The Isla Mujeres translates to the Island of Women, and not surprisingly, it is just across the Bahai de Mujeres (Bay of Women) from Cancun.
Some people arrive on a day trip from Cancun, like a booze-cruise party boat, but it’s very easy to take the ferry across. Firstly, take a taxi or bus toward the downtown area of Cancun, El Centro, but get off at the end of the line. The buses will be clearly labeled with the port name, Puerto Juarez.
From here, the ferry will take you across the bay to the island. It can take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending on the boat you choose. Obviously, the faster boats are more expensive than the slow ones. We took the slow boat for just $3 (I think the fast one was about $5).
The boat docks in the main small town on La Isla de Mujeres, and you can walk around town, sip coffee in the small cafés, hang out on the stunning beaches, or rent the little golf carts you see all over and zip around a little. It's not a big island and is becoming more popular every year.
Most people arrive just for a day, as we did, but next time, I am going to plan on staying overnight so I can get a better experience of the island once the hoards leave at the end of each day.
To be honest, it didn’t ever feel too crowded, and though it’s fallen victim already to commercialism, it's still a totally different feel than Cancun. It's a place where the pace slows down and the shady streets can have more stray dogs than tourists, depending on the time of day. The beaches here are beautiful, and being a bit of a sun trap, the temperatures feel much hotter, and the ocean looks much flatter.
Unlike Cancun, the town beach here is flanked with palm trees and fishing boats pulled up onto the sand, and the hotels and restaurants are further back across the street, giving the place a feel more like a fishing village than a tourist trap. The local children run loose on this beach and love to dive for coins as you are leaving from the ferries. All along the beach wall are vendors selling locally made pastries and sweets, which we loved. They are not priced, and when asked, they will expect you to bargain.