In this post I'm going to cover a number of things to be careful of in Isla Mujeres along with a number of my favorite activities to do on the tropical island.
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.
While Isla Mujeres can generally be considered a safe area of Mexico to explore, there are a number of things to be careful of and that you should know before visiting to ensure you have an awesome experience on the island.
Not only will I cover things to be careful of in this guide, but I'll also cover useful tips to know when planning your trip along with some of my favorite activities I discovered during my trip to this island paradise!
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Take steps to reduce sun exposure during your stay on Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is the perfect spot for soaking up the sun, but don't forget to protect yourself from getting roasted! Slather on some high SPF sunscreen and reapply often, especially after a dip in the ocean.
If you want to rock the shady look, throw on a sun hat or find some cool shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. And don't forget to hydrate! Sip on some agua to keep yourself cool and refreshed while out enjoying an afternoon in the sun.
Be careful when swimming or snorkeling around Isla Mujeres
While Isla Mujeres is a swimmer's paradise, keep in mind that like other places you can swim in the ocean currents can sometime be strong and carry swimmers away.
If you ever find yourself caught in a rip current, just remember to stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until you're free. Keep your eyes peeled for any warning signs or flags on the beach and don't be shy to ask for help if you're unsure.
You'll notice that some beaches on Isla Mujeres have designated swimming areas marked by buoys. These are put in place for your safety since boats and other watercraft might be operating nearby. Make sure to stay within these zones to avoid any unwanted surprises and to show respect for local rules.
And let's talk about snorkeling and diving should you do any excursions during your stay. The waters around Isla Mujeres are truly a dream come true for underwater explorers. But never venture out alone and make sure someone on land knows your plans. Be mindful of boat traffic and listen to local advice about currents and marine life.
Golf carts are the primary form of transportation on Isla Mujeres
Be careful when operating a golf cart and be aware of other drivers. Renting a golf cart can be a fun and convenient way to explore the island, but it's important to exercise caution.
Ensure that you have a valid driver's license and are comfortable operating a golf cart before renting one. Be sure to follow local traffic rules, and always be cautious of other drivers, as accidents can occur due to the island's narrow streets and unpredictable traffic.
You'll have to contend with a ton of other tourists driving around in golf carts who might not have much experience! Keep your head on a swivel.
Beware of petty theft and scams when visiting Isla Mujeres
While Isla Mujeres is generally safe, it's always wise to be vigilant about your belongings. Don't leave your valuables unattended on the beach or in your hotel room, and consider using a money belt or hidden pouch to secure your cash and important documents.
Also be sure to stay vigilant about people who might be looking to take advantage of you by charging higher prices, selling fake or low quality goods and misleading sales pitches from time share salesmen or guides.
Be respectful of the environment during your visit to Isla Mujeres
The natural beauty of Isla Mujeres is one of its main attractions, so it's essential to be environmentally conscious while visiting.
Properly dispose of your trash, and don't touch or disturb wildlife or coral while snorkeling or diving. Support eco-friendly businesses and participate in local conservation efforts if possible! Respecting the island is important to preserving it for future visitors.
Keep an eye on rapidly changing weather conditions
Although Isla Mujeres enjoys beautiful weather most of the time, tropical storms and hurricanes can occur, particularly during the hurricane season from June to November. Stay updated on weather forecasts and follow any advisories or evacuation orders issued by local authorities.
Like many tropical destinations the afternoon weather can change quickly and it's not uncommon to experience pop up thunderstorms in this area. Keep an eye on the sky and check the weather forecast each morning to ensure you aren't caught out during severe weather.
Be careful when eating street food
Street food can be a delicious and budget-friendly way to experience local island cuisine.
However, it's important to choose vendors carefully in order to avoid foodborne illness. Keep an eye out for clean preparation areas and high turnover rates: fresh food is less likely than older fare when it's selling more quickly
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
The sun will be hot and the drinks will be cold on Isla Mujeres. While there are tons of bars and great places to party it's important to remember how quickly alcohol can dehydrate you when it's hot and sunny.
It's essential to drink responsibly and stay within your limits. Alcohol can impair your judgment and make you more vulnerable to golf cart accidents, scams or petty theft.
Be sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks from the sun to avoid these factors leading to dehydration and heat related illnesses.
Respect the local wildlife on Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, whale sharks, toloks and numerous bird species. When swimming in the water or walking along the beaches keep an eye out for jellyfish.
Always keep a safe distance from animals, never feed them and avoid touching or disturbing their habitats. Participate in eco-friendly tours and support conservation efforts to help protect the island's unique ecosystems.
Be sure to keep some pesos handy
Credit card is generally accepted around Isla Mujeres but it's also helpful to have some cash handy. Some vendors may not accept credit card or might give you a discount for paying in cash.
The US dollar is also widely accepted on Isla Mujeres but you have to be careful because you won't always receive a favorable exchange rate. On the flip side, an inaccurate exchange rate can occasionally result in a slight discount if the vendor hasn't been keeping up to date!
Not only is cash helpful for making purchases but it's also great to have on you in case you need to tip anyone. This is especially important if you go on any guided activities.
Don't drink the tap water on Isla Mujeres
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.
If you're spending the day partying on the beach then you'll need all the agua!
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.
For anyone still looking to book their hotel, you can search for great deals on Isla Mujeres resorts here. Alternatively, if you're planning to day trip to the island you can check out hotels in Cancun here.
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.
Stop for a 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 Isla Mujeres 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 nearby 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!
Visit Cementerio Municipal
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!
Be sure to explore 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!
And to 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!
Which side of Isla Mujeres is better?
The Playa Norte and northern end of Isla Mujeres has better beaches, more accommodations, bars and restaurants to choose from making it a popular area to spend most of your time on the island.
Meanwhile, the Punta Sur area along the southern tip of the island has outdoor and cultural activities that visitors will want to experience as day trips or excursions.
Fortunately the island isn't very big so it's fairly easy to make the golf cart drive between areas.
Both areas are great but you'll probably spend more time around Playa Norte since it has the best beaches while taking shorter trips down to Punta Sur to explore.
Will I have 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.
Remember that 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 on Isla Mujeres
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. Hopefully you find this guide covering things to be careful of in Isla Mujeres along with my favorite activities useful when planning your trip to the island!