Best Beaches in Mexico: Playa Norte – Isla Mujeres, Mexico


Best Beach Rating

Playa Norte is a typically beautiful Caribbean beach with gorgeous white sand and clear water. It’s a wonderful swimming and children’s beach because the water is generally extremely calm and shallow for many yards offshore.

The best thing about Playa Norte, however, might be the “luxury” beach experience you can have there without paying “luxury” prices. Have you ever dreamed of being waited on while you relaxed in a lounge chair enjoying a tropical beach? Like most of us, your answer is probably yes, but you can’t afford to stay at an expensive resort where you get that kind of pampering. Well, you can have it at Playa Norte! How? Find a bar or restaurant you like that offers beachside service and indicate that you plan to spend the day relaxing at the beach and buying your food and drink there. Have them set you up with beach chairs and an umbrella (sometimes for rent, but if you’ll be spending the day and spending money at the establishment you can probably save the rental fee) and settle in for the day. A server will see to it that you are never hungry or thirsty. Life doesn’t get much better!

The only downside to Playa Norte is that it can sometimes be crowded, although you can solve that problem by walking to a less populated part of the beach that isn’t as close to the bars and restaurants. Some people also don’t like the vendors on the beach. Naturally some are more persistent than others, but if you politely indicate you aren’t interested you will usually be left alone.

Beach Activities:

  • Lounging
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Volleyball

Beach Amenities:

  • Public bathrooms – Yes, at the hotels and restaurants fronting the beach.
  • Showers – No.
  • Parking – Not applicable.
  • Food – Yes, at the hotels and restaurants fronting the beach.
  • Lifeguard – No.

Beach Rentals:

Chairs, umbrellas, snorkel gear, kayaks and Hobie Cat sailboats are available for rent at the beach. Some of the bars/restaurants on the beach will let you use their chairs or hammocks and umbrellas for free if you buy your food and drinks from them.

Scooters, bicycles and golf carts are available for rent near the ferry dock.

Remember, it never hurts to haggle over prices when you’re in Mexico.


Multiple ferry options from Cancun to Isla Mujeres are available with ferries leaving from Gran Puerto Cancun, Puerto Juárez, and Punta Sam. Gran Puerto Cancun is most convenient if you’re staying in Cancun’s Hotel Zone, but if you’re coming directly from the airport Puerto Juárez is a better choice. If for some reason you’re taking a car to Isla Mujeres or want the largest boat with the smoothest crossing, the car ferry departs from Punta Sam.

The trip takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes each way depending on the type of boat and point of departure. Prices vary, but are extremely reasonable. There are numerous daily departures from morning through evening from both Cancun and Isla Mujeres making day trips possible.

Playa Norte is within a few blocks of the ferry dock and is easy to find since all the town’s north/south streets end at Playa Norte on the northern end. Alternatively, you can take a taxi if you don’t want to walk.

To many joyful beach experiences!

— Lisa Dworkin

Crowded beach photo courtesy of

Playa Norte photo courtesy of

Couple at Playa Norte courtesy of

Beach chairs photo courtesy of

Lone bather photo courtesy of

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