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Day Trippers Guide to Isla Mujeres

Everything you need to know for one perfect day on Isla Mujeres

So, you’re chillin’ in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or along the Riviera Maya and the whispers of Isla Mujeres have been tickling your fancy. Was it the tales of a humble fishing village blossoming into a captivating tourist haven, yet stubbornly clinging to its small-town charm like a cat to a warm sunny spot? Or maybe it was the stories of endless margaritas against a backdrop of turquoise waters, and soft sargasso-free white sands that beckoned? Well guess what? You’ve just stumbled upon the golden ticket to your perfect day on Isla Mujeres.

Your heart might flutter at the thought of the mainstream full-day guided tours to Isla Mujeres – from the bubbling “booze cruises” to the family-centric island escapades. A quick waltz through Viator will serenade you with a myriad of choices. But ah, if the adventurer in you cringes at the thought of being herded, and your spirit yearns for a trail less trodden… scroll on.

Day Trip Snapshot

Setting Sail to Isla Mujeres: Your ferry awaits!

Centro’s Eye Candy: A kaleidoscope of colors and vibes.

Retail Therapy: Shop till you drop, island style!

Island Exploration: Uncover the hidden gems and furry friends.

Guided Escapades: Dive into curated adventures with the locals.

Aquatic Escapades: Snorkel, sail, and slide!

Sands & Sounds: Beach clubs to suit every mood.

Feast like an Islander: A taste bud party at every corner.

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Setting Sail - How to get to Isla Mujeres

From Cancun’s Hotel Zone:

Just 30 minutes across the sparkling turquoise waters and your Isla adventure will begin.

There are three ferry terminals in the Cancun hotel zone. Ask the front desk at your hotel which is closest.

Playa Tortugas, Playa Caracol with the Ultramar Ferry – check the times and rates.

El Embarcadero with Xcaret Xailing – check the times and rates.

Xcaret Xailing Perks: Free access to the Scenic Tower of Cancun and an extra hour on Isla with the last crossing at 8:00 pm, plus a discount when you buy online.

From Puerto Juarez:

For those staying outside the hotel zone. This is the ferry locals use and takes 20 minutes.

Location: Just outside downtown Cancun, about 25 minutes taxi ride or a 35 minute bus ride from the hotel zone.

Ferry Service: Ultramar, frequent crossings beginning at 5:30 am, the last crossing from Isla to Puerto Juarez is at midnight.

Tickets & Schedules: Same price as from Hotel Zone – Ultramar Times & Rates.

Jump to our How to get to Isla Mujeres guide for many more deets.

From Playa del Carmen or along the Riviera Maya:

Stay the night on Isla Mujeres. The journey from Playa del Carmen involves a bus or train, a taxi, and a ferry; a trifecta that’ll nibble away 2+ hours each way from your day. That said, guided tours from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres are aplenty. Check with Viator or your hotel’s front desk for the scoop.

For overnight stay options jump to Places to Stay.

Day Trip Tip: Catch the early bird ferry at 9:00 or 9:30 am from the Hotel Zone, and you’ll step onto Isla’s sands while the town still hums softly in its morning light. By midday, the tour boats and catamarans bustle in, and the island buzzes.

Centro’s Eye Candy

Downtown Isla is a feast for the eyes and well as the tummy. Wander the colorful streets, feel the sand between your toes at Playa Norte, dabble in some souvenir shopping, and indulge in the island’s edible delights.

Here’s what’s in store:

isla mujeres p p 65Stroll the Malecons: Two scenic promenades, one facing the calm Cancun side, the other, the wild Caribbean. Between them, they host a theatre of sunrises and sunsets that even your camera will sigh at. Punctuated with benches, sculptures, and breezes, they’re Isla’s open invitation to breathe, stroll, and soak in the views.

Say Cheese at The Isla Mujeres Photo Op Signs: The largest one graces the Caribbean Malecon. It’s more than a photo op, it’s a rite of passage. Did you even visit Isla Mujeres if you didn’t snap a pic here? (The answer is no, no you didn’t.)

Statues and Stories: Brush shoulders with Mexican heroes, Mayan goddesses, and installations celebrating Isla’s rich culture. Every statue is a frozen poem, every plaque a whisper from the past.

Murals Galore: Big, small, hidden, bold – Isla’s love for murals is as wide as the open sea. They’re not just paintings; they’re the island’s soul wearing colors.

Architectural Whimsy: From humble wooden abodes whispering of bygone days, to modern hotels winking at the future, every structure is a stanza in Isla’s ongoing narrative.

The Zocalo’s Embrace: At its heart lies the Palacio Municipal (City Hall), and the Catholic church. Nestled between them is a basketball court and large open square where the island’s pulse is most felt. The pedestrian-only street, Av. Hidalgo, springs from here, leading you through Isla’s urban charm, lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, small hotels, and a gallery or two, all the way to the shores of Playa Norte.

And speaking of playas, why just stop at a sneak peek? Dive into The Beaches of Isla Mujeres to get the full sandy scoop.

Retail Therapy: Shop till you drop, Island Style!

“If you let a guy sell you a diamond ring for only ten cents, the chances are you own a diamond ring not worth a dime.”

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Now, we’re not saying you can’t find a sparkling gem amidst the treasure troves of Isla Mujeres, but let’s keep the fine jewelry shopping for the ritzy boutiques back home, shall we? Here, it’s all about the fun, whimsical, and quirky finds that’ll have your friends back home going, “You got this where?!”

While many of the souvenir shops may have a ‘seen one, seen them all’ vibe, the charm of Isla lies in the unexpected. Tucked between the usual suspects of t-shirt stores are hidden gems (not literally, mind you) where unique treasures await the discerning eye. These are the places where your haggling skills can shine brighter than any diamond.

Dive into a sea of colorful ceramics, hand-painted with the kind of passion that only comes from the heart of Mexico. And if you’ve got a soft spot for textiles, the handwoven fabrics here tell tales of tradition with every thread.

Let’s not forget, a little “junk” jewelry never hurt anyone. It’s the perfect way to keep your beach vibes going, long after the tan has faded.

For a curated list of where to drop that hard-earned vacation cash, hop on over to our Shopping section on the Activities page. It’s got the lowdown on where to find those one-of-a-kind treasures that’ll have you remembering Isla Mujeres with a smile, every time you show off your finds.

And remember, the best souvenirs are the stories you’ll tell and the memories you’ll cherish. But a quirky, handcrafted trinket (or ten) to spark those memories? That’s just the cherry on top of your Isla Mujeres adventure.

Island Exploration

Golf Cart Rentals Isla Mujeres

Grab the keys to your very own chariot (well, a golf cart but it’s the royal carriage of Isla Mujeres) and embark on a self-guided tour across this Caribbean jewel.

Important Tip: 
Secure your golf cart online prior to arrival, especially during the high season – they’re the hot wheels around here!

Really Important Tip: Download MapChick’s Isla Mujeres App, it’s like having a local in your pocket.

Don’t Miss Spots Around Isla Mujeres:

Colonia Malecón: A scenic perch overlooking the Caribbean, adorned with sea life statues and vistas that’ll have your camera begging for more.

Gifts from the Sea: Along the southern stretch of the Caribbean road, seashell vendors unveil a bounty of seashell art. Venture a tad further south, and a treasure trove of shells and sea glass awaits, ready to be discovered by shell seekers and beachcombers alike.

The Shell House: It’s not just a name, it’s a literal description. A world-renowned haven for those who appreciate life’s quirkiest curves. Right across the road, dare to take a walk on the wild side along the Caribbean cliffs, it’s the jaw-dropping views that steal the show every time.

Punta Sur (South Point): Dotted with sculptures honoring Isla’s Mayan heritage, and views that stretch into forever. At the tip is the Cliffs of Dawn, where the rising sun first touches Mexican soil and home to the remains of the temple of the Mayan Goddess Ixchel. Down below, paths snake along the sea, providing a rugged contrast to the calm waters.

Rainbow Stairs and Color Burst Homes: A whimsical ride through the colonias amidst vibrant stairs and homes that hold the palette of the island.

Delfino’s Vet Clinic: Take a detour to cuddle some furry pals. Volunteer some time to play with puppies and snuggle kitties at Delfino’s. Beware, you might fall in love and find a new fur-ever friend!

Rancho Capricho: A quaint horse ranch where geese, chickens, pigs, and peacocks roam. Oh, and the tacos here are worth crowing about!

Hacienda Mundaca: Though currently under renovation, a drive-by might unveil unexpected sights. Island magic, you know!

Guided Escapades

Dig deeper into the Isla narrative with local experts who can’t wait to share their home with you.

Isla Driver Robbie Sightseeing Tours: Let Robbie unveil the lore tucked in every nook and cranny. Bonus? They’ll scoop you right from Cancun, snorkel pit-stop included!

Go Isla’s Street Art Tour: It’s a hearty blend of art, libations, local flavors, and stories that will tickle your funny bone till you hiccup!

Cultura Cruisers: Embark on a flavorful escapade where tacos take the center stage and iconic sights are the delightful sides. It’s a savory journey with a dollop of culture and a sprinkle of Isla’s magic!

Aquatic Escapades

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Garrafon de Castilla

Snorkel Tours: The adventure begins at the Lighthouse reef, spiraling down to Manchones reef and the MUSA underwater sculpture museum, an aquatic art gallery. With tours unwinding over 2 to 3 hours, there’s still a stretch of day left to roam the island’s sun-kissed corners.

For the lone snorkel rangers: Garrafon de Castilla at the southern fringe and the waters by the bridge on Playa Norte provide a gentler splash as you flutter alongside the fish.

Wing Diving: Feel the rush as you wing dive over the reef, the sea turning into a blur of blue as you soar like a bird… under water! It’s flying and diving rolled into a salty thrill.

Transparent Boat: For those who prefer to stay dry while exploring aquatic wonderland below. Glide on glassy waters in a clear bottom boat, your window to the whimsical world beneath, where every bubble tells a tale.

The Big Splash: Scuba Diving, Sport Fishing, and Swimming with the Whale Sharks are the big kahunas best booked from Cancun.

For an all-inclusive fling, Dolphin Discovery and Garrafon Reef Park roll out the red carpet right from Cancun.

For all of Isla’s aqua adventures, catch the wave down to Fun in the Water.

Sands, Suds, and Sea Breezes: Your Beach Club Odyssey

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Las Hamacas Playa Norte

When the call of the gentle waves becomes irresistible, and the idea of sand squishing between your toes sounds like heaven, it’s time to glide over to Isla’s array of beach clubs, where relaxation, recreation, and a generous drizzle of Caribbean charm are the day’s specials.

Playa Norte is where the beach club bonanza unfolds, with a kaleidoscope of clubs lining the shore from dusk to dawn, each exuding its own unique brand of island magic.

As you explore along the western shore facing Cancun, a few sparkling gems are bound to catch your eye.

Ice Bar: Ever dreamt of chilling in an ice-sculpted bar while basking in tropical warmth? It’s the coolest paradox on the beach!

Kin Ha: Slide into fun with three pools, a waterslide, paddle boards, kayaks and a sprinkle of joyful vibes!

Mar Bella: If a culinary voyage with your toes buried in the warm sand sounds tempting, this is your haven.

Nomads and Taboo: Unleash your inner Bohemian, where the rhythm of the waves matches the beat of your heart.

Explore Tip: Don’t forget to download MapChick’s Isla Mujeres App. Seriously – do it!

Feast like an Islander

Whether you’re a seafood aficionado or a fan of land-based fare, the island has a table set for you.

Kick start your gastronomic journey with breakfast at family-owned local favorites like La Cazuela M&J, Cafe Cito, and Q’Bravo. At the bustling Mercado the four Loncherias will satisfy your craving for breakfast tacos.

Lunchtime takes you to Av. Rueda Medina, where coctelerias serenade you with zesty ceviches and grilled delights while you watch the boats bobbing in the bay.

Wander the streets and follow your nose, downtown eateries offer up a smorgasbord of Mexican favorites and International fare that is sure to please every palate.

Already parked with your toes in the sand? The beach clubs on Playa Norte offer spreads from snacks to seafood and pastas to burgers, right by the azure ripples.

As you venture beyond town, an array of dining spots dot the landscape. One more time… grab the MapChicks App’s golf cart tours guide to unlock Isla’s hidden foodie gems.

Now, the legend of Isla’s culinary scene – Tikin Xic. This traditional dish of fish marinated in achiote paste and bitter orange, grilled to perfection, is the island’s signature melody. Dive into this tradition at Playa Tiburon or Playa Lanchero’s “La Casa del Tikin Xic,” where the dish is rumored to have originated. It’s a communal feast, so order a large one for the table and dive into the island’s culinary story.

Hungry for more? A culinary map of Isla’s eateries is just a click or tap away!

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Isla Mujeres Pubelo Magico

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For when you come back to stay on Isla Mujeres!

Have we mention to download MapChick’s Isla Mujeres App?

You’ll love it!