10 Tropical Things to Do in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

by | Last updated Jan 12, 2021 | Mexico, Travel Blog | 14 comments

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My favorite part about Isla Mujeres isn’t in its turquoise waters or boho streets, but in its name, which translates to “Women Island”. I had heard about this tropical slide of paradise and decided to put it on my bucket list. And I’m so glad I did!

Isla Mujeres easily became one of my favorite islands in Mexico. Perhaps even more so than the wild and sandy island of Holbox or the Caribbean port island of Cozumel! I would love to go back and take a seat at one of its cute swing bars, or rent another golf cart and drive around the skirts of the island.

Most people take day trips to Isla Mujeres from Cancun (like we did). But even in just one day, you can easily get a sense of the island’s good vibes. Whether it’s just a day or a week, here are the best things to do for your Isla Mujeres Mexico bucket list! 

10 Fun & Tropical Things to Do on Women Island

Here are the top ten fun and tropical things to do in Isla Mujeres Mexico! (Not that you need to do anything once your bum hits the sand but…). 😉

1. Rent a golf cart and explore the island

To start this bucket list properly, I have to start with renting a golf cart! This might not seem like the best thing to do in Isla Mujeres, but it is! Both locals and international tourists can be spotted navigating the island’s narrow streets, and even the main highway, on a golf cart. Especially if you only have one day in Isla Mujeres, renting a golf cart and exploring around is one of the best ways to see the island beyond the shop-lined streets and boat terminal.

To rent a golf cart in Isla Mujeres you’ll need two things: cash money and your passport or photo ID as a deposit for safekeeping until you return the cart. Golf cart rentals aren’t cheap, but the cost is affordable if you split among family or friends. Most golf cart rentals cost between $700-900 MX pesos per day, or upward of $250-300 pesos per hour. We rented two carts for an hour to drive to the tip of the island and back, but it was way too rushed, so I recommend renting for at least 2-3 hours if not for the whole day.

2. Lounge in paradise on Playa Norte

Playa Norte is one of the most idyllic beaches on Isla Mujeres. Spending the day here is one of the best things to do if you’re looking to relax and enjoy the Caribbean views! There are several beachfront restaurants featuring lounge chairs and bar service.

In our experience, unless you were a guest at the hotel, you had to pay an additional fee for the chairs/restaurant service. I think we paid around 200 pesos, but we were a large group and were able to negotiate the price a bit. The water is extremely blue and gorgeous! Our only disappointment from that day was the rainy weather and overcast sky.

3. Walk oceanside at Punta Sur – the southern tip of the island

Speaking of Punta Sur, visiting the southern tip of the island is one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres! You can walk along the oceanside cliffs for panoramic views, marvel at the ruins of the Goddess Ixchel, and visit a beautiful sculpture garden. The best time to visit is early morning before the crowds arrive around 10-11 am. The admission fee costs around $30 MX pesos and visitors advise bringing an extra 5-10 pesos for the on-site restroom.

4. Discover all the sealife mural art around town

Discover the underwater sealife on land with a sight-seeing wall art tour! (You can do this on your own or with a guide). The wall art in Isla Mujeres is beautiful, colorful, and really gives an extra feeling of tropical paradise to the atmosphere.

Rent a golf cart and go on a wall art treasure hunt! The best place to start is in El Centro. From there, head to el Pantéon (the cemetery) for stunning artwork. The tour will continue to take you through the Madera Art Gallery, includes admission to the Punta Sur park and the Tortugranja turtle sanctuary (where more murals are hidden). You can do all of this on your own though if you want to have a bit more flexibility.

5. Support local women at the Women’s Beading Cooperative

An off-the-beaten-path thing to do in Isla Mujeres is stopping by the Women’s Beading Cooperative. This initiative was started by local women on the island who joined their handicraft forces to creating this co-op. The proceeds from their beading handwork directly benefit the women and their families! All of the jewelry is unique, handmade, and priced extremely fairly. You know where the work came from and it makes for an especially meaningful souvenir!

Catch them in their shop from 9-5 pm Mon-Sat and until 3 pm on Sunday. Full address: Calle Paseo de Los Peces MZ 160 L5, La Gloria, 77400 Q.R.

6. Swim responsibly with whale sharks

Whale sharks are one of the top attractions in Isla Mujeres, as these gentle giants come to visit the skirts of the island during the peak months of July-August. You can do a snorkeling tour to get up close to these beasts, but please book with a responsible/sustainable tour company that respects wildlife and dedicates their time to preserving the natural environment.

Whale Sharks - Things to Do in Isla Mujeres MexicoImages credit: Canva

7. Snorkel or scuba dive in the island’s clear waters

Snorkeling and/or scuba diving is a must-do activity in Isla Mujeres! The water is extremely inviting, stunningly clear and turquoise, and has plenty of vibrant undersea life to visit. Both the Squalo Adventures and Carey Dive Center offer snorkeling/scuba diving tours, are well-rated, and have decent prices.

8. Explore downtown for the best shops and cafes

El Centro in Isla Mujeres has such cute shops and cafes that simply walking around and enjoying a couple is a must! I really loved walking down the hip pedestrian-only streets in downtown (Miguel Hidalgo street) and seeing all the terraces and fun bars.

For late-night fun and dancing, El Patio and Fayne’s are two popular Caribbean bars in town, while Cafe Mogagua offers the best coffee and breakfast. And if you’re looking for the coolest beachfront swing bar, head to Buho’s!

Other favorite places to eat in Isla Mujeres: Lola Valentina, Olivia, and Javi’s Cantina.

9. Release baby turtles at the Tortugranja (Turtle Farm)

The Tortugranja (or turtle farm) is the coolest and budget-friendly things to do in Isla Mujeres! What’s better than seeing some baby turtles while supporting a good cause? (Hint: Nada!) You get to see every step of the hatchling – adult turtle process and learn all about the hard work the sanctuary is doing to preserve the endangered turtles of the island. The entrance fee is just a couple of pesos, or around $3 USD, so supporting these guys doesn’t cost you much!

10. Check out the underwater museum MUSA

Isla Mujeres and Cancun share the Underwater Museum of Art – MUSA inside the National Marine Park. You can do the trip either from Cancun or from a short boat trip from Isla Mujeres. The mission of the MUSA is to regrow, protect, and preserve the natural reef systems that have been damaged due to climate change. The MUSA has over 1,300+ artificial habitats across 12 galleries to help regrow the coral reef and promote a healthy marine life. You can visit the museum with a 2-tank scuba dive tour here.

What to Do in 1 Day on Isla Mujeres (Itinerary)

If you only have one day in Isla Mujeres, consider this itinerary I made just for you! 🙂

Morning

  • Arrive in Isla Mujeres via ferry from Cancun
  • Explore around El Centro, walk down Miguel Hidalgo street
  • Stop at a cafe for coffee/tea
  • Support the women at Women’s Beading Collective
  • Grab lunch at Javi’s Cantina (or another restaurant)

Afternoon

  • Rent a golf cart for the day/afternoon
  • Stop by the Turtlegranja turtle farm
  • Continue driving down to Punta Sur
  • Visit Punta Sur
  • Return to El Centro, stopping along to marvel at the coast along the way

Late Afternoon-Evening

  • Spend the remainder of the sunny afternoon at Playa Norte
  • Swim/snorkel at Playa Norte
  • Grab a tropical drink at Buho’s (the beach swing bar)
  • Eat dinner at Fayne’s (or somewhere else)
  • Finish the night off at El Patio Casa de la Musica

Travel tip: If you have to return to Cancun in the evening on the same day, the ferries are every 30 minutes up until 9:30 pm. So you still have time for dinner in Isla Mujeres. After that, the last ferries back to Cancun are at 10 pm, 11 pm, and midnight

Isla Mujeres MexicoImages credit: Canva

Where to Stay on Isla Mujeres

The best place to stay on the island will depend on what you’re looking for. Most boutique hotels are in the bustling downtown area in El Centro near the ferry port along the pedestrian streets.

Best budget-friendly places to stay in Isla Mujeres Hostel Azucar, Hotel Maria Elena, Posada Paso del Sol

Mid-range/Boutique hotelsBalu Hostel, Isla Caracol

Luxury stays Lotus Beach Hotel, Izla Beach Front Hotel

Must-Have Isla Mujeres Travel Items

Reef-friendly sunscreen. When traveling anywhere tropical, I always like to carry reef-friendly sunscreen (like this one). If I don’t, I’ll usually cave and have to use a commercial brand that usually contains oxybenzone or octinoxate – two chemicals that are proven to be environmentally-damaging and harmful to marine life. But most often, I try to just wear a large t-shirt or clothing to protect myself from UV rays in order to avoid using large amounts of sunscreen.

Underwater camera gear. I just bought into the underwater camera gear and I couldn’t be happier with my choice! I have a DJI Osmo Action and my only wish is that I would’ve had it sooner for our snorkeling and swimming adventures in Isla Mujeres. If you have an underwater cam, don’t leave it at home!

Isla Mujeres Travel Tips

How to get to Isla Mujeres

The most convenient way to get to Isla Mujeres is from Cancun via a ferry. The Ultramar ferry costs around 160 pesos/pp one-way or 300 pesos round-trip.

Is Isla Mujeres safe?

Yes, it is a safe island to visit in Mexico. Most parts of Mexico are safe for tourism unless you plan to come and deal with cartels and drugs. That’s when you wouldn’t be safe. When you are out at night in Isla Mujeres, be aware of yourself, don’t get stupid drunk, and don’t walk alone in dodgy areas.

Weather

The weather on the island is consistently tropical year-round. You can expect breezy winds, sudden tropical storms, but mostly hot, sunny weather ideal for beach days and swimming in the Caribbean water. The weather will ultimately determine what to do in Isla Mujeres.

Best time to visit Isla Mujeres

The best time to visit Isla Mujeres depends on what you want to do and see there. Whale shark season is from mid-June to August, but that also concurs with the wetter and hotter months of the year. Going in December/January is a peak time to visit for the weather and for holidays, so the downside of that will be lots of crowds.

If you can, book your trip to Isla Mujeres sometime between February-May when the days are dry and sunny, and the holiday crowds and waned out (if you want to see the whale sharks then book later).

Isla Mujeres, Mexico: A Tropical Travel Guide

I hope this guide for things to do in Isla Mujeres helps plan your getaway trip to this beautiful, tropical island! Mexico has so many gorgeous destinations, it can be hard to choose where to go to spend your time.

If you are in Cancun, don’t pass up the opportunity to take a day trip to Isla Mujeres. Use my itinerary to help you plan your itinerary!

Looking for more Mexico island inspiration? Read my island guides to Cozumel and Holbox.

Have you been to Isla Mujeres Mexico? If not, is it on your bucket list? Drop your thoughts and questions with me in the comments below!

xx Bri

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14 Comments

  1. Christine Gharbi

    I have been to Isla Mujeras at least 7 or 8 times since 1999 and oh my has it changed, for the better! Although I loved it every time I visited, my last trip was my favorite in 2019 when I stayed on the island for 3 days during my Cancun vacation. Ilove it so much that I am returning in March of this year for an entire week. Thank you so much for all the ideas, some I have already done but some I have not. Five weeks and counting……

    Reply
    • Bri

      Hey Christine! Wow, that’s quite a while that you’ve been visiting! I would also love to go back. Maybe someday! Enjoy your time there and do let me know if any of the things to do mentioned above have changed since I last visited! x

      Reply
  2. Tiana Bantis

    Wow this place looks amazing! Love all the street art and colourful buildings

    Reply
    • Bri

      Thanks Tiana! The color + wall murals really add to its charm!

      Reply
  3. Nicole

    I need to visit here simply for the underwater museum! This guide and the 1-day itinerary is perfect, and is making feel a little better after day 582 of rain here in Seattle lol

    Reply
    • Bri

      Oh no hahah! Sending you some sunshine Nicole! Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  4. Catherine

    Why have I not been here! Looks amazing. It’s my dream to swim with whale sharks

    Reply
    • Bri

      It is a super lovely island! One of my favorites. And yes me too!!

      Reply
  5. Hannah

    Isla Mujeres looks absolutely delightful! My friends have just come back from Cancun, I wish I’d read this earlier to show them! I would love to visit the turtle farm – what a worthy cause!

    Reply
    • Bri

      Isn’t it great?! I didn’t get to go during my time there but I’d love to go back and spend some more time here. xx

      Reply
  6. Em

    How do you like the DJI Osmo Action?? Is that whale shark pic you have taken with that camera?

    I’m leaving for a big trip soon and tried to get a GoPro, but they have the scammiest company ever and I never got my product sent! Their customer service is shockingly bad and they refused to get me a new one in time for my departure! So I never want to give them my money again. Would love to know how you like that camera and how easy it is to accessorize!

    Reply
    • Bri

      hey Em! Oh no! Sounds like a bad experience indeed! And no, that picture I credited to canva, it was a stock photo (not my own!) I didn’t have a DJI for this trip! But now I do have a DJI and can totally recommend it! I went through A LOT of comparisons GoPro vs DJI and they are more or less the same with very little visible difference in video quality and color. For the price point of the DJI (I got mine for $120 off over the holidays), I couldn’t see why I’d go with GoPro this time around. Love the tactile screen and overall it seems super quality! I also am looking at their mini Mavic drone now too! xx

      Reply
  7. Laura

    Love how in depth this post is – I wish I had this when I first visited Isla Mujeres. With all your recommendations now I want to go back!

    Reply
    • Bri

      Thanks Laura! Me too I want to go back 🙂 This time I’d go during whale shark season though!

      Reply

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Hi, I’m Bri! I’ve been slow traveling around the world in search of new adventures since 2013. I have lived in 8 countries on 4 continents including Nepal, Mexico, Colombia, and parts of Europe! I created this blog to inspire others to live a life of adventure, seek out meaningful experiences, and to travel slowly and mindfully. Join me on this journey and let’s tick off our bucket lists! Read my story here.

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