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This Backpack and Snorkel Travel Guide (Isla Mujeres Purple Guide) provides information about the best things to in Isla Mujeres and ensures that you will be Making Memorable Moments on a relaxing vacation in Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres in Mexico has stolen our hearts and we consider it to be our personal paradise! It features white sand beaches (Playa Norte is supposedly Mexico's best beach), turquoise water and authentic Mexican food. Playa Norte has good swimming, good snorkeling - even for beginners - and good sunbathing.
The island is a short ferry ride from Cancun, but really a world away. Cancun is busy, somewhat hectic and a tourist trap. Isla Mujeres is relaxed and much more authentic. With Playa Norte, it has Mexico's best beach (that's what they say and I totally believe that is true), it has a touristy downtown area but also plenty of authentic Mexican food that you can buy for very little money.
For more detailed information incl. links to google maps locations, more reviews, website links, etc., check out our Isla Mujeres & Holbox Guide.
We flew into Cancun, took a taxi to the ferry and then the Ultramar ferry over to Isla Mujeres. I have detailed information on the ferry location and departure information in the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of this page. Click here to jump to the FAQ.
Isla Mujeres has many hotel options. Many of them, especially the beach front hotels, charge an arm and a leg. I found a fantastic hotel for a good price that I totally recommend. Please see my hotel reviews here, including Villa Kiin and Hotel Paradise Suites.
It is a 15min ferry ride from the Ultramar terminal in Cancun to Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres is 4.3mi x 2,130ft (7km x 650m). The Northern part of the island, where Playa Norte is located is completely walkable.
The "j" is pronounced "h" in Spanish. So, the pronunciation is Isla Mu-he-res
Depending on traffic, it is a 25-50min taxi ride from the airport to the Ultramar ferry terminal and then a 20min ferry ride.
The ferry leaves from Cancun every 30min. The Ultramar Ferry is located at Av. López Portillo SM-84 M-5 L-6, Puerto Juárez, Cancún. México. Please see this website for up-to-date information.
There are ferries from Puerto Juarez which is North of Cancun which run all day and ferries from Cancun's hotel zone which run less frequently and cost about twice as much. Puerto Juarez is a 25-50min taxi ride from the airport, depending on traffic.
At the time of me writing this, the cost from Puerto Juarez is 160 Pesos (US$8) per adult (130 Pesos = US$6.50 per child) for a one-way trip and 300 Pesos (US$15.50) for adults, 250 pesos (US$13) per child round trip.
Please see this website for up-to-date information.
Tourists typically get around by foot, bike, taxi, golf carts or moped scooters.
Isla Mujeres is a small island with friendly locals. It is very safe and likely the only crime that you may encounter are crimes of opportunity. As in any other tourist destination, don’t leave your valuables unattended. When it comes to crime, it is a world away from Cancun.
Check out my reviews of other Caribbean islands.
The following map shows the locations of the three best beaches:
In the unlikely event that you plan to go to any other places then Playa Norte or the other beaches in the Northern part of Isla Mujeres, there is actually a lot of other things to see and do. I am listing the most important here and the following map shows you where they are located:
Playa Sol lies directly to the South of Plya Norte. It has the same compacted seashell powder as the Souhern part of Playa Norte.
Should you be in town for the New Years's fireworks, then Playa Sol is a good place to be as you can watch the Isla Mujeres and the Cancun fireworks.
Playa Sol has a wide beach, but only a comparably small area is roped off for swimming.
If you look for tranquility, you can go to beautiful Playa La Media Luna which is only a short walk away. As this is a no-swim beach, you will find very few people there. As a matter of fact, in some cases we were the only people on the beach during busy Christmas season.
The star attraction of Isla Mujeres is Playa Norte - it is often called the best beach in Mexico and I believe there is some truth to it. It runs the entire length of the Eastern side of Isla Mujeres.
As you may have guessed, Playa Norte is busy, so if you look for tranquility, then you mauy want to cnsider other beaches or go there early. It will be packed in the afternoon, especially the Southern parts of this beach.
Tip: Since most visitors don't get to the Playa Norte beach before 10am or even 11am, you can still have some quiet time and a mostly empty beach before 10am.
The Souther part of Playa Norte consists of compacted seashell powder with a thin soft seashell powder layer on top. The seashell powder is much thicker in the Northern part of the beach and walking there is a lot easier.
Playa Norte has good snorkeling. Please visit our Isla Mujeres Snorkeling page for more detailed information and photos and videos.
The "ISLA MUJERES" sign is located here.
The busy downtown area with tons of restaurants and souvenir stores, a bank and supermarkets is only 3 blocks away.
There is good snorkeling at the rocks facing the Atlantic Ocean East of the bridge to the MIA Reef hotel at the Northern end of Playa Norte. Please visit our Isla Mujeres Snorkeling page for more detailed information and photos and videos. It will also tell you about snorkeling at Piscina del Rey.
You want even better snorkeling? Try "Garrafon de Castilla" or "Garrafon Reef Park" in the Southern part of the island. For a small admission feeyou can get wonderful snorkeling at the beautiful reef and beach umbrellas and chairs are included. As the beach is a bit rocky, we recommend to bring water shoes.
Or join a boat tour to Marine Park of Isla Mujeres where you will snorkel at the "Manchones Reef (Lighthouse reef)" and may see colorful fish including barracudas, lobsters, angel fish, parrot fish, turtles, and stingrays. Another highlight is "MUSA Isla Mujeres", an Underwater Museum where you can see over 500 life-size sculptures of six different artists underwater.
This Mayan Temple is located at the southern tip of Isla Mujeres. This is Mexico's Eastern-most point and thus the first place where the sun rises in Mexico. At this ancient temple, which is honoring the Mayan Moon Goddess, you can get breathtaking views of Cancun and the reef with its turquoise water. Take the path and go down to the water but beware, it will be hot. So, bring plenty of water.
Hacienda Mundaca was built by 19th-century slave trader Fermín Antonio Mundaca de Marechaja who fell in love with a local woman who was called "La Trigueña" which means "The Brunette". To impress her, he built Hacienda Mundaca. Sadly, La Trigueña was not impressed and married someone else which broke Mundaca's heart, he died, and the hacienda fell into disrepair. Even today, the grounds look neglected.
Museum Capitán Dulché
Dedicated to the memory of Captain Ernesto Dulche Escalante, who founded the 5th Naval Region on Isla Mujeres. It contains a large collection of photographs and model ships, many maritime tools and artifacts and a large replica of Jacques Cousteau’s “Calypso”. If you are interested, the museum also shows videos featuring Ramon Bravo and Jacques Cousteau.
The museum is part of the Capitán Dulché Beach Club located on the south end on Isla's bayside, where you can grab a cold beer and enjoy life under the shade of a palapa.
Turtle farm - La Tortuga Granja
Isla Mujeres is hatching ground for giant sea turtles that lay their eggs in the sand from May through September. Those eggs are collected and placed in pens at the Turtle Farm "La Tortuga Granja" to keep them safe from predators and tourists. If you visit before they are released between August to October, you may be able to see hundreds of baby turtles in the holding tanks. If you come afterwards, then you may only find a few turtles that are either injured or unable to survive in the wild.
There is also a small aquarium which displays tropical fish, sea horses, crabs, lobsters, and baby manta rays. There are also some iguanas and land turtles.
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