Isla Mujeres is an island off the coast of Cancun that is one of the most visited spots in this area of Mexico.

Isla Mujeres Travel Guide

Isla Mujeres is an island paradise that is nestled just off the coast of Cancun. It promises a blend of stunning natural beauty, daytime activities, and great dining options. It is perhaps best known for the famous Playa Norte, translated in English as North Beach.

With crystal-clear waters and soft white sand, Playa Norte is often named as one of the best beaches in the world. Combine this with an island vibe and Isla Mujeres offers a perfect getaway for those looking to unwind and explore. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, this small but charming island has something for everyone.

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How to Get to Isla Mujeres

Getting to Isla Mujeres can be an experience in itself. The closest airport is Cancun International Airport (CUN), which has arrivals from many major cities in Canada and the United States. When you land, you will want to take ground transportation to the ferry terminal in Puerto Jaurez by one of the following methods.

Step 1: Cancun Airport to Puerto Jaurez

  • Private Transfer: As you near the exit of Cancun airport you will see a couple desks that offer van service. There will also be people trying to get your attention to send you to their preferred desk. You can buy a one-way ticket to Puerto Jaurez here if you didn’t set a transfer up ahead of time. But, I highly suggest that you schedule a private transfer in advance of your trip. Some of the preferred transfer companies are CARM Tours & Transfers, Happy Shuttle, or Canada Transfers. If you book one of these services and give them your flight info, they will be waiting at the exit holding up a sign with your name. There are also some local drivers with great reputations that you can find in Facebook Groups dedicated to travel to Isla Mujeres.
  • Taxi: Upon exiting Cancun airport you will find chaos and taxi drivers vying for your attention. You can then take a taxi to Puerto Jaurez.
  • Ado Bus: If you are traveling on a budget, then you can get to the ferry by the public Ado Bus. There is a desk where you can buy a bus ticket to downtown Cancun and then catch a local bus to Puerto Jaurez. But most people probably hail a taxi from the bus station, which will be significantly cheaper than from the airport.

Step 2: Ultramar Ferry from Puerto Jaurez to Isla Mujeres

Once you get to Puerto Jaurez, also known as Gran Puerto, you will take the ferry to Isla Mujeres. The large yellow and blue Ultramar ferries are the most common ferries to take. The trip takes about 20 minutes and there is often someone playing live music on the top deck. They generally run every half hour, and you can check the Ultramar website for the departure times. You do not need to buy the ferry ticket in advance, as you can just buy it when you get there. If you took a private transfer to the ferry, they also have the option to add on the ferry ticket.

There is another Isla Mujeres ferry service as well, but honestly, I have never taken it and have heard it’s a bit slower. For a more private and luxurious transfer, there are private boats and yachts. But these would be more common for large groups leaving from a Cancun resort.

You can also find Ultramar ferries to Isla Mujeres in the Cancun hotel zone and Punta Sam, though they run with less frequency.

Take the Ultramar ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.
Ultramar Ferry to Isla Mujeres

The Best Time to Visit Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres enjoys a tropical climate, making it a year-round destination. However, I’d say the best time to visit is from November to April, when the weather is warm and dry. Nights can have a slight chill in December and January, but the daytime is perfect. These months also coincide with the high tourist season, so expect more crowds and higher prices. 

For those looking to avoid the crowds and are ok with some very hot temperatures, May to August can also be great months. The island hosts various events and festivals, such as the Whale Shark Festival in July.

If you are willing to take the chance of a hit-or-miss vacation, then September to November is the cheapest time to visit Isla Mujeres. But that’s because it is hurricane season. While chances are the weather in Isla Mujeres will be great for most of the days, hurricanes and tropical storms can and do happen. 

How to Get Around Isla Mujeres

If you are staying on the north part of Isla Mujeres near downtown and Playa Norte, then you will be able to walk all around that area. If you want to explore the rest of the island, then these are the most common ways to get around:

  • Take a Taxi: This is a great option if you are going somewhere specific, such as a restaurant, and then returning. The restaurants will help you call a taxi.
  • Rent a Golf Cart: This is the most popular way for people to explore Isla Mujeres on their own schedule. You can rent golf carts by the day or week. But make sure to reserve them ahead of time or get there early in the morning, as they can sell out during the busy months.
  • Take a Guided Tour: Isla Driver Robbie and Cultura Cruisers are two popular tours on Isla Mujeres.
  • By Bus: This is the least expensive way to get around the island and isn’t complicated once you know the route. But it is the slowest option.

Here are more details on how to get around Isla Mujeres.

Renting a golf cart is the best way to get around Isla Mujeres and explore the island
Golf Cart Rentals on Isla Mujeres

Where to Stay on Isla Mujeres

Best Overall

Privilege Aluxes




Ixchel Beach



Isla Mujeres offers a variety of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences. I have listed some of my top hotel choices above. You can read my in-depth reviews of the best hotels on Isla Mujeres here. 

If you are traveling with a larger group, you might want to consider renting a larger vacation home through VRBO.

More Details on Where to Stay on Isla Mujeres

North Island (El Centro): This is the main downtown area located near Playa Norte. It is a walkable area with the most shops, restaurants, and bars. This is where I recommend first time visitors to Isla Mujeres to stay. It is the most convenient area to spend the day at the beach or pool and then enjoy the dining, music, and nightlife of El Centro.

South Island & Sac Bajo: Many of the luxury and mid-range Isla Mujeres resorts are in this area. While most of them have a beach, they aren’t as nice as Playa Norte. You will likely find yourself taking taxis or renting a golf cart to go downtown if you want to explore the restaurants and nightlife.

Mid Island (Colonias): This is where most of the locals live, expats, and people staying on the island longer term. There are many great local restaurants in this area and prices will be less expensive. But you will not be near a beach.

This map of Isla Mujeres shows some of the main areas and attractions on the island

Dining & Nightlife on Isla Mujeres

The island’s culinary scene is a delightful mix of local and international flavors. Below are some of my favorite restaurants and nightlife spots.


Mango Cafe: Try the stuffed poblano pepper and the coconut French toast

Loncherias at the Mercado: The most authentic Mexican breakfast option in downtown.

Ruben’s: One of the most loved family run spots in town

More of My Favorite Breakfast Options on Isla Mujeres


Olivia: This Mediterranean restaurant is one of my favorites on the island.

Javi’s Cantina: This Mexican restaurant has live entertainment.

La Lomita: You will feel like you’re having dinner at a Mexican grandmother’s house.

Limon: Arguably the best restaurant on Isla. Get the lobster if it’s in season.

More of My Favorite Dining Options on Isla Mujeres

Cocktails & Beer

Lola Valentina: Not only the best cocktails on the island, but also great breakfast and dinner.

La Isla Brewing: This is the only brewery on the island. Try the Hibiscus beer.

Lola Valentina is one of the best Restaurants in Isla Mujeres for brunch and the best bar for cocktails
Pink Cloud Martini at Lola Valentina

Live Music

El Patio: Live music on the roof starting at happy hour, and then bands downstairs in the evening

Faynes: This bar comes alive later at night when the music starts

The Joint: A Jamaican themed bar on the south of the island near Punta Sur

Tiny Gecko: Live music and happy hour overlooking the Caribbean

Xantolo: Good restaurant, cocktails, and live music late at night

Tiny Gecko is one of the best bars for happy hour and live music on Isla Mujeres
Live Music at Tiny Gecko

Discover My Hidden Gems on Isla Mujeres

Top Things to do in Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is packed with activities for every type of traveler. These are some of the best things to do on Isla Mujeres.

Tarzan Bar & Grill is a beach bar on Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Relax on Playa Norte

Often ranked as one of the best beaches in the world, Playa Norte features soft white sand and calm, turquoise waters. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying a tropical drink at one of the beachfront bars.

Rent a golf cart and drive to Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres

Visit Punta Sur

The southern tip of the island, offering dramatic cliffs and breathtaking views. Visit the ancient Mayan temple dedicated to the goddess Ixchel and explore the sculpture park. If you can make it for sunrise, it’s an even more special view.

Explore the Island by Golf Cart

Renting a golf cart is a popular way to explore the island at your own pace. Visit local restaurants, less-visited beaches, and tourist attractions like the rainbow stairs.

More of The Best Things to Do on Isla Mujeres

Day Trips From Isla Mujeres

You can expand your adventure with day trips and excursions from Isla Mujeres.

Take a Boat to Isla Contoy: This is a protected island known for its bird sanctuary

Visit Cancun: If you want a more urban experience, you can take the ferry back to Cancun and visit Market 28, Parque de las Palapas, and dine at restaurants there. Or just hang out on the beach all day!

More of the Best Things do in Cancun

Family-Friendly Activities on Isla Mujeres

Yes, Isla Mujeres is an excellent destination for families with kids. The island offers a variety of kid-friendly activities and attractions that can make for a fun and memorable family vacation. Here are some of the best things to do with kids:

Mia Reef is the Best Hotel for Families

Mia Reef is an all-inclusive resort that is typically named as the best hotel for families. It has family suites, a kids club, plus beach activities throughout the day and entertainment at night. It sits on a private island connected to Isla Mujeres by a short bridge with a shallow lagoon that is great for kids between the two land masses. The all-inclusive nature of the resort also makes it very convenient for kids to grab food and drinks whenever they need.

Playa Norte is the Best Beach for Kids

Playa Norte is not just the island’s most beautiful beach, it’s also a great beach for kids. The water remains shallow and calm.

Garrafon Natural Reef Park is Fun for Children of All Ages

Garrafon Natural Reef Park offers snorkeling in calm, shallow waters, which is perfect for kids. There are also kayaking opportunities and a zip-line for older kids. There are also swimming pools and designated play areas for younger children.

Kids Pool at Kin Ha

Kin Ha is a restaurant and beach club towards the south end of the island. While it doesn’t actually have a beach, you can swim off a dock. They also have a rope swing, a floating trampoline, kayaks, and snorkel gear. Additionally there is a kids pool with small waterslide. And did I mention the adults pool with swim up bar? You can spend an entire day here with all three meals.

Kin Ha is a beach club in Isla Mujeres that has an adult pool with swim up bar and also a kids pool with slide.
Kin Ha


Is Isla Mujeres Safe?

Isla Muejres is safe. The downtown El Centro is very busy with tourists and filled with restaurants, bars, and shops so you will always be surrounded by people. And while the rest of the island isn’t quite so bustling, expats and tourists also stay in these areas and they are safe.

Is Isla Mujeres Walkable?

The north end of Isla Mujeres near North Beach is the downtown area and is packed with bars and restaurants. This area is very walkable. If you are staying in a hotel to the south along the western side, then that area is not super walkable. Depending on where you stay, there may be a couple restaurants within walking distance, but you will need to take a golf cart or taxi to go downtown.

Where are the Beaches in Isla Mujeres?

There are three main beach areas on Isla Mujeres. Playa Norte is the most popular and easily the nicest, but also can get quite busy and is located on the northern tip of the island. The sand is soft, the water is calm. Just around the corner facing southwest is Playa Centro. While it has a great sunset, the beach and water aren’t as nice and so you won’t see as many people here during the day. The third area with beaches is the western side of the island along Sac Bajo. Most of these beaches are in front of large hotels, and are ok.

Should I Use Pesos or USD?

The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). While most places will accept US dollars, they will give you a very unfavorable exchange rate. And because the locals use Mexican Pesos, if you leave another currency as a gratuity, they will then have to exchange that back to Pesos for use. ATMs are available and many places accept credit cards.

Are There any Grocery Stores?

Yes, you can find groceries to cook, water, beer, and pretty much any other supply you need on the island. While some people choose to shop for supplies in Cancun before heading to the island, it isn’t necessary. These are the two largest grocery stores:

Chedraui: This is a large grocery store that also sells clothing, supplies, beer, wine, and pretty much anything you could need during your stay on the island. It is located near the middle of the island, just a short cab or golf cart ride from downtown.

Super Aki: This is a large grocery store. There are two locations, one is downtown, and the other is in the middle of the island.

Additionally, you will find many smaller grocery stores around the island, and OXXO is a convenience store that also sells beer.

Do I need to Know Spanish?

No. While Spanish is the official language, English is widely spoken is Isla Mujeres.

Do I Need a Car?

No! They do not rent cars on Isla Mujeres, nor should you rent a car on the mainland expecting to take it to the island. While cars are technically allowed and can be transported over by ferry, you’ll find the only cars are taxis and those belonging to residents of the island.

Is Isla Mujeres Good for Digital Nomads?

You will find many digital nomads on Isla Mujeres. However, the WiFi is not as good as it is on the mainland and has frequent outages. Selina, a hostel near downtown, has a coworking space and typically great WiFi. And you can also connect at many restaurants and coffee shops. I worked remotely on Isla Mujeres for a couple months and got by, but there were some days of latency and even some short periods when it was down all-together.

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