Isla Mujeres is one of the two Pueblos Magico or Magical Towns in the Mexican state of Quin-tana Roo, and it fully lives up to the name. This quiet, serene paradise can only be reached by fer-ry, and it makes a pleasant day trip from Cancun. But if you want to spend your honeymoon in an island paradise, you can stay at one of the small boutique hotels or lodges here for your own romantic seaside getaway.
You’ll find beaches with fine white sands and crystal clear waters with shallows that go out a long way, perfect for swimming, boating and snorkeling. From May to September, you can see and even swim with the gentle whale sharks when they visit these waters during their seasonal migrations. Make a trip to the nearby island of Isla Contoy, which is uninhabited by humans and has been declared a bird sanctuary.
Private cars are not allowed on the island, but it’s small enough that you can get around on foot, or you can rent bicycles or golf carts. There are also taxis and buses to take you around if you want to go beyond the downtown area to the Tortuganja, which is a breeding and rehabilitation center for endangered sea turtles, or to the Mayan temple dedicated to the goddess Ixchel..
Small restaurants in the downtown area and the beaches serve a variety of foods, including Mex-ican foods and regional specialities like grilled Tikin-Xic fish, as well as international dishes to suit the tourists from around the world. Accommodations consist mostly of smaller hotels and hostels, with something to suit every budget and taste.
About Isla Mujeres
At a Glance
- The name Isla Mujeres means Island of Women. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they found many statues of Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of childbirth and medicine, from which the island got its name.
- In the early nineteenth century, the island was a favored stop for pirates. Famous pirates like Henry Morgan, Jean Lafitte and Hernan Mundaca spent quite a bit of time here.
- The island is just 2,000 feet wide and less than 5 miles long. The best way to see everything is on foot, or by bicycle, moped or golf-cart.
- North Beach is considered one of the top ten beaches in the world because of its fine white sands framed by palm trees and the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. Other popular beaches are Playa Centro and Playa Albatros.
- Surrounded by crystal clear waters and coral reefs, the island is a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers. The Garrafón Natural Reef Park has zip lines that will take you over the coral reefs, snorkeling to get close to the underwater world, and buffet bars on the beach where you can relax in hammocks with delicious food.
- For underwater sightseeing, there’s also the unique MUSA, an underwater museum with con-crete sculptures designed to support the growth of endangered coral.
- The Tortugranja is a hatchery and rehabilitation facility for endangered sea turtles. There are also seahorses and other marine life in the pools and outside.
- You can take a taxi to visit the Hacienda Mundaca which was built in the 19th century by a genuine Caribbean pirate, Fermin Mundaca. You’ll see the remains of the hacienda and also the orchards and gardens full of birds and exotic plants
- Try an upscale seafood dinner for two at a seaside restaurant, with torches to light your meal.
- Make plans to be on the beach at sunrise or sunset. Isla Mujeres is the easternmost point in Mexico and the rising sun touches the island first every day at Punta Sur or South Point, and it’s a beautiful sight.
- Go swimming with the dolphins for an unforgettable experience. You can also swim with the whale sharks, which are very gentle creatures despite the name.
- If you enjoy shopping together, check out the downtown souvenir shops. Silver jewelry and other items are a good buy here.
- Take a trip to Isla Contoy, also known as Isla de los pájaros or the Island of the Birds, an unin-habited island which has been a national park since 1998. At the bird sanctuary you can see more than 210 species of birds, including herons, cormorants, swallows, brown pelicans. Only 200 people are allowed to visit each day, so make a reservation early.
- GETTING THERE: The only way to get to Isla Mujeres is by ferry. Ferries leave every half hour from Port Juarez just north of Cancun. The trip takes about 20 minutes each way.
- GETTING AROUND: Private cars are not allowed on the island, and the best way to see eve-rything is on foot or by golf cart or moped. You can rent golf carts by the hour. There are also taxis and buses to take you around the island.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: If you’re planning to get married here, make sure you meet all legal requirements. You’ll find all information on marriage regulations here (link: https://www.mexicancaribbean.travel/weddings/requirements/)
- CURRENCY: The peso. U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere but change will likely be in pe-sos.
- ELECTRICITY: 110 volts, 60 cycles. Bring a power surge protector for your computer.
- AVERAGE YEAR ROUND TEMPERATURE: 80 degrees F.
- WHEN TO GO: With a comfortable tropical climate, this is a year-round destination. Hurri-cane season is in the fall, so make sure you check the forecast and keep track of any storms.
- WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES: One of the best ways to get around the island is on foot, so make sure you have comfortable footwear.
- BRING SUNSCREEN & TOILETRIES: The sun is very strong and you can get a bad burn in a short time.
- DON’T LOSE YOUR TOURIST CARD: The remainder of the Tourist Card you receive upon arrival has to be turned in when you leave the country. Keep it safely with your passport.
- HEALTH: International travel to Mexico was never shut down due to Covud-19, but each re-gion, most hotels and tourist attractions have their own guidelines that must be followed by visitors. When planning your trip, check these guidelines in advance. Travelers to Mexico should also keep themselves updated on the status of the Zika virus.