Only a 25-minute boat ride from Cancún, Isla Mujeres is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches and fascinating marine life make this a stunning tropical destination for a sunny getaway throughout the year. You will also find local restaurants, quirky boutiques and vibrant bars everywhere you turn on the island.
It’s quite a small destination, but there aren’t many guides on the different neighbourhoods on the Isla Mujeres. For such a compact island, it has a diverse array of activities on offer – and these vary in each area. It’s important to get a good idea of everything available before you book your accommodation.
That’s where we come in! Combining personal experience with hints and tips from locals and travel experts, we’ve figured out the three best places to stay on Isla Mujeres. Whether you’re looking for beaches, local culture or some unique adventure attractions, we’ve got something for everyone in this guide.
So let’s dive right in!
Unique Hideaway in Isla Mujeres – U Yotoch Margarita
This colourful retreat is perfect for creatives looking to channel their inner artist. It’s located in the Meterorológico neighbourhood, so you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to mingle with locals and discover a more authentic side of island life. While this is a private room in a house, it is fully self-contained, so you’ll still get to enjoy some privacy.
Rustic Retreat in Isla Mujeres – Courtyard Acapulco
This charming little villa has an authentic vibe that’s quite hard to come by in Isla Mujeres’ main tourist neighbourhood. Nevertheless, this holiday home gives you the best of both worlds. The main square is only a short walk away, where you can enjoy music and art events throughout the year. It’s also located right on the beach – perfect for those looking to kick back and relax.
Stylish Hotel in Isla Mujeres – Nomads Hotel & Beachclub
Offering a hotel, hostel and beach club all under one roof, we really mean it when we say Nomads offers a little something for everyone. Budget backpackers will rejoice at the super affordable rates in the hostel, while the hotel offers spacious rooms and vibrant social facilities. Even better – it comes with its own private stretch of beach where you can mingle with other guests.
Right on the northern tip of the island, Playa Norte is the most popular destination with tourists. Close to the main ferry terminal, this will likely be the first place you visit on your trip to Isla Mujeres.
Heading towards the centre of the island, you’ll find fewer tourist attractions and a more authentic insight into local life. Isla Mujeres is such a major tourist destination that it can be tricky to find an honest piece of local culture – but Meteorológico is definitely your best bet.
The southern tip of Isla Mujeres is the quietest part of the island. This makes it a fantastic option for families heading to the island to kick back and relax.
Top 3 Neighborhoods to Stay in Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres packs a mighty punch for such a small island, and is home to some of Mexico’s unforgettable beaches. It’s pretty easy to get around, so we recommend visiting all three of the neighbourhoods mentioned in this guide during your trip. That being said, some areas are better than others when it comes to choosing a base. Here’s a quick overview of everything on offer:
Playa Norte is by far the most popular tourist destination. This is where the ferry from Cancún arrives, so you’ll never be too far from the mainland. For first time visitors, Playa Norte is the perfect base for getting to know the destination. You’ll get to sample a little bit of everything – from culture to coasts and, of course, the bars and restaurants.
Prefer something a bit calmer? Head down to the far south of the island. La Gloria is the main neighbourhood in this area, and is where you’ll find some of the best condos and apartments on the island. For families, La Gloria and surrounding neighbourhoods offer a peaceful backdrop with great connections to the rest of the island. It also has some interesting family attractions in its own right, with many accommodations offering private beaches away from the tourist crowds.
Finally, Meteorológico is the area right in the heart of the island. There’ll be more locals than tourists here, giving it a unique atmosphere that everyone should experience while visiting the island. For budget travellers, the local demographic keeps accommodation and dining costs low. This is your best bet for staying on the island without breaking the bank.
Still not quite decided? Don’t worry – we know it’s important to gather as much information as possible. We’ve included individual guides to each neighbourhood below, with info about our favourite accommodation and activity picks in each.
1. Playa Norte – Best Place to Stay in Isla Mujeres for Your First Time
Right on the northern tip of the island, Playa Norte is the most popular destination among tourists. It’s close to the main ferry terminal, ideal if you plan on visiting Cancún for a day. For first time visitors, everything you could possibly want is available in the neighbourhood. Glistening beaches, vibrant bars and tantalising restaurants await around every corner.
As the main tourist hub, there are also some great transport options in Playa Norte, which makes it the ideal choice for getting to know Isla Mujeres. It’s a small island, so even using Playa Norte as a base means you can visit most neighbourhoods within 20-30 minutes. It’s home to some of Mexico’s best hostels, and you’ll also find some great tour guides across the area.
Contemporary Penthouse in Playa Norte – Ocean View
You can’t beat the location of this modern penthouse, right in the heart of Playa Norte! You’ll have quick access to all the most popular bars, restaurants and attractions in the tourist neighbourhoods. The boat to Cancún is also within walking distance, so you’ll stay well connected to the mainland. Inside, you’ll find a stunning private pool area with ocean views.
Charming Villa in Playa Norte – Courtyard Acapulco
If you want something with a more authentic vibe, you can’t go wrong with this gorgeous villa right on the beach. The terracotta roof and small private pool are reminiscent of local homes in the area. While it’s near the main square, the location on a quiet back street makes it super peaceful in the evenings. Whether you want to relax or take in the local culture, Courtyard Villa Acapulco is an excellent choice.
Extravagant Escape in Playa Norte – Lotus Beach Hotel
Looking for a couples’ getaway? Look no further than this lavish five-star hotel! It’s an adult-only hotel, so you won’t have to worry about families running around the place. The outdoor bar area is right next to the beach, so make sure to set aside plenty of time for cocktails by the sea. All rooms also come with a private balcony area.
Things to See and Do in Playa Norte
- Capture those all-important Instagram shots, memories and scenic vistas with the help of a professional by booking this excellent experience in Playa Norte
- Playa Norte is also the name of the main beach in the area. Here you’ll find watersports, delectable restaurant menus and bustling nightlife in the evenings
- Need something a bit quieter? Playa Centro is walking distance from Playa Norte and offers a more laid-back experience away from the massive crowds
- Take a walk down to Plaza Isla Mujeres, the main square in the neighbourhood, with an authentic insight into local culture thanks to their regular events throughout the year
2. Meteorológico – Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres on a Budget
Heading towards the centre of the island, you’ll find fewer tourist attractions and a more authentic insight into local life. Isla Mujeres is such a major tourist destination that it can be tricky to find an honest piece of local culture – but Meteorológico is definitely your best bet. The colourful houses that line the streets here create a vibrant backdrop for getting to know the real side of Isla Mujeres.
Being at the centre of the island, it’s another great base for getting around easily. Meteorológico’s lack of major tourism infrastructure also makes it one of the more affordable neighbourhoods on the island. The restaurants here are dirt cheap, and the locally owned accommodations certainly won’t break the bank.
Quirky Airbnb in Meteorológico – U Yotoch Margarita
Opting for a private room instead of an entire apartment is a great way to save money on an Airbnb. This particular room is self-contained, so you still get to enjoy many of the same benefits as your own private villa. It’s right in the heart of Meteorológico, and the friendly host can let you know about the best restaurants and bars in the neighbourhood.
Peaceful Home in Meteorológico – Private Oasis
With exposed ceiling beams and a dining area facing the ocean, this gorgeous home is all about style and views. Just outside the living area you’ll find a cute little pool terrace with unbeatable ocean and sunset views. The interiors are contemporary but hold a rustic charm that adds a little bit of local flavour. Both bedrooms have private en-suites.
Popular Hotel in Meteorológico – Capital O Chac Chi Hotel
We’ll be honest – this two-star hotel is super basic but comes with everything you need for an affordable trip to Isla Mujeres. A continental breakfast is also included, saving you even more money! The rooms themselves are spacious, and many of them come with balconies and sea views. Avenida Rueda Medina is within walking distance – perfect if you want to indulge in some budget-friendly shopping.
Things to See and Do in Meteorológico
- Avenida Rueda Medina is the main shopping street here. You won’t find any major international brands, but the locally owned boutiques offer unique souvenirs
- The Crayola House is a monument to the colourful buildings in the neighbourhood – perfect for capturing a more unique shot for your Instagram feed
- Enjoy the local aquatic life from the comfort of a private boat with Dolphin Discovery Cancún – they also offer trips that head straight to the mainland
- As an island, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to gorgeous seafood – though we reckon Fuego de Mar is a solid contender for the best
3. La Gloria – Best Area in Isla Mujeres for Families
The southern tip of Isla Mujeres is the quietest part of the island, making it a fantastic option for families wanting to kick back and relax. It’s also one of Mexico’s safer destinations. Here, you’ll find some of the best condos and apartments on Isla Mujeres, giving you added privacy. Adventure parks, stunning hikes and simple bike trails make this one of the best places to stay in Mexico for outdoorsy families.
It’s also a great region for couples – especially if you opt for a condo or an apartment. The beaches here are much quieter than those in the north, giving you more room to sunbathe and relax. You’re also guaranteed to see both the sunrise and sunset from this narrow strip of land. To make your trip even more romantic, take a mini-trip down to Mexico’s Playa Del Carmen – Mexico’s most poetic destination.
Luxurious Getaway in La Gloria – Casa Zama
Airbnb Luxe properties are hand-selected for their stylish interiors and out of this world luxury extras. They’re really pricey, but for those looking to splurge on the best, you really can’t beat them. This property offers airport transfers, equipment rental and extra family facilities. The design draws upon colourful local architecture while maintaining a stylish, contemporary edge.
Modern Home in La Gloria – Central Condo
This one is far more affordable, but still an excellent option for families. The roof terrace offers stunning views over the coast, and there’s a communal pool which is shared with others within the building. There’s only one bedroom, but the sofa bed in the living room makes this a firm favourite with small families traveling on a budget.
Affordable Hotel in La Gloria – Nomads Hotel & Beachclub
The clientele here does tend to skew younger, but small families can benefit from the affordable private rooms in the hotel section of the resort. They offer organised tours of the area alongside many other exciting activities – including kayaking and paddleboarding. For those that do opt to stay in the hostel (this is also our top pick for backpackers in Isla Mujeres), the beds have their own privacy curtains and super comfortable mattresses.
Things to See and Do in La Gloria
- Get up close and personal with the unique aquatic life surrounding the island in this awe-inspiring scuba diving experience from the beach
- Dancing is the lifeblood of the island, and this hour long experience lets you learn the basics of salsa dancing with help from local instructors
- Parque de los Sueños is a great water park for keeping children entertained, with water slides that flow straight into the ocean
- Older kids will prefer Garrafón Reef Park, which offers ziplines and other adventure activities
Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is a laid-back alternative to the bustling streets of Cancún. Despite only being a 25-minute ferry ride away, it’s a world apart from the big city. The beaches here are calmer, the cultural attractions have a more local vibe, and many of the restaurants and boutiques have maintained their authentic charm. Even if you opt to stay in the city, you should set aside some time for a day trip.
In terms of our favourite neighbourhood, we would have to go with Meteorológico! It isn’t as touristy as the north, but still offers many of the same great attractions. The public transport connections are quick and easy, and you’ll get to enjoy a more local vibe on your Mexican adventure.
That being said, the best place for you really depends on what you want to get out of your trip. Playa Norte is a great first-time option for gathering your bearings, while the calm streets of La Gloria are popular with families and couples alike. We hope this guide has helped you narrow down your options.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
We reckon Isla Mujeres is a pretty safe destination, but don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
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