Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
Puerto Juárez, just north of Cancún, is the dock (tel. 998/877-0382) for passenger ferries to Isla Mujeres. Ultramar (tel. 998/843-2011; www.granpuerto.com.mx) has fast boats leaving every half-hour from "Gran Puerto" in Puerto Juárez, making the trip in 15 minutes. There is storage space for luggage and the fare is about 45 pesos each way. These boats operate daily, starting at 6am and usually ending at 10:30pm (check beforehand for latest schedules). They might leave early if they're full, so arrive ahead of schedule. Pay at the ticket office or on board if the ferry is about to leave.
Note: Upon arrival by taxi or bus in Puerto Juárez, be wary of pirate "guides" who tell you either that the ferry is canceled or that it's several hours until the next ferry. They'll offer the services of a private lancha (small boat) for about 450 pesos -- and it's nothing but a scam. Small boats are available and, on a co-op basis, charge 200 to 350 pesos one-way, based on the number of passengers. They take about 50 minutes and are not recommended on days with rough seas. Check with the ticket office -- the only accurate source for information.
On your return to Puerto Juárez, you'll see taxi fares posted by the street where the taxis park, so be sure to check the rate before agreeing to a taxi for the ride back to Cancún. Rates generally run 120 to 150 pesos, depending upon your destination. Moped and bicycle rentals are also readily available as you depart the ferry. This small complex also has public bathrooms, luggage storage, a snack bar, and souvenir shops.
Isla Mujeres is so small that a vehicle isn't necessary, but if you're taking one to the island, you'll use the Punta Sam port a little beyond Puerto Juárez. The 40-minute car ferry (tel. 998/877-0065) runs five or six times daily between 8am and 8pm, year-round except in bad weather. Times are generally as follows: Cancún to Isla 8 and 11am and 2:45, 5:30, and 8:15pm; Isla to Cancún 6:30 and 9:30am and 12:45, 4:15, and 7:15pm. Always check with the tourist office in Cancún to verify this schedule. Cars should arrive an hour before the ferry departure to register for a place in line and pay the posted fee, which varies depending on the weight and type of vehicle. A gas pump is at Avenida Rueda Medina and Calle Abasolo, northwest of the ferry docks.
Ferries to Isla Mujeres also depart from Playa Linda, known as the Embarcadero pier in Cancún, but they're less frequent and more expensive than those from Puerto Juárez. There are four to six scheduled departures per day to Isla Mujeres, depending upon the season. Adult fares are 150 pesos round-trip; kids ages 3 to 12 pay 75 pesos; children younger than 3 ride free. A Water Taxi (tel. 998/886-4270, -4847; email@example.com) to Isla Mujeres operates from Playa Caracol, between the Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Hotel and the Xcaret terminal on Cancún island; prices are about the same as those from Playa Linda.
To get to Puerto Juárez or Punta Sam from Cancún, take any Ruta 8 city bus from Avenida Tulum. From the Cancún airport, take the shuttle bus to the pier (160 pesos).
The City Tourist Office (tel./fax 998/877-0767, -0307) is at Av. Rueda Medina 130, just across the street from the pier. It's open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm, closed on Saturday and Sunday. Islander is a free publication with local information, advertisements, and event listings.
Isla Mujeres is about 8km (5 miles) long and 4km (2 1/2 miles) wide, with the town at the northern tip. "Downtown" is a compact 4 blocks by 6 blocks, so it's very easy to get around. The passenger ferry docks are at the center of town, within walking distance of most hotels, restaurants, and shops. The street running along the waterfront and in front of the ferry docks is Avenida Rueda Medina, commonly called the malecón (boardwalk). The Mercado Municipal (town market) is by the post office on Calle Guerrero, an inland street at the north edge of town, which, like most streets in the town, is unmarked.
A popular form of transportation on Isla Mujeres is the electric golf cart, available for rent at many hotels or rental shops for 150 pesos per hour or 450 pesos per day. Prices are set the same at all rental locations. El Sol Golf Cart Rental, Av. Benito Juárez Mza 3 #20 (corner of Matamoros; tel. 998/877-0791), is one good option in the town center. The golf carts don't go more than 30kmph (19 mph), but they're fun. Anyway, you aren't on Isla Mujeres to hurry. Many people enjoy touring the island by moto (motorized bike or scooter). Fully automatic versions are available for around 450 pesos per day or 100 pesos per hour. They come with helmets and seats for two people. There's only one main road with a couple of offshoots, so you won't get lost. Be aware that the rental price does not include insurance, and any injury to yourself or the vehicle will come out of your pocket. Bicycles are also available for rent at some hotels for 35 pesos an hour or 120 pesos per day, usually including a basket and a lock.
Tricycle taxis are the least expensive and easiest way to get to your hotel if it's in town. From the ferry pier to any of the downtown hotels will cost about 20 to 30 pesos. If you ask the guys, they'll say "Oh, whatever you care to give." I will let them haul my bags and lead the way while I walk.
If you prefer to use a taxi, rates are about 25 pesos for trips within the downtown area, or 50 pesos for a trip to the southern end of Isla. You can also hire them for about 100 pesos per hour. Regular taxis are always lined up in a parking lot to the right of the pier, with their rates posted. The number to call for taxis is tel. 998/877-0066.