Located off the coast of Cancun is the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres.
Whether you're looking for a relaxing afternoon stroll along the cliffs of Punta Sur or an all day fiesta on the beach, Isla Mujeres has something for everyone!
First let's talk about how to get there.
How do I get to Isla Mujeres
The island is easily accessible via ferry from nearby Cancun. We took the Puerto Juarez Ultramar Ferry (buy your tickets in advance!) which is easily accessible by car, taxi and bus from the nearby resorts.
If you drove like we did, you'll find ample parking right in front of the port.
Taking a taxi? There's a taxi stand here as well which means you won't have an issue finding a ride back when you return from Isla Mujeres.
Before we dig any deeper I have to share THE single most important thing I learned about Isla Mujeres during my stay.. and it's that one day is just not enough!!
Sure, the resorts of Cancun proper are great, but you just can't beat the vibes on this island. The Playa Norte area is covered in bars, restaurants and beautiful Mexican beaches.
If you're only visiting for the day consider using it as an opportunity to scout out where you'd stay longer on a future visit, I know we did and cannot wait to go back.
So without further delay - here are some things to do when visiting Isla Mujeres!
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Rent a golf cart!
Relatively cheap and a ton of fun - humming around on a golf cart is the islands primary mode of transportation.
As soon as you exit the ferry terminal - cross the street and you'll find plenty of people trying to direct you to their golf cart rental shops.
Expect to pay around $40 USD to rent one for the day. If you have cash (sometimes credit) and a driver's license you should be good to go.
You can even ride your new toy on the island's main roads!
Heads up - golf cart parking can be crowded at certain hours especially on the weekends.
Head north for the beaches and south to check out the Punta Sur area.
Photo Op at the Isla Mujeres Sign
Once you've secured your golf cart head south along the main road. Within a few minutes you'll stumble across the giant Isla Mujeres sign.
While you'll probably stumble into a few other groups of people taking their photos here, it shouldn't be too busy. If you're headed to Punta Sur (which I highly recommend) this stop is conveniently located along the way,
Enjoy the views at Punta Sur
Speaking of Punta Sur, that's the next stop we'll cover in this post.
When you arrive at Punta Sur you'll find a large parking area that will eventually fill with golf carts as the day goes on.
I'd recommend arriving early to help avoid the crowds. The area is essentially a cliffside park situated at the southernmost tip of the island.
Here you'll find a cafe, restaurant (yes it sells booze!) and a number of vendors selling crafts and retail items.
There is a public restroom located here but you're supposed to pay for access. Per usual in Mexico be sure to have some pesos handy for times like these!
I'd suggest budgeting 1-2 hours here depending on how long you want to spend shopping and whether or not you decide to eat or drink at the restaurant.
The food quality was decent and you can enjoy great views from the open air dining room.
Check Out the Mayan Ruins
Okay so you've made it allll the way down to the southernmost tip of Isla Mujeres.
Once you get past some of the first buildings you'll be asked to pay a small fee to proceed down into the park area. Definitely pay the fee - it gives you up close access to the small Mayan ruins and you can even take the walking paths down along the cliff walls to get near the water.
Keep an eye out for Toloks
After paying the entrance fee you'll be on your way out to the islands southernmost tip. Be sure to keep an eye out for the well camouflaged toloks that inhabit this area!
The word Tolok is the Mayan word used to define these medium sized iguanas. The one here was probably two feet long!
While harmless - try not to get too close or disturb them. We passed a group of three sunbathing Toloks when we visited (two shown here, the other was in the grass).
I always enjoy a good wildlife run in, especially the non-venomous variety!
Once you're done checking out Punta Sur - you'll probably want to start heading back north towards the Playa Norte area.
If you followed the island's west coast south, switch up your view and come back up the east coast.
Along the way you'll enjoy coastal Caribbean views.
Not far north from Punta Sur you'll encounter El Cementerio Municipal which is the island's cemetery.
The cemetery boasts colorful stone tombs and is located directly along the main road. If cemeteries aren't your thing - it still makes for a decent place to pull off to enjoy the amazing ocean views across the road!
Visit Playa Norte
So this is definitely when I started to realize that only doing a day trip to Isla Mujeres wouldn't be enough.
Along the northern shores you'll find an eclectic mix of locals, expats and tourists. Out past the shore you'll see waves of boats who have anchored in for an afternoon of partying on the beach.
We mostly hung out in the area near the Green Demon Beach Club which is a beach front bar and restaurant.
Did I mention they usually have a DJ playing live music as well?
The combination of great food, craft island cocktails and location right on the beach make this a must visit!
Party on the Beach
Beautiful beaches. Epic vibes.
While the resorts in Cancun are great - you really can't beat the party atmosphere on Isla Mujeres and you'll be sure to come across plenty of like minded individuals.
If you're only visiting the island for a day like we did - I'd recommend arriving early so you can check out the Punta Sur area first.
Once you've checked that off your list spend the rest of your day enjoying the beaches and sipping tropical cocktails up north!
Book an activity or tour
Staying longer? Book a catamaran cruise, swim with whale sharks or snorkel!
Once again I'm going to fall back on the one mistake I made with our day trip to Isla Mujeres which is that we only did it as a day trip.
While everything I discussed in this post can be seen within a day visit to the island, it does have much more to offer!
Interested in a whale shark encounter? Check out activity booking sites such as GetYourGuide.
Other common activities you can book on the island include guided golf cart tours, snorkeling and catamaran cruises!
Don't forget - don't drink the water
The #1 rule of visiting Mexico is to be careful about drinking the water when you're not visiting a resort or hotel with on site purification systems.
Bottled water is readily available everywhere you go in Isla Mujeres.
Since it will likely be hot and sunny you'll want to take extra care to drink plenty of water.
Boozing? Mas agua.
Cellular service on Isla Mujeres
Although data speeds were a little slow, we never had any issues getting cellular service around Isla Mujeres.
Having your phone for GPS can help you navigate the island since you'll likely want to explore in your golf cart rental.
Be sure to activate your international plan before visiting.
Spanish is the local language
Isla Mujeres is a tourist friendly area which means you can get around without speaking the local language.
However, I'd recommend brushing up on your basic Spanish phrases before you visit.
Locals appreciate the effort and it'll make your experience more fun and immersive if you try!
Duolingo is a fun and free way to learn languages. Check it out if you haven't used it before.
Be sure to stay overnight
The one regret I have from my recent visit to Mexico is that we only did Isla Mujeres as a day trip.
We arrived early in the morning, explored the island from top to bottom but missed out on really getting to enjoy the beaches and check out more island bars & restaurants.
Next time I'm in Cancun I'll be sure to book a couple nights on Isla Mujeres as well.
Be sure to read our guide on reducing airfare costs
One of those most unavoidable and dreaded travel costs is airfare.
Even if you budget carefully for food, accommodations and find budget friendly activities the cost of airfare can make many destinations prohibitively expensive.
But if you're a savvy traveler like me then you know there are ways to beat the airlines! I have a full post dedicated to all of the tips and tricks I use to pay the absolute minimum for airfare when I travel.
Looking for quick advice on how to book your next trip?
It's easy to forget how much time, effort and planning can go into putting together a vacation.
Booking flights, shuttles, rental cars, hotels, activities and making sure you've packed everything you'll need for where you're going is no small task!
Not to mention all of these things tend to add up in cost very quickly. With so many things that can go wrong what's a savvy traveler to do? Read my post on travel planning hacks that's what!
In that guide I will highlight all of the strategies I use to streamline the trip planning process while making sure I cover all of the tricks I use to save money along the way.