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Isla Mujeres & Isla Contoy, Mexico travel guide

Isla Mujeres (“Island of Women”) is a small beautiful island in the Mexican Caribbean in the state of Quintana Roo. It is located just right in front of Cancún. The island where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire Mexico.

HOW TO GET THERE:

There are only 3 options how to get to the island (unless you have your own yacht 🙂 )

1. Take a ferry from Cancún

ULTRAMAR ferry leaves from Puerto Juárez every 30 min – 1 hour (depending on the time of the day) and takes around 20 min to arrive to Isla Mujeres. The first ferry leaves at 6:30 am and the last one at 10 pm. There are 3 ferries a day leaving also from Cancun Hotel Zone from each of the following: Playa Tortugas, El Embarcadero and Playa Caracol. The price of the ferry is 380MXN (15,50EUR) for the roundtrip.

For more info about the times check the link below: https://www.ultramarferry.com/en/routes-and-departures

If you fly to Cancún airport and want to get to the ferry dock ,the best option is to take the ADO bus from Cancún airport to the central bus station which cost 98MXN (around 4 EUR) and then from the central bus station take a taxi to Puerto Juárez for 150MXN (around 6EUR).

You can buy your tickets for ADO bus online or in the airport arrival hall. Here is the link to buy it online: https://www.ado.com.mx

2. Take a flight to Isla Mujeres

For the moment the airport is closed because of the pandemic but normally you can fly to Isla Mujeres from many cities in the US or Mexico.

3. Take a boat tour from Cancún

If you plan on visiting the island only for 1 day you can take a boat tour from Cancún. However even for 1 day we would recommend to go with the ferry, be independent and visit everything at your own pace. It is also cheaper than any kind of tour.

WHERE TO STAY:

We strongly recommend you to stay in the “centre” which is the northern part of the island. That’s the “place to be”. All the best restaurants & cafés are located here. If you come by ferry, it also leaves you here, most of the tours start from here and the best part…the most beautiful beach on the island (and one of the most beautiful in Mexico if not the entire world) is also located HERE.

ACCOMMODATION:

Hostel:

If you are looking for a hostel we heard great things about “Hostel POC NA”.

Budget apartment:

We stayed at “Arrecife Apartments” and we can highly recommend this place for a cheap stay (35-40 EUR/night).

Mid-range resort:

In the “centre” there are not many luxury hotels and resorts, so if that’s what you are looking for you have to move southern (we heard good things about “Izla Beach Front Hotel”).

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGnQewlAdXz/

Luxury hotel:

For a luxury stay we would recommend “Lotus Beach Hotel” which we haven’t had a chance to stay at, but we have visited their beach club and we loved it. It is one of the few luxury hotels located in the “centre”.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CHDZ_ZVIul1/

Unique hotel:

For those looking for something very special, there is a hotel in a shape of a shell – The Shell House. It costs a bit but it definitely is very unique.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CGZ7sA0I_dL/

HOW TO GET AROUND THE ISLAND:

If you stay in the “centre” you don’t need any kind of vehicle as everything is close by on foot. We would recommend to rent a golf cart just for one day to explore the areas outside of the “centre”. Rent a golf cart from the morning until the evening (not 24h) to save money. We payed around 600MXN (25EUR) from 10am to 6pm. The cart is for 4 people so if you share it with some friends it’s quite cheap. If you are alone or a couple and want to save money you can rent a scooter which costs around 15 EUR a day.

If you don’t have a driver’s license or you simply don’t feel like driving you can always take a taxi. However we can’t provide you the price as we haven’t taken one, but considering the taxis we took in the rest of Mexico it should be more or less 30-100 MXN (1,50EUR-4EUR) depending on where you want to go and on the taxi driver’s mood 🙂 .

WHAT TO DO:

1. Go on a snorkelling or a diving tour to the underwater MUSA museum

MUSA or “Museo Subacuático de Arte” is a subaquatic museum with more than 500 sculptures spread around the ocean. The museum is an innovative project designed to counteract the effects of climate change on our oceans and reef systems. It serves as an artificial reef and the sculptures are made of a neutral cement that stimulates coral growth.

The price of the tour: 900MXN (37 EUR)

This is the phone number of a guy that works in this tour company: +52 998 130 62 26

2. Visit one of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico – Playa Norte

White soft sand and turquoise crystal clear shallow water. What else do you expect from a perfect beach? :). We totally fell in love with this beach and we believe you will too. We especially enjoyed our time there during early mornings as it was empty and we just had the best time. In the afternoon it tends to get a bit crowded with people on the beach and also by many boats coming there from Cancun.

3. Visit Punta Sur ecological park

Located on the southern tip of the island you can find the highest elevation in Yucatán Peninsula – Punta Sur. Funny thing is that it’s only 20 m above sea level but the entire Yucatan Peninsula is very flat and tilted towards the ocean. It is also a place where the rising sun first touches Mexican soil and the home to an ancient temple honoring the Mayan Goddess of fertility and the Moon – Ixchel. Unfortunately the temple is pretty much destroyed and there are only a few ruins left to see. There is also the Sculptural Park that features colorful metal sculptures of contemporary art. Take a walk around this ecological park and treat yourself with a beautiful view of the Mexican Carribean. The entrance fee is 30MXN which is only 1,20 EUR.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CMgEkDulOLm/
We haven’t been lucky with the weather the day we visited so I rather shared this instagram post instead 🙂

4. Watch the sunset at “Zama Beach Club”

Even though Playa Norte is the best beach, it is facing north so you will not get the best sunset view there. Therefore we suggest to head to the “Zama Beach Club” which is facing west and you will get to see the perfect sunset while sipping the cocktail on the hammocks in the sea.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CHvKfRNAqTd/
Once again haven’t been lucky with the weather to see the sunset like this as it was raining so here is another picture 🙂

5. Stroll around the “Avenida Miguel Hidalgo”

“Avenida Hidalgo” is the main pedestrian street. It is full of shops, bars and restaurants. It is worth to come also in the evening for that “relaxing holiday evening vibe” if you know what I mean :D.

6. Swim with whale sharks

If you are visiting Isla Mujeres between May and September you are one lucky person! It’s the “swimming with whale shark season” YAY! Unfortunately we visited in the beginning of Janury and once again at the end of February so we haven’t had the chance to do that but it will wait for us :). You can book the tour online on websites such as “Get Your Guide” and “Viator” or in person in the ferry port of Isla Mujeres.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BziN0pgBrBT/
Gosh I wish we were there during whale shark season and had the opportunity to swim with them! Such beautiful creatures!

7. Take a day trip to Isla Contoy

Visiting Isla Contoy was a big highlight of our trip as it was everything what we were looking for and more!

Isla Contoy is an uninhabited tiny island located 30km north of Isla Mujeres. The size of the island is only 3 squared kilometres and most of it is covered by the jungle. The island is protected by the Mexican government since 1961 and was declared a national park in 1998. It was one of the most beautiful and serene places we have ever seen and we can’t recommend it enough. During your stay you will have around 2,5 hours of beach time and 30 min of guided tour through the island (the tour also includes snorkelling but that’s during the extra time).

There are only 200 visitors allowed per day and as we visited it during the pandemic, the number went down to only 77 per day. It is quite challenging to get a free spot so we highly recommend to book in advance. The price is around 80 EUR with the company we went with. It included boat ride to Isla Contoy, coral reef snorkelling, snorkelling equipment, drinks, some fruit and lunch. The price was quite good considering that some other guy offered us the same tour for 120 EUR.

Here is the number of one guy who works for the tour company that we took: +52 998 130 62 26

You can also take this tour from Cancun and like that you will also have 1h free time on Isla Mujeres included (from Cancun it was more expensive though).

8. Visit the “Tortugranja” – turtle sanctuary

This sanctuary was opened in 1980s by a local fisherman who tried to save turtles from hunters who killed many of them for their eggs and meat (I know…GROSS!). Nowadays they rescue thousands of turtles a year, care for them until there is no longer the need and after release them into the ocean. You might be lucky enough to visit during their “release ceremony” and see how they get back to the ocean.

Entrance fee: 30MXN (1,20EUR)

9. Looking for a beach club? “Guru Beach Club” is the one!

We loved this beach club as it was located on Playa Norte, it had a pool overlooking the ocean, great food and drinks, it was very stylish and surprisingly there was no minimum consumption. This beach club belongs to the “Lotus Beach Hotel” that we have mentioned before.

10. Have some fun at “Parque de los sueños” or “Garrafon Park

Parque de los sueños

If you would like to do some fun water activities, this attraction water park is for you.

Your day pass includes unlimited use of paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling gear, ocean slides, rope swings, zip-lines and climbing wall.

After you burn all the calories you can have a cocktail in their swim-up pool bar and a proper barbecue lunch on the sundeck (lunch and unlimited soft drinks are also included in your entrance fee).

Entrance fee: around 58 EUR/person

https://www.instagram.com/p/CHOIjwOnNzT/
Garrafon Park

Very similar park with almost the same activities. However the Garrafon Park also offers Temazcal sessions (ancient Mayan ceremony) and swimming with captive dolphins (I’m just gonna leave this information here without our opinion and you can decide for yourselves).

Entrance fee: 75-159 EUR (depending on the package)

To see all the packages and prices visit their website: https://www.garrafon.com

https://www.instagram.com/p/CMZ0Y96gzo6/

WHERE TO EAT:

Tacos de Humo

Heads down the best tacos place on the island. Fish tacos are Valerio’s favourite! After the meal you always get a delicious complimentary cinnamon donut soaked in what I assume was some kind of vanilla sauce. So good guys!

The North Garden

The North Garden is more of a new and trendy bar/restaurant where we really loved their tortilla chips with guacamole and their special fresh lemonades! Our favourites were Pink and Passion fruit x Mint 🙂

Ruben’s

Very cheap and traditional place to eat. Fajitas, Burritos and all that you want. We kept coming back as it was really cheap and delicious. We also recommend their refreshing lemonade.

The very first day I got addicted to the homemade lemonade and drunk it every day for the past 2,5 months straight while in Mexico 😀

Q Bravo

Another very cheap and good place to eat. If you want to save some money we can recommend you to stop by.

Aroma Isla

Another “trendy” restaurant, which makes it also more expensive, but we recommend to come here for breakfast if you crave some smoothies or açai bowls.

HOW LONG TO STAY IN ISLA MUJERES:

We really don’t like to say or suggest how many days you should spend in the destinations as some people travel fast (visit many attractions/places per day), some travel slower (visiting only a few spots per day), some like to chill more than the other and everyone has different interests and wants to do and see different things. But if we would HAVE TO decide, we would probably say 4 FULL DAYS if you want to take 1 day boat trip to Isla Contoy, 1 day snorkelling tour, 1 day renting the golf cart and going around the island and 1 day staying in the “centre” and Playa Norte.

Check out “20+1 useful tips for your Mexico trip”:

http://borntotraveldiaries.com/201-useful-tips-for-your-mexico-trip/

and also the “7 best cenotes near Valladolid, Mexico”

http://borntotraveldiaries.com/7-best-cenotes-near-valladolid-mexico/

We hope this blog post was helpful to you and you are gonna have a great time while visiting Isla Mujeres. For more pictures and videos check out our IG story highlight (Isla Mujeres) and our IG reels. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment bellow or contact us via email or even better via Instagram @borntotraveldiaries. Thank you for your time and stay tuned for our next diary page 🙂.

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