Isla Mujeres is a tiny island located just outside Cancun in Mexico. The island is idyllic with its white beaches and clear water. Many people go here on day trips from Cancun and the surroundings, but it is also the perfect destination for a relaxing holiday. It is quiet and peaceful, and we chose to start our two-month-long backpacking trip here to get a relaxing start.
1. Explore the island on a bicycle
… or by a golf car if you are a bit lazy. Isla Mujeres is a relatively small island and you can easily explore the whole island on a bicycle – if you can handle the heat. As most other visitors, we stayed near the north beach (Playa Norte), which is where the island’s “city center” is. By renting bicycles we got to explore the rest of the island as we cycled down south to Punta Sur. We cycled along the sea; first along the eastern side of the island and then back along the western side. Everything was so beautiful! We ended up leaving behind more than 30km, which was a bit much considering the heat, but it was still a wonderful day. You can rent bicycles all over the island; we paid 100 pesos a day, which I think is quite OK considering the high price level on the island.
2. Go snorkeling
The sea around Isla Mujeres is filled with reefs, and snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities when visiting the island. It might be expensive, but if you haggle a bit you can get a snorkeling trip for about 350 pesos (including visiting 2-3 reefs, the underwater museum and the necessary gear). The reefs we visited were not the most exciting ones I have seen, but it was still a nice experience.
3. Enjoy the colorful streets in the center
Most pictures you see from Isla Mujeres do contain a beach, but the island has a very charming city center (despite all the tourist shops etc.). The houses are all painted in different colors and the “Caribbean feeling” is absolutely present while walking down the streets.
4. Relax on stunning Playa Norte
Playa Norte is a long, white beach just behind the center of Isla Mujeres. There are many restaurants, bars and places renting out sun beds along the beach (but it is also possible to lay on there for free). The water is very clear and the temperature is perfect.
5. Taste the local kitchen
Mexican food is just delicious. Isla Mujeres’ food is no exception. The burritos, tacos and of course the seafood is awesome. The island is known for its high prices, but by doing some research you can find some cheap options. Avoid the main street! Check out my restaurant suggestions in the end of this post.
6. Visit Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun Underwater Museum is quite unique – almost 500 statues have been placed on the bottom of the sea. How cool is not that? The museum is best visited by scuba diving, but it is also possible to explore it by snorkeling. A stop by the museum is often included in the snorkeling tours mentioned above. The museum is quite creepy as most statues are people and they look very realistic!
7. Look for street art around the island
As mentioned, the streets are so colorful at Isla Mujeres, and the street art you can find on every corner makes it all even cooler! We found really impressing street art all over the island.
8. Watch the sunset
… and the sunrise if you are an early bird. The sunset pictures below are taken on Playa Norte, which is known for its stunning sunsets. The sunset was like this every evening! There are supposed to be great sunrises on the other side of the island, but I never got up early enough to see that.
How to get to Isla Mujeres:
The closest airport is Cancun. From Cancun airport, take ADO bus (departs about every twice an hour) to Cancun downtown for 72 pesos. The bus drive is about 30 minutes. From the bus station you can grab a cab to the ferry terminal (for 100 pesos or less), or find a local bus. The ferry to Isla Mujeres departs from Puerto Juarez, the price is 300 pesos for a return ticket and it takes about 15 minutes. When you arrive at the island, you can basically walk anywhere in the center, or grab a cab waiting by the pier if you prefer that.
Where to eat on a budget in Isla Mujeres:
♥ Ruben’s Restaurant: My absolute favorite in Isla Mujeres! Almost everything on the menu cost less than 100 pesos. They have traditional Mexican food and it is really good. The chimichanga and the super burrito are super tasty. This is a real bargain, and you get so much food that you can share one dish between two people (especially for lunch).
♥ Q’Bravo: This is a tiny restaurant that is open from the morning and until 3pm. We had a great breakfast burrito here for 95 pesos, and most dishes cost less than 100 pesos.
♥ Pita Amore: This is more a bar than a restaurant, and they have small menu only consisting of items made by pitas. A pita is about 100 pesos and the tasty pitas are perfect to share for lunch.
Most restaurants in the main street are quite expensive (expect to pay at least 150 pesos for less quality food than the ones mentioned above), but some have good deals that are worth checking out. For example, La Catrina offers three tacos and two beers for 85 pesos, which is a real bargain (a beer usually costs 25-45 pesos on the island).
Where to stay:
I recommend staying near the city center and Playa Norte. There are resorts, hotels and casas all over the island, but you will end up going pretty far to find restaurants if you do not stay near the center. We stayed at Villa Kiin. This hotel is not the cheapest option, but the location is PERFECT. The hotel is one of the few located on the beach near Playa Norte and you can spend your days relaxing in the hammocks in the hotel’s garden. Just check out the pictures below! The service and quality of the hotel are not the best, but the location makes up for that.
In cooperation with momondo
Remember to follow me on Instagram @mariasadventurecom!