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Why These 2 Islands Near Cancun Are Growing Popular With Day-Trippers 

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There is no shortage of amazing vacation destinations lining the Mexican Caribbean coast, but there are only a few island paradises where you can spend the day.   

Two, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, are super popular among tourists who want to experience a day on a tropical island during their Mexican Caribbean vacation.   

These islands are so popular that between them they welcomed more than 2.5 million tourists just during the first three months of 2024.

Here are a few reasons why these two islands near Cancun are growing popular with day-trippers:   

The Island of Isla Mujeres Off of the Coast of Cancun, Mexico

Easy To Get To 

One of the great things about these two islands is that they are pretty easy to get to if you’re visiting Cancun or Playa del Carmen.   

Two different ferry companies offer service from Cancun to Isla Mujeres and Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.   

In Cancun, Ultramar ferries depart from three locations, two of which are in the Hotel Zone.   

An ultramar ferry headed to isla mujeres from cancun

Less Than An Hour Away 

Both Xcaret Sailing and Ultramar operate all day, starting early in the morning and running into the evening hours, every day of the week.   

The trips to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel only take about 20-30 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively.   

The wide availability of ferries, and the short trip to either destination, makes them perfect for a day trip from Cancun or Playa del Carmen.   

Cozumel Island with ferry dock, resorts, restaurants in the background

Inexpensive Trips 

While prices vary from one ferry company to the next, both options offer decent rates.   

The roundtrip Ultramar ferry trip from Cancun to Isla Mujeres runs around $32 for adults and $24 for children.   

From Playa del Carmen to Cozumel the trip is about $34 and $27.   

The Xcaret ferry is the more affordable option, priced at around $28 for an adult roundtrip ticket from Isla Mujeres to Cancun, and $19 for a child.   

The Cozumel trip from Playa del Carmen costs around $24 and $12. 

Ferry with People Onboard

Unique Activities And Attractions 

Both Isla Mujeres and Cozumel have unique activities and attractions to explore.   

For example, both places have amazing snorkeling, as the reefs surrounding the islands are part of the second-largest reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Reef.   

Isla Mujeres also has the MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art.  Additionally, both islands are also home to small Mayan ruins sites.   

MUSA underwater museum

Charming Towns  

If you’re looking to escape the busier vacation destinations on the mainland, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by a trip to one of these islands.   

Both have charming towns with restaurants run by locals, smaller bars where friendly locals hang out, and local shops with handmade handicrafts.   

Isla Mujeres and Cozumel offer more laid-back, authentic experiences than those you’ll find in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.   

Both towns are also very walkable, and not far from where the ferry ports are on the island.   

Vendors on a Street Leading Up To the Beach in Cozumel, Mexico

Less Sargassum 

A little-known fact that might make Isla Mujeres and Cozumel day trips even more tempting is that the beaches in both tend to get less sargassum.   

Sargassum is a type of seaweed that washes up on the beaches and is a bit unsightly and produces a smell when decomposing.   

The reason the islands have less sargassum has to do with where along the coast the islands are positioned.   

This is particularly appealing for those visiting during the spring and summer months when sargassum arrives the most.   

Playa Norte beach on Isla Mujeres island near Cancun in Mexico.

Beautiful Beaches 

Last, but certainly not least, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, of course, have beautiful beaches, and plenty of them.   

Like other Mexican Caribbean beaches, the ones surrounding both islands are known for their soft white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters.   

One of the bonuses is that the beaches are not surrounded by quite as many towering, sprawling resorts, which makes for a relaxing vacation day.

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