Whether you’re a sun seeker, water sports enthusiast or free-spirited adventurer, you’ll find lots to do on this little island. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the laid-back style and stunning beauty of Isla Mujeres.
We recommend renting a golf cart or scooter and tooling around the island. The drive is beautiful, especially along the rocky eastern coast.
Drive by the shell house (this two-storey vacation rental is shaped like a conch). Check out the island’s ancient cemetery, dating back centuries. Visit the colorful “Crayola House” in the Colonia (local neighborhood), on Avenida Josefa Ortiz Domingo. Visit the famous “Spiral Island” on Camino Sac Bajo, built entirely of plastic bottles!
You can also rent a bicycle and enjoy some stunning views (especially at sunrise) as you pedal around the island. There are several hills as you go south, so be prepared for a bit of a work-out!
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).
This beautiful new facility is located on Camino Sac Bajo, on the sheltered western side of the island. A variety of packages are available for you to choose from, ranging from a simple dolphin encounter to the VIP experience. This can be a wonderful, memorable day for the entire family.
Of all the places you can swim with dolphins, this location prides itself on excellent customer service and dolphin care. The majority of staff speak both English and Spanish. There are also sea lions and manatees for you to swim with, and a snorkeling area.
On-site there is a good buffet restaurant and gift shops, of course. Hours are 9am-5pm.
Hacienda Mundaca is a 19th-century mansion built by Fermin Antonio Mundaca y Marecheaga, a notorious slave trader and supposed pirate.
Local legend says that Mundaca sought refuge from the law on the island and commissioned the lavish hacienda in order to win the heart of a local beauty many years his junior. The sprawling estate included graceful archways, extensive gardens with exotic plants, fountains, wells and even a solar clock.
Sadly, the grounds are in disrepair and not maintained well. “El Paso de la Triguena” [the Entrance of the Brunette] is visibly engraved on one archway, dedicated to his unrequited love. Mundaca died alone off the island and his empty tomb lies on the estate, inscribed with the quote: “As you are, I was. As I am, you will be.”
Hacienda Mundaca is located about 4kms south of town, easily accessible by taxi. The entrance fee is $20 pesos and hours are 9am to 4pm.