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Isla Mujeres: Finding Paradise in Mexico

Isla Mujeres: Finding Paradise in Mexico

Last Updated on January 15, 2024

The biggest mistake I made when I visited Isla Mujeres for the first time? I only stayed for one day. That was back in 2010, during my first trip to the Yucatan peninsula, when I lived in Playa del Carmen for a month. I fell in love with the little island off the coast of Cancun immediately.

Can you see why?isla mujeres beach mexicoAnother mistake I made? I waited nearly six years to travel to Isla Mujeres again, even though I was raving about it to everyone who was planning a trip to the Yucatan and asked me for advice on where to go, and despite the fact that I returned to the Yucatan in 2012. It is still beyond me why I didn’t plan in time for a little island getaway back then, but I guess after two months of living on a remote Caribbean beach I wasn’t craving more beach time.dani isla mujeresWhen I planned my Yucatan road trip this year, I made sure that we would also have time to visit Isla Mujeres.isla mujeres

Is it worth visiting Isla Mujeres?

There isn’t much to do on this tiny island, which is only 1.3 miles (7 kilometers) long and 2,130 feet (650 meters) wide. So, is it really worth visiting Isla Mujeres?

In my opinion, Isla Mujeres is absolutely worth visiting – even for just one day! The little island has such a different feel from the mainland, especially Cancun, despite it being only 4 miles / 6 kilometers away. The island feels worlds away from the buzzing city! Golf carts are still outnumbering cars on Isla Mujeres, and most tourists rent those for the day. The lack of cars makes the island feel so much more laid-back.isla mujeres golf kartI did some research to find out exactly how many vehicles there are on the island: about 130 taxis, 500 golf carts and 1,500 scooters.isla mujeresEven though we wanted to rent a golf cart to whiz around the island, that wasn’t our first priority. Our first priority was this:isla mujeres caribbean

Playa Norte: The Crown Jewel of Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte. This beach on the northern end of Isla Mujeres is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to, along with Koh Poda, my Thai paradise island, and Boracay, the paradise I found in the Philippines.isla mujeres loveIt’s one of those beaches where you can just sit and look out at the ocean for hours, without the desire to do anything.isla mujeres shades of blueThe color of the water is what Caribbean dreams are made of! Have I convinced you to visit Isla Mujeres?isla mujeres boatI could’ve spent my entire time at this beach, with the occasional swim in the ocean – the water here is so shallow that you can walk for about 160 feet (50 meters) into the ocean and still be only knee deep in the water. visit Isla MujeresBut we weren’t only here to relax on the beach (even though this was our main reason to visit Isla Mujeres), we also wanted to see the rest of the island.isla mujeres palm treesWe were staying on the far northern tip of Isla Mujeres, where the ferries from Cancun arrive and where you have the biggest congregation of restaurants and small hotels – none of the massive concrete blocks you can see in the far distance in Cancun! – a small village if you want to call it that.isla mujeres housesThe ‘village’ doesn’t even have a name, it is simply known as ‘El Centro’, and Hidalgo Street is the main drag here with plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops and hotels. But all of the restaurants and cafes in neighboring streets can be reached within five minutes from anywhere in ‘El Centro’. Don’t expect shopping malls or anything like that when you visit Isla Mujeres!isla mujeres housesThe houses here are as colorful as one would expect from a Caribbean island, and there is even some street art!isla mujeres street art mexicoMost of the murals have a deeper meaning: they were painted in 2014 during the Murals For Oceans street art festival in order to promote respect and protection for endangered whale sharks and manta rays, which migrate to Isla Mujeres every year to feast on plankton.Street Art Isla Mujeres MexicoWe balked at the costly price for a 24-hour golf cart rental ($40 – I had paid $9 per day for a rental car in Cancun!) but sucked it up because I wanted to go to the southern part of the island, which is quite the opposite from the northern part with its long sandy stretch of beach and crystal clear water.isla mujeres lizard statueDown there, you find cliffs that tower high above the ocean, which is a deep blue color here. It is a spectacular sight and reminds me of the coast of Ireland – the lush green on top of the cliffs, and the roaring ocean below.isla mujeres dani cliffs

Isla Mujeres: Island Of Women

On the southern tip of the island you also find a hint of the origin of the name of the island: Isla Mujeres means Island of Women.isla mujeres statue

The Mayans had a presence on the island and during that time, it was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya goddess of childbirth and medicine. When the Spanish arrived here in the 16th century and saw all the images of Ix Chel, they named it Island of Women. And on the southern end of the island, you find a statue depicting Ix Chel.

There is also a little sculpture park there, which was free to visit the first time I was on the island, but this time around, they were charging 30 Pesos per person, so we skipped it and cruised around in our golf cart some more, stopping at a little marina with a hotel restaurant for a snack.

isla mujeres punta surWe decided to stop in a little marina along the way for some snacks in a hotel with a restaurant right by the ocean – I had been hoping to find a beach club I had randomly stumbled upon during my first visit to Isla Mujeres, but sadly I couldn’t remember where it was.
isla mujeres boatsAfter a long day of sightseeing we returned to Playa Norte in time to watch the spectacular sunset – there is no better place on the island to watch the sunset from!isla mujeres sunsetThe sunsets on the island alone are worth an overnight trip, but most people seem travel to Isla Mujeres on a day trip from Cancun, which includes a short stop on the island and several snorkeling stops.Dani 2016 Mexico Isla MujeresI would, however, recommend to spend at least one night here. If you are looking for a Caribbean experience that isn’t pricey (prices in Cancun are en par with US prices for drinks, dinner and entertainment these days!) and easy to get to, Isla Mujeres is the place for you.isla mujeres playa norteI hope that it won’t take me six more years to return to Isla Mujeres, my Mexican paradise…Isla Mujeres Mexico Cancun

How to visit Isla Mujeres

From Cancun, it is super easy to get to Isla Mujeres. I recommend spending a night or two on the island (if not longer) instead of opting for a day trip from Cancun.isla mujeres oceanYou can take a cab straight from the airport, and if you don’t want to wait in line I recommend downloading the EasyTaxi app and ordering a cab via the app. Take the cab to the Gran Puerto ferry port.

If you’re on a budget, take the ADO bus from the airport to Cancun’s central bus station (MXN$66 /US$3.50) and change there into a colectivo (shared minivan) to the ferry terminal in Gran Puerto (two blocks from the older ferry port Puerto Juarez). The colectivos stop right across from the ADO station in front of McDonald’s and cost MXN$8 ($0.45).isla mujeres dani golf kartThe Ultramar ferry from Gran Puerto is MXN$540 (US$31) for a round trip or MXN$270 (US$15.45) for a one-way ticket.

The ride takes about 25 minutes. You can check the ferry schedules here, but ferries run several times an hour between 5am and 11.30pm.

Note: Returning to the airport from the ferry terminal, make sure to negotiate the taxi rate before you get in. Taxi drivers will start their negotiations at around MXN$700 (US$37), but I was able to get our driver down to MXN$300 (US$16).

dani mexico

Where to stay on Isla Mujeres

I’d recommend staying in El Centro – simply because that’s where the best beach (Playa Norte) on the island is, and you have a variety of restaurants and bars to choose from. If you’re staying in another part of the island, you’ll be depending on taxis or renting a golf cart to get around. There are also not a lot of great beaches (only a few small ones, most of which belong to private beach clubs) and the beach is the island’s main draw.isla mujeres playa norteThe number of hotels on Isla Mujeres is limited, but you can find a great selection of apartments on Airbnb. Check out AirBnb rentals on Isla Mujeres here .

The top-rated hotels in Isla Mujeres

  • Nomads Hotel & Beach Bar – Stunning hotel with a seaside pool-bar, sun-beds & hammocks. Aimed at a younger clientele. Dorm bed from US$12, king room with balcony from US$109
  • Casa Barco Boutique Hotel – Small boutique hotel with a rooftop pool and stunning ocean views. Rooms start at US$65 per night
  • Casa Azul Maya – Spacious rooms with fully equipped kitchenette(fridge, microwave, coffee maker), dining area, and a private bathroom. All rooms have AC and a flat-screen TV. Rooms start at US$100 per night
  • Hotel Secreto – Artsy hotel with stylish suites and an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. King Room with Garden View from US$127; Junior Suite from US$138
  • Hotel La Joya Isla Mujeres – gorgeous waterfront hotel with outdoor pool, barbecue facilities. All rooms have balconies / terraces. From US$140 per room per night
  • Izla Beach Front Hotel – New beachfront hotel with large swimming pool near Paraiso Beach. From US$188 per room per night
  • Privilege Aluxes Adults Only Resort – Stylish hotel with 2 outdoor swimming pools right on Playa Norte (ALL INCLUSIVE from US$230 per couple per night)

Check out all hotels on Isla Mujeres on here.

Villas & Apartments in Isla Mujeres

  • Villas Najo’ Isla Mujeres – 1-bedroom apartment with a patio and pool views, a living room, flat-screen TV, kitchen equipped with microwave and fridge. Shared outdoor pool. From US$125 per night.
  • Casa Santosha – Modern 3-bedroom villa with an outdoor swimming pool, a beautiful terrace, and a garden. The lounge has a flat-screen TV, the kitchen has a microwave and a fridge, a washing machine, and there are 4 bathrooms with a shower. Starting at around US$420 per night.
  • Aruma – luxurious villa with a private pool. The villa has 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, a flat-screen TV, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, plus a balcony with sea views. From around US$700 per night.

isla mujeres jump



Friday 10th of September 2021

My wife and I visited more than 15 hrs ago as well. Plata Norte was actually a topless (or aunatural beach). My wife surprised me as she lost her top. Great memory. Ed

Cenotes, Beaches & Maya Ruins: A Taco-Fueled Yucatan Road Trip - GlobetrotterGirls

Sunday 15th of December 2019

[…] You could end your trip in Isla Holbox and swim with whale sharks (July until October) or on Isla Mujeres like we did.If you’re wondering why I didn’t include Merida in the second option, which is just […]

Amy Devore

Wednesday 10th of January 2018

We have been to Isla the past 3 years and have a trip booked for May 3rd of this year for our anniversary. We love Mis Reef right on playa Norte. Can't wait to be back in our paradise!!!


Friday 2nd of February 2018

Oh, amazing! I am looking to go back this year! Did you mean Mia Reef? If so - It looks stunning, I just googled it! Maybe I should treat myself to it on my next visit ;-)

How To Rekindle The Romance In Your Relationship On A Mexican Vacation | GlobetrotterGirls

Monday 30th of October 2017

[…] getaway, if you ask me. And if you have been reading this site for a while, you will know that I fell hard for the tiny island of Playa Mujeres off the coast of Cancun when I visited for the first time in 2010, and even though my last visit […]


Saturday 11th of March 2017

Hi dani! I see you spent a month in playa del carmen I'm planning on spending approx 2 months over this winter in Mexico would you recommend PDC for this??? I was thinking of Isla mujeres but person a little quiet for this amount of time? I have travelled to Mexico before but just played through PDC en route to Tulum! Thanks so much