At 7km in length and just 650m in width, you’d be forgiven for missing the tiny Isla Mujeres on a map. Located West in the Caribbean sea and found in the state of Quintana Roo, this little island is not quite as insignificant as it may seem at first glance.
Home to a population of nearly 23,000 inhabitants, the island thrives solely on tourism. Fortunately, this means that there are many things to do in Isla Mujeres. Its year-round warmth welcomes visitors in their hundreds of thousands annually, and you don’t even have to step foot in the place to understand why.
From the beaches to the Mayan heritage, the attractions to Isla Mujeres make it one of the most sought-after destinations in all of Mexico. So whether you are planning on spending just a day on the island or an entire month, it’s unlikely that you’ll be stuck for ideas.
If anything, Isla Mujeres, Mexico has such a vast number of opportunities that most tourists and holiday-makers end up having to prioritize their agenda. To help you narrow it down and plan an itinerary for your trip, this post will run through some of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.
Where is Isla Mujeres, Mexico?
Isla Mujeres, which translates to “women island”, is located in the Yucatan Peninsula part of Mexico. It’s a five-hour drive from Merida, the State of Yucatan’s capital, or 1hour and 20 minutes from the popular destination of Playa Del Carmen.
But those looking to visit Isla Mujeres will be better suited with the Cancun map since it is an island off of Cancun’s coastline. Visitors from the US should fly to Cancun’s bustling international airport, which is the second busiest airport in all of Mexico, handling almost 23 million passengers in 2021.
Since it’s located just six miles from the mainland, the Cancun ferry to Isla Mujeres is the most popular way to complete the journey. The standard public boat ride costs just $9.50 one way, or $17 for a return, but of course, private transportation is also available. It takes around 20- 30 minutes, and the schedule runs every half an hour between 5.00 am and 11.30 pm.
Those looking for the best places to stay in Cancun will have already heard about the magic of Isla Mujeres, which is why it’s also a popular day-trip destination for holiday-makers and digital nomads alike.
The island offers a totally different vibe to Cancun, dubbed Mexico’s “party capital”. While Cancun is all about the fiesta lifestyle, visitors come to Isla Mujeres to escape the buzz and experience a relaxing and serene environment that involves swimming in crystal clear tranquil waters.
Isla Mujeres Map
When planning your trip to las Isla Mujeres, it can be helpful to break the island down into five main areas:
Playa Norte, or North beach, is the most popular beach on the Island. It is located on the North-Eastern headland of Isla Mujeres. From here, you can easily spot the mainland and take yacht, catamaran or other boating trips.
This is the downtown area of the island and is widely regarded as the best place to stay, as visitors in this area have easy access to many of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres. Here, you’ll find supermarkets, ample restaurants and, of course, the Selina Hotel.
This is a residential district in the center of the island, containing the areas of La Gloria, Miraflores and El Canotal, for example. While we’d usually suggest staying in a residential area for a more authentic cultural experience, Isla Mujeres is built solely on tourism so residential areas will not have the typical cultural benefits.
Punta Sur directly translates to South Point, so it’s no surprise that this area describes the southernmost tip of the Island and the end of Quintana Roo. It’s also considered the most easterly point in the entire country as this location is the first to see the sunrise every morning in all of Mexico.
Sac Bajo is a thin strip of land that runs separately from the rest of the island. Visitors to this area are blessed with the luxury of quiet, but it can get boring very quickly.
Simply scan the QR code to explore more of the Isla Mujeres Map through Google Maps and become acquainted before your trip.
Day Trip to Isla Mujeres from Cancun
Thousands flock to Cancun every year to experience the buzz of an all-inclusive resort-style vacation. Many of the Isla Mujeres all-inclusive resorts are just as beautiful but totally underrated.
Therefore, for those staying on the mainland, a day trip to Isla Mujeres is a great way to stay in the hustle and bustle of Cancun without missing the tranquility of the island. Taking the earliest ferry and latest return will give tourists over 16 hours on the island, which is plenty of time for exploring.
Guests who find themselves wanting to stay longer than a day or weekend (trust us, it’s more common than you think), the Selina Isla Mujeres location is an idyllic setting. Patrons of Selina Cancun need only to visit the tour desk in order to benefit from a door-to-door shuttle service between the two Selina locations.
How to get around Isla de Mujeres
There are a number of ways to travel between areas and events on the Isla de Mujeres. Here are some fan favorites:
Fortunately, not only is a golf cart one of the cheapest ways to commute between places on Isla Mujeres, but it’s also one of the coolest. Isla Mujeres rentals do require a driver’s license in order to secure a buggy and can fit up to four people per vehicle, or six if you order an extra-large.
The typical day rate for golf cart hire is around 800 MXN pesos ($40), but some places offer half-day or hourly rates too. Those planning on staying longer may be able to access further discounts for a weekly or monthly rental rate. Beware, golf carts are an incredibly popular form of transportation and will likely be booked up in advance.
Dreaming of a jam-packed vacation without the effort of organizing every minute of your trip? Shuttles around Isla Mujeres take you from door-to-door in the bliss of cooling air conditioning AND are one of the most reliable ways to commute the island.
If you’re looking to book a tour to snorkel with sharks or visit the turtle conservation project, there’s no need to look anywhere other than the Selina Isla Mujeres tour desk.
Although it’s only a small island, taxis do exist on Isla Mujeres and tourists can secure hourly or daily prices, depending on the itinerary. Just be aware that taxi cabs around Isla Mujeres can become expensive, so always agree on a price with the driver, or get the meter turned on, before sitting down.
There are sidewalks almost everywhere on Isla Mujeres, so walking can be a great way to see parts of the island that are close to your accommodation. Keeping hydrated will be essential, as this part of Mexico can get extremely hot in the summer months.
Want to walk but less time to waste?
Bicycles are everywhere on Isla de Mujeres, and are equally as popular as the golf cart options, but much cheaper. Standard rates for bicycle hire sit at around 200 pesos ($10) per day, but again, you will find discounted rates for longer hire. Selina Isla Mujeres can help you with bike hire for the entirety of your trip.
Again, since it can get incredibly hot on the island, remember to bring water and try not to stay in direct sunlight for too long.
Best Things to do in Isla Mujeres
Without further ado, let’s get into 13 of the best things to spend your time doing when you reach Isla Mujeres.
Translating to “North Beach”, Playa Norte is well-regarded as one of the best beaches on the Island, and even in the whole of Quintana Roo. Its white sandy shore combined with crystal clear waters make it a clear favorite destination for travelers.
This Isla Mujeres beach is close in proximity to the Centro area, making it only a stone’s throw away from Selina Isla Mujeres. Convenience aside, it faces the North-Western edge of the island which is ideal for a sundowner with friends.
The Musea Subatico de Arte (MUSA) is a highly innovative interactive museum- found solely underwater. Explorers can choose to scuba dive down into the museum, which is found off the coast of Islas Mujeres. The gallery of underwater sculptures is filled with objects like cars, hands and people.
For those without their PADI license, snorkeling is also an option. Then again, travelers who prefer to stay dry need not skip the underwater museum in Isla Mujeres, with many of the stone relics available for viewing through a glass-bottom boat. Dive entry to the MUSA costs around $100, with snorkeling at about $70 and boating experiences costing between $50-70.
Snorkel in the Garrafon Reef Park
The Garrafon Reef Park is located close to Punta Sur, on the south end of Isla de Mujeres. In this park, you’ll find multitudes of colorful coral reefs to snorkel around and search through. But to say this is ‘just a snorkel’ park would be the understatement of the century.
The Garrafon Reef park also offers cultural experiences, such as temezcal ceremonies, which are known as prehispanic healing baths, led by indigenous peoples. Moreover, visitors to the Garrafon will find ‘el pueblo Caribbean’ (the Caribbean village) and ‘el Templo de Ixchel’, a Mayan temple.
Entry to the park costs $19 and includes entry to the pool and buffet, with guests able to upgrade to VIP packages depending on the activities they desire.
Hire a Golf Cart
Every traveler, no matter whether they’ve chosen to explore the island by foot, bicycle, shuttle or taxi, should save a day for the golf carts. With most Isla Mujeres rentals found in the Centro area, they’re easily accessible and widely available.
Tourists can drive all over (except for the beaches!), exploring all of the secrets Isla Mujeres has to offer. Quick note: beware of the one-way streets and unpaved roads on the Caribbean side as this can be dangerous to navigate.
Of course, the usual rules of the road apply here, with drivers required to hold a full license and be more than 18 years of age. Hire is open for individuals, couples, groups of four and up to groups of six.
The central market, also known as Mercado Municipal, is found in the Centro region of Isla Mujeres. The market is brimming with stalls of colorful garments, souvenirs and the best authentic food of Mexico Isla Mujeres has to offer. The “juice lady”, as she is affectionately known, is a fan favorite, so be sure to grab some freshly squeezed fruit juice as you enter the markets.
How about a boat trip to add to your island itinerary?
A catamaran around the island offers a different perspective to the typical Isla Mujeres guide, with many tour companies offering all-inclusive ‘booze cruise’ style half-day or day trips. This is a must-do activity.
The average price for a catamaran trip ticket is around $100, but large private groups can hire their own boats and crews for the day. So, grab some friends and spend the afternoon exploring hidden coves and jumping into the turquoise waters surrounding this beautiful island.
Explore Mayan Temples and Ruins
Ixchel Temple is found on the southern tip of Isla Mujeres, in the midst of the Punta Sur area. It’s a cultural heritage site, originally built for the Mayan God of fertility, ‘Ix Chel’. Therefore, people still visit the temple today to be blessed with feminine and healing energy.
Entry to the temple can be paid for through the Garrafon Park entry ticket, which is mentioned earlier. Although the remains have been damaged by time and the occasional hurricane, some of the structures have been partially restored for visitors to admire.
Additionally, the Punta Sur lighthouse next door is an excellent spot to snap that Instagram-worthy shot of your travels to Isla Mujeres.
Visit La Tortugranja Turtle Farm
If you’re a fan of marine animals, a stop by La Tortugranja in Isla Mujeres is a must-do on any trip to the island. The turtle farm turned sanctuary is a government-owned institution dedicated to protecting, caring for, and breeding endangered sea turtles who are usually killed by poachers for their meat. The sanctuary also helps rehabilitate injured or sick animals – sometimes you’ll have a chance to see dolphins in there – and then releases them back into the wild for a new chance at life.
Visiting La Tortugranja – which translates to The Turtlefarm – is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres. Educational, fun, and exciting, a visit to the famous Tortugranja on the Island is a great way to get excited about working toward protecting these beautiful creatures in the future.
Swim at Playa Sol
Looking for a hidden slice of heaven? Head over to the ferry terminal, where you’ll find the secret beach of Playa Sol nearby. In reality, it’s just down the end of the main beach at Playa Norte, but this beach sees significantly fewer visitor numbers than its prettier sister.
As long as seaweed can be tolerated, this beach is a great alternative to the crowds at Playa Norte. With plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby, it makes the perfect quiet place to swim and relax before grabbing a bite for lunch or dinner.
The diving spots in Isla Mujeres are unparalleled- with tons of reefs and caves to explore. While visitors can dive in the best cenotes in Tulum on the mainland, Isla Mujeres offers a totally different underwater experience.
Dive sites, including the Bandera Reef and Sleeping Sharks Cave, expose tourists to monumental aquatic scenes, such as barracuda, crabs and bull sharks. Fortunately, Selina’s Isla Mujeres location hosts the only on-site dive and accommodation center in the whole of Latin America, making it a great place to think about getting qualified.
Eat, sleep, yoga repeat. Start your day the right way with free yoga classes every morning at 8am on the Selina deck.
Overlooking the serene waves, our instructors can adjust the intensity levels to suit the abilities of the class. Stay cool while working out on our outdoor deck among the sea breeze and experience the tranquility of Hatha Yoga classes. This experience is as much about the mental state as the physical ability- great for those looking to ground themselves in the new environment.
Eat at the best restaurants in Isla Mujeres
A quick google search will tell you that the best Isla Mujeres restaurants depend on your culinary preferences. Those looking for well-priced local Mexican food, such as tacos or burritos, will find some of the best grub on the street or at the local markets.
However, visitors to Isla Mujeres who want more of an upscale eating experience might prefer seafood restaurant Fish & Gin, or Limon Restaurant, which is known for its steaks. Both are on the pricier side, but are not unreasonable for the quality you receive.
Snorkel with Whale Sharks
Those visiting the island between the summer months of June- September will hit the whale migration season head-on. For some, snorkeling and swimming with these magical sea creatures will be a lifetime experience, certainly one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.
These gentle giants are filter feeders, which means that they only consume tiny fish and other living matter like plankton- making them totally safe around humans. This type of intimate experience will set you back around $120-$150 per person, with a guide and equipment provided.
Isla Mujeres Mexico FAQ's
Where to stay in Isla Mujeres, Mexico?
There are plenty of places to stay in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. However, if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop that includes an outdoor pool, garden, on-site seafood restaurant, buzzing bar, and even a coworking space, your best choice is the Selina Hotel Isla Mujeres. Located just steps from Playa Norte, Selina has different accommodation options suited to every budget – from community rooms to suites and deluxe lofts – as well as a running list of events and wellness classes to make your stay on the island as good as can be. Traveling with a pet? Selina Isla Mujeres is also pet-friendly!
When is the best time to visit Isla Mujeres?
Although the weather is quite warm and sunny throughout the year, the best time to visit Isla Mujeres is between January and April. During these months, the skies will be mostly clear and temperatures will reach an average high of 29ºC/84ºF. This means it won’t be too hot, and you’ll have a chance to explore the island without suffering from too much heat and humidity. However, if you’re hoping to visit the island for a chance to swim with the whale sharks, the best time to visit Isla Mujeres is between June and September when the tours are running officially.
Is Isla Mujeres better than Cancun?
Between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo Mexico has a variety of activities and lifestyles to offer. Those looking for the party or “spring break” vibe would likely prefer Cancun, since it’s the unofficial fiesta capital of Mexico, with loud music and plenty of alcohol within reach.
Alternatively, Isla Mujeres offers a more idyllic setting, quieter and better for relaxing. Isla Mujeres beaches and wildlife easily outweigh that on the mainland, and the Mayan temples are great for visitors that want more of a cultural experience.
What is the temperature in Isla Mujeres?
The average year-round temperature in Isla Mujeres is 79 Fahrenheit, but the location does have defined seasons throughout the year. Typically, there is a dry season between December and April, with a wet season lasting between May and November.
However, Isla Mujeres also has a hurricane season, with most of the stormy weather occurring in September and October. Therefore, while it’s the cheapest time to visit, it may be best to avoid Isla de Mujeres during these months.