Isla Mujeres description, history and what to do
Isla Mujeres is an ideal vacation choice, aside from its legends and history, the island processes great natural charm and spectacular scenery.
It’s only 8 kilometers long and 1.5 km wide, you can sight-seer the entire island, including both leeward and windward coasts, on a bicycle, golf cart or motor scooter.
Downtown Isla Mujeres (Centro) is host to many fine boutiques and art and crafts stores and the restaurants offer a wide range of fine cuisine. You will see many brightly painted traditional Caribbean wooden houses and at night, locals and tourists stroll the street and relax in the town square and share the experience of life on Isla Mujeres.
A generous strip of the Great Mayan Reef, the longest system in the hemisphere, runs the length of the Isla Mujeres.
Diving and snorkeling this gorgeous underwater world are favorite pastimes, as is sunbathing on Playa Norte, the island’s most popular beach. The water here is clear and shallow, making it the perfect water sports arena.
Isla Mujeres was visited hundreds of years ago by the ancient Maya, one of the greatest cultures the world has ever produced. They believed the island was sacred to the mother goddess Ixchel and erected statues in her honor along the shore. These blatantly feminine figurines captured the imagination of Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba when he and his men arrived in 1517 and to him goes the credit for the island’s provocative name, Island of Women. In the centuries that followed, Pirates and adventurers of every kind landed on the islands velvet shores. One of them, Fermin Mundaca, fell hopelessly in love with a native girl and built her a wonderful hacienda. She turned him down flat, fleeing the island in the arms of her Mayan lover. Utterly dejected, Mundaca let the place go to ruin. It was later used as a Pirates hideout and is still standing today, a favorite tourist attraction
Origin of the name Isla Mujeres
There are several versions of the origin of the name of Isla Mujeres. Francisco López de Gómara narrates that when Francisco Hernández de Córdoba docked in the island he found a small enclosure that contained idols with feminine characteristics, which originated that it was called Punta Mujeres.
Another version states that upon the arrival of the first Spanish expeditions to the island in 1517, the men of the place were fishing, the reason why they inferred that the island was occupied only by women. One more asserts that the Mayan name of the island was Ixchel (goddess of fertility among the Maya) because it was said that young virgins were sent there before marriage to obtain fertility and that their births did not suffer complications. However, the most accepted version is the first.
Isla Mujeres and a history of pirates.
Isla Mujeres served as a refuge for pirates who raided the coastal cities of the Caribbean where they obtained supplies. The calm waters of Makax lagoon gave shelter and shelter to famous pirates such as Jean Lafitte and Henry Morgan. Glamorous locals claim that there said pirates buried part of their treasures.
The last famous pirate who lived on the island was Fermín Mundaca, who fell in love with a young Iugareña woman known as “La Trigueña”, who ignored her love requests. With the intention of winning the young woman’s love, Mundaca had an elegant hacienda built that he planned to share with “La Trígueña”; this one, nevertheless, did not accede. Today the mansion, known as Hacienda Mundaca, is in ruins and is visited by tourists attracted by the fame of the pirate. In the cemetery of the town is the tomb of this late buccaneer who died in the city of Merida, because of alcohol and sadness.
Isla Mujeres beaches
There are two kinds of beaches in Isla Mujeres for your amusement, those located on the northeast, facing the Caribbean Ocean are rough, with intense wind and high waves they are mostly rocky cliffs, this is created by the conjunction of the Golf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea Waters and the beaches on the southeast are less rough than the previous ones and oppose the Isla Mujeres Bay.
The most frequented and highly recommended beaches are located on the north tip of Isla Mujeres, where the shallow beaches of crystal clear waters are calm with beautiful coral reefs at a short distance from the beach. The pier where the ferries from Cancun-Puerto Juarez land is located at Playa Lancheros and Playa Paraiso, these are a large stretch of sandy beaches, with calm waters and moderated surf, you can also find at this place good seafood restaurants and all the services for your convenience.
One of the most common activities in Isla Mujeres is to take a Boat Tour where you will have the opportunity to get marveled by the lively shallow reefs surrounding the Island, get acquainted with everything and everybody, stroll on the North Beach and enjoy the catch of the day, cooked in a beachfront rustic restaurant.
A very important fact is that Isla Mujeres has very accessible reefs, either for experienced divers or rooky snorkelers. On the southeast coast of the Island, facing the mainland, there are many shallow reefs ideal for the safe practice of these activities. A very interesting site to dive is “La Cruz” (The Cross) and “La Virgen” (The Virgin) two bronze sculptures placed in a shallow reef that are sacred and worshiped by the islanders.
Diving “La Cueva de Los Tiburones Dormidos” (The Sleeping Shark’s Cave) is a world-renown activity in Isla Mujeres, a phenomenon seldom seen anywhere else in the world, this dive is only recommended for very seasoned and experienced divers. At two hours by boat, there are some other highly specialized diving activities, such as diving among Whale Sharks and Gigantic Rays.
In Isla Mujeres, you may find excellent Dive Shops, fully equipped to serve you and just located close to the main pier or on the beach.
Islander Plus All-Inclusive Tour
A great all-inclusive day tour to the beautiful island of Isla Mujeres that includes boat transportation, continental breakfast, snack bar, buffet lunch, beach activities such as aqua-aerobic, dancing and limbo, pedal boats, kayaks, and national open bar.
Ecology & Parks
Garrafon Natural Reef Park
Garrafon, aquatic and recreational natural park located in Punta Sur at Isla Mujeres. The island´s southernmost tip is known for its lovely reefs and spectacular cliffs (the highest elevation in the Yucatan and home to an ancient Maya temple). These cliffs and their vantage points offer dazzling views of the island.
The visit to Garrafón guarantees many distractions: you can dive or snorkel to learn more about the underwater world, spend a day of rest in the hammock area, swim in the pool, enjoy the breathtaking view from the Revolving Scenic Tower, walk towards Punta South to visit the ruins of the Temple lxchel a small Mayan shrine and admire the splendid surroundings.
Sculptural Park at south point
Under the initiative and call of the Mexican sculptor, Sebastian was born this park in Punta Sur, where national and international sculptors left their mark with their works. Manuel Felguérez, Eduardo Stein, José Luis Cuevas, Sebastián, Pedro Cervantes, Helen Escobedo, are just some
Swimming with Dolphins
This is one of the most exciting experiences you will be able to do during your vacation in Cancun and Riviera Maya. This zone has specialized in this activity. We offer you a guide for those who want to swim with these amazing and intelligent creatures.
What to do on the island
Despite its small size (seven kilometers long by one wide); in Isla Mujeres, you can do almost any marine activity.
In the northern part is Playa Cocos or Playa Norte, which due to its fine sand, transparent waters and gentle waves is suitable for swimming or simply sunbathing and admiring the sunsets of the Mexican Caribbean.
Shopping at Isla Mujeres
Touring the pleasant and narrow streets of the center of the island you will find beach clothing and handicraft shops from almost all regions of the country, especially ceramics, carved wood, Panama hats, woven carpets from Chiapas, híplles, textiles, hammocks, works on onyx and various souvenirs. Isla Mujeres is recognized worldwide for its fine jewelry; Here you can find precious stones, gold and silver items, local art and Mayan crafts. In spite of its extension, you can walk on the narrow streets of downtown Isla Mujeres, where you can find a wide variety of handcrafts from any corner in the country and of course the locally crafted, you can shop beach clothing and jewelry made in Isla Mujeres which are highly recommended and are famous and well-reputed.
Golf cart tour around the island
The rustic atmosphere of Isla Mujeres attracts large numbers of visitors. The center is in the northern part of the island and its small streets are ideal for quiet strolls. , … You will be able to visit the jewelry and shops of the typical crafts of the island or eat in one of its restaurants. From the center it takes a few minutes to reach the northern beaches; there is located Cocos Beach, also known as Playa Norte. Heading south you can visit Hacienda Mundaca; further on you will find the Garrafón Park and from there you can visit the lighthouse, at the southern end of the island. It is recommended to tour the island in a golf cart; although, thanks to its short extension, you can do it on motorcycles that are rented in the center or take a taxi. If you want to cross from the mainland to the island in your car, at Punta Sam the ferry will take you to it.
Sportfishing is another activity to develop in Isla Mujeres. The fishing spots are the same that are incursion from Cancun: La Grieta and La Corrientada. In Isla Mujeres there are marinas and in the summer there are fishing tournaments. In April, the island is the headquarters of the “Amigos del Sol” International Boat Show, and sailboats from Florida are received with excitement.
Shuttle & Boat rides
In Puerto Juarez, you can get in touch with locals who offer transportation to the island, round trip, fish meal caught and prepared by them, a walk to the places of interest in the western part of the island and equipment to perform the Snorkeling at medical prices.