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Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel: which one should you visit?

Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel: which one should you visit?
Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel which one should you visit

These two islands are charming, and each has its elements that define them. That is why today we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. 

Mexico has over 4,000 islands, of which only 131 are inhabited. Of those 131 islands, the four with the most inhabitants are located in the Yucatán Peninsula, and two out of those four islands can be found in the beautiful state of Quintana Roo, in other words, in the Mexican Caribbean.

We will answer the most frequent questions tourists ask and tell you about the differences between destinations. This way, you can most effectively plan your trip to the Mexican Caribbean.

Firstly, let's analyze both destinations to learn about them independently.

Cozumel: A paradise in the Caribbean

Cozumel is the third-largest island in Mexico. Its name comes from the Mayan language, Land of the Swallows. It is considered a Magical Town by the Government of Mexico, and its central zone is called San Miguel de Cozumel.

watching sunset in cozumel-1


Cozumel: Geography & history

In 2016, it was recognized by UNESCO as part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, as a large reef ecosystem surrounds it. This makes snorkeling and scuba diving in Cozumel an incredible experience, as it has beautiful underwater landscapes.


Besides being an important settlement of the Olmec culture, the Mayas considered Cozumel a sacred island for Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of the moon and fertility, to whom they built a sanctuary on the island.

Cozumel: Tourist attractions

If talking about tourism, Cozumel is famous for its beaches, Mayan vestiges, museums, the Chankanaab lagoon, and Marine Adventure Park. Other attractions in the Cedral area are Punta Sur, the Celarain lighthouse, Arrecifes National Park, and Playa El Cielo.

Something important to mention is that Cozumel was the first port in Latin America to receive two cruise ships on the same day in March 2020.


What is the best area to stay in Cozumel?

If you are looking for proximity and comfort, the best option is to stay in the downtown area. There, you will be close to the airport and have a variety of stores and attractions nearby.

However, if you are looking for a less touristic alternative, you may choose to stay in the El Cedral area. Near El Cedral, you will find El Cielo Beach, Punta Sur Park, the lighthouse, and the best snorkeling areas in Cozumel.

Remember that if you decide to move away from the downtown area, you will likely have to rent a car to cover as many attractions as possible.


Is Cozumel expensive?

After some research, we can say that Cozumel offers prices similar to Cancun and is affordable for foreign and domestic visitors.

Here is an example of prices to get an idea of the expenses during your trip.

  • Roundtrip ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel: USD 25
  • Accommodation: Airbnb in San Miguel de Cozumel: Between USD 25 and USD 50 per night.
  • Cab transfer from the Cozumel center to the island's south is approximately USD 70.
  • Car rental per day: Between USD 50 and USD 100 (depending on your tastes).
  • Entrance fee to Chankanaab park: USD 26
  • Entrance fee to Punta Sur park: USD 18
  • Three meals a day in a restaurant: USD 40
  • One-day tour of Cozumel with transportation, entrance fees, and guide: USD 100 approx.
  • Snorkel tour to Playa el Cielo in Cozumel (4 hours): USD 55

cozumel costa-1Remember that these prices may vary according to your preferences and needs.

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Isla Mujeres, a Charming place


Isla Mujeres means the Island of Women and is located just 15 minutes away from Cancun. The ambiance on this island is specially designed to provide a cultural and touristic experience simultaneously. It is a small island, which makes it one of the most popular one or two-day attractions in the Mexican Caribbean.

Isla Mujeres geography & history

Isla Mujeres is an island located in the southeast of Mexico. It is approximately 8 kilometers long.

Like Cozumel, the ancient Maya worshipped the moon and fertility goddess Ixchel. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived at Mexico’s coasts, they found many statues of women dedicated to the goddess Ixchel, so they named the island Isla Mujeres.

Isla Mujeres tourist attractions

Its proximity to Cancun makes Isla Mujeres the perfect place to add to your travel itinerary through the Mexican Caribbean and the Riviera Maya. So, it is not surprising that this island is entire of attractions.

Although small, in Isla Mujeres, you will find the best scuba and snorkeling places that provide unique experiences for couples or groups of friends. For example, the Garrafon Natural Park and snorkeling and diving areas. You may also visit the beautiful beaches where Blue Flag badges were awarded.

Acantilado Amanecer-low-1

To learn more about Isla Mujeres, don't miss our article Things to do in Isla Mujeres, a guide with information about activities, transportation, and restaurants that says what is the best area to stay in Isla Mujeres.

Cozumel versus Isla Mujeres

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Although both islands share similarities, such as being in the Mexican Caribbean, they are tourist destinations that offer very different attractions and experiences to their visitors. Read it below, and we will answer tourists' most popular questions about these incredible Mexican Caribbean islands.

The most popular questions about Cozumel and Isla Mujeres asked by tourists


What island is more beautiful, Cozumel or Isla Mujeres?

It's a fact that both are beautiful, so we can't give you a clear answer, but we can explain why each is special.

Isla Mujeres and Cozumel size

The first thing that makes the difference between the two is their land extension. Cozumel is a larger island than Isla Mujeres. Therefore, it has more attractions, making it a fascinating tourist destination. However, Isla Mujeres is so small that it can be easily explored by walking or driving a golf cart. In short, Cozumel is an island to move around and explore, and Isla Mujeres is an island to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

Caribbean view

The view in both is beautiful since they are located in the Caribbean. The waters of their beaches are turquoise blue, and the sand is white and very fine. Both have lighthouses and panoramic points to admire from a higher point.

Snorkel in Cozumel and Isla Mujeres

If you are wondering which is the best place to snorkel, Isla Mujeres or Cozumel, let us tell you that both have incredible underwater spots of great interest.

In Isla Mujeres, you will find amazing snorkel and scuba sites such as the Manchones Reef, the MUSA underwater museum, and the cave of the sleeping sharks. 

In Cozumel, the best places to practice snorkel and scuba diving are El Cielo Beach, Palancar and Paraiso reefs, and the Natural Park Chankannab.

As you can guess, snorkel and scuba are the most popular aquatic activities in the Mexican Caribbean. You can easily snorkel in almost every tour available, but scuba diving may require some skill and preparation. If you are interested in Scuba Diving in the Caribbean, don't forget to check Scuba Diving 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Exploring the Ocean.

Can you fly from Isla Mujeres to Cozumel?

Although both islands have airports, there are no flights from Cozumel to Isla Mujeres or vice versa.

From Cozumel International Airport, you can travel to 4 destinations within Mexico (Cancun, Mexico City, Merida, and Monterrey) and 17 different foreign cities. However, there are no commercial flights from Isla Mujeres National Airport (or Isla Mujeres Naval Air Station) as the Mexican Navy exclusively uses it.

These are the 11 best destinations in Mexico to travel to in 2022

What is the fastest way to get from San Miguel de Cozumel to Isla Mujeres?

When planning a trip to the Caribbean, many tourists seek to visit as many destinations as possible, so those who want to visit Isla Mujeres and Cozumel on the same trip end up asking the same question: Since it’s not likely to fly between both islands, how to go from Isla Mujeres to Cozumel? (or vice versa)

According to Google, the entire tour looks like a titanic activity that lasts approximately 4 hours. Luckily for you, it may be easier than you think.

  • Assuming you want to go from Isla Mujeres to Cozumel, you first have to go to the port of Ultramar and take the ferry to Cancun.
  • Once in Cancun, you may go to the ADO bus terminal downtown.
  • Take a bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. It will take approximately 1 hour.
  • Finally, once you arrive at Playa del Carmen, go to the Ultramar port and take a ferry to Cozumel.

If you want to go from Cozumel to Isla Mujeres, you can do the route mentioned above but the other way around.

Taking a plane is possible but not recommended unless you need to get to the airport urgently or have a situation that does not allow you to travel by sea. This is because the distances are very short.

Other options for transportation from Cancun to Isla Mujeres

The ferry is a convenient option for moving quickly from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, but why not turn your sea transfer into a memorable experience?

12 - LoRes - Private Isla Mujeres tour in catamaran - Sea Passion I II - Cancun Sailing-1

Cancun Sailing offers trips to Isla Mujeres with an open bar, snorkeling, and a fantastic atmosphere on board. Contact us to find your ideal tour or charter for an unforgettable day in the Caribbean.

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