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The powdery sand beaches of Cancun’s Hotel Zone offer beachgoers plenty to swoon over. But if you give the horizon a good squint when you’re sipping on your margarita, you might become tempted to visit the island you see in the distance. That’s the famous Isla Mujeres, and based on my two-week stay, I can say it’s very much worth the visit. I’ll help you understand how to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres so that you can boast about visiting a Mexican island when you return home.
Traveling to Isla Mujeres from the airport vs. the coast
Whether you’re planning on taking an Isla Mujeres day trip or want to spend a few nights on the island, you have two main options—starting your travels from the airport or by the coast. In both cases, the only way to arrive in Isla Mujeres is by ferry.
The Cancun to Isla Mujeres distance is approximately eight miles from the Hotel Zone, which equates to about a 30-minute ferry ride.
So, how far is Isla Mujeres from Cancun’s airport? It’s only about a half-hour drive to get to the ferry.
When looking at how to get to Isla Mujeres from the Cancun airport, a great option is to book a shuttle bus + ferry transportation package. That’ll help you get from the Cancun airport to Isla Mujeres in about 1.5 hours.
Trust me—if you arrive at the port right as a ferry is about to pull away, you’ll be thankful you can hop on it with your pre-purchased ticket.
Figuring out the best ferry port
Whether you are heading to Isla Mujeres from the Cancun airport or after you’re already settled into your hotel, the next choice you need to make is what port to depart from. You have the following options:
- Puerto Juárez
- Playa Tortugas
- El Embarcadero
- Playa Caracol
In almost all cases, the best way to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres is by taking a ferry out of Puerto Juárez. It’s Cancun’s main ferry terminal, it has the most frequent departures, and it’s a short (and beautiful) drive from Cancun’s Hotel Zone.
There’s no need to worry about what port to get off at when taking the ferry to Isla Mujeres. The island is tiny, so it has a single port within walking distance to most of the attractions.
Isla Mujeres ferry schedule
Between several port choices and Puerto Juárez offering many departure times, transportation to Isla Mujeres from Cancun is a breeze. Therefore, I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty schedule of each port. But as a general rule, you can expect ferries to leave from Puerto Juárez every 30 to 60 minutes between 5:30 am –11:00 pm, seven days a week.
The other ports offer daily Ultramar departures, as well. Although Puerto Juárez is often the best choice, if your hotel sits near one of these other ports, it might be worth taking the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres from there. It might cut back on travel time.
Embracing the Cancun to Isla Mujeres ferry experience
Assuming that you opt out of taking a private boat transfer from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, Ultramar is the most popular since it offers more frequent departures.
The Ultramar Isla Mujeres ferry cost starts at $11 per person, and the ticket is valid for any departure time. So, feel free to extend your stay on the island when you can’t pull yourself away from Isla’s beachside nightlife.
Regardless of the ferry you take, you can expect an air-conditioned first floor and a second-floor outdoor deck. In addition, the ferries operate on an open seating basis, so you can move around to enjoy the beautiful Caribbean views during the ride.
If you’re traveling with luggage, there’s an area where you can store it immediately upon entering the ferry (make sure to keep valuables with you). That’ll give you more freedom to explore the ferry’s two floors.
A note for those who get seasick
The ferries that run between Cancun and Isla Mujeres are large, so you won’t feel the water’s every bump like you would in a small boat. In fact, when the water is calm, you’ll be able to move around the first and second floor without noticing any rocking.
But if the sea is choppy, you can expect the ferry to sway. Luckily, it’s a short ride. However, if you know you’re prone to getting seasick, you might want to pack some medicine for motion sickness.
Planning your trip around the weather
Although the Cancun to Isla Mujeres ferries do an excellent job of staying on schedule when the weather cooperates, a stormy day can put a wrench in your travel plans. The ferries temporarily shut down for safety reasons when the waves get too rough. So, below are some recommendations to help you avoid getting stranded:
- If you plan on taking a Cancun to Isla Mujeres day trip as part of a longer stay in Cancun, consider holding off on booking your ferry ticket until it’s certain you’ll have clear skies.
- Regardless of when you travel, try not to visit Isla Mujeres on the same day you have a flight out of Cancun.
By keeping these items in mind, you’ll be well on your way to a relaxing and enjoyable time in Isla Mujeres. And if you happen to be in Isla Mujeres for the sunrise, make sure to head to Punta Sur. It’s the first place that the sun touches Mexico’s shore every morning, and you’ll have the place practically to yourself.
Avoid booking your Isla Mujeres visit during the heart of hurricane season, July to October.
It’s a pretty small island so a couple days will do. But if you just want to lounge in paradise, spend a week there.
Hop back on the ferry to Cancun and then fly to Cozumel.