Cancun - Isla Mujeres - Ferry Port

Queretaro – Mexico – To Isla Mujeres


SEPTEMBER 2016:


Click here to read our Mexico Retirement Reviews.


OVERVIEW:

I made my way from San Miguel de Allende to Queretaro. I stayed for 7 nights.

Accommodation in the Queretaro Historical Centre is a problem …

On ANY hotel search engine (including my favourites: AGODA.COM and BOOKING.COM), you will struggle to find a nice Double Room in a Hotel with Ensuite for less than MXP600 / night (60% of our daily GRANDPAcking Budget!).

So, as with Ajijic and Guanajuato, I booked a Vacation Rental through TRIPADVISOR: the Departamento Estander.

I paid MXP434 / night.

As pure accommodation, I thought that the Estander was good value for money.

The problem with it, however, is that it is out in the suburbs with nothing around it and several kms out from the historical centre of town.

I DO NOT recommend the Estander for GRANDPAckers.

In fact, I DO NOT recommend Queretaro … full stop.

There are much better places to be.


TIME TO MOVE ON:

I had arrived from The Philippines 1 month earlier than planned.

If you read my previous posts, you will see that I decided to spend that extra month in the ‘Magical Towns’ of central Mexico plus a couple of other ‘Expat Towns’ nearby: Guadalajara, Ajijic, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Queretaro.

For the record, San Miguel de Allende was most definitely my favourite; but, alas, too expensive for GRANDPAckers.

Anyway, it was time to get to the the Yucatan Peninsula and the Caribbean coast.

From Queretaro, I had 2 main choices:

  • Buses: There would be at least 3 legs to the journey … at least 1 of which would be overnight
  • Fly to Cancun

I chose the latter.

I managed to get a 2:45 hour Volaris flight direct to Cancun for only MXP1,750.

In the end, it wasn’t much more expensive than catching long distance buses with a couple of over-night hotel stays.

But, it was a lot more convenient.

We are GRANDPAckers after all … not Backpackers …


FLIGHT TO CANCUN:

My flight left at 1:30pm on a Sunday.

I checked out of the Estander at 10:30am and ordered an UBER Taxi. The UBER was there within 10 minutes. The UBER rate had been increased to 1.2x normal fare. UBER do this to encourage more UBER drivers to get on the road when there is demand. I was lucky … I’ve had to pay 2.0x standard fare in the past. The UBER to the arirport took 35 minutes. The Airport is a long way out of town … about 25kms from where I was staying. The price was reasonable: MXP245 (it would have been MXP205 at the normal rate).

Check in was typical for a ‘budget’ airline like Volaris … slow and a bit messy … but we got there in the end. The flight left 15 minutes EARLY, took less than the 2:45 hours scheduled, and landed about 30 minutes early in Cancun. We were disembarking at 3:40pm instead of 4:15pm.


CANCUN AIRPORT TO MY CANCUN HOSTEL:

You run the normal ‘gauntlet’ of Taxi Stalls and Taxi Touts as you exit the Cancun Terminal.

How best to get to your Hotel from the Airport, depends on exactly where your Hotel is. The Airport is about 12 kms away from the centre of town … and the same from the main Hotel Zone.

Taxis from the Airport are relatively expensive, you should only catch one if you really need to. As a guideline, expect MXP30 for the ‘flag fall’ and MXP35 / km. For 12 kms, this is MXP450.

A cheaper option is to catch a Shuttle Bus. Some airlines, like Volaris, offer a Shuttle Bus to anywhere in the Hotel Zone for MXP80 / person. You can book the Shuttle Bus when you book your flight. Obviously, you are sharing the Shuttle, so it may be several stops before you get to your hotel … and it will take you longer to get there. But, it is a reasonable price (for Cancun).

I had intentionally booked a Hostel in the more historical town centre … away from the Hotel Zone.

I walked out to the Bus Terminal immediately outside. There I found an ADO Bus kiosk. I bought a bus ticket to the ADO Bus Station in Cancun Centro for MXP66.

Google Maps had the ADO Bus Terminal in the wrong place (2-3kms out of town centre). In reality, it was next to the Monumento A La Historia De Mexico roundabout … only a few 100 metres from my Hostel.


MY CANCUN HOSTEL – THE MUNDO MAYA:

Even though my accommodation in San Miguel De Allende was a below GRANDPAcking Standard room in a hostel, I was in the historical centre and, as a consequence, I got much more out of San Miguel than I did in Vacation Rentals in other towns.

I had decided to do the same thing in Cancun: go for a cheap hostel in the centre of town.

There wasn’t much to choose from for under MXP500 / night. I was only in transit to Isla Mujeres and I had no intention of staying in Cancun (and no intention of writing it up for GRANDPAckers), so I booked the best looking Single Room with Shared Bathroom that I could find. It was at the Hostal Mundo Maya.

It was an easy 10 minute walk there from the ADO Bus Station.

Well, you get what you pay for.

This is what I got for MXP300 / night in Cancun: a single bed, a single chair, a ceiling fan/light combo that ‘creeked’, and a floor standing fan that was too loud to use at night.

Out came my washing line (again) … which I rigged up to hang my clothes on.

In fairness, the Shared Toilets and Bathroom were OK and reasonably clean.

No worries … I’m only here for 3 nights so that I can have a quick look around and organise how to get to Isla Mujeres …


CANCUN ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:

Have a look yourself:


Booking.com






CANCUN:

Even though I was several kms away from the famous ‘Hotel Zone’, there were still plenty of restaurants and bars around me to choose from.

Almost all were expensive by GRANDPAcking Standards with a 330ml bottle of beer for MXP35 and meals, typically, MXP130 and up.

However, just 1 block from the Mundo Maya is the Jardin Del Arte. This is a park where the locals meet. On Sundays there is music and Salsa dancing. Around the park are food stalls. On one side there are permanent eateries set up which sell Tacos for as little as MXP5 each. There are a wide selection of meals to be had for MXP25-50.

I was in Cancun at the back end of rainy season … on my last night we had one hell of a storm. I walked home in 6 inches of water.


CANCUN TO ISLA MUJERES:

I was informed by the receptionist at the Mundo Maya that the ferry to Isla Mujeres left from Puerto Juarez and that a taxi should cost me MXP35-40. It was about 3kms from the hostel.

I checked out at 10:30am and flagged down a taxi.

UBER Taxis do not operate in Cancun.

We agreed a price of MXP40. We were at the Ferry Terminal in 15 minutes. He was such a nice chap that I gave him MXP50.

The UltraMar Ferry leaves from a new terminal.

I bought my MXP78 one-way ticket from the ticket office and joined the queue. During the day, ferries leave every 30 minutes. The next one was 11:00am.

You can either sit downstairs in aircon or upstairs in the open air with views. I chose the latter.

The ferry crossing only takes 15 minutes. The waters between the island and the mainland are usually flat and calm.


MY ISLA MUJERES HOTEL – THE MARCIANITO:

My hotel was in the township at the northern end of the island and only a 400 metre walk from the ferry terminal.

Isla Mujeres is a small island, so the choice of hotel was more about price than location.

Based on price, there is only 1 hotel on the island that GRANDPAckers can afford: the Marcianito at MXP470 / night (including taxes).

MXP470 is, actually, a good price for a Hotel Room with Ensuite in Mexico.

Yes, there are cheaper accommodation options … but they a Backpacker hostels where you are in a dorm and / or with a shared bathroom. Some are known to be very loud with partying until the early hours of the morning.

I arrived at the Marcianito just before noon to find my check-in paperwork ready and waiting for me on the counter. The receptionist spoke minimal English but that wasn’t a problem.

I found my own way up the stairs to my room on the 3rd floor.

The room was ‘snug’ but well thought out so it didn’t feel too small.

It had a small fridge, wardrobe, and cable TV.

It is a Fan Room (no aircon) which I am happy with (and prefer – as do my sinuses) as long as the fans work well.

TIP: Unless you speak good Spanish, getting a room with Cable TV in Mexico is a waste of time … yes, you get up to 100 channels … but all of them are in Spanish or ‘dubbed’. You might find 1 English speaking channel. This is, usually, the Golden Edge Movie Channel. You are better off paying less for a room without a TV but with good WiFi – so that you can stream things off the internet.

The ensuite was small but sufficient. The shower had good pressure and hot water.


ISLA MUJERES ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:

Have a look yourself:


Booking.com






CONCLUSION:

The trip from Queretaro to Isla Mujeres is not a cheap one. You can avoid Cancun and do it in 1 day. Cancun offers nothing so, if I were to do this again, I would go straight to Isla Mujeres that same day.

Door-to-door it should take about 8 hours.

My total cost was MXP2,200.

But, for 2 GRANDPAckers, budget MXP4,100.

I already like the look of Isla Mujeres … it has got something … I’ll tell you more in my next post.

TTFN


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