From Cancun, there are a number of places that one can visit for a day trip but one of the closest and most beautiful places to see is Isla Mujeres. It is just a short ferry ride from Cancun's hotel zone, with ferries leaving, throughout the day, from El Embarcadero (beside Barcelo Costa Cancun), Playa Tortugas, and Playa Caracol. You can also take a ferry from Gran Puerto, the ferry terminal in Puerto Juarez, which is just north of downtown Cancun. (Check ferry times here: http://www.granpuerto.com.mx/EN/index.html)
A trip to Isla Mujeres can be as active or as relaxing as you'd like. If relaxation is what you are looking for, turn to the left, after you get off the ferry and are out on the street. Make a beeline for Playa Norte (North Beach) and plant yourself on the beach. There, you will find some beach clubs, which have lounge chairs and serve food and beverages, but there are also restaurants that will let you use their tables and chairs, on the beach, as long as you are ordering food and drinks. Order a bucket of cervezas and just sit back, with your toes in the sand, and enjoy the view. The sunsets on North Beach are breathtakingly beautiful...and the view is pretty awesome the rest of the day too.
If you are an active traveler and need to constantly be on the move, you'll be quite pleased with your choice to visit Isla Mujeres. Snorkeling or scuba diving at the Cancun Underwater Museum (also known as MUSA), located just off the shores of Isla Mujeres, is one of the most unique activities you can do. In 2010, over 400 statues were placed underwater in an effort to create an attraction that would keep divers and snorkelers from going to nearby coral reefs, instead. Coral is starting to grow on the statues now so it is not only a beautiful and interesting attraction, it is also helping the environment.
A cool little white sea turtle, at the turtle farm (La Tortugranja), on Isla Mujeres — Photo courtesy of Susan R. Vincil
Another must-see when you are on Isla Mujeres is the Turtle Farm (La Tortugranja). The Turtle Farm is home to sea turtles of various sizes. The place is small, but the entry fee is very low (only around $3 USD) and it's definitely a fun place stop. Out behind the main building, you can see even a shark and a fully grown sea turtle swimming in a large, enclosed area.
The "seashell house", one of Isla Mujeres' most photographed landmarks, is a house shaped like a conch shell. — Photo courtesy of Susan R. Vincil
Driving a golf cart around the island is a favorite pastime for tourists and it is also just a fun way to see the island. At the southern end of the island is Garrafon Natural Reef Park, a water park where you swim with dolphins and manatees or go snorkeling, kayaking, or ride bicycles.
Ix Chel temple, on Isla Mujeres — Photo courtesy of Susan R. Vincil
A little further down the road is an ancient Mayan temple for Ix Chel, the Mayan goddess of love, medicine, and fertility. At the temple, there are walkways down to the water's edge. The views are spectacular so don't forget to take your camera.
Regardless of how you wish to spend your day on Isla Mujeres, you won't be disappointed. It truly is an island paradise.