Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island located 20 minutes away from Cancun by ferry. There are several piers in Cancun where you can catch the big yellow Ultramar ferry: Puerto Juarez, Playa Tortugas, El Embarcadero, and Playa Caracol. Depending on the location of the pier, ticket prices will vary. I took the ferry from Playa Tortugas. It was a pleasant ride sitting on the top deck of the boat feeling the wind in my hair and listening to a musician singing in Spanish. The water was such a vibrant turquoise colour.
The most popular option for getting around the island is renting a golf cart. It’s best to get there early (before 9 am) in order to secure a golf cart as there are limited quantities. You will need to give the rental agency your driver’s license until you return the cart. You should be a confident driver as the downtown area can get very congested with other golf carts, cars and people. Since we had just arrived in Cancun in the morning and didn’t get to Isla Mujeres until after noon, no more golf carts were available at the rental agencies we checked. We ended up using taxis to get around, but this wasn’t a problem as the fare was cheap. With my basic Spanish and the drivers’ basic English, we were able to understand each other.
Our first stop was the Turtle Farm (Tortugranja). At this turtle sanctuary, you can observe young turtles in both indoor and outdoor pens. From May to October, you can help the staff collect and hatch eggs. In the fall, you can help release baby turtles. However, I visited during April so I did not get the chance to. The sanctuary is usually open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day. The entrance fee is 30 pesos and I bought a bag of turtle food for 20 pesos. I tried feeding the turtles in the indoor tanks, but they were not hungry so most of the food ended up floating in the tank.
Next we took a taxi to Punta Sur, which is the southernmost point on Isla Mujeres and the most easterly point in Mexico. It’s a beautiful place to admire the ocean. At Punta Sur, you can see the ruins of a temple dedicated to Ixchel, Mayan goddess of the moon and fertility. On the path to the temple, you will see different sculptures representing Ixchel. You must pay to enter this area.
After spending some time admiring the view, we took a taxi back to downtown, which cost about 100 pesos. While waiting for the next ferry we wandered the streets, which are quite colourful.
If you have more time on Isla Mujeres, you might like to visit Playa Norte, a sandy beach surrounded by palm trees and restaurants. It is right next to the ferry terminal.
Photo via www.bbmexplorer.com, Flickr Creative Commons
If you’re feeling more adventurous, zipline or snorkel at Garrafon Reef Natural Park.
Near Cancun, there is an underwater museum called MUSA that can also be reached from Isla Mujeres. Here you can see interesting sculptures and statues.