How to Take A Day Trip to Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen (2023 Guide)
Do you want to take a day trip from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres? You’ve come to the right guide!
Just 20 minutes off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a tiny island known for its incredibly turquoise water and picturesque white sand beaches.
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen, and it’s one of my favorite places for a quick beach escape and makes for an unforgettable day trip if you’re staying in Playa del Carmen or the Riviera Maya.
But at 1.5 hours away from Playa del Carmen, it can be a bit of a trek to get there on your own. That’s where I’m here to help!
In this post, I’m detailing everything you need to know to take a day trip to Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen, including how to get there, top things to do, tips for visiting, and more.
Read on to find out how to visit Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen!
Why visit Isla Mujeres?
Although it’s somewhat of a trek to get to Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen, it is definitely worth it!
The beaches on Isla Mujeres are far superior to the beaches in Playa del Carmen and it’s a fun excursion to explore another part of Mexico.
The best thing about Isla Mujeres is that the beaches almost never get hit with the amount of seaweed that can sometimes be found on many other beaches in Riviera Maya.
Basically, if you’re looking for a seaweed-free beach destination, Isla Mujeres is where you want to go!
It’s best to start the day early and then you can spend a full day relaxing on the beach or exploring the island.
About Isla Mujeres
Meaning “Island of Women,” Isla Mujeres was named by the Spanish when they first arrived to the island.
After arriving, the Spaniards found many images of goddesses dating back to the time when the island was sacred to the Mayan goddess of childbirth and medicine.
Nowadays, the island is much more commercial but it is still a nice escape from mainland Mexico.
At less than 5 miles long, it still offers plenty of restaurants, shopping, and beautiful hotels and resorts.
The prettiest beaches on Isla Mujeres can be found on the north side of the island, most notably Playa Norte, where you will find the most stunning turquoise water and white sand beaches.
It definitely makes for a jaw-dropping first impression!
Where is Isla Mujeres?
Isla Mujeres is a small island in the Mexican Caribbean located just to the east of Cancun, Mexico.
The island can be reached easily by just a 20-minute ferry or boat to Isla Mujeres from the mainland.
Visiting Isla Mujeres is one of the best things to do in Cancun and can still be reached easily while visiting Playa del Carmen or the Riviera Maya.
How to Get to Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen
Getting to Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen can be a bit of a trek but trust me it is worth it!
First, you have to travel from Playa del Carmen to Cancun, then take the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. In total, the trip from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres takes about 1.5 hours.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of multiple forms of public transportation, the easiest way to get from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres is by booking a tour.
These Isla Mujeres tours from Playa del Carmen include round-trip transportation with hotel pickup, saving you the hassle of getting there on your own.
👉 Book the best day tour from Playa del Carmen to Isla Mujeres by clicking here!
Otherwise, to get to Cancun you’ll have to drive yourself, hire a taxi, or take public transportation to the ferry terminal.
Isla Mujeres Ferry Location
The ferry to Isla Mujeres is located in Cancun at Puerto Juarez and the name of the ferry operator is called Ultramar.
There are a few other ferry locations in Cancun (like the new Xcaret Xailing) but Ultramar is the most popular option for tourists if you’re coming from Playa del Carmen.
Getting to Cancun
To get from Playa del Carmen to the ferry terminal in Cancun, you can either drive, take a taxi, or take public transportation:
The easiest way to get to the ferry in Cancun is by driving or renting a car from Playa del Carmen.
Navigate to the Puerto Juarez Ultramar Ferry terminal, and once you arrive, there is a parking garage on-site.
Additionally, you can choose to park in a less expensive lot nearby for around $100 pesos (~$5 USD).
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If you don’t have your own car, the easiest and most convenient way to get to the ferry terminal in Cancun from Playa del Carmen is to take a taxi.
The drive will be about 1 hour and may cost around $1000 pesos each way (~$50 USD).
As taxis are quite a bit more expensive, this is a better option for groups that can split the cost.
By Public Transportation
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can also take the ADO Bus or the Playa Express van service to Cancun.
Both drop you off at the ADO station in Cancun so you’ll then need to take a 10-minute taxi ride to the ferry terminal.
ADO Bus from Playa del Carmen to Cancun
The ADO Bus from Playa del Carmen to Cancun is a large charter-style bus that has several departures each day and costs around $104 MXN (~$5 USD) each way.
The bus leaves from either the “ADO Playa del Carmen Turistica Station” (on 5th Avenue) or the “ADO Playa del Carmen Alterna Station” in downtown Playa del Carmen and the final destination is the ADO bus station in Cancun.
From there, you’ll need to take a taxi to the Ultramar ferry terminal, which takes about 10 minutes and should cost around $200 pesos (~$10 USD).
ADO tickets can be booked on the ADO website (Spanish only), on BusBud (English), or directly at the ADO station.
Just make sure to purchase your tickets to downtown Cancun and not the Cancun Airport.
👉 Book ADO tickets from Playa del Carmen to Cancun on Busbud by clicking here!
Playa Express from Playa del Carmen to Cancun
Alternatively, the Playa Express is a large Mercedes Sprinter-style van service that is a bit cheaper than the ADO bus and runs more frequently.
You can get on the Playa Express in downtown Playa del Carmen at Avenida Juarez just on the other side of main highway 307 (📍Google Maps location).
You’ll take the Playa Express all the way to the last stop in Cancun, which will be the main ADO bus station.
The cost should be around $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD) each way and you will pay upon exiting.
From there, you’ll need to take a taxi to the Ultramar ferry terminal, which takes about 10 minutes and should cost around $200 pesos (~$10 USD).
🧳 The Playa Express doesn’t have much luggage storage, so you’re better off taking the ADO if you are bringing any luggage with you to Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres Ferry Price
Once you arrive to the Ultramar ferry terminal, you can purchase your ferry tickets to Isla Mujeres which costs $540 pesos (~$29 USD) for a round-trip ticket.
Cash or credit cards are accepted. If you are a local Quintana Roo resident with a valid ID, the cost for the round-trip ferry is only $200 pesos.
Isla Mujeres Ferry Schedule
The Ultramar ferry schedule can be found here. The ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres usually departs every 30 minutes and the last ferry coming back to Cancun departs at midnight.
Once you’re on the ferry, it only takes about 20 minutes to cross to Isla Mujeres.
Getting Around Isla Mujeres
It’s easy to get around Isla Mujeres by taking taxis, renting a golf car, or simply walking:
Once you arrive to the ferry terminal in Isla Mujeres, there will be a line of taxis waiting right outside to the left of the exit.
Taxis in Isla Mujeres are red in color and can be hired easily to get to other parts of the island.
Another more popular transportation option on Isla Mujeres is golf carts. Due to the small size of the island, it’s easier to get around on the narrower streets on golf carts.
Golf carts rentals in Isla Mujeres can be arranged from the ferry terminal to explore the island or for a fun ride over to the beach.
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Depending on where you’re going, it is possible to walk directly from the ferry terminal.
It’s about a 15 minute walk from the ferry to the Playa Norte beach and takes you on a nice stroll through downtown Isla Mujeres.
Things to Do in Isla Mujeres
Although it’s a tiny island, there are a ton of fun things to do in Isla Mujeres whether you’re looking for something more adventurous or just want to relax on the beach.
No matter what you do you’ll be treated to stunning views and the most crystalline turquoise water.
Visit a Beach Club on Playa Norte
Of all the beaches in Isla Mujeres, the most popular beach is Playa Norte, and visiting this beach is always my number one recommendation for day trips to Isla Mujeres.
It’s just too pretty to miss! Playa Norte can be reached from the ferry terminal by walking or grabbing a quick taxi.
Once you get to Playa Norte, you’ll see why it’s considered the best beach Isla Mujeres has to offer.
The beach is flat and widespread and there are several alluring beach clubs to choose from.
If you’re looking to relax, the northern end of Playa Norte is generally less crowded and less congested with beach umbrellas.
Below are a couple of Isla Mujeres beach clubs I would recommend:
Oceanvs Beach Club Isla Mujeres
Located on the northern end of Playa Norte, Oceanvs Beach Club is a popular Isla Mujeres beach club situated inside of the Casa del Jaguar luxury beach hotel.
Oceanvs features comfortable full-sized beach beds and umbrellas which can be rented even if you’re not staying at the hotel. You’ll likely just have to pay a food and beverage minimum consumption fee.
The menu consists of your typical beach bar items including nachos, guacamole, tacos, pizzas, etc.
Green Demon Beach Club
Another popular beach club on Isla Mujeres is Green Demon Beach Club.
With string lights, great music, and hexagon shaped beach beds, the atmosphere at Green Demon is very cool.
True to its name, the menu offers much healthier items like fresh fish, wraps, sandwiches, and salads.
They also offer wellness drinks and smoothies, but don’t worry you can still order beers and cocktails!
Go on a Catamaran Tour
Another one of the best things to do is going on a catamaran sail or boat trip to Isla Mujeres.
These Isla Mujeres catamaran tours can be booked online in advance and often include snorkeling, lunch, and an open bar.
Some leave directly from Cancun and some even offer round trip transportation from Playa del Carmen.
I personally went on a catamaran trip to Isla Mujeres for a friend’s birthday celebration and it was a totally unforgettable experience!
👉 Book the best Isla Mujeres catamaran tour by clicking here!
Go on a Snorkeling Tour
Isla Mujeres is also a great spot for snorkeling in the Riviera Maya and even has an underwater sculpture museum.
There are many Isla Mujeres snorkeling tours available and with the crystal clear water, you are sure to have some incredible underwater views.
The very first time I ever visited Isla Mujeres was on a snorkeling tour and it was super impressive!
And if you’re visiting during the months of May-September, you can also visit Isla Mujeres on a whale shark tour, when the whale sharks arrive annually to feed on the plankton-rich waters.
👉 Book the best Isla Mujeres snorkeling tour by clicking here!
Go Shopping in Downtown Isla Mujeres
Another more laid-back option is to go shopping in downtown Isla Mujeres. There are several souvenir shops, restaurants, and snack bars in downtown Isla Mujeres.
Here you can pick up some Isla Mujeres souvenirs as well as your traditional Mexican handicrafts, similar to the 5th Avenue shopping in Playa del Carmen.
Downtown Isla Mujeres is also a great place to just sit, relax, and grab a drink.
Visit Punta Sur
Punta Sur is the southernmost tip of the island and a less well-known tourist attraction.
It’s essentially a cliffside park that is home to one-of-a-kind sculptures, Mayan ruins, a lighthouse, and breathtaking ocean views.
With a small entrance, visitors can explore the park at leisure admiring the unique sculptures and taking in the sights.
It’s one of the best places to visit on Isla Mujeres and where you’ll find the best ocean views!
What to Bring on a Day Trip to Isla Mujeres
Below are a few items I would recommend bringing on an Isla Mujeres day trip. You’ll definitely want to pack light so you don’t have too much to carry on the ferry.
If you’re going in the water, biodegradable sunscreen is definitely a must to protect the coral reefs. You can pick up my favorite brand on Amazon here.
Getting Back to Playa del Carmen from Isla Mujeres
Once you’re done with your adventures on Isla Mujeres, you can head back to the ferry terminal to return to Cancun.
Be sure to check the ferry schedule for departure times so you don’t miss the last ferry back.
If you are taking public transportation, the Playa Express and ADO bus run late into the night back to Playa del Carmen.
Overnight Stay in Isla Mujeres
If you’re not up for the long trek back to Playa del Carmen or simply want to spend more time on the island, you can always consider booking an overnight stay at a hotel in Isla Mujeres.
This is a great option for a more relaxed experience plus you’ll have more time to really explore what Isla Mujeres has to offer.
Below are a few recommendations for hotels in Isla Mujeres on Playa Norte:
🌴 You can read my full Isla Mujeres hotel guide for more recommendations.
Conclusion: Day Trip to Isla Mujeres from Playa del Carmen Guide
So are you ready to visit Isla Mujeres? I hope this day trip Isla Mujeres guide was helpful if you want to spend the day soaking up the sun on one of Mexico’s most beautiful islands.
Remember to get an early start to make the most of your time on the island. And don’t miss visiting Playa Norte, one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Mexico.
And if you want to skip the hassle of getting to Isla Mujeres on your own, consider booking one of these Isla Mujeres tours from Playa del Carmen with transportation included.
For more day trips from Playa del Carmen, check out my other day trip guides:
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