Cancun Without Crowds: Unveiling the Best Things to Do in Isla Mujeres!

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Isla Mujeres in Mexico may not be as bustling as its neighbour Cancun, but it has plenty to offer. This tiny Caribbean island was once a secret sanctuary for Mayan women seeking love and fertility blessings. Now it’s the ultimate escape from the city’s chaos. Let’s dive into the best things to do in Isla Mujeres and unlock the secrets of this laid-back island.

Leave touristy Cancun behind with a quick 20-minute ferry, it will transport you to a pretty island with gorgeous beaches.

Leave touristy Cancun behind with a quick 20-minute ferry, it will transport you to a pretty island with gorgeous beaches. Grab your sunscreen and a sense of adventure because Isla Mujeres has more tricks up its sleeve than a magician at the beach party!

 

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What is the best way to get to Isla Mujeres?

Isla Mujeres from Cancun

Three ferry companies whisk travellers regularly across the azure waters from Cancun to Isla Mujeres (as of February 2024). Ultramar, Xcaret Xailing (both regular passenger ferries) and Ultracarga offer regular departures from Cancun to Isla Mujeres – the last company is mostly for vehicles. Every company has different departures, some are every 30 minutes, while others are only every hour.

 

How to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun’s Hotel Zone:

If you stay at Cancun’s Hotel Zone, just hop on a city bus to the port. From there, you can pick from 4 departure points to catch a ferry to Isla Mujeres. These are Punta Sam (the only car ferry), Puerto Juárez, Gran Puerto or Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

If you don’t want to leave Cancun’s Hotel Zone, the Ultramar ferry sails to Isla Mujeres from Embarcadero Pier at km 4, Playa Tortugas at km 7 and Playa Caracol at 9.5 km. Xailing Ferry company departs from El Embarcadero Pier at Km 4 of the Cancun Hotel Zone.

Feeling adventurous? Why not opt for an alternative transportation from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Join an organized catamaran tour or double-decker party boat ride to the island instead.

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GOOD TO KNOW:

Remember, arrive at least 30 minutes before departure time. You can purchase your ferry tickets online or at the ferry terminal.

 

The Ultramar ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres costs 540 Mexican pesos (USD 32) for a round-trip ticket for an adult as of February 2024. Don’t forget – an adult is everyone taller than 120 cm. Xcaret Xailing charges approximately 29 USD for the same (as of February 2024). And guess what? With your Xailing ticket, you get free entry to the Cancun Scenic Tower for some bonus sightseeing!

Once you’ve made it to Isla Mujeres, all ferries will drop you off in the heart of the downtown, just a short walk from the Playa Norte beach. Our suggestion? Explore the island and its hidden gems first, then rest on the famous Playa Norte beach. 

 

things to do in Isla Mujeres

Playa Sol

 

Getting around Isla Mujeres 

Getting around Isla Mujeres is a breeze! Walking is your best option if you are sticking to downtown and Playa Norte. But if you want the full island experience, ditch the pedestrian pace and rent a golf cart or a scooter. This way, you can explore the southern point of the island, where you can find a pretty lighthouse and the Mayan ruins of Ixchel.

 

TIP:

Driving on Isla Mujeres is simple. Just follow the main road circling the island.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Renting a golf cart starts around USD 23 per hour, USD 44 for two hours or about USD 55 until 5 pm (as of February 2024). Need it longer? No problem! Daily rates start from USD 68, gas included (as of February 2024). There are plenty of shops which offer this service. 

 

10 of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Discover the top activities that make Isla Mujeres a hidden gem. Let’s dive into the best things to do in Isla Mujeres and unlock the secrets of this pretty island. With countless day tours and excursions available, your only limit is your budget. 

 

1. Swimming with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres

things to do in Isla Mujeres: Swimming with whale sharks is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres because they are an endangered species and the largest fish in the world. That's why it's an experience of a lifetime.

Jump in the water with a tour guide and swim with whale sharks near Isla Mujeres. These incredible sea creatures are the largest fish in the world and can reach lengths of 12 metres (39 feet). But don’t worry; these massive sharks feed on the tiniest creatures in the sea – plankton.

 Snorkel peacefully above them in a group of two at a time and enjoy this unforgettable experience. You can book this once-in-a-lifetime experience anywhere on the island. Take a guided tour, which includes transfer, lunch and drinks, for around USD 160 (as of February 2024).

 Swimming with whale sharks is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres if you are an adventurous traveller. Make sure you don’t miss that because swimming near these endangered species is an experience of a lifetime.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Swimming with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres is a seasonal experience. These peaceful giants visit the water around the island during the summer. Therefore, plan your trip during the whale shark season (from June until mid-September).

 

Is swimming with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres an ethical experience?

 Snorkelling with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres ensures minimal disruption to these majestic creatures. Guided tours maintain a safe distance, allowing for peaceful observation without causing stress or harm. Remember, only two people can swim with them at once (ensuring their safety).

 

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Choose an eco-conscious tour company to ensure an ethical and also sustainable experience.

 

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2. MUSA underwater museum in Isla Mujeres

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©aquaworld.com

 

Isla Mujeres may be famous for swimming with whale sharks, but the island offers much more. Did you know Isla Mujeres has a few snorkelling sites? One of them is the MUSA Underwater Museum – it’s one of the most ambitious underwater attractions. 

MUSA is the largest underwater museum in the world, created to encourage visitors to explore alternative areas near Isla MujeresThis artificial reef, composed of many life-sized sculptures, helps to promote coral growth. The project takes the pressure off the nearby reef.

Snorkelling in the MUSA Museum is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres because this underwater sculpture park is one of the world’s largest artificial reefs. And here’s a juicy part: this unique museum with art installations scattered offshore encourages coral reef development. 

There are 12 different galleries you can choose from. Head for a snorkelling tour or scuba dive and uncover incredible sculptures, from cars to people, at the bottom of the ocean. If you are not keen to snorkel, you can view the sculptures on a glass-bottom boat tour. 

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • It isn’t possible to view the MUSA underwater museum on your own. It’s because the galleries are not close to the shores. Some sculptures are 3 to 4 metres (10 to 13 feet) deep, others around 8 metres (26 feet) deep. The deeper locations provide perfect opportunities for a shallow dive. 
  • Expect to pay around USD 60 for a 4-hour MUSA underwater snorkelling tour from Isla Mujeres. Diving tours are a little more expensive – they start at USD 125 for certified divers or USD 165 for those without any certificate.

 

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3. Other snorkelling sites in Isla Mujeres things to do in Isla Mujeres: Did you know the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is home to the second-largest coral reef in the world? That's why snorkelling is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.

Did you know the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is home to the second-largest coral reef in the world? It stretches from the northern tip of Yucatan near Isla Mujeres to Belize, Guatemala, and also Honduras. That’s why Isla Mujeres is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts. The island has calm waters and numerous snorkelling sites. However, some are better than others.

Some popular snorkelling sites in Isla Mujeres are Playa Garrafon, the Manchones Reef, Bahia Mujeres, MUSA and also El Farito.

 

  • El Farito snorkelling site

El Farito, on the northern side, is one of the most popular snorkelling sites on Isla Mujeres.

El Farito

 

El Farito, on the northern side, is one of the most popular snorkelling sites on Isla Mujeres. It has shallow waters, which are perfect for somebody who hasn’t done much snorkelling in the past. It’s ideal for beginners to see schools for colourful fish and requires only a short 5-minute boat ride.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Many locals take tourists out for snorkelling to El Farito. Head towards the ferry terminal (or the beach), and you will find somebody looking for tourists. And here is a fantastic part – you don’t need a reservation and the equipment, they provide everything. Expect to pay around 700 Mexican pesos (USD 40) for the El Farito snorkelling tour (refreshments and snorkel equipment included).

ome popular snorkelling sites in Isla Mujeres are Playa Garrafon, the Manchones Reef, Bahia Mujeres, MUSA and El Farito.

 

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  • Garrafon Park

Another popular snorkelling site in Isla Mujeres is Garrafon Natural Reef Park at the southern tip of Isla Mujeres. However, you should know that many of the corals at this park are dead. It’s the result of hurricanes, boat anchors and too many tourists. This famous park provides fun activities such as zip-lining, climbing, and Temazcal. They also offer unethical swimming with dolphins in captivity. 

Snorkelling is very limited here, and they sell overpriced tickets. Therefore, we decided to skip this expensive attraction as we think it is not worth the price of admission (starting at UDS 74 as of February 2024).

TIP:

Be a responsible traveller and consider where you want to spend your money. 

 

  • Manchones Reef

things to do in Isla Mujeres: Did you know the Manchones Reef ranks among the top 35 snorkelling places in the world? That's why snorkelling and diving at the Manchones Reef is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.

Did you know the Manchones Reef ranks among the top 35 snorkelling places in the world? This beautiful reef is only about 10-minute boat ride from Isla Mujeres. And the best part? It provides perfect opportunities for snorkelling and diving. The reef is full of coral reefs, but the water deeper here. It’s 15 meters (49 feet) up to two kilometres deep. 

 

4. Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres

things to do in Isla Mujeres: Did you know Playa Norte Beach has been named one of the best Caribbean beaches? That's why relaxing on Playa Norte is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.

Playa Norte

 

Did you know Isla Mujeres’s Playa Norte Beach has been named one of the best beaches in the Caribbean? Playa Norte, or North Beach in English, is a haven for beach enthusiasts. It has calm shallow waters and soft white sands. This beach, lined with resorts, beach-side bars and restaurants, is ideal for swimming or relaxing in the shade. That’s why finding Playa Norte Beach is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres.

 

best things to do in Isla Mujeres: Visiting Playa Norte is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres because it's one of the most popular beaches on the island.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Playa Norte is one of the most popular beaches on the island. It’s only a short 10-minute walk from the Ferry Pier and the downtown. Therefore, it attracts hundreds of beach lovers every day, both locals and tourists.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

While the Yucatan Peninsula has a problem with seaweed, the Isla Mujeres beaches remain seaweed-free.

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5. Watch the sunset

There are many amazing things to do in Isla Mujeres, and enjoying the sunset is undoubtedly one of them. As the sun dips below the horizon, Playa Sol and Playa Norte offer prime seats for the spectacular sunset. But remember, Playa Norte tends to get crowded, especially during peak season. 

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

 For a calmer experience, head to the neighbouring Playa Sol. This tropical beach with swaying palm trees, pristine white sands and turquoise waters is a haven for locals and tourists. And the fantastic part? During the high season, live bands often play reggae, salsa and other lively tunes, adding the ambience.

 

6. Punta Sur

best things to do in Isla Mujeres: Heading to Punta Sur is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres because it's a popular place to watch a sunset. Also, you'll find here breathtaking views of the rocky coastal cliffs, a lighthouse and the Mayan ruins of Ixchel.

No trip to Isla Mujeres would be complete without a visit to Punta Sur. This beautiful location on the island’s southern tip promises an unforgettable experience. Punta Sur is only a 25-minute ride from downtown by golf cart. Here, nature offers breathtaking vistas of the rocky coastal cliffs. Sculpture gardens and a lighthouse crowning Punta Sur are also the highlights.

But that’s not all – you can even find the remains of a Maya temple of Ixchel here. These partially restored pre-Colombian ruins are a testament to Mayan culture. The locals dedicated this sacred site to the Mayan goddess of fertility and the moon.

 

TIP:

Heading to Punta Sur in the late afternoon is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres because it is a popular place to watch a sunset. It’s the ideal time to witness nature’s canvas with sunset hues, making it one of the must-dos in Isla Mujeres.

 

7. Isla Contoy

things to do in Isla Mujeres: A day trip to Isla Contoy is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres because it’s a protected national park. This tiny island is a VIP bird haven and an important nesting place for sea birds in the Mexican Caribbean.

©islamujerestrips.com

 

Hop on a boat from Isla Mujeres and get ready to explore the untouched paradise of Isla Contoy. This uninhabited island is just a stone’s throw away and requires only a short boat ride. Tiny Isla Contoy has shallow waters, pristine white sandy beaches as smooth as a baby’s bottom and beautiful hiking trails. 

But hold onto your sunhats – here is a juicy part: Isla Contoy isn’t just any old island – it’s a protected national park. It’s a VIP bird haven and an important nesting place for sea birds in the Mexican Caribbean. Frigate birds, turtles, pelicans, cormorants and other species call this island home.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Now, here’s the catch: eco-tourism rules apply here. Only a handful of tour companies get the golden ticket to organize trips to this protected national park. Only 200 guests can visit the island daily, and securing a spot requires some savvy planning. But trust us, a day trip to Isla Contoy is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres. It’s a bucket list experience, so pack your snorkel and binoculars because this adventure is calling your name! 

 

8. Explore the centrum 

explore the centre of the island

When you’re not soaking up the sun, take a stroll through the island’s centre. Compact Isla Mujeres Centre has the perfect balance between quaint charm and lively energy. As you wander, music fills the air, especially along Avenue Hidalgo. This charming pedestrian-only street stretches for several blocks in the heart of downtown. It has laid-back vibes – you will find it hard to tear yourself away.

Avenida Hidalgo is a bustling hub of activity with shops selling souvenirs, tour operators, hostels and markets to explore. And the best part? Avenida Hidalgo truly comes alive at night. Remember – come here for a few hours in the evening to soak in the island’s unique atmosphere. And don’t forget to pause for a drink (or two) while enjoying live music in downtown Isla Mujeres.

 

9. Admire the wall murals

Did you know Isla Mujeres is not just about sun and sand? This laid-back island is also home to some seriously stunning street art. Artists from all over the globe have splashed their creativity here. They painted the vibrant sea murals not just for fun, but to tell a tale of marine species facing extinction. Need a local guide? No problem – they can tell you more about the artist and the mural backstory. Dive into the art scene of Isla Mujeres – it’s like an underwater adventure, but on land!

 

10. Join a Yoga Class

take a yoga class

Would you like to stretch and connect with your mind and body? Join a yoga class and get some exercise during your getaway! There are many places in Isla Mujeres which offer yoga classes. One place which stands out is the Treehouse, overlooking beautiful Playa Norte. Classes run six days a week, Monday to Saturday, in the morning at 9 am. There are even evening classes on Tuesday – Thursday at 6 pm.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Prices for a yoga class hover around USD 20 (300 Mexican pesos) as of February 2024. They cover everything from yoga mats to cleansing wipes. So, whether you’re a yogi or just starting your journey, don’t miss the chance to stretch in this tropical paradise.

 

Now you know what to do on Isla Mujeres in Mexico!

 

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things to do in Isla Mujeres Mexico.

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Last updated: 12/02/2024

 


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