The 10 Best Things to Do in Isla Mujeres Mexico
If you’re traveling through Mexico or planning to visit sometime in the future, you’ve probably heard about the paradise island that is Isla Mujeres. Just a few kilometers from the coast of Cancun, this stunning island is a must-do for travelers looking to disconnect from the buzz of a big city and relax in nature. But what is Isla Mujeres like? And what are some of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres? Read on to find out!
In this guide, we'll take a look at:
- 1. Enjoy Quality Beach Time
- 2. Snorkel in the Crystal Clear & Warm Caribbean Waters
- 3. Snorkel with Whale Sharks
- 4. Visit the Underwater Museum
- 5. Go Scuba Diving
- 6. Explore the Island By Golf Cart
- 7. Visit Punta Sur and Ixchel Temple
- 8. Taste Traditional Mexican Food
- 9. Visit a Turtle Farm
- 10. FAQs
Enjoy Quality Beach Time
The beautiful island of Isla Mujeres is well-known among travelers and locals for its picture-perfect white-sand beaches with the clearest water you’ve ever seen. Lined with palm trees and perfect for a day of soaking up the sun, the beaches in Isla Mujeres are a beach bum’s dream. We suggest you head over to Playa Norte, on the northern tip of Isla Mujeres, for a day of relaxing on the sand with a good book in hand. Lined with beach chairs and just a few steps away from a row of mouthwatering local restaurants, Playa Norte is exactly what you see when you think of a Caribbean paradise.
Then, just a 10-minute walk from Playa Norte, the beautiful Playa Sol beckons visitors who are hoping to catch a first-row seat to Isla Mujeres’ stunning sunset. Grab a drink, sit by the water, and enjoy the changing colors of the sky as the sun begins to set.
Snorkel in the Crystal Clear & Warm Caribbean Waters
With its clear waters, Isla Mujeres is known for being one of the best destinations for ecotourism activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling. Surrounded by impressive reefs and a colorful collection of underwater sea life, snorkeling in Isla Mujeres is one of the best activities on the island.
It’s hard to name the best place to snorkel in Isla Mujeres, as there are many, but one of the top picks for some underwater fun is Garrafon Reef Park. Here, you can either explore the reef alongside a guide on your own – and there’s always something (or someone!) waiting for you beneath the surface. There are different packages you can choose from with different activities, so check out their website to pick the one that best suits your needs!
Snorkel with Whale Sharks
Between the beginning of June and mid-September, local and international visitors flock to Isla Mujeres (and the Caribbean coast of Mexico) for an experience unlike any other: swimming with the whale sharks. These incredible creatures can grow up to 12 meters (40 feet) long and rise to the surface on the coast of Isla Mujeres due to the warm summer temperatures to feed off of plankton and fish eggs.
If you’re hoping to go snorkeling with the whale sharks in Isla Mujeres, there are tons of different tour companies that will take you out to sea on one of their boats. These usually include a small breakfast, coffee, all the snorkeling equipment, and wetsuits. These tours usually cost around $125+ – if you see a tour for much cheaper, they might not be a legitimate company!
Visit the Underwater Museum
Just off the coast of Isla Mujeres, between the island and Cancun, the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA) is a must-do activity for lovers of adventure, conservation, and art. The museum is made up of 500 subaquatic sculptures and installations created by British artist Jason De Caires and other Mexican contributors. Aside from being an incredible underwater sight, the museum also promotes wildlife preservation by acting as a fertile landscape to make up for previously lost reefs. Fish and other creatures have built their homes on and inside the statues – made from pH-neutral marine concrete – and continue to breed and grow safely.
Visits to Isla Mujeres’ underwater museum cost between $47USD for a glass-bottom boat tour and $140USD for a diving tour that doesn’t require visitors to be certified.
Go Scuba Diving
If you’re hoping to go scuba diving near Isla Mujeres, you’re in luck! The island’s azure waters are the perfect place to get certified for the first time or to continue your scuba diving journey. The island has a few spots dotted around that are great for year-round diving experiences brimming with mantas, sea turtles, whale sharks, and smaller types of creatures like colorful fish. Plus, there are options for both advanced and beginner divers to enjoy the sights.
Some of the best spots on Isla Mujeres for scuba diving include Manchones Reef, Media Luna, Hool Reef, and Bandera Reef. If you’re an advanced diver looking for a little more adventure, we also suggest checking out Sleeping Sharks Cave. Located away from the dive spots on the island, this mysterious cave is home to different species of sleeping sharks – hence its name – as well as sea turtles and manta rays.
Explore the Island By Golf Cart
Although there are many things to do in Isla Mujeres, it’s actually a very small island. Approximately 7 kilometers (4 miles) long, the best way to explore the island and its main attractions is by renting a golf cart and driving yourself around.
Golf cart rental in Isla Mujeres costs about $40USD for a full day and requires a valid driver’s license. You must sign an agreement before taking out the golf cart, and the rental company will keep your license until you return in the evening. Hiring a golf car in Isla Mujeres is definitely worth it for visiting hard-to-access spots and if you want to see as much as possible in one day of exploring. The streets of the island are quite narrow, which means hitting the road on a golf cart is the easiest, most relaxing, and fun way to dive headfirst into everything Isla Mujeres has to offer! The drive around the island only takes about an hour, which means you’ll have plenty of time to stop for photos, food, and souvenirs on your trip. Some of the best places to access on your golf cart are Playa Norte, the Tortugranja Turtle Farm, and Punta Sur. Plus, having a golf cart also means you can venture outside of the main town for a taste of the quiet Caribbean charm!
Visit Punta Sur and Ixchel Temple
Like the name says, Punta Sur is located on the southernmost tip of Isla Mujeres. The area also the highest part of the island, standing at 20 meters above sea level. With incredible views of seaside cliffs, crashing waves, and Mayan ruins, Punta Sur is a must-see on your list of things to do in Isla Mujeres. The only way to access Punta Sur is through Garrafon Reef Park, which means you must pay the entrance fee. Don’t worry, though, the ticket also includes other activities such as snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding depending on the package you choose.
Punta Sur is also home to the remains of an ancient Mayan temple dedicated to Ixchel, goddess of the moon, happiness, and fertility. 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 is also an excellent spot to snap that Instagram-worthy shot of your travels to Isla Mujeres.
Taste Traditional Mexican Food
No trip to Isla Mujeres would be complete without indulging the senses with some mouthwatering Mexican food. Although small, the island has a lot of options for every type of traveler to enjoy a delicious meal – even the pickiest eaters! First of all, it’s worth noting that Isla Mujeres, like most places in Mexico, is divided into colonias or districts. These are the different neighborhoods around the island and one of the ways locals might direct you if you ask for help.
With this in mind, some of the best places to eat on Isla Mujeres include: La Lomita, located on Avenida Juárez, known for its delicious black bean soup and traditional Mexican dishes at an affordable price; Taquería Medina, on Avenida Hidalgo, known for having the BEST tacos on the island (if we had to pick, we’d choose the tacos al pastor); and Reuben’s Restaurant, on Calle Vicente Guerrero, known for all of their mouthwatering seafood dishes, refreshing lemonade, and specialty margaritas.
If you’re hoping for a more authentic dining experience, we suggest you head over to the main square once the sun begins to set. At dusk, dozens of street food carts line around the square with everything from tacos to sweet marquesitas. The food is affordable, delicious, and it makes for a local experience unlike any other!
Visit a 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 also a great way for traveling families to teach their kids about the importance of conservation and taking care of the planet. Educational, fun, and exciting, a visit to the famous Tortugranja on Isla Mujeres is a great way to get them excited about working toward protecting these beautiful creatures in the future.
Where to stay in Isla Mujeres?
There are plenty of places to stay in Isla Mujeres. 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!
How to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun?
In order to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun, you need to take the Ultramar ferry that departs from Puerto Juarez, just a few minutes away from downtown Cancun. The ferry leaves every half hour between 5 AM and 9:30 PM. After that, they depart every hour until 11:30 PM. The crossing from Cancun to Isla Mujeres takes roughly 15 minutes. You can purchase a one-way ticket for about $8USD or a roundtrip ticket for about $15USD.
What is the best time to go to 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?
A lot of people wonder if Isla Mujeres is better than Cancun and the answer is: they’re both quite different. Cancun is a much larger city, and more widely visited by tourists from all around the world. This means it tends to be a lot more crowded, louder, and the traffic can be a little intense. Meanwhile, Isla Mujeres has still managed to preserve its tranquil Caribbean charm although it has grown in popularity. The island doesn’t have many cars, which means traffic is a lot easier to handle, and the nightclubs or bars don’t tend to be as intense as they are in downtown Cancun. All in all, deciding if one is “better” than the other depends on the type of experience you’re after. If you’re looking to party a little harder and stay in a big city, Cancun is right for you. However, if you want to disconnect for a few days and get in touch with nature, Isla Mujeres is calling your name.