Your Ultimate 2023 Travel Guide to Beautiful Isla Mujeres, Mexico

A complete travel guide to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, from best things to do to where to eat, sleep and beach, plus! How to get to the island in the first place?

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A view of Isla Mujeres Bay from above. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

Last updated: May 2023

Isla Mujeres, Mexico Travel Guide

Isla Mujeres: a literal slice of paradise tucked into the sparkling waters of the Mexican Caribbean. This tiny island gem stretches just 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) long and barely 1/2 mile (650 meters) wide, filled with swaying palm trees, white sand beaches, stunning coastal views and laid back island vibes.

Located a 20-minute ferry ride from the nearby mainland of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a popular day trip and for good reason. The island is compact enough that you can cover quite a bit in a single day alone. However – we would encourage you to spend at least one night (if not several) to fully explore Isla, soak in island life, and appreciate everything this slice of paradise has to offer.

Here, our tried and true guide to the best of the best on Isla Mujeres, from what to see and do to where to eat and drink to the best hotels-with-a-view.

Related: Transport Yourself to Paradise From Home With Our Dreamy Collection of Tropical Prints & Wall Art

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Sunrise on the east coast of Isla Mujeres. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

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Related: These Are the Best Rolling Carry-On Bags You Can Buy Right Now, According to Amazon Reviews

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Calm, lagoon-like water on the west coast of Isla Mujeres. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
But first: travel insurance to the rescue.

Wherever, and whenever, you might be traveling, travel insurance is always a good idea. I personally use and recommend Faye Travel Insurance for their thorough, easy to understand and fair-priced coverage options. Think: emergency medical and sickness benefits in the event of an accident or illness while abroad, compensation for lost luggage and personal effects, and trip protection covering things like unforeseen cancellation, interruption or missed connections.

You can even add optional coverage for your traveling pets, that sweet ride you’ll be renting, extreme sports and accidental vacation rental damage (oops). Plus! A game-changing travel benefit you can add on to your policy: the ability to cancel for any reason. Did I mention a seamless in-app claims process and rapid, on-the-go reimbursements to your digital Faye Wallet? Check pricing here.

Pro Tip: it’s best to buy your travel insurance policy within 14 days of making your initial trip deposit (like when you buy your flights or book your hotel).

Related: The Best Waterproof Phone Cases and Dry Bags That Are Functional, Stylish & Under $30.00

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
The Temple of Ixchel at Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
Isla Mujeres: a little background.

Literally translating to “Island of Women,” Isla Mujeres is named after Ixchel: the Mayan Goddess of fertility, childbirth and medicine. Back in the day ancient Maya women would make pilgrimages here to worship Ixchel in the hopes of gaining her blessings. When the Spaniards arrived in 1517 they discovered numerous idols representing the Goddess and thus, the name Isla Mujeres.

Even now you can visit what remains of Ixchel’s ancient temple, mostly (and sadly) ruined by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. Perched right on the southern tip of the island known as Punta Sur, the temple is nonetheless a gorgeous sight surrounded by sweeping cliffside and dramatic, crashing waves. Keep reading for more on Punta Sur, and for history buffs – find much more on the island’s fascinating history (tales of pirates and unrequited love included) here.

Related: Everything You Need to Know for an Unforgettable Trip to Isla Holbox, Mexico

How do I get to Isla Mujeres?

A quick, easy and (literally) breezy ride on the Ultramar Ferry from Cancun. There are four departure points going from Cancun –> Isla Mujeres. The main ferry terminal is Puerto Juarez, although there are also three departure terminals right in Cancun’s Hotel Zone: Playa Tortugas, El Embarcadero, Playa Caracol. The cost is $380 MXN roundtrip (approx $18 USD) from Puerto Juarez, OR $21.00 USD from the Hotel Zone terminals. Because of the price difference (albeit nominal), it really only makes sense to take the ferry from any of the three Hotel Zone locations if, in fact, you are already staying in the Hotel Zone.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Passengers board the Ultramar Ferry on Isla Mujeres. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

The first ferry departs from Puerto Juarez daily at 6:30am, then on the hour every hour from 7am – 10pm. For the return trip you will go to the only Ultramar terminal on the island, where ferries depart on the hour every hour from 7am – 11pm.

Please note that ferries from the three Hotel Zone locations are much more limited in terms of departures and returns. Please consult Ultramar’s Routes & Timetables for exact schedules.

The ferries themselves are modern, clean and comfortable. You can choose to sit indoors with A/C, or soak in the ocean breeze on the open-air top deck. Bathrooms are available on-board and there is plenty of room to store luggage.

Related: The Best Oversized Beach Towels From Turkish to Round to Classic Cabana Stripes

How do I get around Isla Mujeres?

Once on the island, you have a few options to get yourself around:

Golf Cart

This is the most popular method of transport, and our personal pick. You can feel the ocean breeze in your hair, take in incredible, unobstructed views and well – they’re fun. Most golf carts fit up to four adults, although some shops offer XL carts which fit up to six. You’ll find a number of golf cart rentals right as you exit the ferry, like Rentadora Joaquín.

Note: you will need a valid driver’s license to rent a cart. You will leave this at the shop during your rental and pick it up upon drop-off.


This is another great and popular option especially if you’re traveling solo or as a couple. We didn’t personally rent a moped during our visit, however the aforementioned Rentadora Joaquín appears to rent them for $550 MXN per day (approx $27 USD) according to their website.


This option is certainly possible given Isla Mujeres is small, although don’t be fooled. Cycling a few miles in midday heat becomes a lot longer, and harder, than you might think. Even so – we did spot quite a few people cycling around the island so it can be done. We didn’t rent from these guys personally but Rasta Bikes seems to be the go-to spot for bicycle rentals on Isla, running around $8 USD per day.


We took taxis three out of the six days we were on Isla and found them plentiful, cheap and easy to get (especially downtown). Rides are typically $50 MXN (around $2.50 USD) to get around most places on the island, going up to $120 MXN (approx $6 USD) to get from downtown to Punta Sur – basically end to end. Taxi fares are always paid in cash and best if you have small bills.

TIP: If you like your driver, feel free to ask for his cell number so you can call or text ahead for future rides. Creating a list of go-to taxi driver numbers will especially come in handy if you’re staying outside of downtown, where it’ll be easier to arrange a pickup vs. flagging one down.


This is the cheapest option for getting around the island. Tourists pay $38 pesos (approx $2 USD) per person per ride, or you can purchase an all-day ass for $175 pesos (approx $9 USD) per person. You pay as you board (best to have exact change) and exit through the rear door. All buses have A/C, and note seats in the front are reserved for seniors, disabled persons and pregnant women. Downtown you’ll find the bus stop just south of the ferry terminal, located across the street by a parking lot. Outside of downtown, you can literally wave the bus down anywhere you see it.


While cars used to be banned from the island this is no longer the case. You can indeed drive a car on Isla Mujeres, although you’ll need to bring it from the mainland via a car ferry. As far as we know there are no places to rent actual cars on the island, but we really wouldn’t recommend it anyway. A golf cart, moped or even bike is way more fun, and taxis are easy and affordable. 

Related: 9 Best Things to Do in the Mexican Caribbean (Cancún Through Tulum): Cenotes to Ancient Maya Ruins to an Uninhabited Island

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A stunning sunset on Isla Mujeres. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
How is wifi/cell reception on Isla Mujeres?

Both exist, but are spotty – all throughout the island and regardless of where you stay. We came with low expectations and were pleasantly surprised to have decent and consistent cell connection throughout our 6-day visit (testing both a U.S. SIM card and Mexico SIM card). You’ll find that most restaurants, bars, beach clubs and of course hotels offer free wifi, although don’t be surprised if the connection isn’t the strongest or doesn’t always work. This said – we found wifi plenty sufficient for basic emails and web browsing, but I wouldn’t count on large uploads or downloads.

How is the cash/credit card/ATM situation on Isla Mujeres?

While there are businesses that accept credit cards on Isla Mujeres, most are cash-only. Both USD and Mexican pesos are accepted, although it’s always better to pay in pesos. (If you choose to pay with USD you will always end up paying more due to the exchange rates offered by businesses.) We’re happy to report there are plenty of ATMS on the island, including an HSBC right next to the ferry terminal. There are a few places to exchange currency as well.

ATM TIP: When withdrawing pesos from any ATM, a screen will pop up towards the end asking if you want to “accept the conversion rate.” Always hit DECLINE. ATMs exist to make money, and without fail will always give you a worse exchange rate than your bank will. Depending on how much you’re taking out, you could be losing anywhere from $10 – $100+ USD by accepting the ATM’s exchange rate – don’t do it!

Related: The Best Travel-Friendly Loungewear Sets That Are Stylish, Cozy and Perfect For Your Short or Long-Haul Flight

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
The wild & rocky east coast of Isla Mujeres. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
Getting Oriented

Given Isla Mujeres is so small, it won’t take you long at all to get your bearings. You can literally zip around the entire island in a golf cart in under 2 hours. You’ll arrive (via ferry) on the north end of Isla, which is actually the downtown (called Centro). Here is where the majority of restaurants, bars, shops and hotels are, in addition to Playa Norte – considered the most beautiful stretch of beach on the island. On the opposite end is Punta Sur (South Point), a beautiful coastal preserve which we’ll talk more about in a bit.

In the middle you’ll find local neighborhoods like La Gloria, while the surrounding coastlines are dotted with hotels, beach clubs and some pretty epic private residences. Head to the wild and rocky east coast for stunning cliffside views and crashing waves (NOT for swimming) or the west coast for calm (swimmable!) lagoon-like water and epic sunsets. Jutting off the west coast you’ll also find Sac Bajo peninsula, forming a bay home to the island’s marina and plenty of boat goals.

Related: These 8 New Luxury Resorts Are Rebranding the Riviera Maya

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A sea view room at Bahia Tolok Boutique Hotel. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

Where to Stay: Best Hotels on Isla Mujeres

Bahía Tolok 

We stayed 1 night here and wish we could have stayed longer. Bahía Tolok is a new, 14-room boutique hotel located on the northwest coast of Isla Mujeres. The name translates to “Iguana Bay,” as the property is situated on Isla Mujeres Bay and “Tolok” is the Mayan word for iguana – the island’s prized icon. Rooms range from studios to 1-bedrooms to 2-bedrooms, some with kitchens (extended stay anyone?) and some with balconies and stunning sea views.

Rooms are modern, stylish and incredibly comfortable, with plenty of island-inspired touches to get you in vacay mood. The entire property is beautiful and thoughtfully designed, counting a waterfall-accented swimming pool, private beachfront with in-water hammocks, and an on-site restaurant & bar. Plus, free use of kayaks, included breakfast and stunning sunsets.

Book your stay at Bahía Tolok.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A beautiful bay view from Bahia Tolok Boutique Hotel. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
Hotel Secreto 

This 12-room boutique hotel won accolades from Condé Nast Traveler upon opening in 2003, and is still going strong. Located right downtown on the northwest tip of the island, Hotel Secreto benefits both from being steps from the action (not to mention coveted Playa Norte) while remaining in its own secluded haven. Spacious, stylishly outfitted rooms all feature a junior suite layout, complete with private balconies boasting daybeds overlooking the pool, beachfront and ocean beyond.

\The stunning infinity pool sits atop a wooden sundeck lined with chic loungers, while an on-site spa and fitness center are also on offer. There is no on-site restaurant here however there is complimentary breakfast, in addition to a Lobby Bar.

Book your stay at Hotel Secreto.

Icaco Island Village

For a true escape, head to Icaco Island Village on the northeast coast of Isla Mujeres. This boutique hotel is just a 5 minute drive from downtown, putting you close to the action while feeling miles away surrounded by nothing but sea breeze and palm trees. The chic, bohemian property counts just 6 rooms, all facing the ocean with balconies, hammocks, kitchenettes and stylish, rustic-chic decor. The beautiful (shared) rooftop further boasts a plunge pool, daybeds and a (BYO) bar & lounge area – complete with 360-degree ocean views. While there is no on-site restaurant or bar here, freshly made breakfast is included daily and served right to your room.

Book your stay at Icaco Island Village.

IZLA Hotel

Located on Sac Bajo with views straight to Cancun, this oceanfront boutique hotel exudes island luxury. 123 rooms and suites offer garden or ocean views, all with private balconies and some with in-balcony bathtubs or plunge pools. Is there a better way to soak in the sunset? We think not. The aesthetic here is island minimalism, featuring streamlined wood furnishings, neutral hues and pops of turquoise and gold. On-site dining options include Café Izla and Numa Restaurant, while two swimming pools offer bar service. The (stunning!) rooftop pool is adults-only. IZLA Hotel further offers a fitness center and on-site spa, where you can treat yourself with a massage, facial, body treatment, mani/pedi and more.

Book your stay at IZLA Hotel.

Related: The Riviera Maya’s Newest Luxury Resort Has Its Own Zipline, 5 Pools and a 10-Course Chef’s Tasting Experience

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Rooftop with-a-view at Kay Apartments. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
Kay Isla

We stayed in this Airbnb-meets-boutique hotel for four nights during our recent visit to Isla Mujeres, and it was the perfect home base. Six units total are comprised of 1 or 2-bedroom apartments, all stylishly furnished with thoughtful touches like locally made bath products, organic coffee from Chiapas, charming Mexican tilework and complimentary drinking water. Bathrooms are spacious with impressively strong (and hot!) water pressure, while all bedrooms are equipped with A/C.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A charming bedroom at Kay Apartments. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

Head upstairs to the shared rooftop to be treated to stunning, 360-degree views – which you can enjoy from loungers or shaded palapa beds. Located right in the middle of the island in a local neighborhood, Kay Isla is a perfect choice for those looking to get off the beaten tourist path and enjoy authentic island life. TIP: For those planning an extended stay, Kay Isla also offers monthly rentals.

Book your stay at Kay Isla.

Casa Caracol (The Seashell House)

If you’re looking for a unique stay on Isla Mujeres, this is it. Built in 1994 by architect Eduardo Ocampo, this private, gated property is located on the southeast coast of the island. The 2 bed/2 bath house is comprised of two adjoining “shells,” each offering a king bedroom and one of which boasting a balcony with ocean views. The house further offers a kitchen, built-in bar, BBQ and private pool, not to mention serious island vibes at every turn. Oh – and don’t be alarmed if you spot a few additional houseguests in the form of adorable geckos sharing the shells with you.

Book your stay at Casa Caracol (The Seashell House).

Zoëtry Villa Rolandi All-Inclusive Resort

Located on Isla’s exclusive Sac Bajo peninsula, Zoëtry Villa Rolandi is taking all-inclusive stays to an entirely new level. This luxury retreat offers just 35 rooms, all with ocean views in addition to private terraces, Bvlgari bath products, a pillow menu, complimentary 24-hour laundry service and more. Two gourmet restaurants offer on-site fine dining and craft cocktails, or complement your room’s own top-shelf mini bar with 24-hour room service.

The resort further offers two oceanfront pools (one of which is adults-only), a saltwater whirlpool, Thalasso Spa and fitness center. Even more to love? NO set check-in or check-out times, plus! Complimentary, roundtrip transfer service from Cancun to the resort via private yacht.

Book your stay at Zoëtry Villa Rolandi.

Where to Eat: Best Restaurants on Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Breakfast goals at Mango Café. Photo: Under the Palm
Mango Café

This unassuming spot located in the middle of the island is popular with locals and tourists alike – and for good reason. Spread over two floors, expect lively yet laid-back vibes, friendly service and delicious island fare ranging from stuffed poblano peppers to jerk chicken tacos.

Open daily from 7am – 3pm, this is a must-stop for breakfast or lunch (if not more than once). Mango Café offers covered, open-air dining. Cash only. 

Café Mogagua

This airy, laid-back cafe is a solid choice at any time of day, and particularly great for breakfast or lunch. Get the cochinita pibil (a delicious braised pork dish from nearby Yucatán state) while sipping a carajillo (espresso cocktail). Located downtown, this place is also laptop-friendly with free (decent!) wifi.

Open daily 7am – 10pm, cash and credit cards accepted. Café Mogagua offers covered, open-air dining.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Waffles for days at La Casa del Waffle. Photo: Under the Palm
La Casa del Waffle

A waffle house on Isla Mujeres? Yes there is. Recently opened by a husband & wife duo in the local neighborhood of La Gloria, we stumbled upon this gem while staying around the corner at Kay Isla. An impressive selection of waffles are on offer here, ranging from sweet to savory including our fave: the Diablo Waffle (spicy buffalo chicken with honey and pickles).

Waffles aside, you can also expect breakfast staples like eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, even sausage-gravy smothered french fries. Come hungry and best to come with patience. Waffles are served on island time here, as it’s typically just General Manager Jacob and his kitchen colleague making, and serving, everything with love.

Open daily from 8am – 4pm, cash only. La Casa del Waffle offers covered, open-air dining. 

Related: These Are the Best and Most Unique Dining Experiences in the Mexican Caribbean

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Delicious Mediterranean cuisine at Olivia. Photo: Under the Palm

Our favorite meal on the island, reserve a table at Olivia for delicious Mediterranean cuisine in a relaxed, intimate and enchanting setting. Opened in 2007 from Israeli couple Lior and Yaron Zelzer, expect authentic flavors and dishes such as the Moroccan tapas spread, shepherd’s salad, moussaka and shishlik. The short ribs were to die for, and save room for dessert – preferably, the delicious baklava while sipping on a glass of arak.

Open Monday – Saturday 5pm – 9:45pm, cash only. Olivia offers indoor as well as outdoor dining. TIP: Reservations are highly recommended, and be sure to request a table on the open-air, candlelit patio.


To cure your Italian food craving, head straight to Angelo on Miguel Hidalgo – the main pedestrian strip in downtown. This is exactly what we did and we weren’t disappointed. Everything we ate was delicious, from brick oven pizza to gnocchi to pasta with black mussels – washed down with perfectly prepared Negroni cocktails.

Open from 4pm – 11:30pm daily, Angelo offers both indoor and outdoor dining. TIP: Grab an outdoor table for excellent people watching. 

*Google Maps tells you that Angelo is on Av Juárez, however it’s not. The entrance is on the next street over, Miguel Hidalgo.

Lola Valentina

Opened from the same owner as Mango Café, it’s no surprise that Lola Valentina is equally excellent. Grab a table at this lively spot for Mexican-Island fare ranging from tacos, burgers and salads to steak, grilled octopus and stuffed chicken. Cocktail lovers will appreciate the inventive creations such as the Mezcal Kiss, which you can sip at a table or on a swing seat at the bar.

Lola Valentina is located on the main pedestrian strip downtown and offers covered, open-air dining. Open daily 8am – 11pm. 

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Nighttime dining at Bahia Tolok. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
Bahía Tolok

When you’ve had your fill of the dining scene in busy downtown, head to Bahía Tolok for a romantic, waterfront dinner under the stars. On weekends only this boutique hotel converts their private beachfront into a fine dining restaurant, offering surf & turf fare in a magical setting complete with hanging twinkle lights and the wafting sounds of nostalgic Mexican trios.

Bahía Tolok offers fully outdoor dining, cash and credit cards accepted. Reservations required. 

Related: These Game-Changing Travel Backpacks Are Made From Recycled Ocean Plastic

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Calm, turquoise waters await at Playa Norte. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

What to See & Do: Best Beaches and Beach Clubs on Isla Mujeres

Playa Norte

This is indisputably the best beach on Isla Mujeres. Pristine white sand, swaying palms and sparkling, turquoise water await at Playa Norte (North Beach). As the name suggests, you’ll find this slice of paradise on the northern tip of the island. Rightly so this is a popular beach – so expect some crowds. That said, we preferred the northeast side of Playa Norte which we found to be a bit more chilled out and slightly less crowded vs. the northwest side.

You can spend the day here at one of the many beach clubs like Green Demon, sip a margarita in a swinging bar seat at Buho’s Beach Bar, relax with a beachfront massage, or you can carve out your own spot in the sand and enjoy DIY-style.

TIP: If you prefer your beach days at a beach club, plan to arrive on the earlier side (before 2pm) to snag a lounger or daybed. Once the late afternoon hits, Playa Norte fills up. Expect to pay either a flat fee for daybed/lounger use or a consumption minimum that goes towards food and drinks. Fees and minimums vary from beach club to beach club, so it’s a good idea to check around with a few before landing for the day.

Playa Centro

Keep walking west from Playa Norte – all the way around the northwest tip – and you’ll eventually reach Playa Centro. This is another beautiful stretch of beach although the water here is a bit cloudier than at Playa Norte. Because of this you’ll typically find slightly fewer crowds, and slightly cheaper drinks. Perhaps the biggest benefit of Playa Centro? Since you’re facing directly west, you can expect epic sunsets. 

West Coast
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A view from above of the island’s idyllic west coast. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

For a more chilled out beach experience, head away from the hustle & bustle of downtown and onto the island’s idyllic west coast. The water here is calm, peaceful and lagoon-like, and although spotted with seagrass, still swimmable. Plus: stunning sunsets. Note there are no public access points to the beach on the west coast (that we know of), so you will need to visit a hotel, restaurant or beach club like Albatros for access.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A view of Parque de los Sueños (also known as Kin Há Restaurant). Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Tiered swimming pools at Parque de los Sueños. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

Another such locale is Parque de los Sueños (Park of Dreams), also known as Kin Há Restaurant. A $300.00 peso (approx $15 USD) per person consumption minimum grants access to lounge chairs, situated atop a deck directly facing the sea. There is no beach here, however it’s not needed. Branded as a “water park” vs. a beach club, included with your entry minimum is access to free kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, snorkel equipment, an in-water trampoline and volleyball net, rope swing for jumping out on the private dock, and a series of tiered swimming pools (one includes a waterslide for kids).

We found the service to be friendly, prices reasonable and food excellent – go for the fish tacos or aguachile. Even better, stay for sunset while sipping on reduced-price margs during happy hour (5-7pm).

TIP: This place goes by two names – Parque de los Sueños and Kin Há Restaurant. Either will come up on Google Maps, although to enter you’ll want to look for the Kin Há sign.

What to See & Do: Best Activities on Isla Mujeres

Rent a Golf Cart

Basic transportation needs aside, golf carts are fun and a great way to see the island. Set aside a few hours to simply tour all of Isla Mujeres, circling the coast and stopping wherever you may feel inclined. You can rent them from a number of shops downtown (try Rentadora Joaquín) or oftentimes your hotel can set you up with one.

Shop ‘til you Drop

Our top shopping pick on the island? Head to the local neighborhood of La Gloria to find the community-driven Isla Mujeres Women’s Beading Co-op. This collective of 50+ local women artisans was formed nearly 20 years ago in support of each other and their families. The group lovingly creates one-of-a-kind, hand-beaded jewelry, handbags and more, ranging from intricate, Maya-inspired patterns to fun tropical prints.

80% of the purchase price of each piece goes directly to the woman who made it, while the remaining 20% goes towards materials and shop upkeep. Not only are the pieces here beautiful, unique and carefully hand-crafted, but you can rest assured your purchase is directly benefiting the local community.

Of course, you can also stock up on island style and souvenirs on the main pedestrian strip of Miguel Hidalgo. You’ll find numerous vendors here willing to barter on everything from hats and handbags to jewelry and knick-knacks, shoes and shirts to flowy beach cover-ups and of course – tequila. Cheers!

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres Bay. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
Enjoy a Sunset Cruise

You can catch stunning sunsets anywhere on the island’s west coast, but how about elevating the experience with a beautiful sunset cruise? Sunset Grill offers private cruises for two for $350.00 (add + $70.00 for additional guests), including hors d’oeuvres, wine & beer. As the name suggests this is a restaurant as well (a beautiful, waterfront restaurant at that) open for dinner nightly with the exception of Tuesdays. 

Island Hop: Visit Uninhabited Isla Contoy

Why limit your visit to just one island? From Isla Mujeres you can also visit the uninhabited, ecological reserve of Isla Contoy. Located about 30 km (18.5 miles) north of Isla Mujeres, this protected paradise filled with natural beauty and biodiversity was declared a National Marine Park by the Mexican Conservation Authority in 1998.

You can visit the island on a full-day sail with tour operators like Isla Mujeres Trips, including snorkeling at Ixlaché Reef, both a guided tour of and free time on the island, plus food & beverages. Fun fact: Ixlaché Reef marks the beginning of the Great Mesoamerican Reef, which happens to be the 2nd largest reef system in the world.

Just Keep Swimming: Snorkeling, Scuba Diving and Swimming with Whale Sharks

For a unique in-water experience you can explore MUSA, Mexico’s unique Museo Subacuático de Arte (Underwater Museum). MUSA is a non-profit, underwater contemporary art museum designed to conserve and promote the vibrant coral reefs found throughout the region. Created in 2009, today you can view over 500 sculptures permanently affixed to the seabed – all consciously designed to encourage reef growth by acting as a habitat for marine life to colonize.

Visit now and you’ll see quite a bit of algae and coral growth on the sculptures, creating a beautiful and mesmerizing, if not eerie, sight. Satire included, the sculptures are meant to be conversation starters. One such sight is called “The Banker,” a series of men in business suits with heads buried in the sand., Another, “Inertia,” portrays a lethargic man sitting on a couch (plate of food in lap) seemingly glued to the TV. Other sculptures embody themes such as “The Dream Collector, “Resurrection” and “Inheritance.”

There are 3 locations where you can view these sculptures: Manchones Reef off the southwest tip of Isla Mujeres, Punta Sam off the coast of Cancun, and Punta Nizuc off the southeast tip of Cancun’s Hotel Zone. At a depth of 8-10 meters (26-33 feet), Manchones is recommended for scuba diving, while both Punta Sam and Punta Nizuc come in at a depth of 3.5 meters (11.5) feet and are recommended for snorkeling or glass bottom boat tours. 

There are a number of outfits that will take you to view MUSA via snorkeling, scuba diving and/or glass bottom boat, like this snorkel trip or this scuba excursion.

During the season from May – September you can also embark on the incredible adventure of swimming with whale sharks. This small group tour offers the experience with a maximum of 10 participants per boat.

Related: Where to Eat, Sleep and Play in Puerto Morelos: the Mexican Caribbean’s Best-Kept Secret

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
A stunning sunrise off Isla Mujeres’ east coast. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm
Catch Sunrise on the East Coast

Enjoy an epic sunrise anywhere on the east coast, whether from your own hotel room-with-a-view or via the winding bike & walking paths that snake around the rocky, wild coastline. You’ll be glad you set your alarm clock – watching the sun slowly appear over the ocean’s horizon is worth the early wake-up call.

Visit a Turtle Sanctuary

Located at the beginning of Sac Bajo you’ll find Tortugranja: a turtle sanctuary that safeguards breeding grounds as well as saves endangered nests, then incubates and raises the baby turtles. These tortugitas (little turtles) are cared for and fed for about 6 years before they’re released into the ocean.

A small entry fee of $30.00 pesos (which increases to $3.00 if paying USD) grants access to a series of indoor and outdoor tanks, housing different species of baby and adult turtles such as green, loggerhead and hawksbill. You can’t touch or hold the turtles, but for an additional $30.00 pesos (or +$3.00 USD) you can purchase a bag of food and feed them. It’s a nice, quick stop to appreciate these grand and gentle creatures, where you likely won’t need to spend more than 30 minutes max.

TIP: Visit from August through October and you’ll witness local children releasing the turtles into the ocean. If you’re lucky enough, you might even be able to assist.

Visit Punta Sur 
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Winding, scenic pathways await at Punta Sur. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm

Translating to “South Point” this is the southernmost tip of magical Isla Mujeres, and it’s a beauty. Here are 5 things to know about visiting Punta Sur:

1) Punta Sur is a coastal preserve featuring stunning cliffside views, scenic pathways, a lighthouse and the ancient ruins of the Temple of Ixchel: the Mayan Goddess of fertility, childbirth and medicine (to whom the entire island of Isla Mujeres is dedicated). You could easily spend an hour here or more wandering around, soaking in the views, and taking photos.

2) The pathways wind down to the water, although they get slippery. Best to wear sneakers (NOT flip-flops) if planning to wander the paths down the cliffside.

3) This place is a photographer’s paradise although be warned that if bringing your drone, it does get very windy. Fly with caution.

4) Punta Sur is open 7 days a week, 7am – 5pm. There is a small admission fee of $30.00 pesos or $3.00 USD. (The price, albeit nominal, doubles if paying in USD so better to pay in pesos if you can).

5) We highly recommend coming early morning for the best experience, and not in the middle of the day. We attempted going midday on a weekday and found the place packed. Aborted mission and returned at 8am on a Sunday and found the entire site nearly empty.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
The stunning landscape of Punta Sur. Photo: Alberto Lama for Under the Palm