Isla Mujeres Playa Norte: What to Know + How to Get There (2023)
Are you interested in visiting Isla Mujeres and spending some time at the beautiful Playa Norte? Look no further!
This stunning beach is one of the top attractions on Isla Mujeres, so it’s definitely worth adding to your itinerary if you’re planning to visit this beautiful island in the Mexican Caribbean.
I’m a travel blogger that lives in nearby Playa del Carmen and can honestly say that Playa Norte is one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll find in all of Mexico!
With its powder white sand and crystal-clear waters, Playa Norte is the perfect place to relax, swim, and unwind–plus it’s normally always seaweed-free!
In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, including how to get there, what to expect when you arrive, beach club recommendations, and top tips for visiting.
Ready to find out more about Isla Mujeres Playa Norte? Let’s get started!
About Isla Mujeres Playa Norte
First, let’s start with some of the basics on Playa Norte:
What is Playa Norte?
Playa Norte (“North Beach”) is a stunning stretch of white sand beach on Isla Mujeres, an island located just off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.
With its stunning turquoise waters and powdery soft sand, this iconic beach is basically the place to be on Isla Mujeres, and it’s easy to see why!
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day spent swimming and lounging on the beach, or want to take advantage of Isla Mujeres’ activities, Playa Norte is the perfect place to spend the day.
There are plenty of things to do at Playa Norte, from chowing down on nachos and margaritas at one of the many beach clubs, to taking part in some exciting water sports like paddleboarding, snorkeling, or kayaking.
Where is Playa Norte?
True to its name, Playa Norte is located on the northwestern coast of the small island of Isla Mujeres (“Island of Women”).
Getting to Isla Mujeres is relatively easy, with many tourists opting to take a ferry from Cancun.
From the Isla Mujeres ferry terminal, Playa Norte is within walking distance, or you can hire a quick taxi or even rent a golf cart to get around the island.
Why visit Playa Norte?
Playa Norte is a must-visit beach for anyone traveling to Isla Mujeres, Cancun, or the Riviera Maya, as it is consistently voted as one of the top beaches in the world by TripAdvisor.
Its unbelievably bright turquoise waters and powdery soft sand make it an incredibly beautiful place to spend the day.
Playa Norte is kind of like the party cove of the island and you’ll no doubt see yachts and catamarans anchored in the shallow waters right off the beach.
But at the same time, Playa Norte is also one of the best beaches in Mexico for families with its shallow waters and calm waves.
Plus, it’s one of the only beaches in Riviera Maya that is normally always seaweed-free.
This makes it perfect for a day trip from Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or the Riviera Maya especially when the seaweed gets bad.
What is Playa Norte like?
When you arrive at the Playa Norte area, you’ll see why this beach is so popular – the tropical scenery is absolutely stunning!
The bright turquoise waters, white sand, and tropical palm trees really make a jaw-dropping first impression!
This stretch of beach is a lively place that is lined with many different beach clubs and Isla Mujeres Playa Norte hotels, offering lounge chairs and food and beverage service directly on the beach.
If you like a little more action, you’ll also find beach volleyball nets, as well as vendors for water activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling tours.
At the end of Playa Norte, you’ll find the iconic pink Mia Reef Isla Mujeres Hotel, where you can purchase a Playa Norte day pass to enjoy their unique “Piscina del Rey” tide pool.
Overall, the island is a bit touristy with lots of souvenir vendors but still has tropical charm and the beaches of Isla Mujeres are definitely the top attraction.
When is the best time to visit Playa Norte?
There’s no bad time to visit Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, as it is a beautiful beach throughout the year and water temperatures are warm even in the winter months.
However, if you’re looking for the best weather, I recommend visiting during the dry season from December through April, when temperatures are more mild and you’ll experience little to no rain.
If possible, plan your visit for a weekday, as Playa Norte can get quite crowded on the weekends, especially during peak season (December-February).
How to Get to Isla Mujeres Playa Norte
Due to its island location, it can be a bit of a trek to get to Isla Mujeres but it is definitely worth it! Basically you will need to take the ferry from Cancun over to Isla Mujeres.
There are currently two ferry options to do this – Ultramar and Xcaret Xailing. Ultramar is located at Puerto Juarez and has been the main ferry provider for Isla Mujeres for years.
But just recently Xcaret has just started operating a new Isla Mujeres ferry service called Xcaret Xailing. This is a new very sleek and modern ferry and the terminal is just south of Puerto Juarez, closer to Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
So if you want to try out something new or are staying in the Hotel Zone in Cancun, Xcaret Xailing could be a good option for you. More detailed info on both of these options below!
Here’s how to get to the ferry terminals from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or the Riviera Maya:
From Cancun, it’s pretty quick and easy to get to Isla Mujeres. You simply need to take the ferry from your chosen ferry provider over to Isla Mujeres.
To get to the ferry terminal, you can easily take a taxi from your hotel or resort in Cancun. Once on board the ferry, the crossing only takes about 15-20 minutes.
From Playa del Carmen
From Playa del Carmen, the journey to Isla Mujeres takes considerably longer at about 1.5 hours each way.
You’ll first need to take ground transportation to the ferry terminal in Cancun, and then take the ferry over to Isla Mujeres.
👀 Looking for the easiest way to get to Isla Mujeres? Consider booking one of these Isla Mujeres tours from Playa del Carmen with round-trip transportation included.
Drive to Cancun
If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to get to Cancun is by taking a taxi or public transportation.
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 should cost around $1000 pesos each way (~$50 USD). Taxis are more expensive so this is a better option for groups.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can also take the Playa Express van service from Playa del Carmen to the last stop in Cancun.
The Playa Express is a large Mercedes Sprinter-style van service that is very comfortable.
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 the bus station in Cancun, you’ll need to take a taxi to your chosen ferry terminal, which is about a 10-15 minute drive.
Take the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres
Once you’re at the ferry terminal, you simply need to buy a ticket for Isla Mujeres and hop on board.
I recommend purchasing a round-trip ticket as the tickets are open so you can use them on any Isla Mujeres ferry departure time you choose.
The crossing takes about 15-20 minutes, after which you will arrive at the Isla Mujeres ferry terminal.
Isla Mujeres Ferry Options
As mentioned, there are currently two main ferry companies for passenger crossings to Isla Mujeres–Ultramar and Xcaret Xailing.
💲 Cost: $270 pesos (~$14 USD) one way / $540 pesos (~$28 USD) round trip
🕘 Schedule: Every 30 minutes from 5:30AM-12AM 👉 Check schedule here
📍 Location: Google Maps
The Ultramar ferry to Isla Mujeres is the main ferry company for Isla Mujeres and the one that is used by the majority of passengers. The ferries are blue and yellow in color and are large and comfortable.
Once onboard, you’ll find indoor air-conditioned seating on the lower deck and open seating on the upper deck. This is a great place to sit for some killer ocean views — just don’t forget to apply sunscreen!
You’ll even be treated to snacks, a bar, and live entertainment while on board.
👉 Book Ultramar ferry tickets to Isla Mujeres by clicking here!
💲 Cost: $290 pesos (~$14 USD) one way / $560 pesos (~$30 USD) round trip
🕘 Schedule: Every hour from 9AM-8PM 👉 Check schedule here
📍 Location: Google Maps
Xcaret Xailing to Isla Mujeres is Grupo Xcaret’s newest offering, featuring a brand new sleek and modern passenger ferry service to Isla Mujeres.
The Xcaret ferry departs from the Isla Mujeres Ferry Terminal by Xcaret, which is located just south of Puerto Juarez, closer to the Hotel Zone.
While Xcaret tickets are a bit more expensive than Ultramar, the ferries are brand new and tickets also include free access to the Scenic Tower in Cancun.
👉 Book Xcaret Xailing tickets to Isla Mujeres by clicking here!
How to Get to Playa Norte from the Ferry
Once you arrive on Isla Mujeres, there are several different options for reaching Playa Norte:
Playa Norte is only about a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal in Isla Mujeres, so you can easily walk there if you prefer.
You can choose to walk along the beach or through downtown Isla Mujeres, where you’ll find some quaint shops, restaurants, and souvenir shopping.
Additionally, golf carts can be rented directly from the ferry terminal to get around the island.
This is a great option if you want to do a little more exploring in addition to visiting Playa Norte.
Punta Sur, the southernmost point of Isla Mujeres, can also be reached by golf cart and has some picturesque cliff-side views.
If you prefer not to walk or rent a golf cart, there are also plenty of taxis available at the Isla Mujeres ferry terminal.
The drive from the Isla Mujeres ferry terminal to Playa Norte should only take about 5 minutes.
Best Things to Do at Isla Mujeres Playa Norte
These are some of the best things to do at North Beach on Isla Mujeres:
🤿 Check out my full guide here for more Isla Mujeres activities.
1. Relax at a beach club
By far the most popular thing to do at Playa Norte is relax at a beach club!
The beach clubs on Playa Norte are full-service beach clubs offering lounge chairs, shade, food and drinks, as well as access to the beach for swimming or sunbathing.
There are many different beach clubs to choose from whether you’re looking for a posh day at the beach or a more low-key vibe.
Some of my top picks include Oceanvs Beach Club, Green Demon Beach Club, and Guru Beach Club, which you can read more about below.
2. Go on a catamaran sail
If you like to be out on the water, the best way to experience the bright turquoise waters around Isla Mujeres and Playa Norte is by going on a catamaran sail.
Catamaran sails typically include sailing around the island, light snacks, an open bar, as well as stops at nearby snorkeling spots.
👉 Book the best Isla Mujeres catamaran sail by clicking here!
3. Play sand volleyball
Playa Norte is also a great place to play sand volleyball if you are feeling active and are up for a workout in the sun!
There are some sand volleyball nets setup on the beach, so you can grab a friend or two and get in a friendly game.
4. Have a drink at a beach bar
Playa Norte is also home to many fun beach bars with tropical decor, wooden swings, and colorful photo ops.
These beach bars are a great place to watch the sunset and enjoy some cold cervezas or tropical cocktails like margaritas, mojitos, or piña coladas.
5. Go standup paddleboarding
Another great way to experience Playa Norte is by going standup paddleboarding on the calm waters surrounding the island.
Standup paddleboarding is a fun, low-impact activity that’s easy for beginners to try and offers breathtaking views of Isla Mujeres.
Paddleboards can be rented by vendors on the beach or are often available as an added activity at Isla Mujeres beach clubs.
6. Go souvenir shopping
Isla Mujeres is a popular tourist destination and there will be no shortage of souvenir vendors!
You’ll find vendors on the beach or you can venture into downtown Isla Mujeres to explore more shops and stalls.
Souvenir vendors sell everything from handmade trinkets and souvenirs to local artwork and jewelry.
Best Playa Norte Beach Clubs
These are some of the best beach clubs on Playa Norte:
Oceanvs Beach Club Isla Mujeres
Located on the north end of Isla Mujeres 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.
The menu consists of your typical beach bar items including nachos, guacamole, tacos, and pizzas — paired with a wide selection of drinks and cocktails.
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!
Guru Beach Club and Restaurant
Guru Beach Club is an upscale adults-only beach club located on the north end of Playa Norte.
This trendy beach club offers beach beds for rent, a pool, and music with a live DJ, as well as amenities such as restrooms and showers.
What to Bring to Playa Norte
Here are a few recommended items to bring when visiting Playa Norte Beach on Isla Mujeres:
Tips for Visiting Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres
Follow these tips to make the most of your visit to North Beach:
- Get there early: Playa Norte can get quite crowded, especially on weekends and during high season. To avoid the crowds, try to arrive early in the day so that you can snag the best lounge chairs and beach beds before they’re all taken.
- Pack plenty of biodegradable sunscreen: Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. It’s best to wear biodegradable sunscreen anytime you are going to be swimming in the ocean to protect the coral reefs. You can pick up my favorite brand on Amazon here.
- Head to the far end of the beach for the least amount of crowds: To avoid most crowds, try going to the far north end of Playa Norte where there are fewer people and umbrellas.
- Be mindful of the ferry departure times: Keep an eye on the departure times so you know when you need to start heading back to the ferry terminal.
- Don’t lose your ferry ticket: When visiting Isla Mujeres, it can be easy to misplace a small paper ticket so be sure to keep it safely tucked away in your wallet or waterproof compartment in your beach bag.
- Bring your own water bottle: Isla Mujeres is a tropical paradise, but it can also get quite hot and humid. Make sure to bring your own water bottle so that you can stay hydrated safely without having to purchase plastic bottles of water. These collapsible water bottles are compact and great for travel.
Visiting Isla Mujeres Playa Norte: FAQs
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about North Beach on Isla Mujeres:
It’s recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before your ferry departure time to Isla Mujeres. This will give you enough time to get through the ticket line and get lined up to board the ferry.
Yes, Playa Norte has been consistently voted as one of the best beaches in the world by TripAdvisor. In 2022, it came in at #19 on the list of best beaches voted by travelers.
Not really. You can try snorkeling off the beach with your own snorkel gear but due to crowds and waves, it may not be the best location for snorkeling.
If you’re looking to explore Isla Mujeres’ underwater world and marine life, I recommend booking a guided snorkeling tour to the nearby MUSA Underwater Sculpture Museum or the Manchones Reef.
And if you’re visiting during the months of May-September, you can also go on a whale sharks tour to swim alongside these gentle giants.
No, Playa Norte does not have any places where you can rent a jet ski. Non-motorized water sports, such as paddleboarding and kayaking can be found on the island.
No, Playa Norte typically does not have seaweed. However, due to a number of factors such as climate change and weather patterns, Isla Mujeres beach may occasionally have a small amount of seaweed on its shores.
Yes, Playa Norte can get crowded depending on the season. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, I recommend visiting Playa Norte on a weekday.
Conclusion: Isla Mujeres Playa Norte Guide
I hope this guide to Playa Norte has helped you plan your visit to this stunning beach on Isla Mujeres.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day of sun and sand, or some exciting activities like snorkeling, kayaking, or a catamaran sail, Isla Mujeres’ North Beach has something for everyone.
Just remember to arrive early and be sure to review the ferry departure times on Ultramar or Xcaret Xailing to best plan your arrival and departure times.
Have fun exploring Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres – it will not disappoint!