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One Perfect Day on Isla Mujeres: Cancun Day Trip

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Garrafon Natural Reef Park | Isla Mujeres things to do | Cancun day trip, Mexico
Garrafon Natural Reef Park

The Isla Mujeres is nestled 8-miles off the coast of Cancun where the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. You can see Cancun's skyline from the gulf side of the island, but Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) is an oasis of calm compared to its neighbor. If you would enjoy great snorkeling, a golf cart tour around a lovely Mexican island, and stunning scenery; a Cancun day trip to Isla Mujeres is one of the best things to do in Cancun.

Pool | Garrafon Reef Park | Isla Mujeres, Mexico | things to do in Cancun
Pool | Garrafon Reef Park

The island makes a great day trip from the high-energy of Cancun. Our itinerary for one perfect day on Isla Mujeres combines a chill atmosphere with lots to do. There is snorkeling and diving at nearby coral reefs, fun shops in town, beach clubs with adventure activities, and gorgeous seascapes in all directions.

Mayan Temple | Punta Sur | Thing to do in Isla Mujeres, Mexico | Cancun day trip
Mayan Temple | Punta Sur

Since the island is petite (about 5 by 2.5 miles), most visitors rent golf carts or mopeds to navigate the sights. You can get lost - but not for long! This is one of the few Cancun day trips that we feel comfortable doing on our own. We feel safe in all corners of this island.

If you would rather leave the transfers and the driving to someone else, check out these great day tours: Isla Mujeres Island and Snorkeling Tour or Daytrip Isla Contoy & Isla Mujeres from Cancun.

Map Isla Mujeres | Credit: | Cancun day trip to isla mujeres
Map Isla Mujeres | Credit:

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We take the Ultramar Ferry out of Puerto Juarez. It takes 15 minutes dock to dock, and the ferries run frequently. Once on the island, rent a golf cart. We have had good experiences renting from Gomar II Rentals. You can pick up the cart right across the street from the ferry. TIP: Make reservations for the ferry and for a golf cart. You will need a valid driver's license to rent the cart. There are also mopeds and bicycles for rent.

Downtown (Centro) | Isla Mujeres Things To Do | Cancun Day Trip
Downtown (Centro)


The downtown area has ATMs for currency exchange.


Spanish is the primary language, but almost everyone speaks and/or understands English.

Food & Drink

There are many restaurants and bars in the downtown area. Outside of the downtown area there are small grocery stores and restaurants/food carts scattered across the island.


Pick up a free map at the ferry station. There are few street signs around the island. Most of the posted signs are directional towards major attractions so use these as markers.

Golf Carting | Downtown | Isla Mujeres Things To Do | Cancun Day Trip
Golf Carting | Downtown


Travel light. Pack a bathing suit, towel, camera, sunscreen, hat, a light weight long sleeve shirt for sun protection, and a couple bottles of water for emergency use.


1: Explore Downtown (Centro) & Municipal Cemetery

The ferry docks on the northern tip of the island. After picking up your golf cart, familiarize with downtown. There are three main avenues crisscrossed by a handful of streets. The main avenues are full of shops, restaurants, and bars. Off of these avenues, you will see small businesses that the keep the island services moving. Park outside the gates of the Municipal Cemetery and take a walk around this lovely, colorful Mexican slice of life (and death).

Cementerio Municipal La Gloria | Isla Mujeres Things To Do | Cancun Day Trip, Mexico
Cementerio Municipal La Gloria

2. Mid-Island Discovery

When you are ready, take Avenue Rueda Medina out of town. Running southeast, this artery runs the length of the island. At some point, around Hacienda Mundaca, the road turns into Carretera a Garrafon. Here, you can turn north toward Tortugranja (a turtle farm), the Dolphin Discovery (a waterpark), and a number of resorts and hotels. If you are not going to one of the attractions, we recommend continuing southeast. There is much to do at the Garrafon Natural Reef Park, and benefit to arriving before the bulk of the daily crowd.

Lounging at Garrafon | Isla Mujeres Things To Do | Cancun Day Trip, Mexico
Lounging at Garrafon

3. Garrafon Natural Reef Park

Garrafon Natural Reef Park is an all-inclusive nature park. Onsight there are coral reefs, cliffs, and beaches to explore. Major activities include snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, and zip lining. The grounds and ocean vistas are stunning. When you aren't taking part in water activities, there are beach chairs and hammocks to relax in. You can find out more about the Garrafon Natural Reef Park here.

Garrafon | Path to Punta Sur | Isla Mujeres, Mexico | Things to do in Cancun
Garrafon | Path to Punta Sur

Admission is based upon the package purchased. The snorkel package include a buffet lunch, open bar, snorkeling equipment, use of kayaks, gorgeous pool areas overlooking the reef, beach chairs, hammocks, and changing rooms/showers (zip lining and dolphin discovery are extra). We love to snorkel here. Visitors are barred from swimming directly over the reef, but the fish are plentiful and there are no time limits imposed.

Punto Sur | Path to Sculpture Garden | Isla Mujeres Things To Do | Cancun Day Trip
Path to Sculpture Garden

4. Punta Sur Nature Reserve

A short hike from the nature park, there is a lovely park called Punta Sur. The acreage sits high on a cliff and includes a lighthouse, Mayan shrine, restaurant, and a few shops. The gem here, though, is a gorgeous sculpture garden that follows a path along the southern tip of the island. Viewing the sculptures against the back drop of the cobalt colored sea is breathtakingly beautiful.

Coastline | Isla Mujeres | Things to do in Cancun, Mexido
Coastline | Isla Mujeres

5. Caribbean Coastal Route to Downtown

When you leave Garrafon, take the road closest to the Caribbean-facing side of the island. Meander up the coast toward downtown. You will pass million dollar beach properties and humble villages where workers from the many hotels and restaurants reside.

Seascape | Things to do in Isla Mujeres | Cancun Day Trip
Seascape | Isla Mujeres

6. Playa Norte

Back in the downtown area follow the signs to Playa Norte. Have a drink at a beach bar. The water is calm and the views are stunning at this white sand beach.

7. Shopping, Supper, & Sustenance

Next, drop off your golf cart and wander the nearby streets for bargains. Have supper, more drinks, and then take the ferry back to Cancun.

No te pongas demasiado sol! (Don't get too much sun!) Laura and Randy

For more information on traveling to Mexico read our articles on:

Sculpture Garden | Punta Sur | Things to do in Isla Mujeres | Cancun day trip
Sculpture Garden | Punta Sur


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