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 :-)
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.
You should 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. It is also a very good idea to scan your passport and documents and either store them in "the cloud" or email them to yourself as well as a family member.
IMPORTANT: Every foreigner needs to carry documentation to prove they are legally present, and if people don’t want to carry their papers around, at least they must carry a photocopy of them. Either a passport photo page, INM document, or Permanent Resident card. Many travellers laminate a colored copy of their passport photo page to carry with them at all times.
For more information about US Passports visit www.travel.state.gov
Passport(s), Visa (if required), Tourist Card (Immigration Form) which you will be given either at the airport check-in or on your flight. You will need one form for each member of your party and the customs declaration form - one per family. You should also bring your identification (i.e. driver's licience), traveller's insurance information (its a good idea to have it), emergency contacts, credit/debit cards, some cash, and of course your airline tickets.
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.
This information can change at any time. If you have any questions we recommend you check with the nearest Mexican Consulate in your country.
Remember to make a copy of all your travel documents and keep them separate from the originals as well as scan your passport and documents before you leave and either store them in "the cloud" or email them to yourself.
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.
To get to Isla Mujeres 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.
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: Discovery Mundo (use the discount code ISLAMUJERESNET for a 5% discount!), American Transfers Cancun, Luxury Van Transportation and Riviera Mayan Transfers. Pre-book on their websites 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 around $5 usd.
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 - $45 usd going back to the airport by taxi. When at the ferry in Cancun there are taxis waiting at the exit. 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.
The Mexican peso is the standard currency used in Mexico. Everyone in Cancun and on Isla will take US dollars or Mexico pesos. Foreign coins are of no value in Mexico and can even be considered offensive so please do not leave them as tips.
There are several banks on the Island; Banamex, HSBC, CI Banco and Banco Azteca where you can exchange up to $300 usd per day. Their ATMs work with just about any ATM card. There will be international transaction fees so check with your bank and remember to alert them that you will be travelling in Mexico.
It is best to use the Banamex or CI Banco machines because they do not take your card all the way which prevents it from being "eaten". Use common sense and always hide the pin number, etc when entering the number.
There is a growing number of travelers using online transfer services of XOOM.COM The cash can be picked up at CI Bank on Av. Rueda Medina and Banco Azteca in the Elektra Electronics Store on Av. Guerrero or deposited directly into a Mexican bank account.
Travellers checks rarely if ever used anymore. You can check with your hotel to see if the will accept them but do not count on the banks to exchange travellers checks.
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. You should 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.
Almost all of the hotels on Isla have WIFI access, however if you are staying at an apartment or other accommodation that does not have internet access there are internet cafes scattered around the island.
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.
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 taxi stand is just to the left of the ferry dock when you arrive and the official rates are posted on the wall. The price scales from $40 pesos to Hotels in Centro and Playa Norte, mid-island colonias ($30 pesos) to the Sac Bajo area at $78 pesos and finally Punta Sur at $88 pesos. (Prices subject to change). 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.
There are numerous places to rent golf carts for a few hours, full 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. The last thing you want while on holiday (or any time) is road rash or a broken leg. Most golf carts are about $45usd to $65usd a day depending on the season and size of the cart. You can sometimes get discount if you are renting for multiple days but be prepared to negotiate. You will need to sign a rental agreement before you take possession of the golf cart. Please read it carefully, it is a legally binding agreement. Some rentadoras will want to keep your drivers license for the duration of the rental.
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 around $75 to $85 usd per person and leaves around 9am and returns after 3pm. Trips 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 Isla Contoy as they can be fierce from time-to-time.
Isla has some great snorkel and dive options.
You can take a quick snorkel trip near the small light house by the ferry landing and a reef just off of Sac Bajo for about $25usd. There are one or two tanks dives available from $70 to $100 usd. Dive locations range from reef dives to night dives, cave dives, wreak dives, etc. Be sure the operator you are working with is officially licensed and certified.
Swimming with the whale sharks is seasonal activity running from June to September with peek times of July and August. The cost is set by the Mexican governing body at $125 usd minimum. Only use fully licensed companies and do not go with someone off the street who offers you "a deal" they are probably not licensed. Remember, do NOT touch the whale sharks under any circumstance and use only eco-friendly sunscreen.
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 as well as the parks, Xel-Ha, Xplor and Xcaret. There are also tours available to the Mayan ruins of Chichén-Itzá, Coba and El Mecco. There are various places in Isla that can arrange the trip for you.
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 $350 usd or 8 hours off shore fishing for as little was $450 usd to as much as $1,500 usd 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. Some restaurants will cook your fresh catch for a small fee or tip in town.
Isla has an english speaking 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 do require a prescriptions for antibotics.
Yes! Service providers – waiters, maids, bartenders, tour guides, etc., rely on tips to make a living. Most restaurants do not include a service charge with the meal but its best to double check your bill – when in doubt, ask the waiter or the manager. Please do not tip with foreign coins.
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. ~Thank you Kathryn :-)
#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 question we have ever received...
#1. How close is the ocean to the beach?