sand, perfect for your last night on Isla Mujeres. You can also witness the gorgeous sunset from here. Enjoy dinner with your feet in the sand, under the twinkling lights with the sound of the waves. This is a very romantic spot that you can share with your other half or even with your family, or friends. Check out their seafood platter, or the delicious surf and turf. Their flavors and ambiance are just wonderful. After that, head back to Hidalgo, and go to some of your favorite bars and dancing spots from the night before... Sunday nights are just as fun, and sometimes even busier and more buzzing than Fridays and Saturdays ... enjoy your last night!
For one last stop in the morning, we recommend breakfast at North Garden before you leave the island. Check out their chilaquiles with a bloody Mary or a mimosa, one of their bagels or island-famous benedict dishes … you will leave full, and won’t be disappointed.