Isla Mujeres is a small island just off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. The island is especially popular amongst day-trippers, even though there is so much to do and see. I can’t stress enough how much of an island paradise Isla Mujeres is and I highly recommend staying here a bit longer. That’s why I created this ultimate Guide for Isla Mujeres in 2021 that includes the best things to do as well as some of the most amazing restaurants and bars.
Isla Mujeres really does seem to have it all! There are amazing beaches like Playa Norte or Playa Centro, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets (WHAAAAT), and a Mayan temple right by the ocean. You get amazing diving, migrating whale sharks, and some of the brightest and bluest waters you can ever imagine. You can find yoga classes and co-working spaces as well as amazing food, and amazing people. It basically has all the things that make Cancun wonderful without having all the things that make it horrible. That’s why Isla Mujeres is one of the best experiences in the Riviera Maya!
Without further ado, let’s just jump right into everything you need to know about Isla Mujeres. Here’s the Ultimate Guide for Isla Mujeres in 2021.
Best Time to Visit Isla Mujeres
Weather-wise, I’d say that December to March are the best months to visit. There’s no rain and temperatures are pretty mild. As of April 2021, the island did not seem too busy which makes it pretty easy to stick to Covid safety measures. Whale shark season is from June to August but keep in mind that it gets considerably hotter and more humid. Rainy and hurricane season is from August to November, which is definitely something to keep in mind when planning your trip to Isla Mujeres.
Is Isla Mujeres safe?
My answer to this will always be the same: Make sure to use common sense wherever you go and you’re usually pretty safe. Pickpocketing can happen anywhere, no matter if you’re on Isla Mujeres, in Munich, or somewhere in the US. I would never get involved in anything illegal (like drugs) but that’s common sense for me. Other than that, I’d say it’s pretty safe on the island. Check out this article on how to stay safe for more tips
Getting to Isla Mujeres
Getting to Isla Mujeres is super easy. It’s only a 20-minute ferry ride from Cancun (note that this might be one of the most beautiful ferry rides you will ever find yourself on). Ferries from Cancuns’ Puerto Juarez leave every 30 minutes and cost 380MXN (that’s about 15€ or 21USD) for a roundtrip. There are ferries leaving from the Hotel Zone in Cancun too, but they seem to be a bit more expensive. As of now (April 2021) Ferries run every day from 7 am to 9 pm.
Arriving on Isla Mujeres
You will arrive in the northern part of the island, so make sure you know where your hotel/hostel is located. Everything on the northern part is walkable and won’t take more than 10 minutes to get to. If you’re staying in the southern part of Isla Mujeres, just grab a taxi to get there. There’s a taxi stand on the left right next to the ferry port and Taxi prices are pretty reasonable. A ride to the southern part of the island costs 100 MXN, so make sure you’re not getting scammed 🙂 I stayed close to Playa Norte, simply because I love being able to walk to the beach and really freaking enjoyed it.
Accommodation on Isla Mujeres
You will find any kind of accommodation on Isla Mujeres- from cheap hostels to super nice 5 star hotels. For me, the Selina on Isla Mujeres is an absolute paradise and the right fit. The hostel is located right on the beach and offers very affordable dorms but also pretty comfortable private rooms. They also have a pool, yoga classes, and a coworking space. The privates are also affordable and super nice and definitely interesting if you’re planning on staying here longer (also, I feel like they should sponsor me so I can check out other locations too haha).
Getting around on Isla Mujeres
The island itself is very narrow but pretty long. If you’re staying in the north, you can easily walk from one side to the other in about 5 minutes. It is about 6km long, however, and there are a couple of things you can do to get from one end to the other. A lot of people like to rent out a golf cart or scooter to get around the Isla Mujeres. Make sure to have your driver’s license with you because otherwise, they won’t rent it out to you. Prices range from 600MXN (about 35USD/30€) for a scooter and 1000MXN (50USD) for a golf cart.
If you don’t want to spend that much, you can also just hop on one of the many taxis. A one-way trip to the south of the island will cost you 100MXN. Alternatively, you can also hop on of the local buses that go south and only pay 20MXN (1USD) per way. You can basically just stop them in the middle of the road whenever you see them and get on them:) Just remember that there is no set schedule for the buses, so you might be waiting a bit until the next one arrives.
10 Best Things to do on Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is so much more than just pretty beaches, although that IS one gigantic part of why I love this island so much. You can go swimming with whale sharks (seasonal), go snorkeling, discover an underwater museum while diving or eat some of the most amazing Mexican and Seafood you will ever have tried in your life.
Let’s have a look at all the greatness this island has to offer:
1. Relax on the many beaches on Isla Mujeres
One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive on the island are the freaking gorgeous beaches and the clearest waters you might ever see.
Isla Mujeres has a couple of beaches with different vibes but all of them are pretty exciting and definitely worth checking out. Here’s a quick overview of my favorites from north to south):
1. Playa Norte
Playa Norte is probably the most known beach on the island and also my absolute favorite beach to go to. While it can get pretty busy here later in the day and especially during weekends, there is still plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the turquoise and super clear water. The water is super calm here and oftentimes very flat, which means it’s very suitable for any age group. There are numerous beach bars located on the beach, but they did an amazing job at spreading them out and leaving a biiiig stretch of sand so that it does not feel overrun. Playa Norte is absolutely perfect for a chill day under palm trees.
2. Playa Centro
Playa Centro is the beach that you basically arrive on. While it is lined with restaurants and bars for about 200meters, you will eventually find the stretch that’s not horrible and you will want to see it, especially during morning hours (between 8 am ro 11am) as well as for sunsets. The further you walk to the right-hand corner of the beach, the prettier it will get (that’s also where the photo above was taken).
3. Playa de la Media Luna
Although you can’t swim on this beach, I really enjoy it for a walk and during the early morning hours. The hostel/hotel Selina is located right on the side of the beach and I can’t recommend that place enough, so make sure to check it out.
4. Parque de Los Suenos/Kin-Ha (ABSOLUTE MUST VISIT)
When I found this place, I just could not believe my own eyes! Parque de Los Suenos/Kin-Ha (I honestly don’t know what the proper name is haha) is an absolute dream come true and if there is only one thing you can see on the island, it should be this place! It’s actually a laid-back beach bar with some nice pools and even better views, but the highlight is definitely the color of the water and the free water activities. You get free kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, and there’s a volleyball field in the water. There’s also a pier you can walk out on and it is surrounded by the bluest and clearest water ever. A taxi from the north of the island to here should cost between 70-100MXN. DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE!!!
2. Do Yoga on Isla Mujeres
I know this one might be silly since you can easily do yoga no matter where you are in the world. On Isla Mujeres, however, there are so many opportunities to do it either right on the beach or overlooking the beach in those breezy morning hours. I absolutely loved it and can highly recommend the one offered by Selina (the hostel chain :P), especially cause it’s only 50MXN (2,5 USD). Alternatively, you can also check out The TreeHouse Yoga right on Playa Norte for some amazing outdoor yoga overlooking the turquoise waters of Isla Mujeres.
3. Go Snorkeling or Diving at the Underwater Art Museum on Isla Mujeres
The Underwater Art Museum, Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), has a total of 500 scupltures with three different galleries that are submerged between 3 and 6 meters (or 9-19 feet, if that’s how you roll :P). The museum itself was actually created to relieve the reefs around Isla Mujeres and the Cancún National Marine Park. If you want to explore the super clear underwater world on the island, the Museo Subacuático de Arte would be the perfect way to do it.
4. Visit the Mayan Temple at Punta Sur
This is another one of my favorite places on the island. It takes about 20 minutes by taxi to get to Punta Sur (from the north) and costs 100 MXN one way. The island seems a bit rougher here with cliffs and nice viewpoints and a bit of history. I would recommend coming here early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid potential crowds and to get the best light. At the very tip of the island, you will find the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple which I think is super cool!
5. Watch stunning Sunsets and Sunrises
Although the Riviera Maya is one of the nicest places I’ve ever seen, I do oftentimes miss my sunsets here. Isla Mujeres makes up for that though because on this paradise island, you do get to enjoy both sunrises and sunsets and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about it. I loved watching the sunrise straight from the Selina hostel, while sunsets are absolutely perfect from Playa Norte.
6. DO NOT visit Dolphin Discovery or Garrafon Natural Reef Park
When I first stumbled Garrafon Natural Reef Park, I was in absolute awe because the colors of the ocean look absolutely stunning here and ziplining over them would be super cool. I also found this place on so many other blogs when researching things to do on Isla Mujeres. After taking another second to look at the place, however, I found out that they make huge chunks of their money with locked-up dolphins. At the same time, they’re talking about how important it is to keep the reef and nature safe, probably forgetting that dolphins are part of that ecosystem and that these animals should not be locked up, ergo I DO NOT support this and would never recommend paying to go in here.
I do, however, recommend driving up here just to enjoy the views because the water might be the bluest on the whole island 🙂
7. Check out Avenida Miguel Hidalgo
The main street in the north is filled with restaurants, bars, and little touristy souvenir shops. It’s also decorated with lamps, which creates an almost magical atmosphere at night. Although I’m not a fan of busy areas, it’s definitely nice to stroll down Avenida Miguel Hidalgo and to just take it all in which is why I love going for a walk here every now and then.
8. Enjoy some of the most amazing food ever
Mexico has some of the most delicious food worldwide and you can obviously find that on Isla Mujeres too. I absolutely love Tacos and in my two months here, I literally had them every single day.
There are a couple of fantastic food stands at Calle Bravo (right next to the Aki supermarket) that have amazing tacos that you will definitely have to try. I also can’t stress enough how important it is to have dinner at Rubens (especially the super burrito!). Another favorite of mine? Breakfast at either Cafe Mogagua (they have great coffee and big portions) or Cafe Cazuela (for a typical Mexican breakfast of cazuelas).
Here are some of the other places you definitely have to go check out:
- The food truck down the street from Selina (try the tacos vegetarianos)
- Cafe Isla for cheap but super delicious coffee to go
- Mamma Rosa and Pizza Amore for Pizzas
- Taqueria across Facebar (cheese fondue)
- Snappers (the poke bowls are amazing here)
- The TreeHouse Yoga for fresh ceviche right by the ocean
- Aroma Isla (Pad Thai or Ramen, they’re not the greatest in the world but perfect if you’re craving Asian food)
9. Swim with Whale Sharks (Seasonal)
Swimming with these gentle giants is one of the coolest things you might ever do. Whale Shark season on Isla Mujeres lasts from June to August and is something you will always remember. Do make sure you do a bit of research on the company you use to go there because you do not want to support one that feeds them or lets you touch them.
10. Spend a day at Parque de los Suenos
I already mentioned this activity on the beach section, but I loved it so much that it deserves a mention again. Come here early and make use of the free kayaks and SUP, walk out on the jetty and jump in the water or rent out a snorkel set and enjoy some of the clearest waters you could ever find. I promise you will not regret coming here 🙂
11. Play with puppies at Isla Animales
Isla Animals is a dog shelter that does a fantastic job at taking care of dogs as well as helping them to get adopted. Visiting this place is free and you can basically play with all the dogs they have every day from 9 am to 4 pm. It’s basically free dog therapy that will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Donations are encouraged but after seeing the adorable dogs and the great job everyone is doing, you won’t think twice about whether or not you should leave a generous tip.
12. Spend the afternoon at Zama Beach
Zama Beach Club is THE perfect spot if you want to spend a lazy afternoon chilling in 3 different pools. The view is absolutely gorgeous and if you ever get sick of the pools, you can always jump in the ocean and chill in their water hammocks. There is no entrance cover but if you do want to chill on the sofas or beach beds, you’re asked to buy a bottle that costs at least 500 MXN (which is fair I’d say because they do have white wine :D).
If you have any other questions or additions to this, feel free to reach out to me and I’m happy to answer or add it on here 🙂