Friday, December 20th 2019
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres: Get the Info You Need Fast So You Can Get to The Beach!
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The wonderful Caribbean island of Isla Mujeres.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres: Get the Info You Need Fast So You Can Get to The Beach!
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – Introduction:
I love Isla Mujeres. I go every chance I get. Having lived in Playa del Carmen for two years, I have slowly been getting to know Isla Mujeres over the course of the last decade. Recently, Expat Insurance went to the Riviera Maya for a seminar series, and I made the decision to take some time off in this idyllic tropical island.
After some discussion, we thought that some of this experience would translate well into a 5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres. Get the information that you need so that you can get right to work on your perfect tan!
You can see Cancun from the hidden coves in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – Getting There:
– Getting to Isla Mujeres –
If you’re flying into the Cancun airport, there are a few options depending on your budget:
You can take a taxi from the airport to Puerto Juarez (that’s where the ferry leaves for Isla Mujeres). This will cost you about $50 USD, but if you’re splitting it between some people, then you can lower the cost.
You can take a bus for about $100 MXN pesos to the bus station in the center of Cancun (this will take about an hour). Then, from there it will be another $100 MXN pesos to get to Puerto Juarez (which is only 2 kilometers away). Be warned that the taxi could be even more if you get a taxi driver that wants to take as much of your money as possible, and there’s almost no Uber in the Riviera Maya. Make sure of the price beforehand.
*You can sometimes get an Uber, but you have to be discreet. They aren’t supposed to run, and you have to sit upfront. I wouldn’t count on it, however.
The ferry docks in Isla Mujeres.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – Taking the Ferry:
– Taking the Ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres with Ultramar –
The main ferry company is Ultramar, and it takes less than 20 minutes. It will drop you in the Centro. It costs $231 MXN one way, or you can buy a two-way-ticket for $462 MXN. The ticket back is open-ended and it expires after something like a month—so don’t worry if you plan on being there for a while.
If it’s raining, you can sit in an air-conditioned section inside the ferry, but if the weather is nice, I recommend that you sit above the ferry. You will get to see the incredibly beautiful shades of light and dark blue while listening to live music by donation.
- Ferry crossings start at 5:00 am
- Ferry crossings end at 11:30 pm
- They leave every 30 minutes from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm
- Then the ferries leave every hour on the hour until 11:00 pm:
– Taking the Ferry from Isla Mujeres to Cancun with Ultramar –
Going from Isla Mujeres back to Cancun has a slightly different schedule for obvious reasons.
- Ferry crossing start at 6:00 am
- Ferry crossings end at 12:00 am (midnight)
- They leave every 30 minutes until 9 pm, then every hour on the hour until 12:00
– Taking the Ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres with Naveganto –
A newer, smaller company called Naveganto offered hourly ferry rides to Isla Mujeres. However, they suspended service in the summer of 2014 and show no signs of reopening.
If you are traveling to Isla Mujeres as part of a road trip through Mexico in a rental car, instead of leaving from Puerto Juarez, you can get a car ferry from Punta Sam to Isla Mujeres.
*To find Punta Sam, click here.
_*We do not recommend that you take a rental car to Isla Mujeres unless this visit is part of a longer trip. Getting around the island is not difficult and there is very little parking.
*Do not try and use Punta Sam if you do not have a car with you. Click here for more information.
*For more information on getting to Isla Mujeres, click here.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – Getting Around Isla Mujeres:
– Taxi –
Taxis are available anywhere on the island and they are relatively inexpensive. It costs roughly $100 MXN to cross the island—and roughly $50 MXN for any other trip. Recognize that it is a small island with a limited economy. Taxi drivers will try and get as much as possible.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon that a taxi driver with a passenger will stop and pick up another passenger if he/she has the room. This is commonplace, however, if you’re uncomfortable you can always wait for the next taxi.
– Golf Carts –
You’ll see many tourists driving golf carts in Isla Mujeres because they’re convenient ways of getting around. The laid back atmosphere to the island ensures that driving a golf cart is a safe and secure way to explore the island on your own terms.
Also, you can find parking for it easily—sometimes in more conventional spots. Many people choose to use golf carts to explore Punta Sur on the southern tip of the island.
Depending on the season, you can generally expect to pay between $60 and $90 USD per day for golf carts around the island. Some places offer half-day golf cart rentals—and you can even get an hourly rate at a couple of places.
*For more information on how to rent a golf cart in Isla Mujeres, click here.
*Here are some prominent and well-rated golf cart companies in Isla Mujeres:
– Bicycle –
Cycling can be a fun way to exercise when you’re exploring a tropical island—especially if you’re a fan of cycling. You start to crave it. However, you should be careful when you bicycle around Isla Mujeres.
Many cars, scooters, and golf carts are not respectful of cyclists. Furthermore, it is difficult to maintain bicycles in good condition because everything rusts incredibly fast with the humid ocean air.
If you just can’t live without cycling, then we would suggest taking a tour and inspecting the bicycle before you ride one.
Here are some well-rated bicycle rental companies in Isla Mujeres:
– Bus –
There used to be a bus that circled the island for $4 MXN, but according to Lonely Planet, it has been canceled. However, Isla Mujeres recently implemented a Colectivo bus that travels along Avenida Kukulcan that is quite inexpensive.
*To learn more, click here.
If you're not into spending time in the Center of Isla Mujeres, you can always find a palapa right on the beach.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – The Basic Layout:
The Northern Point: The basic layout of Isla Mujeres can be helpful. The “city center” is actually not in the center of the island at all. It’s situated in the north of the island, which is also where all the most popular hotels are located.
The center of the island is bordered on one side by the Macax Laguna, and on the other side by rocky cliffs with hidden coves that are ideal for finding a secluded spot for a picnic.
The southern point (or Punta Sur of Isla Mujeres) boasts one of the most beautiful views of any island in the Riviera Maya. There is a lovely little restaurant situated there where you can get a cocktail and take in the many shades of aquamarine hues.
The Mia Reef Hotel in Isla Mujeres literally has its own private island on Isla Mujeres. This photo was taken December 2nd, 2019.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres:
– Hotels –
There are hundreds of very nice hotels, many of them are located in El Centro. You can find everything from a stunning 4.5-star hotel like the Mia Reef (which literally has its own island) to budget-friendly locations with private rooms. If you’re looking for one of these budget locations, here are the top-rated:
– Hostels –
Hostels are a great way to meet people when you are traveling. Sometimes, I will stay in a really great hostel even when I have enough money to stay in a hotel. The hostel Poc-Na in Isla Mujeres is such a place. At night, it turns into a private beach club for the people staying at the hostel with terrific music and a stellar view. The atmosphere is my favorite if you’re into hostels. It’s literally one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed at in the world.
Just be warned, this last trip I tried to stay there. I tried to book two months in advance and everything was full. I was shocked. Still, there are a lot of great hostels in Isla Mujeres.
– AirBnB –
When I couldn’t find a room at the Poc-Na, I went searching for AirBnBs and I found a really great place in a quiet neighborhood—more where the locals live. You can get a great deal for something like $30 – $40 USD a night. I loved the location where I was staying because it allowed me the opportunity to see a different side of Isla Mujeres. Though I am quite familiar with the north, and I can get by on the south, I had never really spent time with the locals in the residential areas by the Chedraui in the center of the island. There are some very good taquerias that were more than affordable (compared to the more touristic areas in Isla Mujeres).
Tikin Xik fish is the local specialty of Isla Mujeres, Mexico. You have to try it! More on this later.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – What To Do in Isla Mujeres:
– Watersports –
There are a lot of things to do in Isla Mujeres. It’s a haven for fans of water sports like kite surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and parasailing. You can swim with sharks, sea turtles, or schools of fish. Also, there are plenty of excursions available that will take you to different locations on day cruises.
To check out any of these events, all you have to do is walk around the Centro and you will get hailed by people inviting you to their events. Even if you’re not interested in the center of town, people will walk around promoting their tourist packages. If something interests you, it will be easy to spot.
– Miguel Hidalgo –
Miguel Hidalgo is the little strip in El Centro with all the bars and restaurants in Isla Mujeres. It’s fun any time of day, but I highly recommend it at night (because if you want an ice-cold beer, the beach is littered with small bars and fish taco joints that are a delicious and refreshing way to spend the heat of the day looking out over the turquoise Caribbean sea.
I was on Miguel Hidalgo a few years ago and found a little upstairs bar that had live music that night. An 8-piece ska band was playing and some friends and I had the time of our lives. We then finished off some drinks overlooking the sea by night as baby turtles made their way to the ocean. I urge you to explore the island! It’s one of Mexico’s greatest treasures.
*If you do happen to see a baby turtle walking to the ocean, do not touch it or shine a light on it as that can disrupt their natural cycle. Fewer than 1 in 100 baby turtles survive to adulthood. We must all do our part to preserve these natural wonders.
– Tikin Xik –
One of the best parts of Isla Mujeres is that you can try their regional delicacy called Tikin Xik (pronounced Tee-keen sheek). This is fish that is coated in adobo, wrapped in a banana leaf or some other vegetation, and buried under coals or braised over an open fire. If you go to Isla Mujeres, you can’t miss out on Tikin Xik.
There are several places that are famous for their Tikin Xik, but for my personal tastes, I am a huge fan of Playa Tiburon’s Tikin Xik.
*To find Playa Tiburon and try their Tikin Xik, click here.
– Picnic and Wading –
You’ll often see people packing a small meal, finding a secluded cove, laying down a towel, and enjoying the calming ocean breeze for hours on end. Don’t miss out on this particular experience.
One of the best things about Isla Mujeres is that you can walk almost a half mile out from the shore and you’ll only be up to your waist in water. It’s a life-changing experience. You and your significant other can find privacy with only schools of fish around to keep you company.
Find a private cove and have a picnic. There are tons of them, and they are all ideal!
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – Safety in Isla Mujeres:
If you’re worried about safety in Isla Mujeres—don't! It’s one of the safest places in Mexico. Like San Cristóbal de las Casas, Isla Mujeres is safe at odd hours of the day—far removed from the dangers of Cancun. The worst you can expect is petty theft, so keep an eye on your belongings, but even then, it’s a very safe area with wonderful people that will win you over.
*Just to be sure, check out our guide on Safety in Mexico so that you can be prepared traveling anywhere in this magnificent country. Click here to read it.
Sunrise at Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
5 Minute Guide to Isla Mujeres – Conclusion:
I love the Riviera Maya. There are amazing locations like the Lagoon of 7 Colors in Bacalar and Virgin Island of Holbox, but Isla Mujeres will always be incredibly special to me. You get that feel of a hidden-away pueblo in the Caribbean but the convenience of having it off the coast of Cancun with ready flights.
Experience Isla Mujeres for yourself, and remember to always be covered with travel and expat health insurance. Nothing helps you relax on a secluded Caribbean beach like having full coverage on your trip.
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