Isla Mujeres means Island of Women and is a small and beautiful island located just a short 20 minute ferry ride away from Cancun. Isla Mujeres combines the beauty of the Caribbean, a lush tropical jungle and the wonderful heritage of the Mayan civilization. It is only 500 meters wide and 7.5km long and is a Caribbean paradise frequented by the more laid back traveller and diving enthusiasts. You also get many vacationers coming over from Cancun to spend a day or two on the island.
Isla Mujeres’ romantic setting with its turquoise blue waters and white sand and spectacular sunsets makes it a favourite amongst honeymooners and couples looking for a memorable wedding in the Mexican Caribbean.
The History of Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres has a rich history filled with stories of pirates and Spanish buccaneers. The Spanish conqueror Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba was supposed to have named the island when he landed there in 1517 expecting to find slaves for the Cuban mines but found nothing but a large number of statues of women in the many Mayan temples on the island. This was because the island was sacred to the Mayan goddess of childbirth and medicine, IxChel. Because of this he named the island Isla Mujeres.
Things to do in Isla Mujeres
The town is a picturesque fishing village, and many of the locals are fishermen who have lived here with their families for generations. To the east of the island is the Caribbean Sea with its rocky coastline, on the north end is El Centro (downtown) and Hidalgo Street is the main dining and entertainment area. Also located on the north end is a famous beach called Playa Norte. To the west you can see the skyline of Cancun and you will get to see the most incredible sunsets. The sun looks like a ball of fire going down into the sea.
There is a wide range of activities on Isla Mujeres such as swimming with dolphins, snorkeling or diving in the impressive sleeping sharks cave and among the beautiful coral reefs, visiting the ancient mayan ruins or exploring the entire island on a tour led by an expert from the local fishermen’s cooperative.
El Garrafon is located on Isla Mujeres and has spectacular snorkeling. It has now been acquired by the company that operates Xcaret and Xel-Ha. There are restaurants, lockers, stores and the beach is kept in excellent condition. Park opening times are: 8:30 to 17:00 hrs. (winter) or 18:00 hrs. (summer)
There is also a sea turtle protection center that is well worth a visit. The Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm is located on Sac Bajo and is federally protected and funded by the Mexican Government and donations. Open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The entrance fee is $30 pesos.
Another place you must visit is the Hacienda Mundaca. The Hacienda Mundaca was built by a Spanish pirate and slave trader named Fermin Mundaca. It was built by slaves and much of the stone used to build it was taken from the Mayan temples already on the island. Story has it that Mundaca fell madly in love with a local beauty and that he named the grand entrance arch in her honour ‘El Paso de la Triguena’. His love was unreciprocated and he died alone. Hacienda Mundaca is located near Playa Lancheros toward the southern end of the island. The entrance fee is $10 pesos.
Punta Sur is located on the southern tip of the island, up to 20 meters above sea level. It is an impressive natural formation next to the Garrafón reef. Its picturesque setting offers a wonderful view of the Caribbean Sea, Cancun and the bay of Isla Mujeres. Nature has played its part at Punta Sur and left us with cliffs carved in such a way that it is architecturally spectacular. Mexican and international contemporary artists have made created modern sculptures which have been strategically placed to enhance Punta Sur’s natural beauty.
Hotels in Isla Mujeres
There are hotels of all categories on Isla Mujeres from 1–5* hotels including unique boutique hotels so there will be something to suit all tastes and budgets
Getting to Isla Mujeres
There are regular ferry departures out of Cancun’s Hotel Zone or Puerto Juarez with a travel time of 15 to 20 minutes.
Golf carts, motorcycles and bicycles are the most common means of transportation on the island and are available for rent.