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Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel – Which Island Should You Visit

Last updated on January 7th, 2023 at 10:24 am

Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel 2 of Quintana Roo’s most sought destinations out of its 11 municipalities are Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. If you’re looking to spend your vacation in Mexico’s Quintana Roo area, Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel are two of the best islands you could visit.

Isla Mujeres and Cozumel are both reachable by plane and from the airport, you usually will take a ferry to get to either Isla Mujeres or Cozumel. Read here Holbox vs Cozumel, Tulum vs Playa del Carmen, Cozumel vs Cancun, Cozumel vs Tulum and Playa Del Carmen vs Cozumel

Isla Mujeres doesn’t have its own airport, so you will usually have a plane arriving at Cancun International Airport, then head to a 20-minute ferry to Isla Mujeres. Read here how to get from Tulum to Isla Mujeres

Cozumel has its own international airport, the Cozumel Airport, and Cozumel is about a 40-minute ferry ride from Cozumel Airport.

Mexico is popular for its blue beaches, white sand, and tons of activities you can do for that perfect tropical holiday. While both Isla Mujeres and Cozumel are part of the popular beach areas in Quintana Roo Mexico’s popular tropical destinations, only Cozumel is part of the long stretch of Riviera Maya, between these two.

Let’s compare Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel and help you decide which island should you visit.

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Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel - Where should you travel, things to do and when to visit

Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel: How to Get There

How to Get to Isla Mujeres 

Arriving to Isla Mujeres from Cancun

To get to Isla Mujeres, you will be flying to one of Mexico’s biggest international airports in Cancun. Upon arrival at Cancun International Airport, you can reach from Cancun to Isla Mujeres by ferry.

It’s a 20-minute ride crossing the beautiful Caribbean Ocean. Ferries from Cancun International Airport travel at a 30-minute interval from 7 am til 12 am, so you can arrive at any time in Cancun and easily get to your vacation in Isla Mujeres.

From Cancun Hotel Zone, there are 3 ferry terminals to Isla Mujeres:

  • Isla Mujeres Ferry Terminal Playa Caracol
  • Isla Mujeres Ferry Terminal Playa Tortugas
  • Isla Mujeres Ferry Terminal El Embarcadero

A one-way trip will cost you $15 while a round trip will cost about $21. When you’re staying in Cancun Hotel Zone, the easiest way to go to the ferry terminals is through the R1 bus.

However, if you’re staying in Cancun’s downtown area, the easiest way to get to the other ferry terminals to Isla Mujeres is by taxi.

How to get to Cozumel

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To arrive in Cozumel, you’ll have the option to fly in from 2 airports, either the Cancun International Airport or the Cozumel Airport. Read here how to get from Cancun airport to Cozumel

Arriving at Cozumel from Cancun International Airport

Cancun will be one of the most popular airports to arrive by, seeing as it is one of Mexico’s largest international airports. From Cancun, you’ll have to go to Playa del Carmen via the ADO bus or taxi, or a private transfer, this takes about an hour. And from Playa del Carmen, you’ll take a 40-minute ferry to Cozumel.

Public ADO bus is very accessible and available from 9:00 to 24:00. Fare is about $10. The bus departs from Terminal 3. Another option is to take a taxi to Playa del Carmen, and of course to book a private transfer in advance. Taxis can easily cost $50 or more, so be prepared to haggle or to accept this pricing.

Arriving at Cozumel directly from Cozumel Airport

To arrive directly to Cozumel, for example from the United States or Europe, you’ll fly in internationally to one of Mexico’s major international airports, and then from there have a connecting flight to Cozumel.

Things to Do – Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel

Difference of Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel

If you’re looking for a relaxed stay on the beach with beautiful views and serene surroundings, Isla Mujeres might be the perfect vacation for you. And if you are looking for a trip with an equally gorgeous vacation, but with more activities like diving and snorkeling, Cozumel might be right up your alley.

Things to do in Isla Mujeres – Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel

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Isla Mujeres is a beautiful part of the Yucatan Peninsula that you’ll definitely love to visit. Let’s look at some of the activities and relaxing you can do while in Isla Mujeres.

1. Unlimited Beach Time

Isla Mujeres has a lot of incredible beaches with white sand and if you’re the lounge-type of person, you will have plenty of choices.

Some of the best beaches in Isla Mujeres are Playa Norte (the most popular blue beach and white sand), Punta Sur, and Playa Centro. For snorkeling and kayaking beach, you can visit Playa Garrafon.

2. Visit Punta Sur Park

One of the most common things to see in Isla Mujeres is the Maya Ruins. You’ll see this in Punta Sur Park in addition to a lot more natural things to see like iguanas and walking on trails and cliffs. Make sure you’re wearing proper attire for this. This is a great way to experience nature and see another side of Isla Mujeres.

3. Visit the Underwater Sculpture Garden – MUSA Underwater Sculpture Park

MUSA has over 500 sculptures of people, animals, and cars – so much more to see. An artificial reef, all the underwater sculptures have now growing corals and plants which makes seeing them even more enticing! Not to miss if you are up to some snorkeling and diving.

4. Do more Snorkeling

Do you know that you can experience seeing whale sharks while in Isla Mujeres, with a boat tour. This is only possible when visiting Isla Mujeres in the right season, around late May to early September.

But it’s surely an experience to have. There are also more snorkeling spots to see, particularly, El Farito. Lots of underwater corals and colorful fishes to see.

5. Parque De Los Suenos at Kin Ha

For a more beach club kind of vibe, Kin Ha is the one for you. Have pools with food and beverages if this is the type of lounging you’re up for.

6. Garrafon De Castilla

Isla Mujeres even with its popularity still has a little bit of an off-the-beaten path to show. Garrafon de Castilla can be a good place for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing with lesser crowds.

WHERE TO STAY IN ISLA MUJERES

A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Cancun. There are hotels mid-budget $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.

Things to do in Cozumel

Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel - Which Island Should You Visit

Cozumel, just like Isla Mujeres has a lot of incredible beaches, however it’s definitely popular for all the diving and snorkeling it offers.

1. Visit The Wild East Side – Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel

The “wild” east side of the island is absolutely worth a visit. While the west side is primarily hotels and beach clubs, the east side of Cozumel is a paradise of remote beaches interspersed with fantastic local beach bars.

There are also a few great places to grab a lounger, eat some fresh fish tacos and take a dip in the water such as Chen Rio and Punta Morena, but the real highlight of the east side is the wonderful natural emptiness of it all. Be sure to stop for a fresh handmade beach cocktail at RastasWelcome to Miami or Mezcalitos (or all three!) and let the sea breeze wash over you. Hammocks included.

Note: Since 2008, Sargassum (seaweed) has regularly arrived on the east coast beaches from May to August. It can pile up on the sand and be a little smelly. If the east coast has too much seaweed when you arrive, we recommend visiting Punta Sur (see below) or one of the excellent west coast Beach Clubs instead.

2. Go Diving – Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel

Cozumel is world-renowned for its scuba diving and proximity to numerous top dive sites. The Mesoamerican reef system is the second-largest reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef), and there is extensive coral and sea life with incredible visibility.

From beginner’s discovery dives to advanced drift dives, there’s something for everyone around Cozumel.

3. Spend the Day at a Beach Club

The west side of Cozumel has incredible sparkling, turquoise waters and numerous beautiful beaches. When visiting the island, there are several fantastic beach clubs where visitors have access to sandy beaches, swimming pools, oceanfront restaurants, beach bars, sun loungers, water activities and more.

They typically range in cost from $10 USD to $65 USD per person with the pricier options being all-inclusive with drinks and food.

4. Take A Tour With A Local

Take your vacation in Cozumel to the next level by taking a tour with a local! There is nothing quite like getting an insider experience with people who live here and love all that the island has to offer. Curious about Cozumel’s green interior? Click here to book online Cancun activities and day tours

Take a jeep tour to Cozumel’s original capital town, Cedral, a quaint community surrounded by forest on all sides. While there, take a jungle off-road visit to caves, trails and even a cenote where you can take a swim.

If you are more interested in a water experience, head out from the local’s marina (not the tour boat marina) for some fishing, snorkeling and exploring on the way up to Passion Island. Once there, swim in the clear waters and enjoy a bbq on the beach, local family style!

It doesn’t get much better than that. For arranging tours with a local, we recommend contacting Arturo at Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge, and start planning your unique private experience.

Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge is now offering an exclusive tour that has you visiting a private hacienda with caves to explore, a plunge pool and a delicious asadero (open fire bbq). By the end of the day, you will have enjoyed an authentic piece of Cozumel, just like a local.

5. Experience Buccanos

Hidden away on a quiet sandy cove, Buccanos is a complete island retreat. With a stunning beach club, spa and renowned gourmet restaurant, one can easily spend a full day and night at Buccanos Beach Club & Buccanos At Night Restaurant.

Guests are greeted at the beach club amidst beautifully manicured grounds for relaxing breakfasts or lunch by the sea. A large swimming pool, palapas and an idyllic sandy beach allow guests to fully engage in the plentiful amenities throughout the day.

Explore the underwater wonderland by snorkeling and indulge in a relaxing treatment at the seaside spa. Throughout your day, the attentive wait staff serve a fresh menu of food and drinks by the pool, in the open-air restaurant or on the beach.

After a day of tropical bliss, be sure to book your reservation for the highly acclaimed Buccanos At Night gourmet restaurant, renowned for the chefs’ creative seafood and Caribbean-inspired plates. Incredible ocean and sunset views, tantalizing culinary concoctions, excellent beach access, the Buccanos experience will have you returning time and time again.

6. Go Snorkeling – Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel

The water off the coasts of Cozumel is world-famous, so jump in! There are numerous snorkeling locations where you can simply enter from the shore, or you could take a boat tour out to the incredible reefs. If time is short, a shallow reef snorkel tour may be the perfect way for you to experience the underwater world.

Feel like a full day snorkel excursion? Check out some of the many longer tours to the deeper sections of the reefs to try and spot some of the larger species that call this water home. Whatever you choose, you will be smiling the whole time.

7. Book An Island Photo Shoot

Cozumel is a stunning island with endless activities, adventures and ways to simply unwind. Like any visitor to such a beautiful locale, you will be snapping images on your phone all day every day.

However, who is taking your picture? Nobody should survive on selfies alone! Let us recommend a new activity here on the island, Salty Studio photography sessions. Book a personal, group, family or wedding session with this talented team and take home a memory that will last a lifetime.

Their experienced photography crew can capture you on the beach, in the jungle, underwater or even from the sky with their fantastic drone photographer.

Looking for a full day adventure? After your personalized session the team can arrange to take you snorkeling, swimming, sightseeing or simply to a beautiful beach to relax.

8. Try Sport Fishing

Deep sea and bottom fishing are fast becoming very popular activities here in Cozumel. Stunningly clear water and excellent weather create an enticing environment for this thrilling sport.

If you are one of the many visitors to the island who are passionate about fishing, we recommend booking a private boat for the adventure of a lifetime. The waters around Cozumel are famous for a reason, they are teeming with gorgeous fish. Sailfish, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, Barracuda and so many more swim through these waters daily.

Whether you are an experienced mariner or have never been sea fishing before, don’t worry, the award-winning team at Aquadventures will guide you through every troll and reel. Bring some friends, bring your family, come enjoy a day on either the beautiful Grand Slam or Why Not boat stocked with everything you need to have a fun and exciting day on the water.

9. Go Shopping

No vacation to Mexico would be complete without at least a little shopping, and Cozumel is the perfect place to do just that. With dozens of shops ranging from high-end silver jewelry to beach bag vendors, whatever your heart desires can be easily found.

Although most people naturally flock to the town center or the Royal Village Mall by the cruise ship port, we recommend taking the time to explore a little further afield to find some true treasures. You may just end up buying your hammock from a local who has just finished stitching it on his front stoop!

Also, whether you have one day for shopping or many days, you must be sure to visit Los Cinco Soles. Located at the north end of the waterfront, this is an exceptionally well-appointed shop.

Filled to the brim with stunning art, souvenirs, jewelry, clothing, traditional handicrafts and more, Los Cinco Soles has something for everyone. It even has a tequila-tasting bar! All created by Mexican artisans, farmers and families. You will be so happy you visited.

10. Visit Punta Sur Ecological Park

The entire southern point of Cozumel island is a sprawling nature preserve known as Punta Sur. It is one of the best places to see the island’s vast natural habitat.

With some of the most beautiful beaches on the island (bring your swimsuit!) and incredible mangrove marshlands (a free boat ride to see wild crocodiles and birds is included), Punta Sur is a nature lovers dream. Be sure to stop at the lighthouse and climb to the top for epic 360-degree views.

WHERE TO STAY IN COZUMEL

A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Cozumel. There are hotels mid-budget $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Islands – Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel

The Best Time to Visit Isla Mujeres and Cozumel

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Since both these islands are in the Yucatan Peninsula, they have the same tropical weather year-round.

Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F), it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.

Check here for the weather in Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel, Quintana Roo

January – April: Weather in Isla mujeres vs Cozumel

Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy month of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts, and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Isla Mujeres. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.

Hope you got all the information you needed for a visit to Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel! Stay tuned to more of our Mexico series and find out which places you can visit when in Mexico.

Click here to know more about the weather in Cancun

CASH IN MEXICO

Mexico has its own currency called the Mexican Peso. A $1 USD=19 MXN. There are lots of ATMs and exchange currency in many parts of the country. And you have to know that dollars is very common and well-accepted in the country.

Click here to know more about the exchange rate of Mexico

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Happy Travels!

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.