Ah Isla, a wonderfully small island off the coast of Mexico and only a 30 minute ferry from Cancun!
I think this island is taken for granted. It is not full of tourists, surrounded by crystal clear water, easy to get around (& cheap), and has wonderful food – what more could you ask for!
If your looking for beauty, adventure, and a little more seclusion without the hustle and bustle of a tourist crowded city, this is for you!
Getting Here: fly into Cancun and head to Puerto Juarez for the ferry (it’s about a 30 minute shuttle ride). The ferry leaves every half hour till 9pm so no worries about being “late”. Marinsa or Ultramar are the main ferries and the prices are the same so pick either one. The ferry costs about 160 pesos or about $10 USD) one-way (be sure to check the most updated currency exchange rate). Here is more info on how to get to the island.
Where to Stay: VRBO was the route I took for lodging but there’s plenty of options for Airbnbs, hotels, and even a hostel right around the corner from the most popular beach. Check out all these options & choose what is most compatible for you and your budget!
Getting Around: Rent a golf cart for the day (24 hours). It doesn’t matter where you rent from the price will be the same! It’s so easy to to get around the entire island since it’s only about 4 miles long. You can get around it all in one day and still have time left over to do whatever activities you please!
Day Trips: MUSA is a popular trip for tourists to take. The Museo Subacuatico de Arte is a stunning underwater museum and a definite must see! Here is more info on prices.
Definitely take a trip to the island of Isla Contoy for a day. It’s about an hour north via ferry and it is unbelievable! On this all inclusive Isla Mujeres tour you are fed a continental breakfast, provided snorkeling gear, provided a buffet lunch, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), a guided tour around Isla Contoy, and some free time to hangout on the islands’ pristine beach. Book through Caribbean Connections for a great all inclusive trip for only $75.
Also DO NOT FORGET to tip! Tip your tour guides, tip your waiters/waitresses, tip your taxi drivers, and tip the people who help with your luggage. Tourism has the biggest economic impact on this country.
Check out this link for more info on Caribbean Connections!
[ Snorkeling in the waters between Cancun & Isla Mujeres ]
ALSO READ: I HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND visiting Cancun/Isla Mujeres between July and September each year BECAUSE you can go swimming with whale sharks since it’s their migration season! It is such a unique and riveting experience! I did it in August 2014 and to this day it is still the best adventure I’ve been on.
Fun: Playa Norte the most popular beach for a good reason! White sand, gorgeous blue water, and great restaurants/bars right on the beach. Tuturreque 33 restaurant and beach bar was a hoping spot with great food and people from all over the world.
If you’re looking for somewhere not so crowded, Playa Media Luna hotel/ beach is a great spot that’s more secluded and relaxing.
Hotel Mia All Inclusive Resort holds a great beach and snorkeling spot at the east end of Playa Norte! Spent my last day on vacation here laying on the beach and snorkeling in the reef around the hotel. Best relaxing last day! (Pictured below)
Garrafon Park has options for zip lining and snorkeling for a great adventure. There’s also a small beach within Hotel La Joya (next to the park) that’s awesome for more secluded snorkeling and relaxation.
Punta Sur/ El Acantilado – the southern most point of the island where you can be the first to see the sunrise in the country of Mexico. It’s only $3 to enter the park to walk around and explore. Have lunch at the restaurant by the entrance for a fantastic view of Cancun and the southern portion of the island.
Food (the most important part!): On Miguel Hidalgo Street
La Terraza – You would never see it unless you really looked! When you look at the menu posted outside, all you see is a staircase entrance and you think what?? This is a perfect small balcony restaurant where you can overlook Hidalgo Street. Great food and SO CHEAP!
Elements of the Island – A great little cafe with wonderful breakfast, coffee, and freshly squeezed OJ. Very cheap and delicious!
Captain Dulce – A HIDDEN GEM! I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND HOW THIS PLACE IS NOT PACKED. They have a great assortment of Mexican and American food but what makes this place amazing is its environment! It’s HUGE for one, has a pool with beds surrounding it that you can lay on and eat whatever you order, a swim up bar, and is located on a beautiful part of the beach on the west part of the island. A little higher on the price than most restaurants but you see why when you arrive! Well worth it guaranteed!!!
Oh and there’s an awesome giant hammock apart of the restaurant, pictured below.
Mango Cafe – MANGOS, MANGOS, MANGOS, everyone raves about this place! If you ask where you can get great food they will likely list Mango Cafe as one of the restaurants. get ready for the best coffee and french toast you’ve ever had in your life!!! (Seriously)
Javis – A great little restaurant with live music and a gorgeous indoor back patio. The filet steak is to die for!
Lalo Taqueria – AMAZING TACOS hands down! They had a deal where you could get 3 tacos and 2 beers for about $10. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Capricci – for some of the most delicious pizza you could eat apart from traveling to Italy!
Mamacita – grab a pitcher of margaritas and a filet steak burrito and you will be so happy.
Rooster’s Cafe – perfect breakfast spot with great coffee, french toast, and pancakes!
All in all this island was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. Beautiful weather, constant snorkeling adventures, amazing food, and wonderful people! If you take anything away from reading this – Go visit asap 🙂