I have to be honest with you and tell you that I am not a Cancun person. To me, Cancun is a bit too crazy and a bit too touristy for me.
That said, for Americans, it’s a relatively easy and inexpensive destination. Which is what makes Isla Mujeres, a tiny island just off the coast of Cancun, such an appealing vacation spot.
Where is Isla Mujeres?
Isla Mujeres sits in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a 30 minute ferry ride off the coast of Cancun. The island itself is only about 4km long.
How to get to Isla Mujeres?
Getting to Isla is actually pretty straight forward. You’ll fly into Cancun Airport and from there take a taxi, Uber or Private Transfer to Puerto Juarez. This is the Ferry Port for Isla Mujeres.
Here you will buy your ticket for the Ultramar ferry. The ferry schedule states that they depart from 5:30am to 9:30pm every half hour on the half hour but on my recent trip, it was every hour on the hour.
Don’t fret if you miss a ferry. There is some food, drinks and places to sit to kill time until the next ferry arrives.
Best time to visit Isla Mujeres?
Hurricane Season runs from June through November. This is also the rainy season. This will also be the hottest time of year.
High Season runs from just after New Years through April. I have been during this time and found it to be quite nice. The beaches were clean and free of seaweed and it wasn’t overly crowded. I went in April and found it to be just tolerable weather wise. Come May it starts to get too hot for my taste.
Low Season is September to mid December. I also went at the end of October and I found crowds comparable to April but found the beaches to not be as clean and no longer free of seaweed.
Based on this, I would recommend March/April as a good time to go but it's really a matter of personal preference. If you want to swim with the Whale Sharks, you will need to go between June and September.
What is the weather like in Isla Mujeres?
Isla is a tropical, hot and humid climate. Most places you stay will have AC units in them and you will need it. Expect a hot and sticky 80s in the spring and even hotter and stickier 90s in the summer. Thankfully Isla has some of the best beaches because you will want to be in the water.
Is Isla Mujeres safe?
I felt very safe in Isla Mujeres but exercise your usual precautions. Isla is not the party destination that Cancun is and it doesn’t have the same crime as Tullum but nevertheless, be smart and aware of your surroundings.
Where to stay in Isla Mujeres?
Your three main options are the north side, south side or the center of the island. Each has their perks and drawbacks.
North Side: This is “El Centro” and the main hub of the island. This is also where Playa Norte, the best beach is. Here you will find the main tourist hub, most of the shops, restaurants, hotels etc. I’ve stayed in the center of the island and in El Centro and I prefer El Centro for its proximity to everything. The downside is it can be noisy.
Center: This is where most of the locals reside. The upside is you will find cheaper accommodations in this part of the island. It’s also close to Chedraui, the main grocery store (similar to a Walmart) and has more authentic food options. Also, keep in mind that the island is only 4km long, so you are not far from Playa Norte. Taxis run frequently and 50 pesos ($2.50 USD) will get you to “El Centro”.
South Side: This is a much quieter part of the Island. If you stay here I recommend renting a golf cart to get to and from El Centro and Playa Norte as you won’t find taxis here as frequently. There are a few restaurants around but nothing like El Centro. If you are looking for quiet and peaceful and don’t mind that you aren’t close to everything, this could be a good option for you.
What to do in Isla Mujeres?
Isla Mujeres is a laid back island with more of a daytime beach vibe than a nighttime party vibe.
The best things to do are beach activities, of course. Here on the Island you will find snorkel tours, boat trips and even swimming with the whale sharks in June through September.
Isla Mujeres has plenty of restaurants and shops, as well.
One of the best things to do is to rent a golf cart and explore the island. You won’t find many cars on the Island, except for taxis, and the main way around is a golf cart. I don’t personally think you need one for your entire stay if you are staying in North Beach, but renting one for a day to explore the island is something I highly recommend. Golf cart rentals run about $60 a day.
Should you go to Isla Mujeres?
Isla is an excellent, easily accessible and affordable vacation destination for Americans. If you like a more laid back vibe, teal blue water, white sand, good food, a bit of shopping and friendly locals, you will enjoy Isla Mujeres.
Just be sure to vacation responsibly. Isla Mujeres’ pristine water and gorgeous beaches won’t survive excessive pollution, littering and irresponsible human behavior. Be sure to wear reef safe sunscreen and pick up after yourself so we are able to enjoy Isla Mujeres for many years to come.