Is Isla Mujeres safe? Yes – this popular tourist destination sees millions of visitors every year and is somewhere you can travel to without worrying about safety or security. Just follow the same common sense as you would anywhere else in the world and your trip should be trouble-free.
Isla Mujeres (literal translation: “island of women”) is a small island in the Caribbean Sea that sits just off the coast of Cancun. It is known for its pristine white-sand beaches, its crystal-clear azure waters, and its laid-back atmosphere.
In recent years, Isla Mujeres has quickly established itself as one of the most popular travel destinations in Quintana Roo for anyone wanting some R&R by the sea. However, as with any travel destination, safety is always a concern for travelers, particularly in Mexico.
This article, written by an expat based in the Yucatan, will run through everything you need to consider while planning your trip to Isla Mujeres. That way, you can help make sure your vacation is trouble-free and memorable for all the right reasons.
Is Isla Mujeres Safe?
Isla Mujeres is a safe, breathtaking island destination in the Mexican Caribbean. It only takes 20-30 minutes to reach the island from Cancun, making it a perfect day trip destination or a place to relax for several days/weeks at a time.
The main draw of visiting is, of course, having the opportunity to relax upon the sands of Isla Mujeres’ 14 different beaches. Playa Norte is the most popular spot on the island, and it has repeatedly been recognized as being the ¨best beach in the world” by various travel media.
Playa Lancheros, Playa Indios, Playa Garrafon, and Playa Paraiso are equally popular while offering a quieter, more tranquil atmosphere. People immediately worry about their safety when it comes to traveling in Mexico.
The country doesn’t have the best reputation for safety and it often receives an unfair portrayal in the media, particularly in the United States. The reality is, Mexico is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
More than 40 million international travelers visit Mexico every year and most visits are trouble-free. In popular travel destinations like Cancun, Tulum, Puerto Vallarta, and Isla Mujeres, the Mexican government and the local authorities go above and beyond to make sure that tourists feel safe and comfortable during their trips.
Isla Mujeres Safety Tips
A large part of staying safe in Isla Mujeres comes down to following the same common sense precautions as you would anywhere else in the world. Always be aware of your surroundings and have eyes on your personal belongings, don’t walk alone at night on remote beaches or down dimly lit streets, and be wary of over-friendly strangers.
Do that and you are golden. A handful of useful tips for staying safe in Isla Mujeres are detailed below.
Check your government travel advice for Isla Mujeres
It’s a good idea to check your government safety advice before traveling anywhere in the world and the same rings true for visiting Mexico for the first time.
The US Department of State provides a state-by-state breakdown of the safety situation in Mexico. States are divided into four different categories based on their perceived safety.
They are recognized as places to exercise normal precautions (Campeche and Yucatan state), places to exercise increased precaution, places to reconsider traveling to, and places to avoid traveling to. Quintana Roo state, where Isla Mujeres is located, is recognized as a place to practice increased precaution.
In other words, it is generally safe to travel here, you just need to be aware of your surroundings. There are no travel restrictions in place for Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, the island of Cozumel, or any of the surrounding areas.
The US government’s advice can sometimes appear sternly worded. But it does give a good representation of what the safety and security situation is like in each individual state.
The UK travel advisory also recognizes Isla Mujeres and the wider state of Quintana Roo as safe places to travel.
Crime ratings in Isla Mujeres
According to Numbeo, the crime rate in Isla Mujeres is very low, with petty theft being the most common crime. Violent crimes are rare. However, it is important to exercise caution and situational awareness, especially when traveling alone or at night.
You can compare the crime rating in Isla Mujeres to the ratings in Cancun, Merida, Guadalajara, and other Mexican travel destinations if you like. This is one of the safest places in the country.
Is Isla Mujeres safe at night?
Isla Mujeres has some excellent bars, restaurants, and clubs, and experiencing the island’s nightlife can be a highlight of your visit. There is something here to suit every style, taste, and budget.
The Rock Bar (Miguel Hidalgo 35) is a fun, non-pretentious joint where you can enjoy cheap eats and artisanal beers as you watch classic rock bands play live on stage. If you are looking for something a little more upscale, you will love Top by Belo at the top of the Belo Hotel (Carr. Sac Bajo No. 046).
The rooftop bar features an infinity pool, Balinese beds, hot tubs, and unparalleled views over the Caribbean Sea. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to come hang out in this place that labels itself as the ¨new social center of the island¨. At weekends, international DJs perform to delighted crowds.
The Soggy Peso (Av Rueda Medina Mza 88-Lote 44) is another fun spot that is also worth adding to your radar, and if you are looking for a novelty factor, you will love the Ice Bar (Carr. Sac Bajo 84). It would be a shame to miss out on Isla Mujeres’ nightlife out of fear of safety.
Again, staying safe just comes down to common sense. Don’t leave your drink unattended and don’t accept drinks from over-friendly strangers.
Don’t walk home intoxicated, always opt to take a trusted cab.
Be careful with street cabs
In many parts of Mexico, locals prefer to use ride-sharing apps like Uber and Didi rather than street cabs because they are considered safer and there is more accountability. After all, when you get into an Uber, you have the driver’s name, license plate number, and vehicle details as well as their past reviews. You do not have that amount of information when you get into a random street cab.
Sadly, Uber and other ridesharing apps are banned in the state of Quintana Roo, with the exception of Cancun. (Where there is a lot of hostility and clashes between cabbies and Uber drivers anyway).
People will generally advise you against taking street cabs anywhere in Mexico due to the risk of scams. However, Isla Mujeres cabs are safe.
You will find taxi ranks around the island and you can stick your arm out and hail cabs that pass on the road just like anywhere else. Cabs here are red with four doors and are immediately recognizable.
Still, it isn’t unheard of for cab drivers here to charge tourists a premium and assume that you do not know the correct going rate. For an extra layer of safety, you might want to consider asking the receptionist or concierge at your hotel to order a trusted cab for you.
Is Isla Mujeres safe for solo female travelers?
Yes! Isla Mujeres is perfectly safe for travelers of all ages and genders. This is a super popular tourist destination and locals are used to seeing all kinds of travelers here – including solo females. You won’t get weird looks for being a woman by yourself.
Since Isla Mujeres is an island filled with beaches, it is perfectly fine to wear your swimsuit, summer dresses, or shorts and t-shirts here. There is no need to worry about dressing conservatively and you will note that local women also often wear shorts and skirts.
(This entire website has been written by a solo female traveler that has been based in the Yucatan peninsula for the last 18 months and feels perfectly safe here).
Watch your personal items
Always take care of your personal belongings, especially in crowded streets and mercados. A lot of Mexico travel guides advise you to not wear expensive clothing or sunglasses but since Isla Mujeres is such a popular tourist destination that is home to a lot of upscale hotels and resorts, you will often see people dressed to impress.
You don’t have to worry too much about not looking flashy. However, it is good common sense to keep your electronics and valuables tucked away safely in your bag rather than on display. (E.g. not wearing your $3000 DSLR camera around your neck.
Be careful with your cash
It’s a good idea not to take bundles of cash with you to Isla Mujeres. Around 4,000 pesos (Circa $200 USD) is the maximum amount of cash you should have on you at any time.
Keep most of your cash tucked safely away in a wallet or a money belt. Then, separate out what you need for the day into a smaller coin purse and keep that at the top of your bag.
That way, when you need to pay for lunches, snacks, etc, you are not flashing a huge amount of cash. You should also consider keeping at least one debit/credit card and perhaps around $50 USD of emergency cash locked away in your suitcase.
That way, you are not in a mess or stressed if you happen to lose your bag/wallet with all your cards in it. Most restaurants, hotels, and tourist businesses in Isla Mujeres accept credit and debit cards.
Some hotels may accept payments in US dollars but not all of them. Plus the exchange rate they offer may not be favorable.
Mexican pesos are the local currency in Mexico and it is better to pay in that where you can.
There are several banks and ATMs on the island including Banamex, HSBC, CI Banco, and Banco Azteca. Consider opening a borderless bank account before your trip to minimize foreign transaction fees.
Is the water in Isla Mujeres safe to drink?
No. You cannot drink the water in Isla Mujeres. (Or anywhere in Mexico for that matter).
Although it is purified at the source, the water can get contaminated en route to your tap and make you sick. (Even the locals cannot drink it).
You will be provided with complimentary bottles of water when you check into your hotel and then you can go and buy larger bottles at convenience stores. You don’t have to worry about having ice in your drinks, etc.
This will always be prepared with pre-packaged ice from mineral water.
Don’t be paranoid. Enjoy your trip!
Isla Mujeres is a stunning place to visit for a couple of days or longer. People often have preconceived notions about Mexico being a sketchy or dangerous place but you shouldn’t.
Isla Mujeres is safe. There is lots of security on the island and in the wider Riviera Maya area.
If you spend your time constantly paranoid and looking over your shoulder, you will only ruin your own trip. Aside from relaxing on the beaches, a fun way to get around Isla Mujeres is by renting a little golf cart or a scooter and whizzing through the island’s various villages, colorful streets, and narrow passageways.
The Ixchel Temple Mayan ruins on the islands southern tip are well worth visiting. The temple was built in honor of the Mayan goddess of fertility and the moon.
Isla Mujeres also sits beside the Mesoamerican barrier reef – the second-longest coral reef system in the world, home to many colorful fish and corals. In this area, you will find MUSA – the Underwater Museum of Art which is home to more than 500 sculptures submerged in the water.
You can take a glass bottom boat tour to see the sculptures beneath the water’s surface or you can opt to go diving in the area. Plenty of reputable local tour companies and diving schools operate in Isla Mujeres and Cancun.
Whether you are an experienced PADI-certified diver or you are completely new to diving, you will be able to find a suitable dive partner/instructor, equipment rentals, or lessons and certifications, as needed.
Is it safe to go to Isla Mujeres? Final thoughts
Safety is personal to everyone but Isla Mujeres is not somewhere where you have to feel worried or afraid. Try to spend your time planning out all the different activities you want to do on the island and the delicious Mexican food you want to eat, rather than worrying and asking ¨Is Isla Mujeres safe¨?
Isla Mujeres is a safe place to live and travel. It makes a great addition to any Yucatan itinerary and it is not somewhere that you need to stress about safety.
Do you have any further questions? I have been living in Merida in the Yucatan for the past 18 months.
I am happy to assist with any queries or concerns you may have about planning your trip to Mexico. If this is your first time visiting the Yucatan peninsula, you might also find the below articles useful.
- Is the Yucatan safe?
- Best time to visit the Yucatan
- Pueblo magicos in the Yucatan
- Best Riviera Maya beaches
- How to get through customs quickly in Cancun