Playa Norte (North Beach) is a relaxing strand on Isla Mujeres, a small island off the Yucatan Peninsula. Once considered a sacred site devoted to a Maya goddess, Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) earned its name when the Spanish discovered images of the goddess on the island. Today, Isla Mujeres and Playa Norte offer a laid-back alternative to bustling Cancun.
Snorkeling, sailing, and sightseeing cruises to Isla Mujeres are available from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The island is known for its many palm trees and white-sand Playa Norte, which stretches along the island’s northern end. Beach chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, and waters are shallow and clear, but swimmers should be aware that there can be a strong undertow and swim with caution. Experienced swimmers and snorkelers can enjoy the underwater sea life, and on-site shops rent snorkeling gear, along with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Playa Norte is also home to a slew of fun beach bars and restaurants.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bottled water is available at all the restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores on Isla Mujeres.
- US dollars are accepted, and credit cards are accepted at most hotels and large restaurants and by some tour operators.
- You can rent a golf cart for a few hours, a full day, or 24 hours to get around the island.
How to Get There
Playa Norte and the rest of Isla Mujeres is easily accessible from Cancun via daily boats that depart as frequently as every half hour from several different harbors. Tours typically provide pickup and drop-off service to and from hotels in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Once on the island, it’s recommended that you rent a golf cart as opposed to a scooter since traffic has become an issue.
When to Get There
Keep in mind that tropical storms and hurricanes are most likely to occur in September and October, so if you’re planning a visit during this time, purchase travel insurance. Also, during the winter months, the island is sometimes hit by a cold front from the north, so pack a sweater or light jacket for the evening.
Cancun Underwater Museum
Located in the National Marine Park, just off the coast of Isla Mujeres, the Cancun Underwater Museum, also known as the Underwater Museum of Art (Museo Subacuático de Arte, or MUSA), is an ongoing project created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor in an effort to draw attention to the area’s coral reefs. Snorkelers and divers are able to view the museum’s collection of more than 500 sunken sculptures.