Woman walking on beach at sunset
North Beach on Isla Mujeres, Mexico offers stunning sunsets every night.

Take a 15-minute ferry ride from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, Mexico


Aerial view of the Cancun hotel zone. You’ll take a ferry from Cancun to reach Isla Mujeres.

Mexico is my happy place. I’ve visited this beautiful country 27 times over the past 30 years. One of our favorite stays was on the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres. The Island of Women is located right across from Cancun off the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean. And here are tips on how to take a ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.


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Enjoy live music as you take the Ultramar ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, Mexico – it’s the best way to get to Woman Island.

Travel tips: How to get to Isla Mujeres, Mexico from Cancun

Here are some Mexico travel tips and everything you need to know about how to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun.

Hotel Secreto beach; Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Hotel Secreto beach; Isla Mujeres, Mexico

What’s the best way to get from the Cancun airport to the ferry terminal?

We flew into the Cancun International Airport and were greeted by Mora Transfers (which our hotel, Hotel Secreto, arranged for us – see related post: A secret too good to keep: Hotel Secreto; Isla Mujeres, Mexico).

Taxi driver and woman holding a six pack of beer

In several past trips to the Mayan Riviera (as in above image), I’ve reserved with Cancun Valet (who are also awesome and will stop at a convenience store along the way if you’re thirsty for a beverage). Much cheaper than buying a drink at the tiki hut outside the Cancun airport. Although most times you can purchase affordable bottles of water or beer from vendors with coolers.

Most recently, we reserved our Cancun airport to ferry transfer with Carm Transfers. They are amazing and very trustworthy shuttle service in Cancun to Isla Mujeres.

 

Cancun to Isla Mujeres airport shuttle

Carm Transfers, Mora Transfers, and Cancun Valet offer private transfers, which means you don’t have to make stops at other hotels. I recommend always making your Cancun hotel transfer arrangements in advance unless it’s already included in your vacation package.

Cancun airport tips

If you’ve never been to the Cancun airport, your driver will meet you outside the terminal. Politely say “no, thank you” to anyone inside the terminal asking if they can help with your luggage (even if they sound and look official in their uniforms). They’re typically wanting to sell you timeshare packages.

The cost for Mora’s roundtrip transfer from the airport to the Gran Puerto Cancun (Ultramar) ferry dock was $120 – payable in cash upon pickup or pay in advance via PayPal. Tips are not included. Check their website for the most current rates.

Which ferry terminal takes me from Cancun to Isla Mujeres?

If you elect not to take an airport shuttle or want to visit Isla Mujeres as a day trip from Cancun, please note there are two ports that ferry over from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Make sure you go to Gran Puerto Cancun ferry terminal leaving out of Puerto Juaraz to catch the Ultramar ferry.

People waiting in line at ferry terminal in Mexico

Where do I purchase a ferry ticket from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, Mexico?

Once you get to the Gran Puerto Cancun ferry terminal, purchase a roundtrip ticket to Isla Mujeres from the desk. The return trip from Isla Mujeres to Cancun is open (meaning you can come back on any day at any time during normal operating hours).  

Then grab a drink from the corner tiki bar or OXXO convenience store at Gran Puerto Cancun ferry terminal or use their restroom before heading into the queue to board the Ultramar ferry to Isla Mujeres. They also serve drinks and light snacks on the ferry.

I have a late flight into Cancun. What’s the latest I can take the ferry to Isla Mujeres?

Ferry terminals in the ocean

The Gran Puerto Cancun ferries leave every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. And they are punctual. If your flight arrives in the evening, you may need to book a hotel room in Cancun and catch the ferry in the morning. 

Don’t worry if you see a long line as the ferry to and from Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Mexico holds a lot of people and their luggage. 


Travel tips to Mexico

Travel tip: I take the Arkadia backpack with me everywhere – on vacation, on hikes and even to the grocery store. I love it because it’s lightweight, durable, waterproof AND it’s packable. In fact, you can fold it up so it fits right into your pocket. The Arkadia backpack is the perfect travel gift or hiking gift or gift to yourself. I only recommend products and services I love and use myself.

You can opt to bring your luggage onboard the Ultramar ferry to and from Cancun and Isla Mujeres yourself or a porter can assist you (no cost, but tips are always appreciated). If you have luggage, you must board in the back of the ferry as that is where you store your bags. 


Get into vacation mode onboard the Ultramar ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres – it’s the best way to get to Woman Island.

Travel tip: Wear eco-friendly sunscreen! Protect your skin from harmful UV rays before getting on the top deck of the ferry or on the beach. I love fun in the sun. Unfortunately, did not protect my skin in my younger days (baby oil, anyone?). I now see my dermatologist way too often. It’s not always fun.

But sunscreen can be fun. Loving the Beach Gypsy SPF 30+ Gold Glitter Sunscreen samples I received from Sunshine & Glitter in exchange for an honest review. The company was founded to create products with nourishing ingredients that are eco-friendly and reef safe. It’s a perfect gift for beach lovers. And they also offer moisturizing body gel and after-sun products.


Purple eco friendly beach towel at Lake Marion
Pack a Microfiber towel like this super absorbent (and super cute) Akumal 2.0 beach towel from Wildhorn Outfitters. I was gifted this ecofriendly towel and love it especially since it dries so quickly! And this eco-friendly beach towel is made of 75% recycled bottles! It also comes with a convenient drawstring bag that does double duty as a beach bag.

Sailboats on the blue Caribbean Ocean with clouds in the bly sky
Beautiful no-filter pictures taken on ferry ride from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

Where should I sit on the ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres?

Ferry at terminal
Isla Mujeres Ferry Terminal

We sat on the top deck of the Ultramar ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres and enjoyed some live music and the beautiful turquoise water views. Honestly, these photos and videos required no filter. So beautiful.

How do I get from Isla Mujeres ferry terminal to my hotel?

Once you arrive at the Isla Mujeres ferry terminal, you can grab a cab or ask a pedicab or baggage handler to assist you with your luggage. If your hotel is close, you can even walk there yourself.

Man pushing luggage cart on cobblestone street

Although it was only a 10- to 15-minute walk to our hotel, Hotel Secreto, this was our first stay at Isla Mujeres (and I have no sense of direction even though the island is only seven miles long). So we asked one of the baggage handlers with a cart (pictured) to transport our luggage.

No set cost; their t-shirts even say they work for tips. By the time we left to go home, we knew our way back to the Isla Mujeres ferry and walked to catch our ride back to Cancun.

Remember to keep your Isla Mujeres to Cancun ferry stub to avoid purchasing a one-way ticket back (an additional $9). We kept our stub with our tourist card and passport in our safe.


How do I get to the Cancun airport from Isla Mujeres?

It’s a good idea to confirm your pick-up time at the Cancun ferry terminal with your Cancun airport transfer at least 24 hours before your departure. Our hotel, Hotel Secreto, did it for us.

On your return trip, all you need to do is get in line. (We were a little confused as it said A on our tickets, but the sign next to the ferry said C. But we made it back to the correct dock.)

Beautiful blue water view on the top deck of the Ultramar ferry from Isla Mujeres to Cancun, Mexico.

And then sit back to enjoy a little more live music and your final view of the turquoise waters on your ferry from Isla Mujeres to Cancun.

More Isla Mujeres, Mexico travel tips

If you fall in love with Isla Mujeres or looking for other tips or recommendations on the best hotels, best restaurants and the best things to do on Isla Mujeres, ask to join the Islaholics Facebook group. It’s a peer-to-peer group with authentic Isla Mujeres travel tips from real people.

If you have any questions on how to get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun, please leave a comment below or contact me.

Looking for a day trip from Isla Mujeres? A day trip from Cancun?

Xcaret Zoological Park

The Xcaret zoological park is one of my favorite things to do on the Yucatan Peninsula – from swimming and snorkeling in the underground caves to the aquarium, lively dinner shows, butterfly garden and more. You can simply catch the ferry back over to Cancun from Isla Mujeres and make your way down to Xcaret. Check out my travel blogger friend Leeanne’s post from In the Olive Groves to learn more about all the fun things to do in Xcaret.

Travel tip: Another one of my favorite travel gifts to myself and that I take with me when I’m on walking tours, day hikes or in places notorious for pickpockets is the SPIbelt. No, it’s not a fanny pack. Although the concept is similar. It’s much more flattering as the zippered pocket fits/stretches to the contents you put inside it (ID, money, credit cards, keys, etc.). And it fits under your clothes so it doesn’t even have to show. I also love it because it’s packable. I own two of them and love them especially the weather-resistant SPIbelt – and I only recommend products and services I find valuable. It’s the perfect travel gift or gifts for runners and hikers.


Tips on how to tip in Mexico (aka las propinas) 

Bring plenty of pesos or small dollar bills to Mexico as most places only accept cash (and generally they prefer tips in pesos). ATMs are available in the Isla Mujeres ferry terminal or across the street, but they do charge a service fee and have limited withdrawal amounts daily (typically 3,000 to 4,000 pesos max).   

We ordered our pesos directly from our bank online. And they mailed them directly to our home. You do need to be home when they are delivered as a signature is required. How many pesos to bring to Mexico? That depends. I would say at least $100-$200 USD a day converted to pesos.


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Isla Mujeres

Related post: Where to stay in Isla Mujeres, Mexico


Hotel Secreto pool at night - cobalt; Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Hotel Secreto pool at night – cobalt; Isla Mujeres, Mexico

We loved our stay at the private Hotel Secreto in Isla Mujeres – just a short walk to the more lively North Beach. You can also find great deals on VRBO or HomeAway.


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Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

53 comments

  1. We love Isla Mujeres and been lucky enough to have been twice! We always get the fresh caught fish at this restaurant on the pier and motor bike around the island. Good times!

  2. Isla Mujeres was not on my radar before. I can’t say I even knew where it was 🙂 Thanks for sharing this great info!

    1. Thank you so much! I get a little anxious when I don’t know where I’m going so like to research and share with others to help manage expectations.

  3. We have traveled to Mexico multiple times but never to Isla Mujeres. It sounds like I need to add it to our list! Thanks (especially for all of the tips)!

  4. I’ve never been to Mexico, but I certainly want to! This island looks like the perfect place to relax. I’ve never heard of that sunscreen, and now I want to try it. Eco-friendly and glitter! Yes, please!

    1. Kinda fun to have some glitter with your sunscreen – and love that it is reef-friendly! I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been to Mexico…it’s definitely one of my favorite places in the world.

  5. Your pictures are awesome! I’m going to check out that glitter sunscreen you posted in here. Sounds awesome! I visited IM back in 1999 with some friends…looks like it’s changed quite a bit in 20 years. Looks like I’ll have to head back there again sometime!

    1. This was the first time we had stayed on Isla Mujeres – I know Cancun and Playa del Carmen have definitely changed since the years we first visited. Isla is still pretty quaint and quiet.

  6. You know, I was just telling my husband I would LOVE to go to Isla Mujeres, and then I read this! It looks great, and I am definitely going to save your post to read again later! Thanks for all the great info! 🙂

    1. I think the universe is trying to tell you something! I have another post about our stay at Hotel Secreto (a boutique hotel) that we loved as well as this really cool sculpture garden we came across. Such a beautiful place to recharge.

    1. You’re welcome! We weren’t aware on our first trip and we thought they were security. We quickly learned that if you already have transportation provided that you can politely say no, thank you and then find your driver outside.

  7. This guide is really helpful and detailed for first time travellers to the area. Love your tips as well! It looks amazing to spend a few days here.

  8. I’d love to one day visit Mexico and now I’ve got somewhere new to add to my list! Isla Mujeres looks incredible and seems pretty easy to get to! Thanks for all the tips and suggestions!

  9. I’ve never been to Isla Mujeres but my daughter and her family enjoyed a trip there from Cancun. I’ve seen her photos. Beautiful place!

  10. These are great tips! I love the product reviews as well! Glitter sunscreen! Cool! We enjoy Cozumel, but Isla Mujeres looks wonderful to explore also!

  11. I’ve been hearing so much lately about Isla Mujeres but I had no idea it was so close to Cancun! This is full of such great information, I had to laugh at the baby oil comment because I did the same!

    1. Ha! Baby oil and Sun-In – I’m so 80s! Isla Mujeres, Mexico is so easy to get to from Cancun – and so close! But a very different vibe. Highly recommend!

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