You know the image of crystal blue waters and white sand beaches that makes your mind instantly relax? Isla Mujeres is that place you all dream of.

I shit you not, all of these dreamy visions become a reality here. This island has been etched in my memory as the most impossibly BEAUTIFUL place I’ve ever visited.

Only a 25-minute boat ride from Cancún, Isla Mujeres is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. It’s a stunning destination where you can rub shoulders with locals and really get to experience the Caribbean island’s way of life.

Isla Mujeres is not a big island: actually, you can drive from North Beach to South Point in about 25 minutes. But for such a compact island, it has a diverse array of activities – and these activities vary from area to area on the island.

Deciding where to stay in Isla Mujeres is an important decision to make to be sure you’re close to the activities that interest you most.

Lucky for you, I’ve taken one for the team and explored this wonderful island (tough job, I know) and I’ve compiled this guide on the best areas to stay in Isla Mujeres. No matter your budget or travel style, there will be a place for you.

So, let’s dive into it!

six friends outside a hostel in Isla Mujeres, Mexico with backpacks on ready to explore.
Ready to explore Isla Mujeres with me?
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

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Where is The Best Place to Stay in Isla Mujeres

If you’re looking to experience the ultimate tropical paradise that’s guaranteed to make your mates back home a little jealous, you’re going to like what Isla Mujeres has to offer.

From turquoise waters, luxury resorts, budget-friendly hostels and coconuts on demand this island has it all. However, knowing where to base yourself can be tricky.

That’s what I’m here for, in this guide, I’m going to spill the beans on what is the best area to stay in Isla Mujeres depending on your travel style and budget. Let’s get straight to it, here are my top three places to set up camp in Isla Mujeres.

Lotus Beach Hotel – Playa Norte | Best Hotel in Isla Mujeres

Lotus Beach Hotel Isla Mujeres

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 Caribbean Sea. All rooms also come with a private balcony area.

Nomads Hotel Hostel & Beachclub – Punta Sur | Best Hostel in Isla Mujeres

Nomads Hotel & Beachclub Isla Mujeres

Offering a hotel, hostel and beach club all under one roof, I’m not joking when I say, Nomads offers a little something for everyone. It’s one of those must-visit hostels in Mexico.

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 beach where you can feel the magic of the soft, white sand beach between your toes.

Casita Azul – Playa Norte | Best Airbnb in Isla Mujeres

If you’re not a fan of luxury hotels, and you’d prefer something with a bit more personality and charm, Casita Azul is your place. Located on North Beach, a few steps and you’re on your own private beach enjoying the magical Caribbean sea and soft white sand.

All the best local restaurants, lively bars, and unique shops are within walking distance. In the morning step outside, coffee in hand and marvel at sunrise from your private balcony, not a bad way to start the day.

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Isla Mujeres Neighbourhood Guide – Best Places to Stay in Isla Mujeres

FIRST TIME IN ISLA MUJERES
Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
FIRST TIME IN ISLA MUJERES

Playa Norte

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.

ON A BUDGET
Meteorologico-Isla-Mujeres
ON A BUDGET

Meteorológico

This neighbourhood sits in the heart of Isla Mujeres. Base yourself where the locals are for that authentic experience.

FOR FAMILIES
FOR FAMILIES

Punta Sur

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.

Isla Mujeres packs a mighty punch for such a small island. If you’re not already aware, it’s home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! You’ll hear travellers singing the praises of this mighty island, no matter what kind of experience they had on their Mexican travels.

It’s pretty easy to get around, so I recommend visiting three districts in Isla Mujeres for the best experience. That being said, some areas are better than others to use as a base. Here’s a quick overview covering what is the best area to stay in Isla Mujeres.

Playa Norte (North Beach) is by far the most popular tourist destination. The ferry from Cancún arrives here, so it’s a quick trip from the mainland. 

Sunset at the pier in Isla Mujeres
You’ll most likely find me here at sunset.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

For first-time visitors, Playa Norte (North Beach) 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 best bars and restaurants on Hidalgo Street.

Prefer something a bit calmer? Head down to the far south of the island.

Punta Sur is the is where you’ll find some of the best condos and apartments on the island. For families, Punta Sur offers an extraordinary backdrop with great connections to the rest of the island. It also has interesting family attractions, with many accommodations offering private beaches away from tourist crowds.

Finally, Meteorológico is the area right in the heart of the island. More locals than tourists live here, giving it a unique atmosphere. 

For you budget-conscious globetrotters who are backpacking Central America and plan on stopping in on this Caribbean paradise, don’t panic, it doesn’t have to drain the funds. The local demographic in Meteorológico keeps accommodation and dining costs low. This is your best bet for staying on the island without breaking the bank – and to be easily located to the north and south areas.

No matter where you choose, you’re in for a remarkable experience. But I’ll break the beach area of Isla Mujeres down a little more – just for you.

Isla Mujeres Three Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in

Now you have an idea of the best neighbourhoods in Isla Mujeres. I’ve done you a solid and broken area down including my recommendations for the best places to stay and things to do.

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 home to the most popular beach in Isla Mujeres. It’s close to the main ferry terminal, ideal if you plan on a day trip if you’re staying in Cancún.

Blue skies, Crystal clear water. People playing the sea. Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
The Caribbean Sea <3
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

For first-time visitors, everything you could ever want is available in the neighbourhood. White sand 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 the top hotels in Isla Mujeres, and great tour guides across the area.

Ixchel Beach Hotel | Best Hotel in Playa Norte

Ixchel Beach Hotel, Isla Mujeres Mexico

If you are searching for a beachfront oasis, you, my friend have hit the jackpot. Ixchel Beach Hotel is an ideal choice if you are looking to experience a true Caribbean paradise.

Located on the beach, a few steps and you can spend your days relaxing by the turquoise waters or make the most of this luxury hotel, kick back by the outdoor swimming pool with an Ice cold cocktail in hand. Either way, you are guaranteed to create memories to last a lifetime.

Lotus Beach Hotel | Best Boutique Hotel in Playa Norte

Lotus Beach Hotel Isla Mujeres

Looking for a couples’ getaway? Look no further than this lavish five-star boutique 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. It’s no surprise this is one of the best luxury hostels in Isla Mujeres.

Selina Poc Na Isla Mujeres | Best Hostel in Playa Norte

This glorious hostel is perfect for travellers who want a budget-friendly option, but without skipping the idea of a luxurious boutique hotel. Selina Isla Mujeres is just a 5-minute walk from Playa Norte Beach and they rent some wheels so you get the best of island life.

Equipped with an outdoor swimming pool, an onsite restaurant, and a stunning sun terrace, you might not ever want to leave. 

Casita Azul | Best Airbnb in Playa Norte

If you’re not a fan of luxury hotels, but you are a fan of luxury, Casita Azul is one the best Airbnbs in Mexico! Located in the most serene location, on North Beach, you have crystal blue views on your doorstep with your own private beach.

All the best local restaurants, lively bars, and unique shops are within walking distance. Then enjoy sunrise and sunset from your slice of paradise.

Things to See and Do in Playa Norte

Joe walking into the beach hostel
Beach day anyone?
Photo: @joemiddlehurst
  1. Hang out by the phenomenal Playa Norte. Don’t forget your sun protection.
  2. Try your hand at some watersports.
  3. Rent bikes and go exploring around this magical island.
  4. Marvel at the underwater world with a snorkelling trip.
  5. Enjoy the bustling nightlife on Hidalgo Street.
  6. Need something a bit quieter? Playa Centro is within walking distance from Playa Norte and offers a more laid-back experience away from the massive crowds.
  7. Take a walk down to Plaza Isla Mujeres, the main square in the neighbourhood, and check out the regular events throughout the year.
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We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

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2. Meteorológico – Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres on a Budget

White sand beach with crystal clear waters. Boats in the background, palm trees lining the shore. Meteorologico-Isla-Mujeres
How can you get bored with views like this?

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.

If you rent a golf cart, some of the best beaches in Mexico are super accessible from this area in Isla Mujeres! If you’re on a tighter budget, the taxis are really convenient – but if you don’t want to negotiate in Spanish, they’ll charge you tourist prices. If you’re really patient, the bus is the best budget option.

Izla Beach Front Hotel | Best Hotel in Meteorológico

Izla Hotel is a slice of paradise. It’s a little drive out from Playa Norte and Punta Sur but this gives you a very luxurious experience.

But don’t worry, if you rent a golf cart, you’re in a perfect position to explore the whole island! This luxury hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, a full-service spa, and on-site restaurants too. Dipping your toes into paradise never felt better.

Villa Isla Dorada | Best Villa in Meteorológico

There are few opportunities in life to rent a luxury villa in the most beautiful island in the world. Villa Isla Dorada offers you that chance! It’s a great opportunity for those travelling with family to Isla Mujeres.

This vacation rental offers turquoise ocean views from your private outdoor swimming pool, a stunning garden, and big family-sized rooms. All of this is just steps away from the white sand beaches. 

Ocean Front Suite | Best Airbnb in Meteorológico

This incredible apartment in Meteorológico offers something unique. This is a real hidden gem.  You’ve never seen ocean views quite like this from your own private terrace. Soak up turquoise blue waters and the best of island life from your little home.

You’ll have an outdoor swimming pool, your own kitchen and the best beach bars right around the corner. That’s way more than what any luxury hotel in Isla Mujeres can offer. 

Things to See and Do in Meteorológico

5 people playing football on the white sand. Palm tree and turquoise waters in the background. Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Not a bad spot for some footy.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst
  1. Avenida Rueda Medina is the main shopping street. Explore locally owned boutiques for unique souvenirs.
  2. Grab a snorkel and discover the vibrant coral reef and marine life
  3. Enjoy incredible views of the crystal-clear waters of Isla Mujeres on a clear bottom boat tour
  4. The Crayola House is a monument to the colourful buildings in the neighbourhood.
  5. Discover the ancient Mayan ruins of the temple of Ixchel and dive into the island’s history.

3. Punta Sur – Best Area in Isla Mujeres for Families

Underwater statues, fish and coral. Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Me wishing I could spend 99% of my time underwater.

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 safest 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, visit the home of the Mayan Goddess of Fertility, Ixchel, who is believed to have inhabited the island in Punta Sur.

Casa de los Sueños Boutique Hotel | Best Hotel in Punta Sur

The ultimate boutique hotel is found in Punta Sur at Casa de Los Sueños! Enjoy your margaritas in your all-inclusive luxury experience. Sip the icy goodness from the incredible sun terrace, enjoy the 3 outdoor swimming pools (including an adult-only infinity pool), and wind down with spa treatments.

Right outside, you’ll find jaw-dropping shores, where you make memories for the rest of your life. I don’t blame you if you never want to leave.

Nomads Hotel Hostel & Beachclub | Best Hostel in Punta Sur

Nomads Hotel & Beachclub Isla Mujeres

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, the beds have their own privacy curtains and super comfortable mattresses. The perfect place to meet some new travel buddies and go exploring.

Shell House Isla Mujeres | Best Airbnb in Punta Sur

This Airbnb may look familiar to you. That’s because this unbelievable vacation rental was designed by world-famous Mexican architect, Eduardo Ocampo. If you want a completely unique experience, look no further.

This vacation rental offers a private outdoor swimming pool, a hot tub, and the most beautiful sun terrace on the whole island. Natural light floods the spacious rooms and you’ll be left with pinch-me moments from dawn til dusk.

Things to See and Do in Punta Sur

  1. Spend the day sailing the turquoise water with a catamaran tour with an open bar and snorkelling.
  2. Explore the breathtaking cliffs trails and natural beauty of Punta Sur.
  3. Relax on the secluded white sand of Playa Lancheros and soak in those Caribbean rays, coconut in hand.
  4. Explore the vibrant coral reef, zipline through the trees and kayak the crystal clear waters at Garrafon Natural Reef Park.
  5. Get your hiking boots on and trek to the Punta Sur ecological park and enjoy amazing views of the Caribbean coastline.
  6. Check out the underwater museum to see what treasures you can find

Important Notice: you may have heard of Isla Mujer’s “Turtle Sanctuary”. In other sources, this business is known as a “turtle farm”. At The Broke Backpacker, we do not support any kind of animal tourism and we encourage our readers to do the same.

If a business is profiting in any way from animals, we steer clear. This does not mean to say that they don’t have good intentions. But, unfortunately, profits usually come before the wellbeing of the animals.

Before you visit the turtle sanctuary, please do your research into if you believe it really is an ethical activity or not. Then you can make up your own mind.

Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

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Hide Yo’ Money!

FAQs About Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres

What is the best adults-only resort in Isla Mujeres?

Lotus Beach Hotel is the perfect adults-only hotel in Isla Mujeres. The outside bar is next to the beach so you can sip on cocktails next to turquoise waters all day Or enjoy the views from your private balcony, your kid free paradise awaits.

Which is the best beachfront hotel in Isla Mujeres?

Ixchel Beach Hotel is the dream beachfront hotel in Isla Mujeres. You are located steps away from the white sand beaches and crystal clear, Caribbean sea. The only problem with staying here is you may never want to leave.

Is Isla Mujeres safe for tourists?

yes, Isla Mujeres is safe. However, with any place you visit, it is important to be aware and know the best areas to stay and places to avoid.

Where to stay in Isla Mujeres with kids?

Casa de los Sueños is the best place to stay with kids. Spend the day splashing around at the on-site waterpark, relaxing at the incredible beach on your doorstep or soaking in the views from the infinity pool. It’s the ultimate boutique hotel with fun for the whole family…including all-you-can-drink Margaritas.

What To Pack For Isla Mujeres

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Isla Mujeres Tequila
Falling for tourist traps… Fun though.
Photo: @joemiddlehurst

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Isla Mujeres

When you’re taking a dream trip to Isla Mujeres, you don’t want anything to turn it into a nightmare. That’s why good travel insurance for Mexico is super important.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Isla Mujeres

Cancún is old news. It’s a long way to go to be disappointed by the monster city. Instead, opt for the dreamy Caribbean island, just outside! 

Full of life, easy living, and spectacular views, I never expected to be blown away by a destination like I was in Isla Mujeres. It’s a tiny little island that digs its claws into your heart, then you end up leaving a chunk of it there. 

While still maintaining an authentic charm, you can enjoy the best dining, eye-opening experiences, and a totally relaxing holiday. Even if it’s just for a day trip, I can’t recommend it enough. Though you definitely won’t want to leave after just one day. 

In case you are still unsure where to perch up, I’ve recapped my top picks below.

Izla Hotel is where I had the most fun, with fantastic connections to the rest of the island. Plus, when you’re surrounded by more locals than tourists, you really get to know a place better. 

If you are looking to splash some cash, I would recommend Ixchel Beach Hotel it is the best luxury hotel in Isla Mujeres and the perfect place to create memories to last a lifetime.  

Do I recommend Isla Mujeres? Damn it, I couldn’t recommend it more. Now it’s over to you, I hope your trip was as magical as mine.

Isla Mujeres sign
Me in the centre of Isla Mujeres!
Photo: @joemiddlehurst
Looking for more info on travelling to Isla Mujeres and Mexico?