Looking for the best things to do in Isla Mujeres? We got you covered.
Located off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is well-known for its beauty. Palm trees, white sand beaches, rocky coastlines, and a hoard of flora, fauna, and nature, this island paradise is absolutely worth a visit if you’re in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
The island may look small but it packs a punch, especially if you’re a nature-lover. Most people visit on a day trip and you can see quite a bit in a day… but for a true island escape, we suggest dedicating a few days to Isla Mujeres if you can!
When we were living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for a year, we would head to Isla Mujeres for quick getaways and loved it. It is one of our favorite spots in the Yucatan Peninsula!
In this complete guide, we share with you our top tips on the best things to do, how to get to Isla Mujeres, where to eat while you’re on the island and more
- How to Get To Isla Mujeres
- Best Things to Do in Isla Mujeres
- 1. Soak in the Sun at Playa Norte
- 2. Zip Around on a Golf Cart
- 3. Swim with Whale Sharks
- 4. Snorkel Around Isla Mujeres
- 5. Learn About Sea Turtles at La Tortuga Granja
- 6. Stroll Down the Pedestrian Street of Miguel Hidalgo
- 7. Do Some People-Watching at the Zocalo (Town Square)
- 8. Taco and Margarita Crawl
- 9. Look for the Sea Wall Murals
- 10. Explore Punta Sur
- 11. Feel Like a Local in Mercado Municipal
- 12. Go Beach-Hopping
- 13. Try Your Hand at Fishing
- 14. Get Centered at a Yoga Class
- 15. Wander Around the Mayan Ruins, Ixchel
- 16. Go Scuba Diving in Isla Mujeres
- 17. Check Out MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art
- 18. Spend the Day at Isla Contoy
- 19. Check Out the Isla Mujeres Artist Fair
- 20. Sunset Party Sail
- Where to Eat in Isla Mujeres
- Where to Stay on Isla Mujeres
- FAQ on Isla Mujeres
- Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Isla Mujeres
How to Get To Isla Mujeres
You can get to Isla Mujeres by ferry. You first have to get yourself to Puerto Juarez which is not too far from downtown Cancun.
From Cancun Hotel Zone, you can get there by taxi (it’ll cost about 50 pesos) or it’s a 20-minute bus ride on ADO’s Ruda 13. Then look for the Gran Puerto Cancun (Ultramar) ferry dock.
If you’re coming from Cancun Airport, you can arrange for a private transport to take you directly to Puerto Juarez where you can easily buy boat tickets. A return trip with a private driver is around $75 ($45 one way) and is the best and easiest way to get to Isla Mujeres.
The Isla Mujeres ferry leave every half hour so you have lots of options. However, this is a popular crossing so be prepared for it to be crowded. For a full guide on how to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, check out our article.
If you’re visiting Isla Mujeres on a day trip from Cancun, you can also opt for a guided trip that will take care of all the details so that you can sit back and relax.
Here are some tour recommendations to get you there:
- Full-day Catamaran Tour: Departing from Cancun, sail to Isla Mujeres in style on a catamaran. Your day will feature swimming, snorkeling, plus a buffet lunch is included. You’ll have also free time to lounge on the beach.
- Full-day Whale Shark Adventure: Depending on the season (May-September) you can book this tour from all of the main hotspots like Cancun, Tulum, etc. which takes you to see the gentle giants of the underwater world, the whale sharks while they are migrating! This is a small group tour that is highly rated.
- Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres: Paradise Islands Combo Tour: This option includes pick-up from your hotel in Cancun or Riviera Maya and will take you to both Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy. Aside from short tours of both islands, you’ll also enjoy a 40-minute snorkeling session and lunch is included.
- Isla Mujeres All-Inclusive Snorkel Trip: If snorkeling is your jam, check out this snorkel trip to Isla Mujeres. You’ll get 45-minute snorkeling at Punta Sam Reef and then another chance to snorkel at Playa Norte! Lunch is also taken care of.
Best Things to Do in Isla Mujeres
Whether you’re just here for the day or if you’ve decided on an extended stay, here are our recommendations for the best things to do in Isla Mujeres!
Isla Mujeres is relatively a small island so you will easily get to do a handful of our suggestions below. However, having said that, we do recommend spending at least two to three days on the island to help you make the most out of your time.
1. Soak in the Sun at Playa Norte
What’s an island retreat without great beaches? Just 10 minutes from the pier lies the popular Playa Norte which is the main beach on Isla Mujeres.
One of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, this sandy beach is framed by palm trees and gorgeous blue waters. Loved by locals and visitors, this is definitely the place to be to soak in those island vibes.
There are beach clubs along the sand which is great for getting a comfy place to lounge plus a few cocktails and snacks.
The western end, near the ferry pier, is understandably more crowded as visitors off the ferry scramble to secure their spot in the sand. So, if you’re looking for a bit more quiet, head down to the east end of the beach.
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2. Zip Around on a Golf Cart
To explore the entire of Isla Mujeres, rent a golf car! There are very few cars on the island and so golf car rentals are the best way to get around — on top of being fun, of course.
You can easily rent one when you disembark from the ferry and it costs about $50 for the day. Do note that you need a valid driver’s license to rent one.
Once you’re on the road, just be mindful of safety. Follow basic road rules and keep an eye out for pedestrians. Then have fun zipping around the island and checking out the other spots on this list! It’s an easy drive with one road circumnavigating the entire island so there’s little room for getting lost.
If you prefer to have a local to guide you then check out this golf cart tour of Isla Mujeres. Honestly, getting a golf cart in Isla Mujeres is an experience in itself and is THE best way to explore Isla Mujeres.
3. Swim with Whale Sharks
Here’s one thing to do in Isla Mujeres that you can tick off your bucket list: swim with whale sharks.
The waters around the island are part of the migration route of whale sharks. And from May to September, you can get in the water and get up close with these gentle giants.
Whale sharks are some of the most incredible creatures and seeing them in their natural habitat is nothing short of spectacular.
On a whale shark tour, you’ll get to snorkel with these whales, two people at a time. The tour that we recommend only has 10 people on the boat which makes it a lot better as small group interactions are the way to go when dealing with wildlife.
This whale shark tour has multiple starting points and can be done if you’re in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or even if you’re already in Isla Mujeres.
While snorkeling, you also have the chance to spot Manta Rays and other awesome marine animals along the way. We recommend this highly-rated small eco tour which includes lunch on the boat while enjoying the turquoise blue waters of Isla Mujeres.
4. Snorkel Around Isla Mujeres
If being in the water with whale sharks sounds a little too extreme for you, a normal session of snorkeling in Isla Mujeres is still tons of fun. You can easily rent snorkel gear from the many dive shops dotting the beaches.
To go out further into the water, you can opt for a snorkeling tour that’ll take you out onto the Caribbean and to some of the nearby reefs and snorkeling hotspots. Just hop into the nearest dive shop and find out if they run any tours.
5. Learn About Sea Turtles at La Tortuga Granja
The island is home to a turtle farm called La Tortuga Granja and a visit here is definitely one of the fun things to do in Isla Mujeres.
Sea turtles are an endangered species and this farm is dedicated to protecting their eggs and being a safe breeding ground for these cute creatures.
The farm also cares for injured and albino turtles. Even if you’re not particularly fond of sea turtles, La Tortuga Granja might change your mind!
And if your visit is during August to October, you might be lucky enough to see them releasing baby sea turtles back into the wild!!!
6. Stroll Down the Pedestrian Street of Miguel Hidalgo
For a fun time on land, discover the charms of the pedestrian street of Miguel Hidalgo in “downtown” Isla Mujeres. Other than the town square, this is another spot where you can just enjoy the lively ambiance of the island.
Yes, it is a bit touristy… but really, that’s part of the charm. Quaint little shops, restaurants, tour operators: there’s a little bit of everything on this avenue. The best time to visit is in the evening, once the heat cools down and the ambiance lights up.
Tip: The restaurants here are catered towards tourists and are slightly more expensive. However, with that being said, the quality of the meals we had there were great!
If you’re on a budget, I’d suggest eating elsewhere and popping by here for a post-dinner stroll. There are also some bars with live music for a fun evening.
Later on in this article, we recommend a few places to eat while in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
7. Do Some People-Watching at the Zocalo (Town Square)
The town square in Isla Mujeres may not seem particularly special during the day time… but things definitely heat up once the sun sets!
The Zocalo is bordered by City Hall on the west, a Catholic church on the south, and a small children’s playground on the east side. In the evenings, this square becomes a bevy of excitement with dancing, celebrations, and events often happening here.
This is also the spot to see both locals and tourists having tasty treats from the street vendors, hanging out, and just enjoying life. Being here is a fun way to feel like you’re part of the action!
8. Taco and Margarita Crawl
What better way to discover Isla Mujeres than through the food? Check out our article on the best restaurants in Isla Mujeres to go on a self-guided food tour!
Speaking from experience, having visited Isla Mujeres and spent time eating our way around the island, there are SO many incredible taco spots in Isla Mujeres so this is one tour you definitely do not want to miss!
There is nothing better than seeing a place through the eyes of a local.
9. Look for the Sea Wall Murals
For a dose of art and activism, go on a hunt for the sea wall murals on Isla Mujeres.
These gorgeous pieces of ocean-themed art were created by a group of internationally-acclaimed artists (including three Mexican artists) who wanted to raise awareness about important issues such as sustainability, ecotourism, and whale shark conservation.
They’re scattered around the island so keep an eye out for them as you wander around.
Pssst, you can see the map of murals here so that you can make sure you see all of them!
10. Explore Punta Sur
Zoom over to Punta Sur on your golf cart, if you’re looking to get away from all the other tourists. The south end of Isla Mujeres may not be on the tourist radar but it’s still worth a visit. This point is said to be the first spot in Mexico that the sun lights up during sunrise.
The dramatic rocky cliffside is very picturesque and is a different side of Isla Mujeres to discover. The whole area is quite open so we suggest to bring water as it gets really hot, especially during the middle of the day.
If you need a break, there is a restaurant on-site and it’s a great place to have a cold beer after the walk. The waters in Punta Sur are out of this world and are SO clear and blue. One look at the waters here really make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean sea.
If you want someplace a bit more comfy to park yourself, head to Garaffon de Castilla which is like a modest beach club. For a small fee, you can get some sun in the lounger chairs, snorkel, and have access to their facilities.
Other attractions like Dolphin Discovery should also be avoided! If you want to know more about why you shouldn’t support any place that keeps dolphins captive, click here to read more.
In our opinion, both Dolphin Discover and Garaffon Natural Reef Park should be avoid while in Isla Mujeres.
11. Feel Like a Local in Mercado Municipal
One of the best places to get the pulse of a town (other than the town square) is the local market. Mercado Municipal was recently remodeled but the stalls are still as local and authentic as ever.
Whether it’s cheap eats, fresh juices, or fresh produce, you’ll find almost everything you need here. Come with an empty stomach, explore the different stalls, and try a bit of everything! If you prefer a more leisurely sit-down meal, there are four open-air restaurants outside the market that serves Mexican food.
12. Go Beach-Hopping
You’re on an island paradise so beach-hopping should absolutely be on your list of things to do in Isla Mujeres! I’m sure you’ve heard of Playa Norte and its alluring waters. It is really one of the best beaches in the Mexican Caribbean and is a must do while you visit Isla Mujeres.
The snorkeling in Isla Mujeres is unreal and is a must do!
However, with that being said, Playa Norte may be the most popular spot on the island but it’s not the only beach worth visiting. To get away from the crowds, you can head to Playa Posada. The water here is not as clear or shallow but it’s still a lovely place to visit.
There are other secluded beaches on the west of the island that you may want to go to: Playa Paraiso, Playa Indios, and Playa Lancheros. These beaches have good amenities like umbrellas and beach chairs so you can easily spend a relaxing day at one (or all!) of them.
Another great beach is Playa Sol. Playa Sol is a white sandy beach and is absolutely stunning. Please be warned that there are no facilities on this beach so if you are heading to Playa Sol, make sure you pack some umbrellas, a sarong, as well as plenty of water.
13. Try Your Hand at Fishing
Did you know that Isla Mujeres is a fishing paradise? Whether you’re an experienced fisherman or a newbie, fishing in Isla Mujeres is a great way to spend the day.
You can venture out to the Caribbean Sea for deep sea fishing or opt for inshore or bottom fishing trips. Typically fishing excursions will include fishing equipment including bait and tackle.
What can you catch? It ranges from marlin and dorado to snapper, grouper, and even tuna and mahi-mahi, depending on the season.
14. Get Centered at a Yoga Class
If you have more time on the island and are visiting for longer than a day trip, a yoga class is a great way to spend some time on Isla Mujeres.
Build on those relaxing island vibes with a yoga practice that will have you feeling peaceful and centered.
All you early birds can start your day with a morning session at Treehouse Yoga. Set right by Playa Norte, a session at this covered outdoor studio is a good way to start your day. Prefer an evening practice? They also have sunset yoga classes!
Other yoga spots on the island are Red Buddha Yoga (on Avenida Juarez) and Casa IxChel Hotel which offers free classes to guests.
15. Wander Around the Mayan Ruins, Ixchel
When you’re in Punta Sur, one thing you definitely shouldn’t miss is Ixchel, the island’s Mayan ruins. The name “Isla Mujeres” actually is a reference to Ixchel herself who was a Mayan goddess of moon, fertility, and happiness.
The focal point is the area is the Mayan Godess Ixchel, but there are other points of interest as well. On the path to the temple, you’ll walk through an outdoor modern art exhibition by Mexican and international artists.
And at the endpoint of the park, you can take the winding path down the cliffside to access the beach. Plus, keep an eye out for the iguana statue and actual iguanas as well!
16. Go Scuba Diving in Isla Mujeres
While the waters of Isla Mujeres are beautiful, it’s nothing compared to the wonders hidden beneath them.
Chock-full of diverse marine life, scuba diving in Isla Mujeres is an unforgettable experience. Some choice diving spots in the area include the Manchones, Cuevones, and Banderas Reefs. Even for beginners, it’s a good place to dive as the waters are calm and clear.
If you’re a complete beginner and want to see what scuba diving is like, check out this discovery dive where you can see the unique statues at MUSA (Museo de Arte Subacuático) which also has an artificial reef.
Advanced divers, you can look forward to night dives, wreck dives, and drift dives. Check out this two tank dive where you can see the underwater statues at MUSA as well as the famous Manchones Reef.
And if you’re here during December to June, which is sailfish season, you could see something awesome: twenty or more sailfish in a feeding frenzy of “bait balls” made of sardine.
17. Check Out MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art
Once you’re done admiring the marine life at Isla Mujeres, it’s time to go under again… but this time, for a completely different diving experience.
Take a dive to explore art underwater at MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte). This unique museum was designed to be an intersection of art and ecology. The museum can be viewed by snorkeling or diving, or by getting on a glass-bottom boat.
Here are the recommended tours for each:
This underwater museum consist of sculptures placed at different heights and locations in the national park and over time, as the coral reef grows and there is more marine life, the appearance of the art will change as the ecology does.
This truly fascinating underwater museum and experience is a must-see in Isla Mujeres.
18. Spend the Day at Isla Contoy
Just 30 kilometers from Isla Mujeres lies the tiny Isla Contoy. Though small in size, this island is worthy of a day trip.
Isla Contoy is so nature-rich that it’s been protected by the Mexican government. Not only is Isla Contoy home to over 150 species of birds, it’s also a nesting ground for sea turtles.
It has pretty white sand beaches and the beautiful blue water that the Caribbean is known for.
Most day trips to Isla Contoy will include some snorkeling, a tour of the island, and lunch. You’ll also have enough free time to explore a bit on your own or simply lounge by the beach and take in the sunshine.
19. Check Out the Isla Mujeres Artist Fair
If you’re on the island on a Thursday, you’re in luck because the Isla Mujeres Artist takes place on this day. From 4.00pm onwards, the Zocalo is transformed into an art haven with local and visiting artists setting up shop to display their work.
It’s a real festive atmosphere as there are food vendors as well as local non-profits sharing their talents. There’s everything from painting to sculptures and sketchers and also cultural arts performances, dance, and music.
20. Sunset Party Sail
Last but not the least, one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres is to go for a sunset sail! Honestly, the island is SO beautiful that cruising around on a boat is a must.
If you join this highly rated sunset boat cruise, you get to swim, drink, and party away around the island while watching sunset. This tour includes swimming so make sure you bring your bathers!
Sunsets in Isla Mujeres is one of a kind and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it.
Where to Eat in Isla Mujeres
The quality of restaurants in Isla Mujeres is a HUGE plus compared to other smaller islands here in Mexico. During our time there, we had fantastic meals, all of which we can highly recommend!
It offers a ton of different options from roadside tacos, upscale dining restaurants, to beach side cafes where you can enjoy a couple of beers and food.
North Garden Cafe has delicious bagels!
Polo’s Mango Cafe is another must-not-miss. They have incredible mango eggs benedict and coconut french toast that are to die for!
Mar-bella Seafood Market is a fantastic place located close to Punta Sur. Here, you can select your seafood and have them cook it how you want it. Their baked fish in garlic and parmesan was some of the best we had!
If you’re by Playa Norte, the many beach bars located there serve delicious fresh ceviches and other Mexican staples. Check out one of our scrumptious seaside lunches. The seafood in these stalls are so fresh so I highly recommend ordering a few dishes to share.
Fish and Gin is another fantastic seafood restaurant located in Miguel Hidalgo. The service, the food quality, and the cocktails spell out a perfect evening.
Javi’s Cantina is a great traditional Mexican restaurant with live music! They have a lovely courtyard that’s perfect for dining in the nights.
Where to Stay on Isla Mujeres
If you’re staying on Isla Mujeres for more than a day, then you might be wondering where to stay. The accommodation options on Isla Mujeres vary widely… which is a good thing as there’s everything from budget hostels to luxurious five-star resorts.
We found that Airbnb in Isla Mujeres is also a great option. We love staying in Airbnbs as they often offer great value and allow us an independent stay… and sometimes you can find a truly unique stay!
To check out Airbnbs in Isla Mujeres, check out our picks for the best airbnbs on Isla Mujeres.
Hotels in Isla Mujeres
Nomads Hotel and Beach Club– If you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to stay that still has a few amenities, we recommend checking out Nomads Hotel and beach club.
Mia Reef Beach Club- If you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort, check out Mia Reef Beach Club which has their own private beach with a ton of activities. This is a super well-rated spot and is fantastic for swimming, chilling, and hanging out.
Hotel Secreto- Personally, we stayed in Hotel Secreto and ABSOLUTELY loved our stay. The balcony views are unreal and we spent many evenings just hanging out looking at the gorgeous view.
FAQ on Isla Mujeres
If you’re wondering if Isla Mujeres is worth visiting, it is a 100% yes! It is one of the most beautiful areas in the Yucatan Peninsula and is worth taking the ferry over. The best part? There are tons of things to see and do in this beautiful island!
Apart from the powdery white sands and crystal clear waters, Isla Mujeres has a ton of wildlife and things to do. You can spend your days lazing around a beach, scuba diving, snorkeling, or even swimming with whale sharks.
If you have time to spare during your trip, even a day trip to Isla Mujeres from Cancun is worth doing.
Generally speaking, Isla Mujeres is very safe. It is a destination where even solo-female travelers feel safe walking at, even in the evenings. There’s a pretty vibrant nightlife
If you want to snorkel with whale sharks, the best time to go to Isla Mujeres in from May to September. During this time, you can catch these magnificent creatures migrating.
The best time to visit Isla Mujeres is between December to March as the weather isn’t too hot yet. If you can avoid it, May through September are the rainiest months.
However, having said that, official hurricane season runs from June to November. Hurricanes are far and wide and if you want to risk it, these months usually have the best deals when it comes to hotels.
Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Isla Mujeres
Hopefully, this insightful post on the best things to do in Isla Mujeres can help you plan a trip of a lifetime.
After numerous visits to this stunning island, it is a place that we wouldn’t hesitate going back to. Isla Mujeres, whether you’re only there on a day trip or if you opt to spend a couple of nights is always a good idea.
Playa Norte is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Mexico and is worth visiting if you’re a nature lover.
Overall, Isla Mujeres, Mexico is the perfect vacation spot for couples, families, and friends as it has everything imaginable. Beautiful beaches, great boutique hotels, exciting boat tours, national parks and more.
From Isla Mujeres, you can easily head back to Cancun, backtracking the way you came. From the mainland, you can carry on exploring the Yucatan area by visiting one of Tulum’s cenotes or Tulum beach clubs.