Diving Isla Mujeres

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Isla Mujeres, Mexico

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Country: Mexico  Area: Mexico

Water Temp: 23 - 28°C (73 - 82°F)

Visibility: 50 - 30m (164 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 8 - 26m (26 - 85 ft)

Dolphin Season May-July
Eagle ray Season/Sailfish Late November - Early March
Turtle Nesting Early April- August
Whaleshark/Manta ray Season May 15th - September 15th

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Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) is a small 5-mile long island, located just across the bay from Cancun. As a former fishing village, the island retains a quaint local charm that sits in pleasant contrast to the development of Cancun. The large underwater museum, the sailfish and sardine seasons and the shark cage dives are all primary attractions for divers.

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Isla Mujeres is a laid back and relaxed island – where golf carts are the preferred island style of transport. The island manages to avoid the throngs of spring breakers and the all inclusive resorts, making it a wonderful contrast to those who love Mexico, but not the mass tourism. That said, there still are a number of things to do on Isla Mujeres for non-divers. This includes trips to Mayan sites, boat trips to uninhabited islands and even some possible zip-lining.

Dive-wise, likely the greatest attraction here is MUSA – the world’s largest underwater museum. Designed in an effort to rehabilitate the local marine life, divers can swim between 12 different galleries filled with artificial habitats. Other local highlights include the sailfish season, the sardine baitballs and the sleeping shark cave which was discovered by Jacques Coustea and Ramon Bravo.

Underwater sculpture, Isla Mujeres, Credit

Marine Conservation

MUSA is by far one of the most innovative marine conservation projects around Isla Mujeres. This museum is in fact an artificial reef that is open to the public for exploration. It consists of 12 galleries with over 1300 artificial habitats. The intention is to stimulate an expansion of the biomass of the reef system and the number of habitats, in order to offset the impact of mass tourism. MUSA exists within the National Marine Park that surrounds Isla. 

Beyond the museum, there are a number of other smaller-scale initiative that strive to conserve and rehabilitate the marine life. These include anti-lionfish hunting initiatives, beach clean-ups and sea turtle awareness programs. There is also a sea turtle sanctuary on the island, that rears eggs annually and releases them into the wild.

Fish & Coral, Isla Mujeres, Credit

Climate

Isla Mujeres is consistently experiencing warm & humid temperature. It's climate is similar to Cancun. From 17°C  to 31 °C, say it's hot to hotter year-round!

Dry Season (Winter)

Hurricane Season (Summer)

Marine Conservation

The following activties are freuquently organised in Isla Mujeres; Lionfish Hunting, Beach Clean-ups and Sea Turtle Awareness

Other Year round Marine life

Stingrays, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Pufferfish, Sailfish, Marlins, Snappers, Grunts, Triggerfish, Starfish, Cowfish, Trunkfish, Filefish, Trumpetfish,  Conchs, Nudibranchs, Cuttlefish

Coral,Isla Mujeres underwater, Credit

 
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Shore Diving

There are no shore dives off Isla Mujeres.

Boat Diving

There are 20+ dive sites that can be accessed off Isla Mujeres on a 10 – 30 minute boat ride. Depths of the dives range from 10 to 30 meters, and are well-suited to all levels of experience. The vast majority of dive sites occur on reefs. Here, it is common to see barracuda, sea turtles, sharks, scorpionfish, spotted moray, and sting rays. A number of the reefs also lead into drift dives. Some of the most popular sites include Mancheres, Atlantis, La Cruz, Sleeping Shark Cave and Punta Negra.

Diving Isla Mujeres, Credit

There are also three wreck dives near Isla. They are called the CHairel, the Gunboat C55 and the Gunboat C-58. Barracuda, eagle rays and groupers tend to congregate around these sites. Currents are also strong here.

The most unique site is however MUSA – the underwater museum. This museum was opened in 2010, in an effort to innovatively address the effects of climate change. When completed, the museum will have 12 artificial habitats that will attempt to offset the impact of tourism through the creation of more biomass and habitat in the reef system.

Starfish, Credit

Liveaboard Diving

A number of liveaboards depart from Cancun to explore the waters that surround the Yucutan peninsula. Virtually all tours stop at Isla de Mujeres, before continuing on to explore Cozumel and beyond.

School of fish, Credit

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How to Get There

Most guests will first fly into Cancun International Airport. From there, you can take either a private taxi, pre-organized transfer or a shared van (colectivo) to Puerto Juárez, which is roughly 15 minutes north of downtown Cancun. If you arrive in Cancun by bus, you can again take a taxi or public bus (Ruta 13) to the ferry terminal.

At Puerto Juárez, you will then connect to the express ferry services(The Ultramar) that takes passengers to Isla. Express ferries take about 20 minutes and cost under $10, one way.

Isla Mujeres, Credit

For those traveling to Isla from the Hotel Zone in Cancun, you can also find ferries going across from the Embarcadero Dock at Playa Linda Pier. Note that these ferries run at set times. Otherwise, you can take a taxi to Puerto Juárez.

Once at the island, the taxi stand is between the two ferry docks. You can either hire a taxi to your hotel, or hire a porter to bicycle your bags while you walk behind.

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Where to Eat & Drink

In spite of being a tiny island, there is a good variety of restaurants, bars and night clubs for visitors to choose between.

Restaurant-wise, guests are able to find American, Mediterranean, Italian, French Asian and Mexican cuisine. There are no major American chains on the island either – with most of these places being independently owned. Food is always fresh and, unsurprisingly, heavily incorporates local catches into the dishes. Two favourite restauratns include Mañana and Olivia – the latter of which serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine!

New Year's Eve Fireworks on Isla Mujeres, Credit

For reviews of local restaurants, check out HollyEats.com. You can also see a reasonably comprehensive list of all restaurants at Isla-Mujeres.net.

Nightlife on Isla Mujeres ranges from beachfront bars to discos and clubs. The island generally doesn’t receive the same party-scene as Cancun does – but there are options for drinks and dancing. A number of bars also feature live music – so check with locals upon arrival for particular events. Poc-Na Hostel is one of the best laidback beachfront bars – while Buho’s is a swing-bar experience on the beach!

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Family Activities & diving for children

Being a small island, the bulk of the activities on Isla Mujeres are water-based. Popular non-diving activities include swimming with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery, snorkelling trips to nearby reefs, whale shark tours, and fishing tournaments. Spending time on the various beaches that fringe the islands is of course, very popular as well. For those interested in seeing the neighbouring islands, it is also possible to set out on a tour of the uninhabited Isla Contoy, 15 miles north of Isla Mujeres.

Wind Surfing, Isla Mujeres, Credit

On land, one of the most culturally significant sites is the Mayan Temple and Sculpture Garden at Punta Sur. This is believed to be the first point that the sun touches Mexico daily and as such, there are ancient temples for the Mayan Moon Goddess (Ixchel).  There is also a Sculpture Garden at Punta Sur, where a number of famous sculptors have come together to depict the spirit of the Mayan civilization.

Another interesting historical site on the island is Hacienda Mundaca. Built by Fermin Mundaca – who found great riches in pirating and slave trading – this site once covered nearly 40% of the island. Today, you can walk between old gardens and pathways that are slowly being restored.

If interested in sea turtles, it is also worth visiting the Turtle Farm on the island. Here, you can learn about the conservation of sea turtles as you observe the eggs in protected pens.

Blue fish, Credit

For those interested in adventure, you can visit the on-land part of Garrafón Park. Here, you can go zip lining and bungee jumping in this remarkable landscape!

To simply get a sense of the island, consider renting a golf cart and touring the island. There are a number of maps and guides to give further insight into noteworthy stops along the perimeter. Horse back riding is another great way to explore the island’s natural beauty as well.

Beyond that, the standard amenities are generally available. A number of lodges offer up yoga and spas, and there is a great variety in shopping both at boutiques and at the market.

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Tips

Bring pesos, hard to change money and credit card fees are high.

Avoid drinking the tap water at Isla Mujeres. While there is an extensive water purification system, visitors would still be wise to stick to bottled water for drinking. Brushing teeth is fine with tap water.

Garrafon Natural Reef Park, Credit

There are medical facilities on the island, but generally they are fairly small. That said, there is a hyperbaric chamber in the Centro de Salud located in the main square. There are English speaking doctors and dentists on the island.

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Need recommendation for diving in Mexico i June / July 2018

Hi. Me and my friend are travelling for diving in Mexico in the end of June.

WE have order the fly thickets and we was think about living on Isla Mujeres and dive from here.

Both of us have advance and nitrox diving licence.

What can you recommend of diving this periode of time?

As far as i know this outside the season here, du we need to book in advance or can we order when we are there?

Can you offer package where diving, hotel and food are included?

Price?

What is your recommendation of diving center here and why?

We had hope to see big fish as shark, or other fish. What can we expect to see in this periode of the year?

Is there anyone here that have trips to Barracuda reef?

So please give me information about Diving in Isla Mujeres area?

THanks

Best regards

Bjarte Myksvoll

From Norway

Telephone. 004799559567

E-mail: bj-myks@online.no

Showing 3 of 5 comments. Show all
P5149803

Joanne Roberts

0 votes

Hi

P5149803

Joanne Roberts

0 votes

We we dived in Cozumel in September and stayed on the Island. This is because the majority of diving we were looking at was around the Island and it takes 45 minutes to get to Cozumel. If you want to dive the Cenotes then you can stay on the mainland.

P5149803

Joanne Roberts

0 votes

Unfortunately I am unable to give you any help on Isla Mujeres. We dived with ProDive who were excellent.

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