The name means “The island of women” that alone should be a reason to go, but “Isla” as locals call it, is much more than the promise of an island inhabited only by women, once a small fishermen island, now days Isla is a small piece of heaven on earth with little colorful houses, coffee shops, bars and restaurants by the beach and on its narrow streets downtown.
People in the island lives a simple life and enjoy of those little pleasures we, the people from the city, have forgotten.
Isla Mujeres is only 4 miles long and less than 1 mile across, and in it, a mixed population of native islanders with Mayan roots and people from all over the world share this paradise. Americans, Canadians and Italians amongst other nationalities now call Isla Mujeres their home, bringing a new style to local traditions and making Isla a must visit destination while visiting the Mayan World.
Isla Mujeres is located only 15 minutes away from Cancun; to get there you need to take a boat ride from Cancun’s hotel zone or from Puerto Juarez in the downtown area, being Puerto Juarez a cheaper option.
You can also take your car if you want to; the Ferry is located in Punta Sam, a few kilometers north Puerto Juarez.
Reasons to go:
Swim with the whale shark!
When in season you can swim with the whale sharks, this gentle giants visit the nearby waters every year during the summer, a 45 minute ride on a boat is all you need to swim with these amazing sharks.
Isla Mujeres is located right where the second largest coral reef in the world and the biggest in the western hemisphere begins its path through the Caribbean sea and all the way down to Honduras. Home to more than 500 different species of fish and 65 different corals, this reef homes also five different kinds of turtles, crocodiles, manatees, dolphins, sharks and many other species, making it a fantastic snorkeling and scuba diving option for both, experienced and beginner divers.
This underwater museum is an innovative project aimed to protect and increase the natural biomass of the reef without having to close it to visitors. The museum’s final goal is to have over 1364 artificial inhabitants for the marine life in the area. Many life-size sculptures from the British artist Jason deCaires Taylor can be appreciated on site while helping to protect marine life.
MUSA is located just offshore Isla Mujeres at Manchones reef.
This temple was dedicated to one of the most important goddess of the Mayan pantheon. Ixchel was the goddess of fertility, childbirth and tides and related to the moon, she was portrayed as a dual goddess, benign and destructive, while giving the most essential element of life to men; water, she would also send floods to cleanse the earth from men who have stopped thanking the gods. She was portrayed both as a young kind girl and as an angry old lady. It was believed that she would give protection to those who make the pilgrimage to her temples in Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.
This even smaller island is home of more than 100 species of birds as well of marine life making it a fantastic trip for birdwatchers and snorkeling adventurers, its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea make it a sanctuary of life. The island is 30 km (18 miles) north Isla Mujeres and only a few visitors are allowed to the island every day so make your reservations some time in advance.
The northern side of the island is where the nicest beaches are, calm gentle surf in turquoise crystal clear water make it a treat for every visitor. Playa Norte is also where most of the beach clubs are so you can find all you need while you lay under the sun. The majority of people come here to enjoy the beach so even when it’s a beautiful area it’s also a little crowded sometimes, especially on Sundays
Have frozen drink or a grilled fresh fish, maybe some ceviche from any of the restaurants here, some offer live music or DJ music for the visitor. Don’t forget to watch the sunset here!!
Isla has many options to enjoy a night in town, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Mediterranean; style restaurants are open every night. World class cuisine mixes with local style and the fresh ingredients fishermen bring every day. After dark the island becomes alive with music and dance for everyone, romantic little restaurants and parties on the beach are easy to find here where locals and tourist meet and enjoy.
Important spots and things to do in Isla
Playa Norte – beautiful beach
Zama Beach Club in Sac Bajo – beach, pool and restaurant
Turtle farm in Sac Bajo
Swim with the dolphins in Sac Bajo
Snorkelling at Garrafon Park
Snorkeling at Hotel Garrafon de Castilla beach club
Sunbathe at playa sol
Go for a sunset swim on Playa Norte
Stroll the ocean walkway at Punta Sur below the Mayan ruin – the most beautiful spot on the island
Rent a golf cart and see the entire island up close
Drive by the shell house on the Caribbean side
Visit the colorful “Crayola House” in the Colonia on Ave. Josefa Ortiz Domingo.
Visit the famous Spiral Island on Sac Bajo, built by Rishi entirely of plastic bottles
Check out the cemetery in centro, where the grave of Pirate Mundaca is.
Shop the stores in Centro
Rent a bike early in the morning and ride around the entire island (you’ll likely have to walk part way!) its breathtaking.
Visit the old market and the stalls behind it where older ladies sell their wares a much lower prices than the other stores.