Isla Mujeres is a small Caribbean island off Cancun, known for the beautiful beaches and laid-back feel. I was under the impression that Isla Mujeres would be like one of the small islands that Captain Jack Sparrow gets marooned on, where you can see from one end to the other and walk around it in no time at all. It’s actually quite a bit bigger and more commercialized than I thought it would be, with expensive restaurants, souvenir shops, hotels and resorts everywhere! When I was told there was only one hostel on the island, I pictured just that! Not one hostel and hundreds of hotels. Haha still, nonetheless, it is a beautiful little island, and much more laid-back than Cancun.
If you are looking for an island unspoiled by tourism and somewhere backpacker friendly where you can string up your hammock between a couple of palm trees, this is not your place. What can you expect when the Island is a short ferry ride from bustling Cancun? However, you should still go! The beaches are straight off a postcard, colourful with different shades of bluey greens and white sands and reefy rocks. The town itself is quite quaint and pretty with different coloured buildings. There is a boardwalk around much of the island right against the seaside, making for a beautiful walk or bike. And if you are a backpacker in the need of relatively cheap accommodation, look no further than Poc-Na!! I highly recommend! And also you don’t really have much other choice :p. Here are my tips for Isla Mujeres:
How to get there:
From Cancun: Taxi or take a colectivo to Puerto Juarez/Ultramar Ferry Terminal. These colectivos cost 8 pesos and run every 10 minutes from outside the ADO terminal. Cross the road over the foot bridge and walk to McDonalds. This is where they leave from, but you can also wave them down if you see them passing. They will usually have Ultramar decals on the van, otherwise they will say “Puerto Juarez” on the window.
The ferry costs 100 mxn pesos one way (200 pesos return).
From Play del Carmen: Take an ADO bus from the ADO terminal in the centre of town (different prices for different classes of bus). The prices of the cheap Oriente or Mayab bus are pretty much identical to the colectivo prices, so you decided which style you like better :). The bus will drop you off at the ADO terminal in Cancun. Cross the footbridge to McDonalds and take the collectivo to Puerto Juarez/ Ultramar terminal (8 pesos).
OR, instead of taking the bus, take a colectivo to Cancun for about 40 pesos. You take the colectivo from Calle 2 between 20th and 25th Avenues from their parking lot, or from the corner of 2nd Street and 20th Avenue with another colectivo company. You will be dropped off at the ADO terminal. From the ADO terminal, take the colectivo to Puerto Juarez as above.
Take the ferry across to Isla Mujeres.
From Tulum to Cancun: Take an ADO bus (or 2nd class bus Oriente or Mayab) from the ADO terminal on the main road (Avenida Tulum) to Cancun.
OR take a colectivo from Avenida Tulum, they come very frequently, just wave them down. There are colectivos direct to Cancun but they are harder to come across as most stop at Playa del Carmen. The cost will be about 90 Pesos.
Colectivo services in GENERAL run between 5am – 10pm, but if you are on a tight schedule at either of these extremities, I would take a bus with a proper departure time. Colectivos usually wait until the van is full, or near-enough full, and the timing of colectivos cannot always be relied on.
Ferry cost to Isla Mujeres:
100 pesos each way (200 return).
What to do:
Isla Mujeres is place of relaxation, sitting on the beach, reading a book, swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea. You can also hire a golf cart or scooter to explore the entire island.
I think that Playa Norte is the best beach on the island, and very safe to swim in. This beach is very easy to get to, not far from the ferry terminal. This beach has several restaurant-type establishments along it, but it is a public beach with public access, so there is no need to spend money at any of these restaurants in order to enjoy it :).
Poc-Na provides accommodation for 150-195 pesos for dormitory rooms, depending on whether you want air-conditioning or fan and how many people per room. Privates starting from $350 pesos. Here is some more information for Poc-Na Hostel.
Island transport cost:
- Bikes start around 150 pesos for 24hrs
- Mopeds start around 250 pesos for 8hrs
- Golf carts are around 500 pesos for 24hrs, but I’ve known someone haggling it lower to around 350 pesos for a shorter amount of time.
Food is expensive here!
Tacos: The only street tacos I found were in the Park ?? And were 15 pesos per taco! I usually get 2 tacos for that elsewhere. However, you can put many different toppings on this taco to beef it up :).
Churros: pretty good deal at 6 churros for 25 pesos.
Elotes: couldn’t find any 🙁
Restaurants: This place is very much set up for the richer tourists from Cancun! There are so many restaurants selling dishes starting at 150 pesos up to over 800 pesos! It’s not cheap.
Taquerias: expensive! Tacos inside restaurants were starting at 17 pesos to 35 pesos and that does not include any seafood.
Rubens would be my recommendation for good and cheap(er) Mexican food. The portions are quite large! Me and Jonny are big eaters and never share food, but gave it a go when we saw the prices. We bought chicken nachos for 70 pesos, and they were huge!! Makes for a cheap meal when you split it! The burritos here are massive also! They are around 80-95 pesos.
There is a express supermarket by the park ‘Palacio Municipal’. We always buy our lunch from here – normally 10 wraps (9 pesos), a tin of salsa (5.50pesos), and a tin of tuna (8pesos). It always does the trick and is cheap as! Otherwise we buy buns and make vegetarian sandwiches with a lot of chipotle in it and they are delicious too :D.