Getting from Cancun to Isla Mujeres: A traveler review

Tiny beachside restaurants and a small-town feel entice travelers to visit Isla Mujeres. Since the island is a short ferry ride from Cancun, it’s easy to travel there. I took the Ultramar ferry to Isla Mujeres and will share advice from my experience to help you make the most of your trip.

How to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun

The only transportation option from Cancun to Isla Mujeres is by boat. Luckily, the Ultramar ferry makes it easy to take this trip thanks to five port locations. Let’s take a look at them.

Puerto Juárez

Puerto Juárez is Ultramar’s main port and the one I used to travel from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. It offers over twenty daily ferry departures that range from half-hour to one-hour intervals. 

If you’re traveling from downtown Cancun, Puerto Juárez is likely the closest (and cheapest) option for you. The port itself is a large, covered outdoor space equipped with everything from ATMs and Starbucks to a pharmacy.

Playa Tortugas, El Embarcadero & Playa Caracol

These three Ultramar ports are located in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. The advantage of them is that you’ll spend less time in traffic trying to reach Puerto Juárez. However, ferry schedules from the Hotel Zone are limited to a maximum of three departures per day, per port. 

The earliest Ultramar ferry departure from the Hotel Zone leaves Playa Tortugas in the late morning. Therefore, if getting to Isla Mujeres early is important to you, I recommend traveling north to the Puerto Juárez port.

Punta Sam

The Punta Sam port is for Ultramar’s “Carga” ferry brand, which is for transporting vehicles. I don’t recommend traveling by car since most people find it a hassle to drive around Isla Mujeres; parking spots are hard to come by, and the island is so small that walking or renting a golf cart are the best ways to explore. You read that right—golf carts are a thing on Isla!  

As a side note, should you wish to travel from the Cancun airport to Isla Mujeres, you can book a shuttle directly to the ferry port.

Isla Mujeres ferry schedule

Below is a summary of the Isla Mujeres ferry times to and from Cancun. Although there are many Ultramar ferry ports in Cancun, all ferries arrive at the same port in Isla. Regardless of where you depart from, your ferry ride will take under 30 minutes.

Puerto Juárez: Ferries from Cancun to Isla Mujeres run from 06:30 – 22:00. On the return, the first ferry departs Isla at 07:00 and runs until 23:00. You can count on the ferries running every hour, on the hour. Some also leave on the half-hour.

Playa Tortugas & El Embarcadero: There are three departures between 10:00 and 13:30. For the return to Cancun, there are also three ferries, which run between 10:45 and 18:00.

Playa Caracol: There’s an 11:15 am departure from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, and two on the return—one at 10:45 and the other at 18:00.

Punta Sam: Departure times vary depending on the day, but you can rely on 2 – 4 ferries per day with morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon times. 

Isla Mujeres ferry cost

For Mexico standards, the less than 30-minute ride to Isla Mujeres from Cancun isn’t cheap. Puerto Juárez is the most economical port to depart from, at around $10 per adult. The ferry ports in the Hotel Zone cost even more since they’re located a bit further from Isla.

Children under 1.20 meters receive a third off their ticket price and babies less than 12 months old ride for free. 

Ferry amenities

The Ultramar ferry I took was two stories (some are three stories with two outdoor levels). There isn’t assigned seating, so you can opt for a comfy indoor seat on the ground floor or a plastic chair on the outdoor second-floor deck. Whatever you do, try to snag a seaside seat. Watching the water change from blue to turquoise as you arrive in Isla Mujeres is the highlight of the ferry ride!

There wasn’t a café on my ferry, but an Ultramar employee walked around with a bag of snacks and drinks, asking if anyone wanted to purchase them. Food and beverages are expensive, so I recommend bringing them with you from Cancun.

The ferry offers charging ports, restrooms, and air conditioning on the first floor. There isn’t WiFi onboard, but trust me—that turquoise water is better than your phone.

If you’re prone to seasickness, I recommend taking medicine before boarding. I traveled on a windy day, and there was a gentle but steady rock the entire time.

Feel “free” to change your mind

One of the wonderful perks of traveling with Ultramar is that your ticket is valid for any departure time on the date of your Isla Mujeres visit. So, if you decide you want to head out earlier or later than you booked, simply show up at the port and line up for the next ferry. There’s no cost to change your ferry time, and you don’t have to print a new ticket. 

Ultramar port in Isla Mujeres

Arriving at the Isla Mujeres Ultramar ferry port feels like stepping into a blue fairytale. The port has an open-air style and is equipped with restrooms, a money exchange kiosk, tour desks, and a pharmacy. 

Isla Mujeres day-trippers can either explore the island’s gems by foot from the ferry port or rent a golf cart. If you’re staying in the Playa Norte region, you’ll be able to walk to your accommodation in less than 10 minutes. Taxis are plentiful if you’ll be staying farther from the center.

Got your bags packed?

Whether you’re taking a day trip to Isla Mujeres or plan to “island plop” indefinitely, traveling on the Ultramar ferry is a fun and scenic way to kick off your experience. The views are so beautiful and the ferry so comfortable that if you’re like me, you’ll be wishing the ride lasted longer.     

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