Everything to Know about a Catamaran Tour to Isla Mujeres!
If you are headed to Cancun and want to see the bluest waters there, take a catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres! Waters near Cancun’s hotels can be hit-or-miss; some are beautiful and some look like a murky lake 🙃. Isla Mujeres is a SMALL island, only about 4.3 miles long and less than a third of a mile wide. However, what its lacking in size, it makes up for in pristine beaches and clear, blue waters 😍 Here is everything you should know before taking the tour, including:
- Logistics of the tour (length, getting to/from, price)
- Tour timeline
- What to expect on the catamaran
- The snorkeling experience
- What to expect on Isla Mujeres
- What to bring on the tour
- Catamaran vs ferry
If you start searching, you’ll notice there are quite a lot of options for tours to Isla Mujeres. We sailed with Cancun Sailing and enjoyed our excursion!
- Length of Tour
- Technically, I think the tour begins around 10am and returns around 3:30 or 4:00 pm. However, accounting for drive time to/from the hotel, the tour is close to 8 hours long. Prepare for it to be a day-long excursion!
- Getting there/back
- Sailing with Cancun Sailing, transportation to/from your hotel is included!
- Cancun Sailing offers three different tours to Isla Mujeres.
- One is with a standard boat and does not include lunch for $89
- One, which we opted to do, is on a catamaran, includes lunch and alots an extra hour on the island for $119
- The last is a luxury boat and includes access to a VIP beach club on the island for $149
- However, if you are traveling in a group (we had 15 people), you may be able to book for a decreased price
- Cancun Sailing offers three different tours to Isla Mujeres.
- The process of being picked up from the hotel, being transported to the marina and checking in will take between an hour and an hour and a half. With a 9:00 am pick up time we were on the water by 10:15 or 10:20.
- You’ll first take a short ride to the reef where the snorkeling will take place.
- On the ride, you’ll be fitted for a life jacket, goggles, flippers, etc and instructions will be given that way you are prepared to snorkel when you arrive.
- Snorkeling lasts about 30 minutes or so, and you will be following one of the boat operators during the snorkel.
- After snorkeling, lunch is provided on the way to Isla Mujeres, which is only about another 15 minute boat ride.
- You’ll have about 2 hours (from a little before 12:00 to 2:00) to explore the island and then will meet the guide who will take you back to the boat
- The boat ride back is direct and about 30-40 minutes. Once docked, the shuttle will be waiting to take you back to your hotel (which obviously varies in time, depending on where you are staying)
What to Expect on the Catamaran
Food and drinks:
- Lunch provided is a boxed lunch that includes bread, pasta, salad, fruit and a dessert
- All drinks are included- beer, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, soft drinks and water. The works.
- Available for *limited* use, if ya know what I mean (🙅🏼♀️2️⃣)
- The trip TO the island is pretty chill. However, the trip back to the marina is a bit more festive; music, tequila shots poured in the mouth, etc
In full transparency, the snorkeling was sub-par. The water was gorgeous. However, there is clearly a popular reef to snorkel in Cancun, and there are about 30 (total guestimate, but a LOT) of boats coming in and out of the small area to drop off hundreds of snorkelers. Boats=rough waters and it is just not ideal for snorkeling. On top of that, there wasn’t a WHOLE lot of marine life to see (probably some days are more diverse than others, though). You do, however, get to see some statues on the ocean floor, which are pretty neat and, again, the water is beautiful. Just go in knowing that it might be a crowded and rough snorkel experience.
Tip for the seasick-sufferers: EAT before you go and take your medicine. The water is rough during the snorkel.
What to Expect on Isla Mujeres
Depending on which tour you choose, once you arrive on the island you will have 1.5 to 2.5 hours to explore the island. I predict Isla Mujeres is gaining in popularity, because as you get off the boat there are lots of stores and bars that appeal to the tourist. Once you arrive, you will be taken to get an arm band for free access to restrooms while on the island (many places charge you to use the restroom).
- You will walk through a jewelry store to a tequila store (random, I know 🙃) where the bathrooms are located. Free tequila tasting is available and can be purchased.
You’ll arrive on the northern end of the island. Here you’ll find beautiful, white sand beaches and clear water along with many beach clubs and shops. Really, you’ll find everything you need to occupy yourself for the short period in this area.
However, if you want to get out and explore, it can easily be done by renting a golf cart! On the southern end of the island is Punta Sur, which has a rocky coastline and stunning water and there are several other beach clubs and shops located on either side of the island. Again, the island is less than 5 miles long and easily navigated!
The beach is beautiful when you get off the boat, but it is also where the crowds are. If you aren’t a fan of crowds, you will want to navigate your way further down the coast.
What to bring with you on the tour
Food and drinks are provided. Nothing else is, so be prepared.
- SUNSCREEN and probably a hat
- You will be in the direct sun with minimal shade for hours. People will BURN
- You won’t be able to put sunscreen on until AFTER you snorkel, though, so bring protective clothing if you burn in 5 minutes.
- Towel- they won’t be provided on the boat or on the island
- Cash or money for the island
- The catamaran is all-inclusive, but the island is not. If you plan to shop, eat or drink, bring cash
- There is also a tip jar at the end of the tour- cash will be needed for this
- Meds!- seasickness meds, nausea meds, anti-diarrhea meds because bathrooms are limited for several hours. Be prepared!
Catamaran vs Ferry
If you aren’t sure you want to fork out the money to do the catamaran or just don’t want to stop to snorkel, you can take a direct ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. Ferries leave from the Gran Puerto Cancun ferry dock in Puerto Juarez which is near downtown Cancun.
- Round-trip fares are 300 pesos or $17 USD
- Begin at 5:30 am and depart every 30 minutes until 9:30 pm, when they drop to every hour until 11:30 pm
- Click here to confirm schedules and fares!
A pro to taking the ferry is definitely the price as well as getting to Isla Mujeres quicker. However, if you are wanting to snorkel and have a fun group trip, the catamaran is the way to go!
OVerall thoughts on the Catamaran Tour to Isla Mujeres
I 100% believe a trip to Isla Mujeres should be on the to-do list if you are in Cancun. The waters are just unbelievable. However:
- Do I think the price is a little steep per person with Cancun Sailing? Yes.
- Would I have rather skipped the snorkeling portion of the trip? Maybe, due to the rough waters and crowdedness while we were at the reef. HOWEVER, know that my snorkel experience was clouded by seasickness as well.
- Was the tour fun and were the captains enjoyable? Yes. They really made the trip fun for our group, which is a good bonus!