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If this is your first time to Isla Mujeres these frequently asked questions are a must read. A big thank you to Chris at www.islamujeres.info for most of these FAQ's.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need a passport to travel to Mexico?
Q: What other documents do I need?
Q: Should we be concerned over foreign state department warning on travel to Mexico or over media reports on drug wars or violence in Mexico.
Q: How do I get to/from Isla Mujeres and the Cancun Airport?
Q: How do I get to the Ferry from the Airport?
Q: What is the best way to get back to the airport when leaving Isla?
Q: How do I pay for things on Isla?
Q: I heard the bank is no longer exchanging American Dollars for Pesos. What do we do?
Q: How do I get Pesos and Cash on the Island?
Q: How do I stay in contact with home via email and phone?
Q: How do I rent a golf cart on the Island?
Q: How do I get a taxi and what are the rates?
Q: What is Isla Contoy and how do I visit it?
Q: Is there good snorkeling and scuba diving in Isla?
Q: What sort of trips can I do in a day from Isla?
Q: What are the fishing options on Isla?
Q: What sort of medical care can I get on or near Isla?
Q: Should I tip on Isla?
Q: Can I drink the water? Eat fruits and vegetables?

The top ten silliest questions ever!



Q: Do I need a passport to travel to Mexico? | TOP |
A: Everybody needs a passport to enter Mexico. Citizens from some countries might require an entry visa as well. If you are not sure please check with your travel agent and/or the Mexican Embassy in your country.

If you do not have a passport you should start the process as soon as possible, at least 8 to 10 weeks before your travel date.

When a minor is traveling alone, along with their passport, they must have a notarized letter signed by the parents or legal guardians giving them permission to travel. When a minor is traveling with one adult, provide a notarized letter signed by the parent or guardian not traveling giving them permission to travel with the other parent or guardian.
If the minor is in the custody of one parent, a notarized custody document should be provided. If one parent is deceased, provide the death certificate. It has been reported that minors do not need the above documents, only a valid passport, check with your airline to be sure.

It is also a good idea to make a copy of all your travel documents and keep them separate from the originals. This well help in event they are lost or stolen.

For more information about US Passports visit www.travel.state.gov or click here


Q: What other documents do I need? | TOP |
A: From www.cancun-airport.com/immigration.htm
When you reach the arrival terminal after landing in Cancun you will be guided to the immigration hall where you will form a line and wait for your turn with a Mexican Immigration officer. This officer will ask you for your passport, entry visa, if you are from a county which requires it, and your tourist card, which will be given to you aboard the plane. The immigration officer may ask you a few questions as of the purpose of your trip, how long you will be staying and if this is your first time in Mexico.

The “tourist card” is a form that the airline will give you at the counter when you check in or aboard the plane. It is one per person, meaning that each member of your party must have one with his/her individual information. Questions in this form include: Names, country of origin, passport number, where you staying in Mexico, arrival and departure dates and so forth. After the immigration officer has stamped this card you MUST KEEP IT IN A SAFE PLACE AND DO NOT LOSE IT. YOU WILL BE ASKED FOR THIS DOCUMENT WHEN YOU DEPART MEXICO.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CARRY THESE DOCUMENTS WITH YOU WHILE IN MEXICO. WE RECOMMEND YOU LEAVE THEM AT YOUR HOTEL IN A SAFE PLACE.

This information is very general and can change at any time. If you have any questions we recommend you talk to your travel agent or the nearest Mexican Consulate in your country.


Q: Should we be concerned over foreign state department warning on travel to Mexico or over media reports on drug wars or violence in Mexico. | TOP |
A: While anytime you are traveling abroad you should always be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution, Isla Mujeres is a small island that is for the most part free of any crime more serious than petty theft. There is a reasonably large navy base on the island which is a great presence when it comes to keeping things very tranquil locally. The warning publicized relate primarily to drug and violence problems within border towns, not tourist areas such as Isla Mujeres.



Q: How do I get to/from Isla Mujeres and the Cancun Airport? | TOP |
A: To get to Isla by Air – you fly to the Cancun airport and then take ground transportation to the Ultramar Ferry (also known as Gran Puerto, Isla Ferry or Puerto Jerez – when in doubt say ‘Isla Mujeres Ferry’). You purchase tickets for the Ferry at the Ferry Dock and the ferry takes you across the Bay of Mujeres to the island. During the day the Ferry runs about every 30 minutes and takes about 20 minutes to cross the bay. When you arrive on Isla Mujeres you can rent a taxi to take you to your hotel or a tricycle operator to take your bags while you walk to your hotel depending on location.



Q: How do I get to the Ferry from the Airport? | TOP |
A: You can get to the Ferry by taxi, transfer service or the public bus. Each method has pros and cons. If you use transportation with multiple parties – make sure they are not going through the Cancun hotel zone or you will add another hour to your transfer. Normally the transfer takes about 30 minutes. Don’t forget to tip the drivers.
 
a. Taxi and private Vans – when you exit the Terminal there will be numerous people trying to get your attention to ‘help’ you. If you have not prearranged transportation, you can book with a Taxi on-site – you can buy a voucher at the exit of the terminal. For 2 people the Taxi or Van is usually around $45usd one way for two people.

b. Transfer Services – there are numerous transfer services where you can pre-arrange for private van transfers from the airport to Isla (round trip or one-way) – popular services include: Cancun Isla Mujeres Transfer and Discovery Mundo (use the discount code ISLAMUJERESNET for a 5% discount!)  Pre-book on their website with your flight information and they meet you at the exit with your name on a sign. These services cost between $40-$90usd for one-way and round trip.

c. Public bus – There is a public "ADO" bus that runs from the airport to the central bus terminal in Cancun. Take a left as you exit the Internation terminal, you'll see the buses and ticket booth. From there you can take a cab to/from the ferry for $5usd.



Q: What is the best way to get back to the airport when leaving Isla? | TOP |
A: You have basically the same options returning to the airport as going except the Taxis are generally cheaper on the return. Expect to pay about $35 usd going back to the airport by taxi. When at the ferry in Cancun there are taxis waiting at the exit. Print out the $5usd discount coupon HERE. Confirm the total price in US dollars including the discount coupon (NOT per person) before loading into the cab. If you have contracted a transfer services they will have arranged the pick up time for you at the Ultramar dock – remember the ferry takes 20 minutes – so for an 11am Ultramar (Ferry) pickup you have to catch the 10:30 ferry from Isla Mujeres.


Q: How do I pay for things on Isla? | TOP |
A: The Mexican peso is the standard currency used in Mexico. Everyone in Cancun and on Isla will take US dollars or Mexico pesos. The exchange rate fluctuates daily but is around 12 Mexican pesos to the US dollars. If the amounts are in the hundreds of dollars it pays to get the exchange rate converted precisely. US coins are of no value to the locals and can even be considered offensive so please do not leave them for the locals. Use Isla Net's Currency Exchange tool on the currency page.


Q: I heard the bank is no longer exchanging American Dollars for Pesos. What do we do? | TOP |
A: Not to worry at all. It is true that the HSBC and Banamex branchs on Isla Mujeres are no longer exchanging foreign currency, but there are several money exchange services downtown that are more than happy to exchange Dollars or other foreign currency. There are also plenty of cash machines (ATMs) in the downtown area where you may withdraw money directly in Pesos. This way generally gives you the best exchange rate, but you should consult your bank before leaving to find out what foreign withdrawal fees apply.



Q: How do I get Pesos and Cash on the Island? | TOP |
A: The popular ways are ATMs, Travelers Checks, Exchanges, Credit Cards and ATM’s on the Island

There are two large banks on the Island, HSBC and Banamex – their ATMs work with just about any ATM card. Your bank will probably charge you a fee to use the ATM as will HSBC. The ATMsares in English and Spanish. I prefer to use the Banamex machines because they do not "swallow" my card, you insert Also use common sense to hide the pin, etc when entering the number. 

Travelers Checks

The banks and some hotels (check with them first) will accept travelers’ checks but they are rarely used anymore and can be a bit of a hassle. You will need your passport to cash these checks. Bank lines can be long at times so check around for the best time of day to go to the bank. The bank is closed on Sunday but the ATM’s are available 24 hours a day at the bank.

Exchanges (Cambios)

There are a few places that exchange US dollars for Mexican pesos (or Mexican to US) – which in general does not have to be done on the Island as everyone takes US dollars. If you do use these services make sure and get a receipt that shows the conversion and count your money before you leave to make sure you received the correct amount. Ninety-nine percent of the time you get everything done perfectly – but sometimes errors do occur – take your time and double check everything – no sense rushing through this process.

Credit Cards

A lot of restaurants and hotels take Visa and MasterCard (American express and others are less popular). Credit card fraud can occur so if you can get by without using your credit card (except for your hotel) it is best.  It is recommended that you call your credit card company and your bank to alert them in advance of foreign travel. Give them your departure and return dates. Otherwise if you have a company with tight security, they may freeze your accounts for expected fraud when you try to use them in Mexico.



Q: How do I stay in contact with home via email and phone? | TOP |
A: The best way is to use an internet cafe for email and phone service.
There are quite a few internet businesses in downtown that offer phone, internet and laptop connections. Also many of the hotels, apartments and private homes offer free wireless internet for their clients.

Most US cell phones will work in Isla – you need to call your provider before you go to Mexico and tell them you will be in the Cancun Mexico area and you want to make AND receive calls while there. The US cell phone calls are expensive to use in Isla but for very brief calls it’s easy and convenient. To call the US on your cell phone you dial 001-AreaCode-Seven-Digit-Number. You will NOT be able to dial a toll free 1-800 type number from your cell phone while in Mexico. 

The cheapest way to call home is to go to an internet cafe that offers calls to the US for around 30 cents a minute. That is about the best rate you will find on the island to call the US. Some internet cafes have the ability to dial US 1-800 numbers – very important for calling banks, cell phone carriers, airlines, etc.

There are also a few businesses that now offer free WiFi access to their clients. Look for signs or ask around for free WiFi service if you bring your laptop to the island.



Q: How do I rent a golf cart on the Island? | TOP |
A: There are numerous places to rent golf carts for the day or for 24 hours from the time of rental.
Golf cart rentals are recommended over scooter rentals as traffic has become an issue and scooter accidents are ever increasing. Most golf carts are about $40usd for the day and $50usd for 24 hours. You can sometimes get $5usd off each day if you are renting for multiple days but be prepared to negotiate for this at multiple places to get a discount. Most places will want to keep your drivers license for the duration of the rental.



Q: How do I get a taxi and what are the rates? | TOP |
A: Taxis can be hailed just about anywhere in Isla and they can be seen circling the island looking for work in 4 door red cars.
The official rates are posted on a sign near the ferry but to keep things simple here is a general rule of thumb. Taxi’s cost from $3-$7usd. The price scales from short ($3) in-town transfers then to mid-island ($5) trips and finally to longer ($8) trips down the island. Be sure to ask the price before taking off to avoid a surprise at the end of the ride. If you like the driver it is great to ask for their cell phone number and taxi number and have your hotel call them directly for additional trips during your stay. 



Q: What is Isla Contoy and how do I visit it? | TOP |
A: Isla Contoy is a small idyllic Island that is about an hour boat ride from Isla.
The island is a National park and bird sanctuary. There are numerous guides that will take you and your group to the island. The trip usually costs $40-$50usd a person and leaves around 9am and returns around 3pm. Trips usually include a stop along the way to snorkel a nice reef, some sort of fruit brunch, then lunch in the lagoon of Contoy, followed by more snorkeling of the lagoon and during the ride back some hand line fishing for barracuda. It is a great day trip for the family. Tip: bring mosquito block if you plan to go inland at all on the island as they can be fierce from time-to-time.



Q: Is there good snorkling and scuba diving in Isla? | TOP |
A: Isla has some great snorkel and dive options.
You can take a quick snorkel trip near the small light house by the ferry landing for about $20usd. There are two tanks dives available for around $45usd where you can dive the reef in the bay. From this base – you can do very exotic dives, night dives, cave dives, wreak dives, etc. Be sure the operator you are working with is officially licensed and certified. Ask around for tips on shops with good reputations for diving and snorkeling around Isla.



Q: What sort of trips can I do in a day from Isla? | TOP |
A: You can do a number of trips from Isla in one day – it will be a LONG day but it can be done.
Trips include Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and even Chichen Itza. To do these you will have to get up early, catch the ferry and either rent a car and drive yourself or join a tour group in Cancun. There are various places in Isla that can arrange the trip for you, ask around for information.



Q: What are the fishing options on Isla? | TOP |
A: You can do bay fishing for 4 hours or deep sea fishing for a full day.
You can go inshore fishing for 4 hours for about $200usd or 8 hours off shore fishing for as little was $400usd to as much as $2,000usd depending on the size of the boat. When fishing in-shore, on the bay, you will catch mostly barracuda and a few other species (yellow tail, etc). Barracuda can range in the bay from a few pounds to 50 plus pounds and can give you a heck of a fight. Many people do not eat barracuda because of the possibility of being poisoned, especially by the larger ones, but they do put on a good fight. Off shore usually requires about a 20 mile ride out to various spots – the fishing includes Dolphin (no, not flipper – Mahi Mahi), Bonita, King Macrel, Sail Fish, Marlin, Shark, Jack fish and many other types. The fishing is generally good from January through the end of June off shore. Many restaurants will cook your fresh catch for a small fee or tip in town.



Q: What sort of medical care can I get on or near Isla? | TOP |
A: Isla has a local doctor (Dr. Salas), a local hospital near the downtown Plaza and the Naval Hospital.
Beyond that, Cancun has a number of facilities (Galenia Hospital 998.891.5200, HOSPITEN – 998.881.3700, AmeriMed Hospital – 998.881.3400, Hospital Americano – 998.884.6133, AMAT Hospital – 998.887.4422 and more are available should you require hospitalization. Your hotel can contact Dr. Salas at his local number of 998-877-0021. A number of pharmacies are in the downtown area and generally do not require a prescription but if you think you need to see a doctor call Dr. Salas.



Q: Should I tip on Isla? | TOP |
A: Tipping is best described as a personal matter.
Suffice it to say that many service providers – maids, bartenders, taxi drivers, etc rely on tips to make a living. Most restaurants do not include a service charge with the meal – when in doubt – ask the waiter or the manager. Please do not tip with US coins or coins other than Pesos. These other coins are not useful to the locals and can even be considered an insult.


Q: Can I drink the water? Eat fruits and vegetables? | TOP |
A: From Kathryn's Travel. You should stick to bottled water, although using tap water to brush your teeth, or inadvertently getting a little water in your mouth while showering should not cause concern. And when it comes to water - in the hot climates be sure to drink lots! Often health issues attributed to food or water changes are caused by dehydration more than anything else. Restaurants use purified water for ice, and most wash fruits and veggies in it, or use Microdyn. If you have a kitchen and do some of your own cooking, be sure to purchase some Microdyn to wash your fruits and vegetables. Peeling them before eating is another precaution that can help. Don't expect to find food exactly as it is at home - even familiar brand name restaurants will be a little different. In fact, rather than be disappointed that it isn't exactly like home - avoid the chains you know. Be adventurous - take this opportunity to try something new. Maybe ceviche, food prepared with mole sauce, motelenos, or Yucatan-style dishes. One of the best parts of Mexico is the food.


The top ten silliest questions Isla Mujeres Net has ever received received. Enjoy!

#10. What is the water like?

#9. Do people live on Isla Mujeres or just tourists?

#8. Do you know anyone?

#7. Are there beds in the hotel rooms?

#6. Is there any information about Isla Mujeres on the Internet?

#5. Will there be any hurricanes when I'm there?

#4. What will the weather be like next year?

#3. Can you tell me where I'm going?

#2. Are there beaches on Isla Mujeres?

And the #1 most amazing e-mail received by Isla Net

#1. How close is the ocean to the beach?

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