You know the image of those blue, blue waters that make your eyes drop out? Those waters that look like a swimming pool, with more sea life than you could possibly imagine. And yes, those white sand beaches that make the Caribbean Sea so famous. 

Welcome to Isla Mujeres! 

I shit you not, all of these dreamy visions become a reality here. This island has been scarred 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. Yes, it makes the perfect sunny getaway all year round!

Isla Mujeres is not a big island: actually you can drive from North Beach to South Point in about 25 minutes. For such a compact island, it has a diverse array of activities – and these vary in each area. Having a good idea of what’s going on where really changes the whole dreamy experience.

Do you want to step right onto your own private beach? Maybe you have kids that need space to run. Or maybe you’re just thinking beach clubs, please!

So here you’re going to find all my top tips for the best places to stay in Isla Mujeres, personalised for you, from my personal experience.

Let me give you the tour.

Top 3 Recommendations For Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres

Let’s get straight to it. From the best luxury hotels to the Airbnbs that make you feel right at home – here are the top 3 places to stay in Isla Mujeres.

Best Airbnb in Isla Mujeres – Casita Azul – Playa Norte

If you’re not a fan of luxury hotels, but you are a fan of luxury, Casita Azul is your place. Located in the most serene location, on North Beach, you have crystal blue views and direct beach access from 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 little paradise.

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

Nomads Hotel & Beachclub Isla Mujeres

Offering a hotel, hostel and beach club all under one roof, I really mean it 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 stretch of beach where you can mingle with other guests.

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

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 sea. All rooms also come with a private balcony area.

Isla Mujeres Neighborhood Guide

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 here traveller’s 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.

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. 

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 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 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 – 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 beach area of Isla Mujeres down a little more – just for you.

1. Playa Norte – Best Place to Stay in Isla Mujeres for Your First Time

Playa Norte Isla Mujeres
Does it get better than this?

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.

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 the best hotels in Isla Mujeres, and great tour guides across the area.

Best Airbnb in Playa Norte – Casita Azul

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 and direct beach access from 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 little paradise.

Best Hostel in Playa Norte – Selina Poc Na Isla Mujeres

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. 

Charming Villa in Playa Norte – Courtyard Acapulco

Courtyard Acapulco Isla Mujeres

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.

Best Boutique Hotel in Playa Norte – Lotus Beach Hotel

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 sea. All rooms also come with a private balcony area.

Things to See and Do in Playa Norte

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
The perfect place to relax.
  • Hang out by the phenomenal Playa Norte. Don’t forget your sun protection.
  • Try your hand at some watersports.
  • Take lunch at the delectable authentic Mexican restaurants.
  • Enjoy the bustling nightlife on Hidalgo street.
  • 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, check out the regular events throughout the year.
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2. Meteorológico – Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres on a Budget

Meteorologico-Isla-Mujeres
You won’t get bored on these beaches.

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.

Best Airbnb in Meteorológico – Ocean Front Suite

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. 

Best Hotel in Meteorológico – Izla Beach Front Hotel

Izla Hotel is the best hotel in Isla Mujeres’s Meteorológico neighbourhood. It’s a little drive out from Playa Norte and Punta Sur but this gives you a very luxury 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 pool, a full service spa, and on site restaurants too. Dipping your toes into paradise never felt better.

Best Villa in Meteorológico – Villa Isla Dorada

There’s few opportunities in your 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 swimming pool, a stunning garden, and big family sized rooms. All of this, just steps away from the beach. 

Things to See and Do in Meteorológico

mexico - Isla Mujeres
Docking.
  • Avenida Rueda Medina is the main shopping street. Explore locally owned boutiques for unique souvenirs.
  • The Crayola House is a monument to the colourful buildings in the neighbourhood.
  • Eat the best seafood on the whole island! Fuego de Mar is the best place for that dreamy cuisine.

3. Punta Sur – 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 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.

Best Airbnb in Punta Sur – Shell House Isla Mujeres

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 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.

Best Hostel in Punta Sur – Nomads Hotel Hostel & Beachclub

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 (this is also our top pick for backpackers in Isla Mujeres), the beds have their own privacy curtains and super comfortable mattresses.

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

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 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.

Things to See and Do in Punta Sur

Try and find Ixchel.
  • Get up close and personal with the unique aquatic life with an awe-inspiring scuba diving experience from the beach.
  • Dancing is the lifeblood of the island, so learn some salsa moves with help from those who know best.
  • 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 zip lines and other adventure activities.
  • 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.

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FAQs About Where to Stay in Isla Mujeres

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 terms of our favourite neighbourhood, I have to say Meteorológico! Izla Hotel 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. 

That being said, if I had a bigger budget, I personally would stay in Playa Norte to be right in the centre of the surprisingly peaceful hustle and bustle of Isla Mujeres. Casita Azul is the best Airbnb in Isla Mujeres and the best place to stay for first-timers. 

Do I recommend Isla Mujeres? Damn it, I couldn’t recommend it more.

It’s no wonder this place was so special to the Mayans.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email [email protected] to find out how.


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