Ultimate guide to living in Isla Mujeres as a digital nomad
As a traveler, and mainly as Mexican, I'm very proud of the many places that this country has to offer. But if you are asking me which is one of my favorites cities —or rather, islands— in Mexico, it has to be Isla Mujeres.
It's a small island packed with friendly community, good internet, plently coffee shops and really, really amazing aquatic landscape.
If you are person that loves water activities and needs internet connection, then this is your place.
In this article you are going to find all the information needed to work online meanwhile you live in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Let me start with advantages and disadvantages.
Pros and Cons about Isla Mujeres as digital nomad
- Clear water. I'm telling you, for real, how beautiful is this place when the weather is normal.
- Good internet. Not really high speeds (more than 50mbps) but still you get good speed like 20mbps.
- Food. Well, by know you gotta know that Mexican food it's delicious. But there's also plenty of international options.
- Tight community. Yes, because it's an island you'll meet the same people and create cool connections.
- Plenty of activities. Well, mainly water related like scuba, whale shark watching, wingdiving but inland you can go play soccer, volleyball or dance salsa.
- Hard to find best internet speed. It takes time to find a good place with great internet.
- Can get pricey. If you stay in the main area, which has more action, you could spend a bunch even in US standards.
How to get to Isla Mujeres
The island is just in front of Cancun so you will have to arrive in Cancun International Airport (CUN) and get to the ferry dock at Puerto Juarez.
In order to get there, you have a few options:
- Pre-book a shuttle to your destination
- Get a taxi from the airport but it will be around 70 USD
- Get a bus (I'd recommend ADO) to downtown, and then a normal taxi
The Gran Puerto Cancun dock station has different ferry options, but either Ultramar or Winjet are great options. A ride costs around 15 USD, and goes every hour of the day.
If you are carrying your own luggage, you will be directed to the back of the boat. It is crowded and during high season, the luggage and bags are piled high. Its best to let the porters load everything.
Beer, soda, water and snacks are for sale on the boat. If weather permits (which is most of the time) sit outside on the top deck - you will never forget your first ferry ride to the island.
Best areas to stay in Isla Mujeres
The island is only 5km square long, so it's not really a big place that you can get lost quickly. Despite it's small size, there are three main areas with very different lifestyles.
- Playa Norte - The northern area is the touristic part where most of the coffee shops, hotels and beach clubs are. Therefore it can get a bit expensive here. But to be honest, it's the most fun area. It has the best color of water of all the island.
- Central point - This is where you feel the most local vibe as there's plenty of accommodation options, mostly for low budget. There's also a few schools, churches, public parks, market and even an airport that is not used much currently.
- South point - Most of this area is surrounded by big houses, hotels or beach clubs facing the sea.
The Cost of Living in Isla Mujeres
The cost of living is fairly affordable and one can spend a month around $1,000 dollars.
There are many good restaurants around town that serve lunch specials for about $5 USD. But the problem is when you want to eat out all the time in the tourist part as you can easily spend 30-60 USD the day.
The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Isla Mujeres is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.
Here's the list of my expenses for the month spent in the city. It will be show the current exchange from the time I was there.
Where to wifi in Isla Mujeres
The typical internet connection speed varies from 5-30 mbps for a home connection or a basic café connection.
But to be honest, it can be spotty in certain places so it's better to ask beforehand, to the homeowners about the wifi speed of the place are you pretend to stay.
Luckily there are tons of options opening to accommodate the arrival of the digital nomad in Isla Mujeres! Here's a list of the best places in town.
- Selina Isla Mujeres - It's the only coworking space in the island, so it can get pretty packed. But the internet goes around 13mbps, both upload and download.
- Nomads Hostel - While not technically a coworking, it has many tables where people who work online usually work and wifi is fast. Around 30mbps.
- Cafe Mogagua - Best internet in town, with a good option of coffee drinks. They let you stay working for the longest time.
- North Garden - A beautiful coffee shop surrounded by trees, where wifi is great and staff are very welcoming. Wifi is ok, goes around 10mbps.
- Polo's Mango Cafe - Really good wifi and enough tables to sit down. Food is also great here. It can get a bit hot, so it's better to book a table in the upper floor.
- Buho's Beach Bar - In the core of Punta Norte, it has plenty of tables and surprisingly good wifi. Best is that it opens early and closes late.
- Guru's Beach Club - It's a fancy beach club but still, you can do some work on the common area and have the pool plus a great view of the clear water.
- Kin Ha - Despite feeling more of a place to chill, you can still do some work as wifi is relatively fast and there's plenty of tables.
Telcel is one of the major service providers in Mexico as there are many mobile shops all over town and stalls in the markets where SIM cards and top-ups can be purchased.
Package (data & calls): Just get 5GB for $15 USD over 30 days every month. This was more than enough.
It’s important to note that you will need your passport when purchasing a new SIM and recharging. Most of the customer service reps at the mobile stores don’t speak English, so some basic Spanish and pointing will help. Request the list of packages and point to one of them, then they’ll set up your SIM and recharge.
Once the process is complete, a confirmation SMS will be sent to your mobile. I always like to test the data on my phone before leaving the store. This is just an extra precaution because of our bad experiences in other countries, but we haven’t had any issues here.
Where to stay
As Isla Mujeres is usually packed, it's not really easy to find good airbnb spots. Those in Punta Norte, the touristic part can get very pricey.
Getting an apartment in the northern area can cost between $600 and $1200, but it will be cheaper in the central point.
If you search in Airbnb you can find spacious 1-bedroom ground floor apartment with all the modern amenities necessary for perfect work and living conditions. Wifi was decent and reliable – no problems with Skype calls or streaming.
If you’re willing to bunk up with roommates or you’re planning on staying for longer than a few months, it’s possible to find a place in Isla Mujeres for just a couple hundred dollars per month.
If you want to stay for a couple of days, here are some recommendations:
- Selina - It's located in Playa Norte in a very good location, close to everything. You can even pay for a month, with coworking included, if you like to stay there.
- Nomads Hostel - In the southern corner of the island, it has a really cool vibe and there's plenty of things to do around.
Isla Mujeres is a compact island that is easy to walk around, especially in the northern area. It’s very easy and actually quite pleasant getting around by foot. Most tourist hotspots are nestled in an block area less than 1 km across.
However, the sidewalks are narrow so watch your step!
Is it really safe to walk around, even at night. Just keep any and all valuables out of sight: laptops, cameras, expensive cell phones, jewelry, watches, etc. Most people don’t experience any threat to their safety, so just proceed with normal caution and you should be fine!
For visiting places far from each other, you can take taxi.
A ride anywhere in the city should cost between $2 to $4 dollars. Just make sure you negotiate a firm price in advance.
If you want to go full tourist or just have some fun, an option is to rent
What to eat
When it comes to food, you can spend as little or as much as you want. There’s a massive municipal market (which is without a doubt one of my favorite places in town) where you can buy everything from dried goods to fresh fruits and vegetables to recently butchered meat at a fraction of the price you’d pay in a supermarket back home.
If you’re not into cooking, there’s a range of restaurants available, starting with super cheap Mexican street food all the way up to fancy Asian restaurants that would hold their own in a major American city.
- Tikin Xic - It's a fish that uses achiote as the base. It's the same recipe as the tacos al pastor, so it taste delicious!
- Tacos - Of course, in Isla aswell everywhere in Mexico, you have to try tacos.
- Poc Chuc - Great place for authentic mexican food from Yucatan.
- El Varadero - Cuban place with great seafood
- Aroma Isla - My favorite vegan place.
- Madera Food and Art - Small menu but delicious burgers.
In addition to providing the best co-working space in Isla Mujeres, Selina fosters an impressive digital nomad community that connects lots of members. It’s definitely a good start to meeting your fellow digital nomad in Isla as well as worldwide.
Selina hosts community events, workshops, and parties where members share their experiences and meet up to share opportunities.
Also Selina Antigua host a lot of events every week, so it's a great spot to chill, work and make friends.
What you need to know
Here is the most important information needed to consider the option to live in Antigua, Guatemala.
- When to go: It's very humid most all year round, so anytime is good to go but you can visit in December if you want to skip cold winter in other places.
- Language: Spanish is the official language spoken by the majority of the population. However, most people working in tourism and hospitality industry speak both Spanish and English.
- Climate: The wet season is between May and October. The dry season is between November and April. May is the warmest month of the year with an average temperature of 30°C (86°F). January is the coldest with 20°C (68°F) when nights get very chilly.
- Safety: Isla Mujeres is actually very safe. You can walk around
- Weather - Average temperatures vary very little. Considering humidity, temperatures feel hot all year with a fair chance of precipitation about half of the year. The warmest time of year is generally early to mid March where highs are regularly around 94.4°F (34.7°C) with temperatures rarely dropping below 73.7°F (23.2°C) at night.
- Visa - Most country citizens are allowed to stay from 90 days without hassle, or 180 as U.S. citizen.