Isla Mujeres with Kids: 25+ FUN Things to Do

By Michele Samal Kinnon

Are you considering a trip to the island of Isla Mujeres with your family? Are you planning an island vacation and wondering if Isla Mujeres with kids is a good destination? Is there enough to keep them entertained? Is Isla Mujeres safe for family travel?

Then you have come to the right place! I have lived in Mexico for almost 20 years and have traveled with my children to Isla Mujeres dozens of times since moving to the Riviera Maya in 2004. 

In my opinion, there are so many reasons why traveling to Isla Mujeres with kids is a great idea! Need more convincing? Read on….

Is Isla Mujeres Worth Visiting with Kids?

100% yes. Isla Mujeres has always been one of our favorite places to visit with our children. The ferry ride over should be enough to win them over. Every time we make the trip over, even I am stunned by the color of the water. 

A ferry making the trip from cancun to isla mujeres

The island is small and the locals are very warm and welcoming to families traveling with children. I find that most people on the island go out of their way to be nice especially if you are traveling with the littles in tow. Nearly all the restaurants and even bars and beach clubs on Isla Mujeres welcome children. Sure, it´s touristy. But it is still remarkably charming and has managed to maintain a lot of its authenticity despite its boom in popularity. 

There is a plethora of things to do that are fun for kids of all ages. In fact, there are so many things to do on Isla Mujeres for kids, I challenge you to do ALL the activities on our list! 

Full disclosure….We have managed to do almost all of them but only over many years and many visits. There are still a few left to check off our list!

Is Isla Mujeres Safe for Familes?

I don´t have any accurate statistics to back up this statement and I´m sure that long-time “isleños” will lament that crime has increased on the island along with its popularity. However, in my experience, bringing my children to the island dozens of times over the past two decades, Isla Mujeres is one of the safest places in Mexico to travel as a family.

You and your children can safely wander around downtown from early in the morning when the shopkeepers are just starting to set out their wares, until late in the evening after the bars shut down. I wouldn´t recommend you walk the beach alone at night, but that is advice that I think applies to many vacation destinations.

Because Isla Mujeres is in Benito Juarez, the same municipality as Cancun, my go-to source for safety and quality of living (Numbeo) does not differentiate between crime stats on the island as compared to Cancun. And I think we can all agree that the two destinations are not comparable.

Isla Mujeres has certainly grown in popularity since we first started going there in 2004 but much of the charm has remained and for the most part, I think that Isla Mujeres is a very safe, family-friendly destination. 

And without further delay, let´s check out our list of the best things to do with kids in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

The Best Things to Do on Isla Mujeres with Kids – On Land

Walk the East Side Malecon at Sunrise

If you are staying in a resort in the north end or in a hotel in downtown Isla you are within a few minutes walk of the east side malecón. This pedestrian walkway skirts the Caribbean side of the island for several kilometers and is a lovely place to walk in the morning. 

Sunrise on isla mujeres

This summer, we all stayed at Hotel Rocamar for a few days in rooms that looked straight out over the water. It was almost impossible for me NOT to get up every morning and watch the sunrise!  

Maybe not every day but do try to get the kids up early one day and watch the sun rise up over the ocean. It’s a magical moment to share with your family and a great way to start the day. 

Rent a Golf Cart

Whether you are on Isla for one day or a week, renting a golf cart is the best way to really enjoy the island and one of the most fun things you can do with kids on Isla Mujeres. You can find golf carts for rent with 4 or 6 seats, big enough to accommodate most families. 

This is the best way to really explore the island and see all the things you are there to see. Plus, the kids are just going to love it. I think that was probably the most memorable part of all of our trips to Isla when my kids were little.  

It’s not recommended to put more than 4 people in a 4-seater cart and we were warned that we could get pulled over by local police. But, driving responsibly, we managed to get me, Jim, my kids and one of their friends around the island without drawing any attention to ourselves.

Three grown kids in the back of a golf cart

Check out our Complete Guide to Renting a Golf Cart on Isla Mujeres so you can be sure you are getting the best experience.

Tortugranja Turtle Sanctuary

The Tortugranja or Turtle Farm is an absolute must-see place if you are visiting Isla Mujeres with kids. The Tortugranja just recently reopened after a rather inauspicious closure in 2021. 

The Tortugranja is not a zoo or a sanctuary but rather a coordinated effort to protect and nurture the marine turtle eggs when the turtles make their nests in less-than-ideal locations on the island. The turtles that come back year after year to lay their eggs in the same nesting rounds include Loggerhead Turtles, Hawksbill Turtles, and Green Turtles.

Nests that are at risk are dug up by volunteers and the eggs are carefully transported to the turtle farm where they are cataloged and reburied in a safe environment. When the eggs hatch the turtles are released in a controlled manner in order to give them the best chance of survival. 

Tutrle in isla mujeres turtle sanctuary

When you visit the Tortugranja there are several areas of interest. The relocated nests (in season), large tanks outside and small tanks inside with baby turtles and other indelicate species of fish and other marine life. It’s really interesting for kids and adults. There is a small entrance fee which we think is well worth it as your pesos are going to help protect these endangered marine creatures.

Chill Out at The Ice Bar

Depending on the age of your kids, taking your kids to a “bar” may not be the first thing that pops to mind. But, the Ice Bar is no ordinary bar! Pay your entry fee, don you furry hooded ponchos and get ready for a refreshing treat! In the middle of a tropical island in the Caribbean, you can find relief from the heat in this chilly and silly bar made entirely of ice. 

Everything from the stools to the shot glasses is made from ice! There is even an ice ice hockey table! We brought our (now adult) kids on our last trip and it made for a fun and unforgettable experience. I didn´t make it very long inside (brrrr) but the kids thought it was a hoot.

Isla mujeres ice bar

 Even little kids are welcome inside with their parents and offered fruit juice “cocktails” so they can join in the fun. In the same location, there is also a large restaurant, bar and beach club so you can grab a nice lunch right there and enjoy the views across the channel to Cancun. 

Explore the Punta Sur Sculpture Garden

Located at the very southern tip of Isla Mujeres you will find Punta Sur, a well-trafficked observation point that is popular with tourists and with good reason. Here you can find some of the most spectacular views of both the bay and the Mexican Caribbean Sea to the east.

The color of the water in the bay is indescribably stunning in an infinite range of blues. The east side…the wild side…is rocky and the waves crashing into the cliff sides is spectacular. The water is so clear you can get a clear view of the reef beneath the surface. Here at Punta Sur, you will also find a statue of the Goddess Ixchel, a giant iguana and quite a few souvenir shops. This area is open to the public and can get quite crowded but you can still get some amazing photos here.

The real draw though is the unique sculpture park and lighthouse at the very tip. For a park entry fee of 100 pesos per person (2023) you can walk the paths to the very southern tip of the island and admire the statues that have been contributed by artists from Mexico and all over the world. 

Statues at punta sur, isla mujeres

The entry fee, which has increased three-fold over the past few years, seems to be a serious deterrent for people which means that you will likely not have to fight the crowds to really enjoy the statues and the lighthouse. The lighthouse is not climbable anymore but still makes for a beautiful photograph and a memento of your trip to the island.

Tip: Because this area is not as heavily touristed, this is where you will find the hundreds of iguanas that call this end of the island home. Bring a banana or two in your bag if you want to get up close and personal with the local inhabitants.

See The Shell House

You have probably seen the Shell House, also known as Casa Caracol on HGTV´s travel shows or in magazines. If you are planning a trip to Isla Mujeres. You will have a chance to see it in person. There is no child who is not going to be mesmerized by the sight of a giant seashell with windows and doors that someone actually lives in! Talk about an activity that will get their little minds thinking outside the box! 

Shell house, or casa caracol, in isla mujeres

The house, inspired by a conch shell that had washed up on the shore of the island, was designed and built by architect Eduardo Ocampo as a vacation home and studio for his brother, the renowned surrealist painter Octavio Ocampo. 

The main structure was completed in the late 1990s and since then several other shells have been added to the property for additional living spaces. Sadly, Eduardo passed away but his wife Raquel still lives next door and manages the property. If you like, you can actually book Casa Caracol on Airbnb or through their website. Imagine that!

Hunt for Sea Glass on the Caribbean Side

While most of the best beaches on Isla Mujeres are located on the bay side of the island, the Caribbean side holds its charms as well. It’s the best place to watch the sun come up. The rocky coastline and cliffs are a sight to behold with the waves crashing upon them. This is also the side of the island to look for shells and sea glass. 

You have to pick the right day and look for a good access point, but this is where the kids are going to find shells, bits of coral, empty sea urchins and smooth, colorful bits of sea glass. When my kids were younger, we spent most of our Isla trips at Hotel Casa Ixchel (closed) on the east side of the island. They would spend hours scouring the coastline and tidal pools for treasures to bring home!

Visit the Women’s Beading Cooperative

I know it´s going to be tempting to buy your trinkets and souvenirs from the shops along Hidalgo and the side streets in downtown Isla but if you can, make a side trip to the Women´s Beading Co-op. If you are looking for some great gifts to bring home or a souvenir from your trip to the island, this is the ideal place to go. The tiny shop has a wide variety of beaded jewelry, everything from bracelets to necklaces, earrings, anklets and more. 

Womens´ beading cooperative in isla mujeres

The prices are ridiculously reasonable and you can actually watch the women working on their pieces during your visit. This is a great place to hand each of your kids 100 pesos, let them pick whatever they like and know that they are buying a souvenir from their trip to Isla Mujeres that is 100% authentically” isleño” and you can be sure that your pesos are going to support island residents

Build Sandcastles on Playa Norte

All kids love to build sand castles, make sand “angels” and be buried in the sand. You can´t find a better beach on Isla Mujeres than Playa Norte (North Beach) so grab the kids and spend a few hours playing in the sugar-white sand and crystal-clear shallow waters. The beaches on the north end of the island are wide and soft and there is plenty of place to set up and build sandcastles even in the busiest season

Sand toys are easy to find on the island in the shops along Hidalgo or pop into the small grocery store near the Zocalo or, if you have a golf cart, make your way to the big new Chedraui where the prices and selection are sure to be better. You should be able to find sets with plastic buckets, shovels and molds in various marine creature shapes. You can keep your kids busy for hours constructing castles or better yet, Mayan ruins which will really get their imaginations jumping. 

Tip: If you are staying in a resort or hotel before you run out and buy and new beach toys, ask the concierge or at the reception if any guests have left any behind. At the end of your stay, be sure to leave whatever you may have purchased or collected to be used by the next family coming through! 

Jump off the Piers on Playa Centro

I´m sure it´s frowned upon (although we have never gotten into any trouble) but one of the things that MY kids like to do on Isla Mujeres (or anywhere really) is jump off the piers that jut out from the beaches on the west side. They have been doing this since they were little and they are still doing it today! As you walk shoreline north from the ferry terminal you will come across lots of docks but most of these are in very shallow water and are lined with fishing pangas. 

The best “jumping” pier can be found just in front of the new Zama Beach Club and IXI. This is where some of the day trip catamarans tie up and let off their passengers for some beach time. For the most part, nobody seems to mind the kids running down the dock, jumping off into the water, swimming to shore and doing it again and again and again. But whether or not it is “allowed” may be up for debate.

My boy, always up for a challenge, likes to scramble to the top of the old bits of the old pier jutting up from the sea floor and flip himself off the top of them. You may discover as you read along with this blog that I am not always known for my sensible parenting choices. This may or may not be a good idea for your kids. 

Isla Treasure Hunt

As you may know by now, Isla Mujeres is a tiny island but it is packed with cool things to do and discover. It is actually a great place to fashion your own family scavenger hunt and challenge each other as a group or in pairs to find various items or locations on the island. Here are a few of the things you might consider searching for.

Find all the Sea Murals

In the event that you do not have a golf cart, you can still challenge the kids to find all of Isla´s famous Sea Murals. This conservation awareness initiative was put together in 2014 and led by PangeaSeed, an international conservation group dedicated to protecting the world´s oceans and protecting its biodiversity through art, activism and education. 

Internationally acclaimed artists from Mexico and around the world contributed their time and their imaginations to this project and their works can now be found scattered throughout downtown Isla. Finding all the murals would make for a great family-friendly activity. If you are staying on the northern end of the island, they are all within walking distance. Use the map below and see if you can take a photo in front of each one!

Find the Isla Mujeres Letters Signs

You will need a golf cart to complete this challenge and I´ll give you one to get started. The original Isla Mujeres letters sign is behind the Casa de Cultura, on the southeast corner of Abasolo and Guerrero. Since that first iconic sign was installed, several more have been added in various places on the island. See if you can get a picture in front of all of them!

Find all the Marine Life Statues

As you bike or cart around Isla, you can´t help but notice the various sculptures around the island featuring marine life native to the region. Off the top of my head, I can think of statues depicting an iguana, sea turtles, a barracuda, whale shark and blue marlin. Where they are exactly is up to you to discover as a family and mark each one off your list as you go!

Wander Downtown Isla Mujeres

One of the reasons we fell in love with Isla Mujeres and have returned year after year is the charm of Isla´s downtown area. When we were younger and traveling to Isla Mujeres with kids on a budget, we frequently stayed at Hotel Los Almendros, a cheap and cheerful hotel right on Hidalgo. We felt perfectly comfortable letting the kids run down the street for a gelato or sending them out to grab us our morning coffee from a local cafe.

Mariscos de humo on a stroll along hidalgo on isla mujeres

Hidalgo is definitely the hub, but if you spend a few hours wandering the side streets from one end of Centro to the other, you will come across some beautiful private homes, interesting boutiques, charming family-run restaurants and many other things that you might otherwise miss. .

Souvenirs Shopping on Isla Mujeres

While you are exploring the north end of Isla it will be almost impossible NOT to stop at some of the shops that line the streets of downtown Isla Mujeres. After a while, you are going to start to notice that many of the shops are offering many of the same items for sale. The same hats, the same beaded keychains, the same sombreos, lucha libre masks, hats, ponchos etc. 

Now, if you are in the market for some inexpensive hats to keep the sun off your head, any one of these stores will suit you. You can shop around for the best price but, by and large, all the stuff is coming from the same place (China) and it doesn´t really matter where you make your purchase. If the kids want to buy some fun little trinkets for their friends back home, you will certainly have no trouble finding something cute and inexpensive in any of these shops. The shopkeepers (who can be a bit aggressive at times) will be happy to help you find just what you are looking for.

Shopping on isla mujeres

Now, if you are looking for some unique items that are locally made or at least authentically made by Mexican craftsmen and artisans, see our article here for the Best Shopping on Isla Mujeres.

Sunset Dinner on the Beach

If you are spending even one evening on Isla Mujeres with kids, you must take in the sunset from either Playa Sol or Playa Norte. The best and most unobstructed views are from the northern tip near MIA Reef Resort but there are even more restaurants catering to families along the strip of beach at Playa Sol and Playa el Cocal. 

Any of these family-friendly restaurants is a great place to wind down, with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand. You can grab a casual dinner and watch the kids play on the beach (if they have any energy left) while the sun sets in a fiery display over the horizon. A few of the restaurants we recommend for dining with kids are Mayan Beach Club, Coco Restaurant and Zama Beach Club and Lounge.

Isla mujeres sunsets

For our list of the Best Restaurants on Isla Mujeres, read the full article here.

Explore the Cemetery 

In all of our travels across Mexico, my kids never pass up an opportunity to check out the local cemetery if given the chance. Unlike the typically grey, somber cemeteries in the United States, Canada or Europe, Mexican cemeteries are colorful and can be quite cheerful. These are places where the spirits of the dead are invited back and even enticed to come and visit with their living descendants.

 The cemetery on Isla Mujeres (the original in the downtown location) is no exception. 

Some of the graves are in disrepair but most show signs of love and care and obvious signs that they are visited by loved ones who leave cheerful flowers and candles to decorate the colorfully painted above-ground grave sites. 

The grave of the famous pirate Mundaca is located here. It can be found low to the ground just about 6 meters to your right as you enter the main gate. You will know it when you see the skull and crossbones, an homage to his pirating days. 

The grave also bears the haunting words meant for his one true love, La Triguena: “As you are, I was. As I am, you will be”. In truth, this grave lies empty. Mundaca´s love for La Triguena remained unrequited as she married another. Mundaca ended up in Merida where he slowly went mad, died and was buried. It is said he died for love. There´s a fun story for the kids. 

Eat Marquesitas in the Zocalo

Like most town squares in Mexico, the zocalo on Isla Mujeres is pretty quiet during the day. People may pass through on their way from one place to another. You may find people visiting the church or sitting for a meal in one of the small eateries nearby. 

But, by and large, the zocalo on Isla Mujeres really comes to life at night. This is when the vendors come out with their wares. Some local artisans with handmade crafts, jewelry and art. Some sell tamales, esquites and other delicious treats from plastic folding tables or makeshift carts.

Our favorite to look for is the Marquesita cart. If you haven´t tried a Marquesita you are in for a treat. A marquesita is a crepe, cooked and rolled into a taco shape and filled with an assortment of sweet and savory ingredients. The traditional filling is Queso Bola (Edam) to which you can add your choice of cajeta, condensed milk, Nutella, chocolate syrup or even jam. I know…it sounds weird but it´s delicious.

Marquesitas are native to the Yucatan but can now be found in almost any park or town square in Mexico! If your kids are like mine, they may turn their noses up at the combination of cheese and sweet sauce to try them out on the kid-friendly marquesita with just cajeta or Nutella. 

Fun in Isla Mujeres with Kids – On the Water

Kin Ha (Parque de los Sueños)

Kin Ha Park, formerly known as Parque de Los Sueños, is an absolute must if you are traveling to Isla Mujeres with kids. This water and adventure park has something for kids of all ages, including adults! 

There are waterslides and three freshwater pools. If you want to get out on the water, you can try your hand at kayaking and paddleboarding. This is also a great place to take the kids snorkeling. The kids will love the climbing walls, rope swings and places to launch themselves into the water. 

If you are hungry, the facility has a very nice restaurant with all kinds of Mexican dishes and lots of kid-friendly favorites as well. There is even an adults-only pool and swim-up bar for those of you traveling “sin niños”. There are also plenty of loungers to relax on as you enjoy the views over Bahia de Mujeres to the glittering Cancun hotel zone.

I love this kids review of Kin Ha on Youtube…

If you are staying on Isla Mujeres you can easily get to Kin Ha by golf cart or by taxi. Or, you can visit the water park as a part of an all-inclusive Isla Mujeres catamaran trip! 

Garrafon de Castilla

Garrafon de Castilla is what I picture when I try to describe an old-Isla beach club. The buildings are a bit old but freshly painted and well-maintained. The paths and gardens are meticulously kept. 

There is no “boom boom” or techno music that you often ensure at the more upscale ($$$) beach clubs. Instead, Garrafon de Castillo is just a wonderful holdover from when Isla Mujeres was just starting to gain popularity back in the 90s and early 2000s. I can remember going there when our kids were just little, probably 4 and 5, and we all just loved it. I think my kids spent more time feeding the resident iguanas than anything else, but it gave us the chance to relax for an afternoon on a lounger with cold beers brought to us and the cool water just a few steps away

We revisited Garrafon de Castillo this summer with my now-adult children (20 and 21) and they enjoyed it just as much for all different reasons. Yeah…we still fed the iguanas but we also snorkeled a lot. It was a great time, relaxing and very affordable. Snorkel gear and life jackets are available and if your kids are already adept, this is a good place for them to get some good snorkeling in. 

SCUBA Dive MUSA the Underwater Museum

Several of the reputable dive companies on Isla Mujeres offer an experience called Discover SCUBA. Meant as an introduction to SCUBA diving before committing to a certified course, the Discover SCUBA participants are provided with all the necessary gear and given all the important instruction needed to make an enjoyable dive, in shallower waters, in a safe and controlled environment. 

The Discover SCUBA groups generally take new divers to Manchones Reef which is located 950 meters from the southern end of the island and can be found at a reasonable depth of just 10 meters. Here you can see a dizzying array of marine life including marine turtles, sting rays, lobsters, grouper, barracuda, schools of curious sergeant majors and much, much more.

Musa cancun underwater museum

Manchones Reef also holds the world-renowned MUSA Underwater Museum, a collection of 400+ human figures and other sculptures that were created to protect the reef and encourage coral growth. The underwater installment is referred to as the “Silent Evolution” given its eventual transformation into a completely self-sustaining reef ecosystem. Today, this unique and haunting exhibit provides a home for many marine species and is a symbol of environmental consciousness.

Children 10 and above who are good swimmers and have some snorkeling experience are able to participate in Discover SCUBA. If your kids are old enough and ready for the challenge, imagine what an experience this would be.

You can find reputable Isla Mujeres SCUBA dive companies who offer Discover SCUBA here.

Swim with Whale Sharks

Swimming with whale sharks on Isla Mujeres is inarguably one of the most amazing things to do with kids or on your own. This is truly a bucket list item and as long as your kids are old enough and are comfortable being on a boat for 8 hours, this an excursion you cannot miss.

The official whale shark season is regulated by the government and changes slightly every year but generally runs from the end of May through the middle of September. If you are planning a trip to Isla Mujeres during these months, make every effort to book a swimming with whale sharks tour for your family. 

The last time we swam with the whale sharks, my kids were in their early teens but we went with friends who had a four-year-old. He was too little to comfortably swim with the whale sharks but even seeing these majestic creatures from the boat was enough to make his day.

Swimming with whale sharks on isla mujeres

If your kids are adventurous and comfortable in the water, they can really go at any age. Wet suits and life jackets are provided and the activity is heavily monitored by the authorities to keep it safe for humans and whale sharks alike.

For more information about swimming with Whale Sharks on Isla Mujeres, read our complete visitor guide here.

Tip: Even if you think no one in your family gets seasick, dose up with Dramamine anyway. Give it to everyone just before breakfast in the morning, about an hour before getting on the boat. There is NOTHING worse than being stuck out at sea, an hour or more from any land, and being struck with seasickness. Err on the side of caution and take whatever you can to prevent this from ruining what may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Book a Family Friendly Fishing Trip

Fishing is another one of our favorite things to do with kids on Isla Mujeres. If your kids are young or fishing for the first time, there are lots of great options for bottom or reef fishing in the shallow waters in the bay and close to the island. 

From Isla Mujeres are many local fishermen (licensed and insured) to get your family out on the water and throw some lines in for a few hours. If the kids get bored fishing, the boat captain can always take you to a great snorkel spot so the kiddos can cool off and check out the colorful coral and tropical fish of the Mesoamerican reef.

Bottom fishing in mexico - keen m sportfishing - isla mujeres

Older kids and more avid anglers will want to get out into deeper waters in search of challenging sportfish such as sailfish, marlin, tuna, dorado and barracuda. The Isla Mujeres fishing charters we recommend are all licensed and insured and provide everything you need for a fun and safe day at sea. 

Some of the family-friendly Isla Mujeres fishing charters we recommend are:

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For our complete article on everything you need to know about Fishing on Isla Mujeres, read our article here.

Visit Isla Contoy

If you are planning a family trip to Isla Mujeres for a few days or more, you should include an excursion to Isla Contoy in your vacation itinerary. Isla Contoy is an unspoiled natural paradise located 30 km north of Isla Mujeres.

While previously accessible only to biologists and by invitation, the island is now designated as a National Park and open to organized tours, providing a chance to witness its stunning array of over 150 tropical bird species and four endangered sea turtle varieties. With only 200 visitors allowed daily, this is a unique opportunity for your family to spend an unforgettable day surrounded by nature.

You can book a tour to Isla Contoy HERE.

Tip: Keep in mind the amount of time you will be spending on the boat. If any of your group is prone to seasickness, this may not be the tour for your family. Take our advice and plan ahead. Dramamine for everyone, whether they think they need it or not. 

Catamaran Trip

If you are looking for a relaxing and fun way to get out on the water and see the island from a different vantage point, joining a catamaran tour could be just the thing for you and your kids. In fact, this is probably one of the most fun things to do in Isla Mujeres with family. 

Keep in mind, some of these boats can be a little party-hearty so unless you are traveling with adult children, these might not be the ones for you. But there are other boats that cater to families with kids and are equipped to keep them engaged and entertained.

Look for catamaran excursions with a nice snorkel stop as a part of the tour and maybe a chance to anchor off of Playa Norte for some swimming. If your vacation has been go-go-go, a relaxing afternoon on a catamaran may be the perfect way for the adults to wind down and still be fun enough for the kiddos.

There are lots of different kinds of boat options available and there is certain to be one that is right for you and your kids. Check out these options for Isla Mujeres catamaran tours.

Best Isla Mujeres Snorkeling Spots for Kids 

Unless you are traveling with a baby or a toddler, chances are you are using this family vacation to Isla Mujeres to begin your children’s swimming or to strengthen the skills they already have. If you have kids who are already swimmers, you may want to introduce them to snorkeling. 

Beginning snorkeling is recommended for children ages 5 and up who are already swimming. The crystal clear shallow waters surrounding Isla Mujeres are the perfect place to put on a mask and snorkel for the first time. Here are our recommendations for good snorkel spots for children.

Snorkeling in the MIA Reef Resort Lagoon

If your children are very small and just beginning to swim, this is the place for you. The sugar-white, sandy beach and the shallow lagoon at the tip of the island provide the perfect place for families with very young children to set up under the shady palm trees for the perfect beach day. 

If your littles are ready for their first snorkeling adventure, the lagoon at the MIA Reef Resort is made just for them. The water is very shallow, incredibly clear and free of any currents at all. There are no significant coral structures but you will find some colorful fish living in and around the piers that support the bridge from the mainland to the resort “island”. For a little swimmer’s first time with a mask and snorkel, you can´t find a more ideal spot.

Budding snorkelers with a few days of experience can swim under the bridge (with supervision) and make their way over the rocky outcropping that separates the calm water of the bay from the rougher waters of the Caribbean side. This area is home to even more fish and marine creatures waiting for your children to discover them!

Snorkeling at Garrafon de Castillo

As mentioned earlier, Garrafon de Castillo is a real throwback in an age of fancy beach clubs with DJs and bottle service. That makes this the perfect place for families traveling with children on Isla Mujeres to go and spend an afternoon. 

Located just next to Parque Garrafon, Garrafon de Castillo shares the same reef and the snorkeling is just as good for a fraction of the price. You have an easy entrance from the shore and you will quickly find loads of underwater structures full of tropical fish like parrot fish, damselfish, blue tang, grunts and surgeonfish. 

Here, the schools of sergeant majors are used to being fed by snorkelers and will come right up, expecting a handout. Spring for a bag of food at teh entrance. The kids will go crazy being surrounded by all the fish!

Snorkeling El Farito

Located within the National Marine Park, El Farito Reef is located on an islet about 900 meters from the coast. El Farito is named for the tiny lighthouse (faro) that sits there, perched on top of a reef rock, signaling to sailors and fishermen returning from sea.

The reef is 1 to 4 meters in depth and has 4 distinct sections. The best snorkeling area extends out 350+ meters from Farito point to the end of the reef. A wide variety of tropical fish and several species of coral can be found in this location, notable among them are elkhorn coral and brain coral.

Because of the boat traffic in and out of the bay, you can only get to El Farito by boat or catamaran. If you decide to book a snorkeling tour to El Farito Reef, be sure to keep your eyes open for the sunken statue of the Virgen del Carmen, the protector of all sailors and fishermen.

Snorkeling El Meco Reef

El Meco Reef is another great spot for snorkeling. The reef is at a depth of just 4 to 5 meters meaning you can really get a good, clear view from the surface. The reef is named for the ancient Maya site, El Meco, located right in front of the reef. 

This point is ideal for children who love to snorkel as the waters are relatively shallow there are no strong currents. Also, there is only one small reef area so it´s not too hard to keep track of them. 

A few years ago some underwater statues were placed nearby to encourage coral growth and, attract more fish and marine life, creating yet another interesting area to explore.

What About Parque Garrafon?

Overpriced, overrated and they maintain a dolphins in captivity program which we do not support. Period. 

For a laid-back, family-friendly experience try Garrafon de Castillo which is just next door and has the same amazing views, reasonably priced food and drink and excellent snorkeling. If you are looking for a little more excitement, rope swings, water slides and other fun water park activities, spend the day at Kin Ha.

If you have any questions about this information, please feel free to contact us

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About the author

Michele Samal Kinnon

Despite the strong reservations of family and friends, in 2004 I moved from the United States to Mexico with my young family. Since then, I have made the Riviera Maya my home. I have raised two remarkable children here. I have celebrated amazing successes, made countless mistakes, and in the process, fallen in love with this beautiful country.