Isla Mujeres is a tiny island, only 4 miles long and 650 meters wide, but despite its diminutive size, it is jam-packed with attractions. You can visit the island on a boat tour, or take the 20-minute Ultramar ferry ride from downtown Cancun or the Zona Hotelera.
However you get there, Isla Mujeres is an easy day trip from the big city that will make you feel like you’re in another world.
Hire a golf cart
When you arrive on the island, it’s a great idea to hire a golf cart. It’s the main mode of transport here and the best way to get around. It means you won’t have to hire a taxi or rely on your feet to get from A to B. Plus, it’s hard to beat that feeling of the breeze in your hair as you zip around exploring.
There are a ton of stores and vendors near the ferry dock who will be able to fix you up with a rental. Plan to pay around $50 USD for a full day’s hire.
Chill out on Playa Norte beach
As chance would have it, the best beach on Isla Mujeres is only a few minutes away from the ferry dock. Although this beach has the same fine, white sand and turquoise ocean as Cancun, because this beach is set in a bay, the water here is incredibly calm and shallow. The west-facing beach is also one of the few in the area where you can watch a sunset over the water.
It will come as no surprise the beach can get busy, but there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and beach clubs to choose from, where you can rent a day bed and enjoy some cocktails while you admire the paradise view.
Head down to Punta Sur
When you’ve had enough of the beach, another interesting place to visit is Punta Sur. It’s at the southernmost point of the island where, in complete contrast to the tranquility of the water at Playa Norte, the waves crash and pound the rocky shoreline.
Punta Sur is home to a small ecological park with a lighthouse, a series of metal sculptures now pleasingly rusted from the sea air, a couple of short walking trails, and the ruins of a temple dedicated to the Mayan Goddess, Ixchel.
Visit the turtle sanctuary
If you want to see a little wildlife on your Isla Mujeres day trip, you could try the Tortugranja, or Turtle Farm, which is located 3 miles south of the main town. Founded by a fisherman in the 1980s to conserve sea turtles, the sanctuary now protects endangered loggerhead, green, and hawksbill turtles from being killed for their eggs or meat.
Spend an hour or two feeding the baby turtles, and watch the larger sea turtles – some weighing several hundred pounds – swim serenely in the tanks. Also living in the sanctuary are other marine animals, including manta rays and nurse sharks.
Check out a brewery
It may come as a surprise that Isla Mujeres has a microbrewery, but Isla Brewing Company has been producing craft beers since 2013 when its owners Jeff and Rhett McGahee packed up their North Carolina home to start a new beer-based life on Isla Mujeres.
A perfect spot for beer-lovers, the Isla Brewing Tasting Room is a popular place to kick back and relax while sampling some of the local brews. Ranging from a classic pale ale to a dark rum and vanilla porter, the beers are interesting and tasty, as confirmed by the number of local restaurants and bars that stock them.
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