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How to Get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres 2024

What’s the best way to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres? As an expat who lives here, I’m sharing the various Cancun to Isla Mujeres transportation options.

Isla Mujeres is a small island just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, directly across the water from Cancun. Located on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the second-longest coral reef system in the world), Isla Mujeres has a quieter and more relaxing vibe than what you’ll find across the bay in Cancún, and there’s plenty to keep you entertained: scuba diving and snorkeling, visiting a turtle farm or simply lazing around on the island’s pristine beaches.

In this post, I will explain how to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. I live in Playa del Carmen and have been to Isla Mujeres several times using different modes of transport. So, let’s dive into the various Cancun to Isla Mujeres transportation options.

cancun to cozumel

Where is Isla Mujeres?

At just 13km (8 miles) off the mainland, Isla Mujeres is Cancun’s closest island. It’s a short 15-minute ferry ride from Cancun and yet the small island is a world away. It’s much smaller than Cozumel and its beaches are much more pristine than those in Cancun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen.

Most of the island is covered by lush tropical forests, nature reserves and empty beaches. There are resorts dotted all along the island’s northern and southern coast, so you won’t have to sacrifice creature comforts.

getting from cancun to cozumel

How to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres

It’s really easy to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres: here are the four main ways to get there:

  • Catamaran day trip from Cancun
  • Private boat charter
  • High-speed ferry
  • Car ferry

Taking the high-speed ferry is the most popular way to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, but those with limited time should opt for the day cruise or private boat charter. You’ll also need to figure out how to get to the ferry terminals: by car rental, bus or taxi. I will share every single detail on the different ways to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres.

By Catamaran Day Trip

This is by far the easiest way to get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. By booking a catamaran day trip to Isla Mujeres, you won’t have to worry about transportation and logistics. In fact, day tours are great value for money. All your drinks and food will be covered, as well as the transportation from Cancun, the boat trip itself and snorkeling stops. The only down point is that you won’t get to stay overnight on the island.

Catamaran day trips usually cost around US$30 – $150 and they last 8 hours (you get picked up at 9am and dropped off at 5pm). You’ll have a driver to pick you up in a van, a bilingual guide onboard the catamaran, and free time to explore Isla Mujeres, before before jetted back to your accommodation.

We recently sailed with Cancun Adventures, and had a great day out at sea, snorkeling in the spearmint water and enjoying some beach time on Isla Mujeres. The snorkeling was a bit of a rush, but at least we got to swim in the underwater museum of art (MUSA)! There was free flow of drinks and the food was pretty good (served in a bento set); plus we had over three hours to explore Isla Mujeres.

Here are more catamaran day trip options:

See also  30 Fun Things to do in Cancun, Mexico in 2024

By Private Boat Charter

If you’re willing to indulge a bit on your journey from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, there’s an option to arrange a private boat charter, which typically comes in the form of a luxurious yacht. Of course this won’t be cheap but if you’re traveling in a group, this can be a feasible option.

The advantage of booking a private charter is that you’ll have the boat to yourself, allowing you the freedom to stop at your leisure and explore less crowded snorkeling spots away from the usual tourist areas. It’s crucial to select a reputable company with positive customer reviews and top-notch safety equipment on board to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

For a group of up to 12 passengers, the cost of a private catamaran is approximately US$720, which means it can work out to around $60 USD per person if you have a large enough group. In some cases, this might not be significantly more expensive than opting for a shared tour. Book a private charter here.

By High-Speed Ferry

The high-speed ferry to Isla Mujeres is the most popular option as it’s the cheapest. It’s also just a 15-minute journey and relatively comfortable, punctual and efficient. The ferry leaves from three different parts of Cancun: Puerto Juárez, Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol. Puerto Juarez is the most popular ferry terminal and easy-to-reach departure point. It’s easy enough to get there on your own from the hotel strip or downtown Cancun (I will share details on how to get there below).

The Ultramar ferry is a comfortable, affordable and convenient way of traveling to Cozumel — the boats are always air-conditioned, comfortable and punctual. They leave regularly in a well-organised manner. The terminals are also comfortable, with kiosks that sell snacks and drinks as well as toilets. Book your tickets online to ensure availability.

Prices for Ferry to Isla Mujeres

One way:
Adult – 270 MXN (US$13.50)
Child* – 200 MXN (US$10)

Round trip:
Adult – 540 MXN (US$22.50)
Child* – 400 MXN (US$20)

*Kids pay child fare when they are below 1.2m in height.

cancun to cozumel ferry

Which Ferry Terminal to Leave from?

The Ultramar Puerto Juarez ferry terminal is located a 10-minute drive from downtown Cancun and a 35-minute drive from Cancun Airport. It’s the most popular ferry terminal and it has the most regular ferry departures. Ferries leave the Puerto Juarez terminal every half hour from 5:30 am until 6 pm and every hour until 11pm. The crossing takes about 15 minute.

The Playa Tortuga terminal is to the east of Puerto Cancun and Plaza Las Americas. It’s a 36-minute drive to the airport. Ferries leave here every hour from 9am to 5.45pm. Prices are the same.

The Playa Caracol terminal is located in the north of the hotel strip, making it the most convenient option for those staying in the hotel strip. But there are less departures here; ferries leave every 1h15m from 10.30am to 5.30pm.

How’s the Ferry Like?

You’ll need to arrive just 30 minutes before your ferry departs. When boarding, you just need to show your ticket (no passport needed). Boarding is usually done in an orderly way. The ferry itself is very comfortable, with air-conditioning, a few TV screens showing advertising, and proper bathrooms. There’s also a cafe onboard selling coffee, tea, other beverages and simple snacks.

Before you leave Cancun, you can stock up on all the beach day necessities like sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and more at the ferry terminals. You’ll usually find an OXXO or 7-11, bathrooms, and a cafe or bar.

When boarding, there will be porters ready to load your luggage. They’ll give you a ticket to keep with you in case. This is a common procedure and absolutely safe. When you disembark, just wait at the end of the ferry to get your suitcase.

By Car Ferry

If you’ve already got a rental car with you, it might be best to catch the car ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. That way you can save on renting a golf cart when you’re on the island. This is particularly convenient for those who are less mobile or those who have kids and are lugging lots of baggage.

The car ferry leaves from the Punta Sam ferry terminal, which is just 12 minutes north of Puerto Juarez. The ride takes around 45 minutes, so it is a bit slower compared to other option. But it’s also smoother and less rough than the quicker high-speed ferries. The service is run by Ultramar Carga and you can book tickets directly on their website.

See also  15 Things to Do in Cozumel, Mexico [2024]

Prices are as follows:

  • Regular car (including driver): 420 MXN (US$21)
  • Per person: 200 MXN (US$10)
  • Per child (3-9 years old): 135 MXN (US$7.5)

Ferries depart from Punta Sam from Monday to Friday at 7:00 am; 10:30 am; 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm. On Saturdays they run at 7:00 am; 10:30 am and 4:00 pm. On Sundays they depart at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm.

How to Get from Cancun Airport to Ferry Terminal

By Car Rental

Renting a car is one of the best ways to get around Cancun. If you’re spending some time in Cancun before hopping over to Isla Mujeres, I recommend hiring a car to explore the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s convenient, flexible, and relatively affordable; the average price ranges from 600-800 MXN (US$30-40) per day, including insurance and taxes.

I always use to for car rentals worldwide. The search engine compares rental-prices from all the major companies and has consistently given me the cheaper rates and best services. Search for car rentals in Cancun here!

The ferry terminals all have secure parking, they cost around US$15 per day.

renting a car  - cancun to cozumel flight

Is it Safe to Drive in Cancun

Yes! Highway 307 is a 4-lane smooth road that is rather well maintained. It’s the main highway that connects all the beach towns along the Riviera Maya and beyond. We have a car and I drive along Highway 307 everyday, and never had any issue.

That said, there are quite a few police checkpoints and speed bumps along the way. The police usually check for any abnormal behavior and only stop drivers that look dodgy. We have been driving in the Riviera Maya for two years now and have only been stopped once and even then the police officer only said hi and let us get on our way.

map from cancun to playa del carmen

Driving Tips in Mexico

  • In Mexico, you drive on the right side of the road.
  • Always keep your driving license, car rental papers, and proof of insurance handy.
  • The main road hazards are reckless drivers; they tend to go very fast, changing lanes as and when they like without signaling. Be wary of these drivers and keep calm!
  • There are plenty of speed bumps along the Federal Highway, especially when you get close to Playa del Carmen. When you see the signpost “TOPE”, slow down and prepare for the bumps.
  • Avoid driving at night as you won’t be able to see the speed bumps and drivers go even faster than usual.

By Shuttle Minivan

A cheap way of getting from Cancun Airport to the ferry terminal without having to deal with the logistics is booking a shuttle minivan. These are shared transportation that pick you up from the airport and drop you at whichever ferry terminal you’d like. Prices start from US$7.

Pre-book your bus tickets here before arriving at Cancun Airport to ensure availability. The earliest departure from Cancun Airport (CUN) is at 00:00 and the latest departure is at 23:00. The driver will be waiting for you in the Arrivals Hall, holding a sign with your name on it.

By ADO Bus

Taking a bus is the cheapest option to get from Cancun Airport to the ferry terminal. ADO is Mexico’s largest bus company that has regular departures from Cancun Airport to downtown Cancun throughout the day. I’ve traveled in ADO buses many times and can safely say the bus company is top notch. Their buses are clean, safe, comfortable, and air-conditioned.

Pre-book your bus tickets here before arriving at Cancun Airport to ensure availability or visit the ADO counter at the airport to get tickets for the next bus. Bus tickets from Cancun airport to downtown Cancun cost around 100 MXN (US$5) each way. The bus runs every half hour.

From the downtown bus station you can take a taxi to the ferry (around US$5) or if you are really feeling adventurous catch a colectivo. Take the “Ruta 13” colectivo that will drop you off at Puerto Juárez near the ferry dock. The driver will stop many times along the way to pick up and drop off passengers.

See also  Best Time to Visit Tulum
ADO bus from cancun to playa del carmen

By Taxi

Taking the taxi is the worst option, and I’d suggest only considering taxis as your last resort. Taxis in Cancun don’t have meters and drivers will often offer an inflated price based on how you look.

If you opt for a taxi to get to the ferry terminal, agree on a fare before getting into the taxi. A fair cost for a taxi from Cancun Airport to Puerto Juarez ferry terminal ranges from 400-600 MXN (US$20-30).

taxi from cancun to playa del carmen

How to Get around Isla Mujeres

The best way to get around Isla Mujeres is by hiring a golf cart along Rueda Medina. Isla Mujeres is a small island and you can easily explore the entire island on golf cart. We rented a golf cart when we arrived, for 800 Pesos ($40) per day. It worked well for us, and we used it throughout our time on Isla Mujeres.

Make sure the cart is in good working shape when you rent it and we suggest taking a quick video of it before setting out, especially of any dings or dents already present. Prices are regulated and the same everywhere so look for the best quality and service.

Scooters are also available for rent, and cheaper than the golf carts. If you’re traveling solo or with a partner/friend, then it’s more cost efficient to hire a scooter.

renting a car in cozumel - cancun to cozumel

Best Time to Visit Isla Mujeres

The best time to visit Isla Mujeres is between December and March when the weather is at its mildest. Temperatures average around the mid 80s F (24-26 deg C), and there’s less of a chance of rain than at other times of year.

The hottest month of the year is May with an average daily maximum of 97 deg F (36 deg C) and an average low of 73 deg F (23 deg C). Hurricane season runs June to November, but the peak is during September and October.

If you’re looking to see dolphins and whale sharks and swim with them, then you should aim to visit Isla Mujeres in July or August.

Where to Stay on Isla Mujeres

Luxury (High Budget): Casa de los Sueños

Nestled on the northern shores, Casa de los Sueños offers an intimate escape with oceanfront suites, personalized butler service, and a private yacht for seamless arrival. Indulge in the spa, savor gourmet dining options, and bask in the beauty of a private beach at this exclusive 5-star boutique hotel. Check rates here.

Mid-range (Mid Budget): Estrella de Mar Loft

Embrace the tropical ambiance at Estrella de Mar Loft, situated on the stunning Playa Norte. Enjoy spectacular beachfront views, rooftop restaurant and bar, and a prime location with easy access to the island’s vibrant atmosphere. Check rates here.

Budget-Friendly (Low Budget): Posada Paso del Sol

Experience style and affordability at Posada Paso del Sol, located in downtown Isla Mujeres. Modern and minimalist rooms with private balconies and ocean views, rooftop pool, beach club access, and proximity to dining and entertainment options create a fantastic budget-friendly stay. Check rates here.

where to stay in isla mujeres

Further Reading on Mexico

Getting from Cancun to Isla Mujeres is pretty easy and a trip there is every bit as dream as you’d imagine! I hope I’ve answered all your questions. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.

For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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