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Isla Mujeres 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.
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.
Hotel Paradise Suites is an easy 250ft walk from Playa Norte, which is advertised as the best beach in Mexico and I believe that is true. As the hotel is not beach front, they contract with a vendor on the beach that provides free beach beds. Food and drinks are for purchase.
Another beautiful (no-swim) beach, Playa La Media Luna is only 1000ft away. The busy downtown area with tons of restaurants and souvenir stores, a bank and supermarkets is only 1 block away.
We rented room 10 for 5 nights over Christmas 2017. The room is a spacious room with a king bed, a comfortable seating area and a kitchenette. The kitchenette is well equipped with 2 pots, plates, bowls, cups, glasses, utensils, a coffee maker with a permanent filter (so you don't need to buy paper filters), a fridge with freezer, one cooking plate and a toaster are provided. Every day, the personnel makes sure that the fridge has 2 bottles of water, 1 can of Coke and 1 can of Diet Coke in it.
The bathroom has a small concrete closet with several hangers, an umbrella, a safe and a hair dryer. The shower has good water pressure. There is also an iron in the room. The A/C is quiet and efficient. Mounted to it is a clear air deflector so that the cold air does not blow in your face when you sleep. Besides that, you will see that the owner paid a lot of attention to details. The foam mattress comes with very heavy foam pillows (I guess 10lbs). The hotel personnel even left a welcome note with my handwritten name on it. The room has a back door that leads to an enclosed patio that is shared with suite 11. Outside (in front of) the room is a round beach bed and a table, other suites have 2 chairs and a table. There is also a hammock in front to the room. The beautifully maintained white sand grounds also have a beautiful pool with a light show at night. They are currently finishing a new casita and there is some construction going on, but as much of the work is done, there was no noise.
The hotel has a good small restaurant which is open for breakfast and lunch.
Right across the street is a restaurant that has live music in the evening.
On Sunday, December 24, the shower, that was draining slowly before, clogged up and we told the owner David about it at 11am. He said he would take care of it and, when we came back 2h later, he had it fixed and the shower drained perfectly. David, thank you very much!
When we arrived on the island with the water taxi from Cancun in the evening, we decided to walk the half mile to the hotel. First, we noticed that Google Maps has a wrong location for the hotel. The hotel is 400ft farther West than what Google maps shows, across the road from the Dive Center (which Google Maps shows in its correct location). Maybe 300ft before we reached the hotel at around 8pm, a hotel employee on his motor cycle approached us and told us that he was looking for us. We had not given the hotel our arrival time and I think he was looking for us every half hour since 5pm which is apparently when most guests arrive. FYI: The water taxi arrives from Cancun every 30min.
The only downside that I can think of is that the wifi signal inside the suite was spotty and sometimes non-existent. The signal and internet speed outside the suite was good, so we just sat on the beach bed or hammock to do our emails and internet surfing.
There is also a flat screen TV in the room, but we did not use it as we spent most of our time on the gorgeous beach.
Inside the compound is also a place where you can get a massage.
David speaks excellent English and the people in his staff that we dealt with - except for the housekeepers - speak good English too.
Long story short: This hotel is an incredible deal and the owner, David, has such an incredible attention to detail and desire to make his customers happy that I whole-heartedly recommend this hotel. I would definitely stay there again!
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 review at the bottom of this page - or click here to jump to the review.
The star attraction is Playa Norte - the best beach in Mexico. As you may have guessed, Playa Norte is busy and so is Playa Sol to the South. 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.
You want to take a photo in front of the "ISLA MUJERES" sign, go to check out the location on the map below.
The busy downtown area with tons of restaurants and souvenir stores, a bank and supermarkets is only 3 blocks away.
There is limited but 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.
You want even better snorkeling? Try "Garrafon de Castilla" also called "Garrafon Reef Park" in the Southern part of the island. For 90 Persos per person you 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.
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.
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.
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.