Fly to Cancun, shuttle to ferry (approx. half an hour), half-hour ferry ride to Isla Mujeres.
Mango Cafe for breakfast, mid-island
Lola Valentina for breakfast if you don’t want to go mid-island
Madeira Food and Art is an amazing art gallery and delicious lunch of fresh fish and amazing burgers in an outdoor palapa. Fun bartedenr and great mojitos. Then go to La Villa Bella for pina coladas (they are close to each other).
Loncheria – three different restaurants – very authentic and affordable (across from hotel las Palmas)
Rinconcito Kahlo is an authentic locals spot – quesabirrias.
Playa Lancheros for the tixinchix fish on the beach – they are only open for lunch
Tiny Gecko – On the water; Ask for Alfredo bartender and the peanut shots; fire dancers; live music 3-7
Oceans – on Hidalgo Avenue – good cocktails, nachos
The joint – drinks
Soggy peso – sunset on the lagoon, strong margaritas, cute atmosphere, cornhole on beach, ex-pat spot
Javi’s – dancing 6:30 pm
Macache – green curry snapper; pico de gallo, great cocktails/margaritas
Vera Duro – Cuban food.
Olivia’s – Mediterranean
Lolo Lorena is an amazing French chef (and a delightful person) who runs a B&B and hosts dinners in her garden. Dinners are a set menu – whatever she feels like cooking that day. We have been a number of times and it is always amazing. She only books through Facebook messenger. Send her a message to see if she is having any dinners when you are there. Her house is mid-island near the Chedraui. Always a highlight. Just search Lolo Lorena on Facebook and her page should pop up.
- For fresh juice – there is a little stand in the back of the Mercado Municipal – if you go in through the back door (from Carlos Laslo street) it should be the first stand on the right
- There is also a great juice stand on Juarez Avenue a block or two south of the graveyard. If you are headed south it will be on the left on a corner. Easy to find if they are open.
- The best churros are from the blue cart that parks at night on the little square just to the east of the main town square. (Across the street from the main square where the basketball courts are)
The best thing is wandering the neighborhoods and finding the little local gems. Which is easy to do since it’s so small.
Islaholics group is fantastic for pictures and recommendations (though recently also a lot of complaining – nobody likes change, apparently).
- Municipal Cemetary – very colorful
- 7:30-8:30 AM Sunrise yoga at the Treehouse
- Food Tour with Jose at Cultura Cruisers. They have biking, walking or bring-your-own golf cart tours. 9:30am + 4pm tours Cultura Cruisers
- Home: Jose’s wife’s cheese empanada
- Catholic Church on the water
- La Nueva Esperanza – carnitas torta. The bread was amazing!! Three salsas.
- Home: Myra’s chicken mole enchilada with lettuce and queso fresco
- Michelada de Sabores Mininos- pineapple Michelada with Sol beer
- Rinconcito Kahlo – cinnamon Coffee; quesa beef birria
- Animal shelter
- Rainbow stairs
- Cucumber and cantaloupe Juice at El Paraiso- La Gloria neighborhood
- Jose brother for ceviche in Colonia Salina Chica neighborhood
- Turtle Hatchery, dolphins (closed as of 2023)
- SPA DZA-KAN-HA Is new, just north of Villa Bella. We got massages there in the top open-air room with sounds of waves crashing and sea air breezes. Highly recommend! Ask for Lupita. Make a reservation. https://www.spaislamujeres.com/ There is also the Madeira Gallery wares downstairs.
- Mimi’s spa – massage
For shopping – don’t go to any of the new shops north of the ferry terminal – they are owned by non-locals.
- Maria del Maria hotel
North Beach – North beach is a gorgeous beach and is close to all the action and a lot of great restaurants, bars, and shopping, though personally, I like the restaurants in La Gloria and more mid-island. The only downside is it crowded and bustling.
Ixchel Beach Hotel – the suites are not terribly expensive and they are really nice – all the rooms have views. They have a full kitchen in case you like to do some meals in. They have a tiny pool but a great beach and are central to everything.
The last two visits to Isla we stayed at the Playa Arena. It is a brand-new hotel right next to Ixchel. It is less expensive and it is new and nice. The beachfront rooms are really special (last time we got one that had a dedicated lounge/bed on the sand, just for us). Note that Playa Arena is not available on hotels.com or other travel aggregators. You have to go to their website and, if you don’t see what you want, email them – they are accommodating.
Parents always stay at the Nautibeach Condos. The location is fantastic and they have the nicest pool, plus they have much better service at the beach bar than Playa Arena. That being said, you can go anywhere to sit at the beach with chairs and umbrellas – – there is just a 100 – 300 peso minimum which we always exceed. The Nautibeach Condos are owner owned and rented (VRBO, I think) and so they vary from unit to unit and the ones I’ve seen are colorful and festive. They all have full kitchens (I am pretty sure). Also, centrally located. Ixchel, Playa Arena, and Nautibeach are in a row.
Friends have stayed at Privileges Aluxes and really liked it. I think it has the option of being all-inclusive. The thing about all-inclusive on Isla is that the food is so great and the drinks are cheap, plentiful, and fantastic everywhere you go so I would feel trapped. But, you can do Privileges w/o the all-inclusive. BUT – you do have to go over a small road to get to their beach and, it is not quite as nice as the beaches in front of Ixchel, Playa Arena, and Nautibeach.
Playa Arena – https://www.playa-arena.com/the-hotel
Ixchel Beach Hotel – https://www.ixchelbeachhotel.com/
Nautibeach Condos – https://www.nautibeach.com/
Sac Bajo – Sac Bajo is also a fabulous beach and a great location. But it is a taxi or golf cart ride to most bars and restaurants. We started staying down there when we snuck away during COVID and probably won’t go back to North Beach. You are pretty close to La Gloria and other great more locals restaurants, close to the turtle hatchery, the dolphins. I like it down there but if you are going with a group, North Beach might be better if people have different interests and energy levels. I stayed at Izla Beach Hotel last time I was there, and it was lovely. Great beach, good bartender and beachside food service (the spa was terrible though – I have a recommendation for a spa if you don’t want to just find a massage on the beach). I’ve not stayed at Hotel Beló but toured it last time we were there and was sort of envious. I am definitely staying there next time (or at least the time after that). I’ve never stayed further south than Sac Bajo and wouldn’t recommend it – the golf cart commute is pretty long (for Isla).
Izla Beach Hotel – [they don’t have their own website but I can attest they are actually legit]
Hotel Beló Isla Mujeres – https://beloislamujeres.com/
Mapchick’s maps are like a travel guide in map form (at least they used to be). Laura (the MapChick) & her husband Perry have personally toured each Resort, eaten at each restaurant, etc; and their reviews are great e.g., accurate.