ECOTOURISM ON ISLA MUJERES
For years, Isla Mujeres has managed to maintain a sense of remoteness, despite being a stone’s-throw away from Cancun. To this end, much of the island’s wilderness has been left intact. Add to that the fact that the windward side of the island is too rough for beaches makes at least half the island unsuitable for development.
Ecotourism plays a big role in the community here and helps support the island’s pro-conservation mandate.
GARRAFÓN NATURAL REEF PARK
This is a popular beach and snorkeling site near the southern tip of the island. There are restaurants, a swimming pool, lockers, stores and the beach is kept in excellent condition.
The many activities include zip-lining over the ocean, bicycle tours, snorkeling tours, kayaking, etc. You can hike the rocky outcrops leading to the lighthouse to see the remnants of a Mayan temple. There’s also a hammock area for resting and relaxing overlooking the water. You can choose a package that best fits your family’s interests.
Park schedules: 9am to 5pm (winter months) or 9am to 6pm (summer months)
Garrafón de Castilla is lesser-known and is located close to the Garrafón Eco Park, near the south end of the island. There are restrooms, shower facilities, snorkel gear rental, lockers, towels, a restaurant, snack bar and a small gift shop. It’s a well-kept secret and a great spot to swim, snorkel, relax and enjoy some fresh grilled fish! The beach area is small but nice.
Admission is $60 pesos, which includes use of lounge and beach chairs with beach umbrellas, restrooms and shower facilities. Renting snorkel equipment and getting a locker are extra.
TIP: Be aware, the current can be strong here, so consider renting a life-jacket to make your snorkeling experience more enjoyable.
The Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm is located on Sac Bajo, south of Playa Tiburón. It is a federally protected and funded hatchery for endangered sea turtles. Besides seeing young turtles before they’re released into the wild, you’ll see seahorses, sharks and a large horseshoe crab. Open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. There is also a small gift shop and snack bar on-site. Entrance fee is $30 pesos.
TIP: To see the most turtle activity, visit during nesting season (May-October).