Sitting 13 miles (21 kilometers) off the coast of Cancun are the unspoiled beaches of Isla Mujeres. At only five miles (eight kilometers) long, and less than half a mile (800 meters) across, this compact island in the Caribbean Sea offers some of the most sought-after coastline in Mexico. The island is a site of great cultural significance for the Mayan people, and an interesting destination for history lovers. Before tourism became the primary industry of the region, Isla Mujeres was the home of a small fishing community, and remains an excellent example of a quaint Caribbean settlement.
While many choose to stay on the island itself, day trips are certainly viable too. Take a morning ferry to the island and arrive in time for breakfast. Hop in a taxi at the ferry terminal for the short drive to all of the island’s attractions. If you have the time, many of the island’s treasures can be reached on foot, and bicycles can be hired from the town.
Visit the Garrafon Natural Reef Park to find many of the island’s popular water attractions in one place. Snorkel across the coral reef and marvel at the colors of the tropical fish that swim beneath you. The water visibility around Isla Mujeres is exceptional, making it a popular destination for scuba divers.
Between May and September, swim with the world’s largest fish, the whale shark, in the waters off the island. The fish migrate to the area in search of warmer water, and seasonal charter tours are designed to help you experience this annual event.
Just as magical are the charismatic people who live here. The township on Isla Mujeres is popular among tourists wanting to escape the resorts of Cancun, and there are many locals still living a traditional way of life. Eat the customary cuisine of the island at one of the town’s many eateries on Hidalgo Street, or meet the locals at one of the island’s beach bars.
Isla Mujeres is just a short and inexpensive ferry trip from Cancun’s hotel precinct.