Isla mujeres has so much to offer for such a small place. It is around 650 metres wide and 7km in length and is situated in the Caribbean sea. Sounds like a paradise island right? Well we certainly agree. We found out by some friends in Tulum that we were pronouncing it wrong, apparently it is actually pronounced (Isla Mu-who-ray), no wonder people gave us some strange looks whenever we mentioned the place.
We caught the R27 bus from the ADO bus station in downtown Cancún and it took about 20 minutes to get to Peurto Juarez for just over 10 Mexican Pesos (around 40p) per person. These buses make you feel like you are living like a local, a tiny mini bus with 4 small benches in the back, enough room to feel comfortable in but it is very cosy. The R1 bus from the ADO will also take you to Peurto Juarez, just ask someone at the station and they will show you where you need to stand. There is also a boat that runs from the hotel Zone and Cancún, which makes it easier if you are staying on a Cancún resort or if you are on a Cancún all inclusive holiday in hotel zone. Check out the Ultramar website for the boat timetable.
We were dropped off right outside of the port and went inside to the office to purchase our tickets. We paid 146 Pesos (just under £6) per person for a return journey, bargain considering it was much more if you caught the boat from near the hotel zone. We had just missed the 12 O’clock departure but it meant that we were near the front of the queue to board the next boat. This worked out very well for us as we got a front seat on the top deck so had an amazing view for the whole 45 minute journey. There was even a guy playing live music which made the journey very relaxing and the sea breeze was enough to cool you down in the open air.
Snorkelling and boat trip
As soon as we arrived on the Caribbean island we noticed a small tour company within the terminal who was selling boat trips. We had been discussing this before the trip so knew that it was something that we both wanted to do, snorkel in the Caribbean, swim with sharks and see the underwater museum Cancún (MUSA). We were able to do all of this plus free hire of snorkel equipment and free lunch for 500 Pesos each (£20). We were told that the trip would last for around 3 hours but we set off at 1pm and didn’t get back until around 6pm so this was a bonus for us, a whole day trip for a bargain price. It turned out to be one of the best Cancún tours we had ever done.
Not sure what we both expected but we were guided around the corner of the terminal to a small fishing boat along with around 12 other people plus 2 drivers. It was perfect, a nice cosy size with just enough room with a personal feel. It took the driver 5 attempts to get the engine started then we headed around the corner to get some ice for the cooler bucket and everyone could put in their beers.
We headed off in the crystal waters, it really is the clearest water I have ever seen. You could see the bottom of the sea for almost the whole ride. our first stop was at a lighthouse where the guys threw some crackers overboard to feed the fish. Immediately tones of fish surrounded the boat to feed and it was fascinating to observe. We both had our GoPro camera’s dipped in the water to try and get some fish footage.
We then headed a little further ready for our first snorkel. The waters where shallow up to waist height so we all jumped off the boat all equipped with life jacket and snorkel. One of the guys who was driving the boat jumped in with us and started to feed the fish. We all had our heads in the water around an old shipwrecked boat and admired the tropical fish, the visibility was amazing, you could see everything. This was only the second time I (Nicola) had snorkelled so I wasn’t sure how I would feel, but the fears where overcome by excitement and I focused all of my energy on looking at the fish that surrounded us.
Snorkelling with a stingray
The guy then asked us if we wanted to swim to the lighthouse with the other guy on board who would lead us, so we agreed. We all followed him in the water around the corner of the small island of grass where we had docked and all gasped a little at how far away the lighthouse looked. It actually didn’t take as long as we thought and we were too amazed along the way at how clear the waters were. We swam as a group for a few metres, all pretty close and trying not to hit each other even though the odd foot or arm knocked us both while we were snorkelling. At one point I couldn’t believe my eyes, I was looking down and shouted through my snorkel then swiftly lifted my head up and Katie replied, ‘What’s the matter?’ I said, ‘look there is a stingray beneath us’ we both looked beneath us again but it had vanished. I think I was in too much shock to take a photo or any kind of GoPro footage, I can not believe it was swimming beneath us, it was surreal.
Before we knew it we had reached the lighthouse and I realised that the boat was there waiting for us when a school of fish headed towards us, turns out the driver of our boat had threw some crackers in to feed the fish. This was a great sight for us snorkelers and for those still on board the boat. We had wondered earlier how on earth we would get back on board because we had to jump in, but luckily there was a ladder waiting for us. So one by one we made it back on to the boat, one guy helping us up and taking our lifejackets off for us.
We all took our seats and although there was a language barrier, we all shared the same feelings of happiness and excitement and this could be seen by the smile and the thumbs up that we all gave to each other. Next we headed to see the underwater museum (Musa). This was something that Katie had wanted to do for a long time, I remember her showing me photos this time last year saying how amazing it looks.
Underwater Museum (Musa)
After gliding through the sea for a little while, the driver had anchored the boat and told us to jump back in to see the under water museum. Katie was one of the first in the water and I closely followed after the 2 girls who were sat opposite. I immediately dipped my head in the water and straight away I observed 2 divers beneath us. They didn’t look very deep, maybe 2-3 metres. Both divers were moving in and out of the many statues that lay beneath us whilst we all admired from the surface. Now and then we would swim over the odd load of bubbles from the divers oxygen tank. A few metres ahead of us there was an old rusty car beneath us, it was fascinating to think of how these actually got there. A little further away from the car there was a single statue, just popping up from the sea bed. It was quite a sight and a great experience to see a museum under the water.
We must have only been in the water for no more than 15 minutes this time and me and Katie were the last ones on board. The group all had that same smile as earlier and it was great to see that everyone felt the same as us from this great experience. A short ride later we arrived at a little beach on the island, Playa Tiburon. It was just beautiful, white sandy beaches, clear waters and even hammocks in the water. It was blissful.
We were told that we would swim with sharks on the trip and when we docked to shore the driver said that the sharks would be here in a cage. We both didn’t feel great about this as we believe that any living thing should have the right to be free and not locked in a cage. We decided to get in the shallow waters and felt like we wanted to comfort the shark and gave her a little hug and we didn’t tip.
The driver told us 45 minutes until lunch, so we lazed around in the hammocks for a little while then sat under a fan in the lunch hall to cool off. The guys on the boat prepared the lunch and when they brought it over it looked unreal. It tasted even better than it looked, easily one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had. There was even tortilla wraps which were still warm and we washed it down the Mexican way with a Sol. I am getting hungry just thinking about it.
After this we cruised our way back to where we began, again we both couldn’t keep our eyes off the clear waters that lay beneath us. As soon as we arrived back to shore and disembarked from the boat, we headed over the road to hire a golf cart. This was how most people get around the island, golf cart or an electric scooter. It only cost us no more than £8 for the hour, it was around £15 for 2 hours but an hour got us around the island, especially at Katie’s race pace!
Speedy Gonzales (Katie) driving a Golf cart
As soon as she put her foot on the pedal, my bottle of water flew off the golf cart right outside of the shop. We just zoomed off with excitement and had a drive in and out of the little side streets before heading onto the main road of the island where we followed the coast. The scenery was beautiful, the sea was to the right of us and we pretty much followed the route of where we went on the boat. We passed a fun looking bar called ‘The Joint’ which had a reggae look and feel, this place has high recommendations but we were too high from driving the golf cart to stop so we passed by the bar and continued around the island.
Katie was loving the driving, weaving the steering wheel from side to side and we captured some good footage on the GoPro of her amazing driving skills on rough terrain. We continued the drive to the tip of the Island where a few other golf carts where parked up. The view to the sea was beautiful so we stopped and took a few snaps. We then jumped back on board and continued our journey around the island, dodging any dogs that ran alongside of us. The Caribbean sea was to the right of us and cute colourful houses to the left, it was blissful.
We were just about half way around the island by now but a little short on time as we had to hand the cart in by 7pm. So speedy Gonzales had her foot to the floor and at one point the tyres almost smoked as the brakes had to be slammed. We were too busy chatting away then realised a speed bump was coming up, not only that but a mega slow golf cart was infront of us, we were inches away from the legs of the 2 girls that faced us on the other cart, close call.
By now the sun was just starting to set to the left of us, it was magical. After we handed the vehicle in on time, we headed over the road to catch the remainder of this beautiful sunset. The sky was just lit orange, it was stunning. By now it was time to catch the last boat back to Puerto Juarez, again we were lucky enough to be on top deck. We watched ahead at the display of lightening near Cancun then turned behind and gave a little wave to Isla Mujeres, until next time! From our experience, this was one of the top things to do in Cancún, so if you are wondering what to do in Cancún, head over to Isla Mujeres, you will not be disappointed.