Magic, Romance, Relaxation
The former fishing village of Isla Mujeres (whose name translates to “Island of Women”) lies just eight miles off the coast of Cancun, making it a popular day trip option. One of Mexico’s “Magic Towns,” Isla Mujeres is known for its relaxing atmosphere and slow island pace, where travelers come to shut off and tune out.
You won’t find many cars on the tiny island, which stretches less than 5 miles long and a third of a mile wide. Golf carts make it easy to cruise around Isla Mujeres and explore the island’s beaches, natural parks, and the temple that is located on Punta Sur, the southern tip, which is fittingly dedicated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of love and also the moon, fertility, and health.
Where to Stay
Isla Mujeres is about a 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland, and you can depart from 4 different docks: Puerto Juarez (located downtown) and three others located in the hotel zone.
Lodging options on the island are scattered around downtown, along the beach, and in the southern tip in Punta Sur, and include a nice mix of B&Bs, boutique hotels, hostels, small independent hotels, and luxury and adult-only all-inclusive resorts. The more secluded hotels are located in the southern tip, these are great for couples looking for privacy and plan to stay on-site for amenities like pools or spas, hotels in the northern end are perfectly situated for travelers who want to be within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and the beach.
What to Do
Once you arrive, head to the golf cart rentals and cruise off to the main beach of Playa Norte — Ranked as one of The 10 Best Beaches in the World — where the shallow, warm water is perfect for swimming (unlike the eastern coast, where the currents are strong). Enjoy the magnificent views by zip-lining over the Caribbean Sea, or admire the colorful fish and its coral reefs--one of the main draws to Isla Mujeres.
Explore even deeper by visiting the MUSA (Museo Subacuatico de Arte), an innovative project designed to teach visitors about the region and counteract the effects of climate change on our oceans and reef systems. This museum is located just off the coast of Isla Mujeres and consists of 12 galleries. There is also plenty to explore while scuba diving in the water around the island, such as Manchones Reef and its coral bank, home to the Cross of the Bay, a submerged bronze cross that has become a favorite for underwater photographers and divers.
Downtown, or "El Centro" is where you’ll find the majority of the island’s shops and restaurants, which typically serve the signature Tikin-Xic spice-coated fish that’s wrapped and roasted in a banana leaf. Most
Isla Mujeres restaurants are on the casual side, but you can find a wide array of international and regional cuisine, where fresh fish and seafood are the stars.