You’ve set your sights on the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres, great! Now how do you actually get there from various parts of Cancun? Many people are often confused about how to get to Isla Mujeres, but no matter where your starting location is, this guide will help you find your way there with ease.
There are a few different ferry terminals you can choose from, so read on and choose the best option that works for you. Don’t miss our ferry maps, providing visuals that can help you along the way!
This post will easily break down the best ways to get to Isla Mujeres from popular spots like downtown Cancun, The Hotel Zone, the Cancun Airport, and Playa Del Carmen (Riviera Maya).
*Please note: All of the products listed in this post are my personal tried and true recommendations and may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running. Thanks!
Table of Contents
MOST POPULAR TOURS ON ISLA MUJERES
Isla Mujeres Snorkeling Tour with Lunch Included – a must-do best-seller! Departs from Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres Whale Shark Adventure With Snorkel Experience – while I didn’t swim with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres specifically (I did it in Cabo), this experience is an adventure of a lifetime. There are only a handful of places around the world where you can see these gentle creatures! Departs from Isla Mujeres or Cancun.
Isla Mujeres Golf Cart Bar Crawl – eat and drink your way around the island on a fun golf cart bar crawl. Departs from Isla Mujeres.
Scuba Diving At MUSA (Underwater Museum) – MUSA features over 450 sculptures off the coast of Isla Mujeres. Your tour also includes a dive into the Manchones reef system for a closer look at local wildlife like rays, corals, and turtles! Departs from Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres All Inclusive Luxury Catamaran & Snorkel from Cancun – the best half-day spent sailing, snorkeling, and exploring the island of Isla Mujeres. Departs from Cancun or Riviera Maya.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MUJERES – FROM CANCUN
The best option to get to the island is the ferry that leaves from Puerto Juarez. If you are staying in the city area of Cancun, this will be the easiest and quickest way. I’d recommend that you take a taxi or private transfer from your Cancun hotel to Puerto Jaurez.
From Puerto Jaurez, take the UltraMar ferry to get to and from Isla Mujeres. The great thing about this ferry is that it runs very frequently throughout the day, approximately every 30 minutes. The ferry ride itself is approximately 30 minutes and it’s a pretty pleasant one at that.
Sit back and relax while soaking in the views of the turquoise waters around you!
You can buy tickets there at the terminal when you get there (no need to buy in advance) and it’s super easy to catch a ferry every half hour from 6:00AM – 9:00PM. Once you get to the ticket booth, you’ll have the option of buying a one-way fare or round trip fare. We recommend just getting the roundtrip fare upfront.
From Puerto Juarez, it costs $380 MXN ($19 USD) roundtrip per person. The latest fare information can be found here on their website, which will look a little something like the below. During peak travel dates (Easter weekend, other holidays) they will add more departure times to handle the influx of travelers.
Tip: If you’re close enough from the ferry terminal to walk over from a local hotel, doing so will save you some money on transportation. But make sure to bring some insect repellent, just in case!
Heed my warning, the mosquitos in Cancun are no joke! On our last visit in November, we walked from our hotel at the Excellence Playa Mujeres to the Puerto Juarez ferry and were eaten alive by mosquitos! Granted, it was the morning after a thunderstorm, and our route included walking through a tree-lined walking path to the ferry…
In hindsight, we probably should have taken a short cab ride over. In any case, we made this mistake so that you wouldn’t have to! If you plan to do a lot of walking, Sawyer’s 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent is super effective– a must-have for any trip to Mexico!
Once you get to the ferry terminal, you can expect to find clean bathrooms, an Oxxo convenience store, a bar, and even a few food/gift stalls to keep you busy. When you arrive there will be porters available to help you with your luggage and load it on the ferry.
Tip: Buy your return tickets when you buy your departure ticket so you don’t have to stand in line again on your return home.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MUJERES – FROM THE HOTEL ZONE
If you are staying in the Hotel Zone in Cancun, you have three main options to get to Isla Mujeres as there are ferry services leaving from Playa Tortugas, Playa Caracol or El Embarcadero.
Fares are slightly more expensive from these locations. From these terminals, it costs $21 USD roundtrip. One other thing to note is that departure times are a lot more limited compared to Puerto Juarez.
Be sure to check departure times and return times to make sure the times fit in with your schedule. If you end up at Isla Mujeres and stay past your ferry return time, you may have to catch a ferry back to Puerto Juarez and take a cab back to the Hotel Zone from there.
If you are staying at one of the hotels in the Hotel Zone, it will most likely make the most sense to leave from one of these terminals. It’s only slightly more expensive than the ferry from Puerto Juarez, but you can’t beat their proximity from the Hotel Zone.
To get to these terminals, just taxi your way over or catch the local bus (colectivo).
Taxiing is pretty straightforward no matter which Ultramar terminal you’re going to and doesn’t need much explaining here.
This is going to be the more convenient but more expensive option. While this is one of the more expensive options, with enough people (ideally 3+ people), it could be worth it to get a cab or pre-arranged shuttle.
Local Bus / Colectivo ($0.50 USD)
If taking the colectivo to Playa Tortugas, Playa Caracol or El Embarcadero: take any one of them labeled R-1 and R-2 going north toward the city. These buses run 24/7 and will stop at these terminals on the way to their final destinations. They will pass all 3 ports in the following order: Playa Caracol, Playa Tortugas, El Embarcadero.
If taking the colectivo to Puerto Juarez: take the R-1 or R-2 to downtown, then pay ~$5 USD for a cab to the ferry.
How to use colectivos: Once the colectivo arrives at the stop, tell the bus driver where you are headed when you hop on, and get off once you’ve arrived at the ferry terminal (they will usually tell you when it’s time to get off, but you can also follow along in your Google Maps app to be safe).
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MUJERES – FROM CANCUN AIRPORT
There is no direct transfer from the Cancun airport to Isla Mujeres. The easiest and fastest way to get to Isla Mujeres from the airport is by taking a taxi or private airport transfer over to the Puerto Juarez ferry.
The UltraMar at Puerto Juarez offers the cheapest fares and the most departure/return times compared to their other locations (you’ll have way more flexibility on what time you want to head back to Cancun after your day of exploring Isla Mujeres this way). This method is the most efficient and will take you about 1 hour 15 minutes to get from CUN airport to Isla Mujeres.
Tip: Transfer companies are typically cheaper than taxis. I would recommend you set up a transfer ride ahead of time, as I’ve found that they’re 40-50% cheaper than what you’d pay through a taxi cab, even after negotiating down the price.
Transportation Options from Cancun Airport
- Take a cab from the airport
- Arrange for a shared/private transfer ahead of time
- Take the public bus
Taxi or Shared/Private Transfer (~$25-30 USD)
Arranged transfer options include shared shuttles, shared vans, private cars/vans. Choose what works best for you, depending on your budget and how fast you want to get to the ferry terminal. Of the options mentioned above, they each have their pros and cons.
Between the two (shared vs private), I’d go with a private transfer booked ahead of time. Shuttles and shared transfers could take well over an hour to get to the ferry, depending on how many stops they make along the way (they will often drop others travelers off in the Hotel Zone).
A cab or taxi will also take about 30 mins to get to the ferry terminal (fastest) but are expensive. You also run the risk of getting quoted a higher price if you look super touristy. If you’re like me and you also try to do everything in your power to avoid the awkward task of haggling on cab ride prices, opt for the private transfer!
ADO Bus + Taxi ($10 USD total)
The ADO bus is a pleasant, air-conditioned coach bus that will take you from the Cancun Airport to the ADO bus terminal in downtown Cancun for around $5 USD per person. ADO buses can be found at the Arrivals Hall at the Cancun Airport. The total travel time to downtown Cancun will be around 40 minutes.
Simply buy your ADO bus ticket at the ticket counter and hop onboard. You can pay for a ticket at the ticket counter or book your ticket ahead of time online.
Once you get off the ADO bus in downtown, you will find a line of taxis waiting at the bus terminal. From here, you can easily catch a taxi to Puerto Juarez to get to the Ultramar ferry. The taxi should cost around $100 pesos (~$5 USD) and will take about 10 minutes.
ADO Bus + Colectivo ($5.50 USD total)
Taking public transportation will be the cheapest option. The combo of taking the ADO bus followed by a colectivo to Puerto Juarez will only set you back $5.50 USD.
From the airport, take the ADO bus to the bus terminal in downtown Cancun (~$5 USD). Once you get off at the bus terminal, you’re going to look for colectivos that have “Pto. Juarez” across the top of the windshield. They will either be just across the way on Avenida Uxmal or on Avenida Tulum. If you have no idea where to look, just ask the workers at the terminal for help.
Once you hop onto the colectivo, you’ll pay $10 pesos ($0.50 USD) and ride over to Puerto Juarez.
The public bus will be your most affordable option, but will also take the longest.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA MUJERES – FROM PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Private Transfer or Taxi (~$30-40 USD)
While this is one of the more expensive options, with enough people (ideally 3+ people), it could be worth it to get a cab or pre-arranged shuttle.
ADO Bus + Taxi ($9 USD)
From Playa Del Carmen, you can catch the ADO bus to downtown Cancun for around $4 USD per person. The ride will take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. Playa Del Carmen has two ADO bus stations–one on 5th Avenue and Juarez Avenue and the other on 20th Avenue and 12th.
Simply buy your ADO bus ticket at the ticket counter and hop onboard. You can pay for a ticket at the ticket counter or book your ticket ahead of time online.
Once you get off the ADO bus in downtown Cancun, you will find a line of taxis waiting at the bus terminal. From here, you can easily catch a taxi to Puerto Juarez to get to the Ultramar ferry. The taxi should cost around $100 pesos (~$5 USD) and will take about 10 minutes.
Playa Express + Taxi ($7.50 USD)
If you are coming from Playa Del Carmen proper, you can also consider the Playa Express. This special type of colectivo is typically larger and has air conditioning.
The Playa Express vans begin picking people up starting at the 307 highway just south of Juarez Avenue (near the Chedraui grocery store). So if you are near the highway, you can catch a ride right off the road. You can also get on a Playa Express at the main bus depot in Playa del Carmen at Calle 2 and Avenida 20. They leave on a regular basis during the day and will leave even if not full.
You’ll take the Playa Express all the way to the ADO bus terminal in Cancun–this ride will take approximately 1 hour and cost you around $50 pesos ($2.50 USD) per person.
Once you get off the Playa Express, there will be a line of taxis waiting at the bus terminal. From here, you can easily catch a taxi to Puerto Juarez to get to the Ultramar ferry. The taxi should cost around $100 pesos (~$5 USD) and will take about 10 minutes.
Ferry + Shuttle Combo Ticket ($45 USD – roundtrip)
Several companies also offer ground shuttle transfers with the round-trip ferry ticket included in the price (UltraMar has one from Playa Del Carmen).
This is a convenient option if you don’t want to worry about figuring out how to get to the ferry terminal. You will be paying for the convenience, as this option will set you back $45 USD per person roundtrip.
Getting Back to Playa Del Carmen
In order to return to Playa Del Carmen, you’ll taxi back to the ADO bus terminal. Depending on the time (the Playa Express does not run 24/7), you can either take the Playa Express back or take the ADO bus back to one of two Playa Del Carmen stops (on 5th Ave or on 20th Ave).
HOW TO GET AROUND ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO
Once on the island, I’d recommend renting a golf cart so you can see all of Isla Mujeres on your own time (instead of spending your money cabbing around).
However, if you choose to rent a golf cart, do some comparison shopping when you get there because many of them will try to charge you a higher hourly rate than average.
A lot of people also wonder whether it’s worth bringing a car onto Isla Mujeres. Generally, it is not recommended to take a rental car to Isla as parking on the island is very limited. It’s also so much more fun to zip around on a golf cart! However, if you must bring a car, there is a car ferry service at Punta Sam just 10 minutes north of Puerto Juárez.
This is your only option if you plan to bring a vehicle to Isla Mujeres. This ferry is a lot larger and the crossing takes longer (about 45 minutes).
Looking for the best things to do in Isla Mujeres? Check out our comprehensive Isla Mujeres activity guide here.
WHERE TO STAY IN ISLA MUJERES, MEXICO
There are a lot of very affordable hotel options on Isla Mujeres. Take a look at these here (moderately priced options, while still providing you with all the island vibes):
- Hotel Beló Isla Mujeres – This hotel is very close to Paraiso Beach; features a beautiful restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool, and a fitness center.
- Hotel La Joya Isla Mujeres – waterfront property that features an outdoor pool, barbecue facilities, and rooms with private terraces and outdoor seating areas that offer unforgettable ocean views.
If you’re looking for more luxury, nothing, and I mean nothing, will beat this:
- Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun – This mind-blowingly luxurious property offers beachfront rooms with stunning Caribbean Sea views. It also features an outdoor sea-water hot tub. The rooms come with Tikul stone floors, with bathrooms that come equipped with soaking tubs and bathrobes. There are lots of gourmet restaurants on the property as well.
If you’re going to Isla Mujeres with a larger group, you should also consider renting an apartment, condo, or villa. Yes, you heard that right, a whole villa!
Often, you can find entire condominium or villa rentals that fit anywhere from 2 to 16 people for the same price as hotel rooms. Check out VRBO for some really amazing and affordable beach rentals.
ISLA MUJERES: WHAT TO PACK
- Light Rain Jacket | Traveling to hot climates does not necessarily mean there won’t be rain or wind. Packing a light rain jacket will definitely come in handy in unpredictable tropical climates. This one for men and this one for women are some of the best jackets for any kind of travel. They’re ultralight, wind and water-repellent, and take up virtually no space so they’re easy to carry wherever you go.
- Adventure Sandals | Tevas or Chacos are my go-to brands for multipurpose summer sandals. If you’re planning on having adventurous days, you should definitely consider getting one of these. They’re actually considered adventure sandals which is exactly what you need— comfortable for walk long distances, safe for submerging in water, and super durable.
- Walking Shoes | One pair of closed-toed walking or running shoes is always crucial for any trip. These ones that I’ve been traveling around with are super light and breathable. I can even walk 15+ miles in them before getting sore feet.
- Cooling Facial Mist | When you’re faced with mid-day humidity, it can be very hard to deal with. Keeping a small bottle of facial mist in your purse or backpack on a hot day will save your life. This mist takes all the cooling, soothing ingredients you can think of—aloe, cucumber, and green tea—and combines them into one refreshing spritzer for your face. It’ll feel like you’re under the misters at a five-star spa.
- Dry Shampoo | Bring some dry shampoo to use in between washes to instantly revitalize and freshen your semi-dirty hair.
- Leave-In Conditioner | I recommend bringing leave-in conditioner to help nurture your hair after spending time in lakes, waterfalls, or oceans. As someone with naturally frizzy hair, my hair tends to get tangled, coarse, and even more frizzy after it’s submerged in water. This leave-in conditioner is a cult favorite – just put it in your damp hair after your shower and comb it through.
- Sunscreen | Sunscreen is absolutely necessary for tropical destinations. Even if it’s overcast and cloudy, the UV index can be very high, so be sure to apply whenever you’re outdoors. If you plan on snorkeling near the reefs, choose a coral reef-safe brand, as traditional sunscreen contains chemicals that damage and even kill the precious reefs. Here are a few travel-sized biodegradable sunscreens you can easily buy online:
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust, you will feel and smell so much better.
- Oil Blotting Sheets | On a typical day in a hot and tropical place like Thailand, your makeup will slide/sweat off your face in exactly three seconds once you step outside. Rather than adding makeup, first, focus on subtracting your shiny, sweaty glow. For this: blotting sheets whenever your face starts getting sweaty.
- Cooling Face Mask | After a long day of exploring, nothing will feel better than propping your feet up and slapping on a cooling face mask for 10-20 minutes. Lay back and relax!
- Insect Repellent Lotion | If you plan to go hiking in hot climates, I would definitely recommend packing insect repellent with a high DEET percentage. Sawyer makes some really great bug repellent products, and they’re travel-friendly too!
- Permethrin Insect Repellent Spray for Clothing | This clothing insect repellent spray is a game-changer. If you’re going to be outdoors a lot in areas where mosquitos are prevalent, I highly recommend preparing your clothes with this spray! What is it? A Bug spray for clothes that adheres only to fabrics, leaves no smell or residue on clothes and doesn’t harm human skin. Permethrin spray lasts for up to 6 machine washes, which is more than enough for most tropical trips. I hiked Machu Picchu after treating my hiking clothes with this, and I only got a total of 2 mosquito bites after the 4-day trip, whereas some of my friends got 20+ bites. Worth it.
- Pro Tip: Buy and use before you leave for your trip. A few days before departure, spray all of your clothes, plus anything else made of fabric that you’d like treated.
- Hat, Bandana, or Buff | Keep the sun off your skin with a hat, bandana, or a Buff. All three can be used to shield your neck or forehead from the sun. As a bonus, bandanas and Buffs can be used as headbands to keep hair and sweat off of your face. Soak your bandana or Buff then put it on your head, face, or neck for a quick cool down.
- Cooling Towel | Perfect for working out, a day at the beach, or camping—you’ll feel Chill Pal‘s cooling effect as soon as you take it out of the package. To activate the cooling towel, just soak it in water and wring it out, then wear it as a bandana or use it as a towel.
- Travel Towel | These are light and quick-drying. Super useful if you plan on having beach days or staying in hostels. This one is a great option.
- Travel Clothesline | If you’re backpacking and anticipate the need to wash your clothes on the go, get yourself a travel clothesline. This is a small and portable clothesline that allows you to hang up your wet clothes almost anywhere. I’ve found that it’s also really handy whenever I have wet bathing suits or towels that need to be air-dried. I love it for its multi-purpose functionality!
- Dry Bag | Another multi-purpose item on the list! Dry bags are completely necessary for keeping your dry belongings (clothes, electronics, money, etc)… dry. Don’t set foot on a boat or canoe without putting your stuff in a dry bag. Trust me, it’s better than ending up with a phone or camera submerged in water in case the boat tips or something. It’s also super handy for carrying around wet bathing suits and towels. Or even doubling as your laundry bag.
- Underwater Smartphone Housing | Don’t want to invest in an underwater camera? That’s fine, just stick your phone in the AxisGo’s underwater housing! It’s designed to protect your phone from the harshest weather conditions while offering the freedom to safely capture those special moments while maintaining control of your phone’s screen and functions.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated in the warm weather with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Snorkel Gear | Bringing your own snorkeling set means you can choose to snorkel anytime you want without having to track down a rental shop to rent gear. Seavenger, one of the best snorkel gear makers in the game, sells a Hanalei Anti-Fog 4-Piece Snorkeling Set that’s really loved by both kids and adults.
- Sand-free beach mat | There are actually beach mats that are quick-drying, waterproof, and sand-proof, making setting up on the beach super, super easy. This beach mat is all those things, plus it has sand anchor pockets and 6 ground stakes so that your beach mat is wind-resistant even when you’re not laying on it!
Mexico Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance.
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun… and most definitely not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, THEY will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as:
- emergency medical evacuation – very much needed if you like to go hiking or backpacking in the wild.
- travel delay
- lost checked luggage
- adventure sports coverage (add-on) – so you can rappel down waterfalls, cave dive, mountain bike, scuba dive, etc. with peace of mind.
- electronics theft (add-on) – get reimbursed if your laptop, phone, camera or other electronics get stolen.
I hope this post has helped take the mystery out of how to get to Isla Mujeres from various parts of Cancun and beyond! After all, you should be spending more of your time figuring out things you want to do on Isla Mujeres, rather than on the logistics of how to get there!
Looking for more Mexico tips? Read More:
My Favorite International Travel Planning Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when planning out a trip abroad. The sites/companies listed here typically have the best overall value, offer deals, beat out other competitors, and offer great customer service when needed.
- WayAway | This site compares flight ticket fares from hundreds of agencies. You’re going to get the best prices on the market, at least $10 lower than those on Skyscanner, Kayak, and Priceline.com. The best part is? The WayAway Plus membership. With the membership, you’ll get up to 10% cash back on airline tickets, hotel bookings, car rentals, and other travel services.
- DEAL ALERT! Use code ‘travelswithelle’ for 10% off WayAway Plus.
- Booking.com | Honestly, this is my go-to accommodation booking site. This site has free cancellation and no prepayment required on reservations which is huge for me. It also has amazing abilities to filter accommodation options by rating and price. Honestly, it’s shaved off so many hours of endless research for me and has made booking hotels and other accommodations a breeze.
- Trusted Housesitters | Traveling on a budget? Don’t want to spend a dime on lodging and accommodation while traveling? Trusted Housesitters is such a great way to exchange your services for a place to stay while traveling. You’ll care for someone’s pets and property while they’re away, and in exchange, be able to stay at someone’s home completely free of charge! Limited time offer: Get $10 off a TrustedHousesitter Membership with code THS10
- Viator | Viator is a huge online marketplace for all things tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, ATV tours, sailing trips, walking tours, hot air ballooning, and more.
- Go City | Go City offers great value-for-the-money attraction passes in various destinations around the world. Whenever I want to play tourist in a city, I always check to see if Go City operates in that city. The money you can save with this pass is unreal (as opposed to buying admission tickets for various attractions separately).
- Airalo | Need internet access while abroad? Airalo e-SIM card allows you to download a digital data pack and get connected anywhere in the world as soon as you land.
- SafetyWing | SafetyWing is by far one of the best travel medical insurance for travelers as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those heading abroad.