We only ventured outside of our resort for one day. We had heard from many people that, after multiple trips to the area, they now skip Playa Mujeres altogether and head straight to this tiny island off the coast, called Isla Mujeres (aka the Island of Women). We knew we had to check it out.
Getting to Isla Mujeres does require a little planning. While there are boats that leave from the beach of some resorts, we didn’t want to be limited with our time. We arranged a cab from our resort to the Puerto Juarez Ultramar ferry, about $25 each way. I purchased our ferry tickets online, they came to $38 round trip. The ferry was enjoyable – there was a musician playing where we sat on the top deck, and it was a quick 20-30 minute ride. It runs all day, so plenty of options to get back and forth.
Once we docked, we went to meet with our tour company, Isla Driver Robby. I had learned about the company (which has expanded far past just Robby as the driver!) from a Secrets Playa Mujeres Facebook group that taught Jim & I a ton. I booked a six hour tour through the Isla Driver Robby Facebook page ($45 per person – paid on Venmo), so we were all set when we arrived. Our driver, Alain, was a third generation native to Isla and couldn’t have been sweeter. We really enjoyed chatting with him, learning about his family, & favorite spots on Isla Mujeres.
While there are cars on Isla, golf carts and motor bikes are everywhere. Our tour included 6 hours of the golf kart rental, & of course, a knowledgable tour guide! I sat in the front with Alain while Jimmy took the back seat. 🙂
We started off visiting the Isla Mujeres sign for some photos (Alain also served as a photographer, so nice!) and learning about iguanas that scurry around the area. Then it was off to breakfast at Loncheria San Martin. A note before we begin: we ate seafood, pork, cheese, eggs, etc. and drank drinks with ice all day long – we were totally fine. Our total breakfast cost came to $10 USD total & it was a fun way to start our day.
Another tip! Figure out the exchange rate and pay in pesos if you can. We divided the peso price by 18, which was sometimes correct, and sometimes off. 😉 Jim got a few beverage doubles and those prices weren’t listed, so I think we got taken advantage of a few times for paying in USD.
Next, Alain took us over to another restaurant, North Garden, to grab our first margarita of the day. Every spot was so pretty inside, with a hidden tiki hut, pool, or ocean view.
We took those drinks over to Playa Norte, one of the most stunning beaches we’ve ever been to. We brought towels from our resort and kept an eye on our stuff from the water, but Alain said that’s one of the safer beaches & all was fine. The water was so beautiful & it was just such a lovely time. We got a drink from a beach waiter and stayed there for about an hour – Alain was waiting for right at the entrance to take us to our next spot!
We then made a quick stop to pick out some straw hats, the only souvenirs we really wanted. However, Jim also got a blanket and a few shots of tequila, so follow your dreams, people. 😉
Our next stop was the Soggy Peso, nestled down an adults-only alley. The margaritas, served out of a dispenser and poured in styrofoam cups, were some of the strongest I’ve ever had (Jim proved this by having two 🙄).
The island is pretty much credit & debit card-less, and we didn’t bring enough cash where we felt comfortable. Alain suggested his grocery store with an ATM, so in we want, margaritas in tow! The ATM showed us the US-conversion & gave pesos, which was ok with us! The fee was about $10 (+ what TD Bank charged us), but it was necessary. Off we went…
To Tortugranja, the turtle sanctuary. It was such an interesting place. It cost $3 USD to enter. I believe you can feed the turtles normally & there are guides, but we didn’t have either of those options on our visit. They save eggs from predators on the beaches, bring the turtles to the sanctuary & raise them in different pools until they’re ready to be set free.
While it was amazing to see the turtles up close, I did have a little bit of mixed feelings after being there. The pools are small and it just seems a bit run down. Here’s a little more info that I think we would have gotten if we did a tour.
After the sanctuary, we drove to Punta Sur, the southern-most point on Isla Mujeres, and the first place the sun touches in all of Mexico. This was definitely the most crowded of spots we went to. While it’s free to explore, there’s a paid option to go further down to the cliffs, and we tipped a few dollars to use the bathroom.
The best part was learning the story behind the Mayan moon goddess, Ixchel. She is associated with healing and fertility, but Alain told us if we touched the fish, it should bring wealth.
According to Cancun Adventures, “In Pre-Columbian times, this island was considered sacred to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, the goddess of the moon, happiness, fertility, and medicine. It is believed the only inhabitants of the island were Ixchel and her court of women. Later, when the people of Spain came to the island in the 16th century, they found many statues and images of the goddess and named it “Isla de Mujeres.” You just love to see it.
After a drive along the coast (tons of pretty homes, murals and art, and great views!), we did our last stop for a late lunch at La Palapa del Capitan.
It was tucked away off the beaten path and it was authentic and delicious. We got to chat with the owners who were sitting a table away, and it was such a great place to chill out and recall our day. Sometimes you just need chicken fingers and fries to pair with your margarita, and this was one of those times. 😉
Behind the restaurant is the owner’s boat, plus some gorgeous private boats. We even saw some blue shell crabs!
With full tummys and buzzed minds, Alain drove us back to the ferry and we said goodbye. Our afternoon ferry ride was a nice trip back, with a little less sun than at 9:30am 🙂 We grabbed a cab as soon as we got off and headed back to our resort. (But not before I took this photo, a special shoutout for my Delta Gamma sistas 😉 )
We absolutely loved our day on the island and are already planning our trip back. There are so many hidden gems, kind people, and beautiful beaches waiting for us!
Have you ever been to Isla Mujeres? What were some of your favorite places?