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How to get to Isla Mujeres

From Tarmac to Tropical Shores

As your plane circles down, look out the window and if the gods of travel are smiling down at you, you’ll catch a glimpse of Isla Mujeres nestled in the warm embrace of turquoise waters. Boats dot the bay between the mainland and Isla, ferrying folks to and from the island. In just an hour or two, you’ll be aboard one of those boats, on your way to paradise.

Now, let’s make sure your journey from the bustling Cancun Airport to the tranquil shores of Isla Mujeres is as smooth as calm water and as pleasant as a beachside margarita (or two)!

Whether you opt for a bus or a pre-booked ride, each choice is a step closer to the sandy beaches that beckon. So, buckle up, as we steer you through the options that will land you on the doorstep of paradise.

Getting to Isla Mujeres Snapshot

The Short Answer: Broad strokes for the eager beavers.

Airport Transfers: A deeper dive into your options.

Ferry Terminals: Wait – there’s more than one?

Private Water Taxis: Arriving late? Leaving early?

Hotel Zone Ferries: Your ride from Cancun’s glam zone to Isla’s chill vibes.

From the Mayan Riviera: A bit of a trek but worth it.

Taking a Car to Isla: Please don’t, but you absolutely have to – here’s how.

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The Short Answer

Making your way from the Cancun Airport to the ferry destined for Isla Mujeres is a breeze. First, take your pick from these three airport transfer options:

Pre-booked Private Company: The cream of the crop, safe, reliable, and a straight shot to the ferry, with the bonus of cold beverages waiting for you!

The ADO Bus: A wallet-friendly choice, it takes you to downtown Cancun, from there flag a taxi to whisk you to the Puerto Juarez/Ultramar ferry dock. This may take a few hours, but hey, adventure begins with a bus ride, right?

Airport Taxi Service: This one’s a bit of a splurge but there for you in a pinch – kinda like a pricey umbrella on a sudden rainy day.

Airport Shared Van Service: A waiting game till the van fills with fellow adventurers and expect a pit stop tour through the Cancun hotel zone.

Once Isla Mujeres welcomes you ashore, either stroll, taxi, or bus it to your accommodations, based on your luggage load and distance.

Travel Tip: Save time by pre-booking your airport transportation. Politely and firmly sidestep any sales pitches as you exit the airport. Just say “my friends are picking me up, thanks” – that usually works.

Our Cancun Airport Guide is a good read to know what awaits.

For a deeper dive into your journey, keep scrolling!

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Airport Transportation

Pre-Booked Private Transfer Companies: 
This is the VIP lounge of transportation options—popular, easy-breezy, swift, and snug as a bug. The price tag? Tailored to the number of party people you’ve got on board. And guess what? They offer you the chance to snag your Ultramar ferry tickets while you book. It’s like having a fast pass to paradise. Got tiny tots tagging along? They’ve got car seats ready to cradle. Thirsty? They’re packing cold water, sodas, and beer—basically, a mini fiesta on wheels. And the drivers? English-speaking pals who can’t wait to welcome you. It’s a 30-minute joyride to the ferry—traffic gods permitting.

ADO Airport Bus
Find the red “ADO” sign inside the airport terminal to snag your ticket to downtown Cancun. The bus runs every half hour and takes about 25 minutes, though traffic might decide to extend trip. Once you hit downtown, snag a taxi to ferry you to the… well, ferry. Don’t buy your ADO bus tickets online – they are time sensitive. All in all, with a little wait time, it’s about an hour’s adventure sans traffic hiccups.

Airport’s Transportation Services: 
Taxiing straight to Puerto Juarez via Cancun Airport’s taxi service is less expensive if you book online through the Cancun Airport website. Skip the online booking and you might find yourself waiting for a taxi longer than you’d wait for a beachside cocktail, with a price tag that’ll have your wallet feeling light and airy.

The airport’s shared van service is like carpooling but with a tropical twist. It’s more affordable if you pre-book, but you might get a mini tour of the Cancun Hotel Zone if they’re dropping off other sun-seekers along the way. It’s not the fastest route to the ferry, but hey, you’re on island time now, right?

Uber or Lyft: 
Dreaming of hailing an Uber or Lyft at the Cancun airport? Dream on, amigo! While Uber is making rounds in some areas of Cancun, the airport pick-up is a no-go zone. They have a strict “not in our backyard” policy.

Luggage Tip: Do a quick luggage headcount before you dash off. Tag ‘em with your name, mobile number, and/or email—just in case they decide to take a detour. For an extra dash of safety (and style), tie a brightly colored ribbon to your bag. It’s like giving your luggage a little flair while ensuring it sticks with you through thick and thin!

The Ferry Terminals:

isla mujeres p p 81Two ferry companies service Isla Mujeres from Puerto Juarez: Gran Puerto with the famed Ultramar Ferry, and the original Puerto Juarez dock with the budget-friendlier Jetway Ferry. Need to ferry your car over? The car ferry terminal is about 6 km down the road at Punta Sam.

Gran Puerto terminal is more than just your ferry gateway—it’s a pit-stop paradise. Gotta go? They’ve got bathrooms. Thirsty or hungry? Snag a snack or a cool drink at the convenience store. And hey, if the sun’s feeling a tad too kissy, there’s a tourist clothing shop ready to top you off with a snazzy hat.

Now, about your luggage—let the friendly luggage porters (maleateros) take the load off. They’re like your personal ferry-boarding concierge. Hand them your bags, and don’t forget to tip. It’s like saying ‘gracias’ with a little extra sparkle!

Ticket Tip 1: Round-trip tickets are a bargain if you’ve got a knack for keeping track.

Ticket Tip 2: Ultramar steps up ferry frequencies during holidays, yet queues can stretch long. Snap up your tickets through your airport transfer company or the Ultramar website to save time.

Fun Fact: Back in the day, wooden boats from Puerto Juarez were your ticket to Isla, with a 45-minute breezy cruise. Go further back, and a gent with a flag would signal from the shore till someone on Isla dispatched a boat for pick-up. Less convenience, more pirate vibes!

Private Water Taxis:

isla mujeres p p 97If your reservation is at one of Isla’s ultra luxury hotels, a private yacht will roll out its deck in your honor, ferrying you over to our island haven. They’ll drop the nautical deets in your lap when you book your suite.

Now, if the stars (or flights) didn’t quite align and you find yourself either too early or too late for the ferry, fret not, some dive shop boats are ready to sail on your schedule. A late-night dash or a crack-of-dawn cruise, they’ve got you covered. The price tag? Around $250 USD one way. But hey, when you weigh it against a night in Cancun plus extra transport, it’s more of a bargain boat ride to paradise!

Hop Over from Cancun's Hotel Zone

Ferry XcaretThree ferry terminals in Cancun’s Hotel Zone make your journey to Isla Mujeres as easy as a sea breeze. Snag your tickets either at their terminals or online, then hop aboard—the ferries prance back and forth on an hourly beat. In a mere 30-minute flirt with the waves, you’ll find yourself on Isla’s shores.

Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol: with the Ultramar Ferry – Times & Rates.

El Embarcadero: Sails with Xcaret Xailing – Times & Rates. Plus you get a nice discount when you buy your tickets online.

Another little sweetener! Your Xcaret Xailing ferry ticket gives you a free pass to the Scenic Tower of Cancun. Just flash your ferry ticket/ticket stub within 15 days of purchase and up you go!

Taking the Mayan Riviera Route

If your journey starts from Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, or the mystical Tulum, and you’re eyeing Isla Mujeres for a day-trip, pause for a beat. Trust us, you’ll want to book a cozy spot on Isla Mujeres for the night – the island’s charm is best savored in more than one hurried day.

Now, the journey to swap the Mayan Riviera’s allure for Isla’s enchantment involves multiple forms of public transportation — Here’s a little cheat sheet (wait times not included, they like to keep you on your toes!):

Playa del Carmen: 1.5 – 2 hours each way.
Puerto Morelos: 1 – 1.5 hours each way
Tulum: 3 hours each way

Also available is the Mayan Train, connecting from Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos to the Cancun Train Station near the Cancun Airport. The ride takes about an hour from Playa del Carmen and 30 minutes from Puerto Morelos. After arriving at the Cancun Station, you’ll need to catch a bus or grab a taxi to reach the ferry terminals in the Hotel Zone or Puerto Juarez.

Taking a car to Isla Mujeres:

Taking a rental car to Isla Mujeres is not recommended due to limited parking and congested streets. Instead, rent a golf cart to fully enjoy the ocean breeze. If you absolutely need a car, use the car ferry service at Punta Sam, a 10 minute drive north of Puerto Juárez.

The car ferry fare includes the driver, with a little extra for additional passengers. With 3-4 crossings daily, lines can stretch long, so pop by at least an hour before departure, and snag your tickets before hopping aboard.

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Isla Mujeres Pubelo Magico

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Majorly Resourceful

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Back in the day...

A 45 minute crossing and if you were lucky, the great Pochón would be on board strumming his guitar and singing Los Cinco Perros with a wink and a smile.