Can you smell it? The fish is on the grill at a neighboring restaurant and you have just found the perfect spot to lounge for the afternoon with a cold drink and your latest read. Isla Mujeres, Mexico, also known as the ‘Island of Women’, is a short 15 minute ferry ride from the more touristy hot spot of Cancun.  

Being away from the mainland has its advantages. Namely, the island retains it authentic fishing village charm, the food is fresh and tasty, and the locals are as warm as the climate!

On a laid back island such as Isla Mujeres there is enough to do to keep you and your family occupied on a holiday but not so much that you can’t enjoy some serious R & R. The only issue you might encounter is deciding which beach you will lounge on. Here are a few of our favorites!


1. North Beach

North Beach or ‘Playa Norte’, is by far the most popular beach on Isla Mujeres.

However, what many tourists don’t realize is that it is quite large and different parts of the beach offer stronger tides or protection from the winds that sometimes blow.

If you bring your own towel or beach chair you can lounge anywhere on the beach for free. If you want to use an umbrella or sun bed those are usually available for a charge of around 150 Mexican pesos for the afternoon.  There are some establishments that allow umbrella and chair rental based on consumption; if you eat and drink at their establishment the rental is ‘gratis’.

Here are some of our favorite spots on ‘Playa Norte’. 

North Beach begins in front of the Posada del Mar hotel which is downtown on Rueda Medina and this section of the beach runs south to north facing Cancun.  This is a popular beach for swimmers looking to get exercise.

There is a quick drop off and tides that allow for a nice work out. This is also a popular spot for locals on Sunday afternoons so if you are looking to get a taste of the local flair and enjoy people watching, you can catch locals and their families picnicking here on Sundays after the church service.  This is also the best place to catch the sunset!

North Beach is shaped like a triangle.  As you head north from the beach in front of Posada del Mar and you will round a corner and the beach will begin to head east, away from Cancun.  There are many popular spots along this edge of the North Beach triangle to catch some rays, snack on fresh ceviche, or party it up with festive travelers.

Some noteworthy sections are (west to east) Chi Chi’s, Sunset Grill, Ixchel Condos, Tarzan’s Dive Shop, Buho’s, and Restaurant Zazil Ha.  This section of the beach offers lots of opportunities to wade in shallow water and you will frequently see boats from Cancun anchored out in the deeper sections.  This is the best place for body surfing and the color of the water here is unbelievable!

After Zazil Ha, you will again turn the corner and the beach will head south.  This is where you can find Fenix Lounge and the Avalon Reef Club.

This area is the most protected and the best place to relax on a windy day to avoid being pelted with sand.  Good snorkeling can be found underneath the bridge that leads to the Avalon Reef Club Hotel. Bring your own mask and fins.


2. Playa Lancheros

Playa Lancheros is located near the southern tip of the island (on the Cancun side) next door to the all inclusive Isla Mujeres Palace, you will likely need transport to get here.

It is about 3 miles from downtown but with taxis, bicycles, mopeds, and golf carts all available for hire there are many options.

Playa Lancheros has an unassuming vibe and is usually much quieter than the downtown beaches although during the high season boats from Cancun full of day trippers usually pull in here. The restaurant serves up an amazing Tixin Xic Fish, a regional specialty, for about 70 Mexican Pesos and can feed two! 


3. Garrafon de Castilla

Located at the south point right next door to the larger and more commercialized, Garrafon Reef Park, you can enjoy snorkeling the same reef at a more budget friendly price!

Entrance is 50 Mexican pesos per person and snorkel gear is available to rent for a small fee.  The onsite restaurant isn’t noteworthy but does serve up cold drinks and snacks. This beach is the furthest from downtown and will likely require transport to get here. 


By Katie Milton


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