Info on Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is the name of a small island, as well as the town on that island, a short distance off the coast of the north east of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea. Isla Mujeres is one of the eight municipalities of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is about 13 km north east of Cancun, at 21.20° North, 86.72° West. The island is some 7 km long and 650 meters wide. In 2000 it had a population of about 10,000. By 2005 there were 121 taxis, 500 golf cars, and 1500 mo-ped scooters.
In Pre-Columbian times the island was sacred to the Maya Moon Goddess, Ix Chel. When the Spanish arrived here in the 16th century they named it "Isla Mujeres" meaning "Island of Women" because of the many idols of the Moon Goddess here.
There was a small Mayan temple on the south tip of the island, but in 1988 Hurricane_Gilbert caused tremendous damage to it leaving most of the foundation and a very small portion of the temple on it.
Since the 1970s there has been substantial development for tourism here. Ferry boats run every half hour during daylight between Isla Mujeres and Puerto Juarez or Puerto Cancun on the mainland.
Isla Mujeres is famous for its dolphin program called Dolphin Discovery. This program allows people to come up close and personal with dolphins. People are also given the chance to swim with them as well. Dolphin Discovery in Cancun/Isla Mujeres is one of 8 locations in the world. About seven of these programs are located in the Caribbean and the other one is located in Hawaii. In addition to the Dolphin Discovery program, Isla Mujeres is located close to one of the many coral reefs. The area is popular for its snorkeling and scuba diving.
Dolphin Discovery
Source of Info: Here
Because Isla Mujeres is so small (seven km long by one km wide), almost all its inhabitants know each other and frequently talk about daily occurrences, like the arrival of a distinguished person or an upcoming event. One of these events takes place on October 12 and celebrates the day of the race or of Spanish heritage.
Traveling to the Mexican Caribbean is always an adventure. Endless surprises are hidden in this beautiful region: flora, fauna, and above all, its people. Isla Mujeres in Quintana Roo is a must for those who travel to the South East of Mexico. It is a short six-kilometer ride from downtown Cancun to the fishing village of Puerto Juárez in Punta Sam. The archeological ruins of El Meco are close by as well as Niño beach, which has several restaurants serving delicious dishes, whose main ingredients, naturally, are species from the sea. The ferry to the island leaves the dock of Puerto Juárez every half hour; it is a pleasant journey where one can enjoy the lush tropical scenery, the warm Caribbean sun, and the fresh ocean breeze. Isla Mujeres is a charming place, which is ideal either to relax or to enjoy water sports and scuba diving. The island has a very unique, peaceful, and picturesque little town, whose simple houses are made of wood and painted in very Caribbean pastel colors. Aside from its salt mines and pre-Hispanic ruins, Isla Mujeres stands out for the brightness of its colors. Small boats rest in its dock and there are no vestiges of colonial times. The only thing that reminds us of the Spaniards’ arrival on the island is a sculpture of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba looking toward the sea, from which he came several centuries before.
The history of the encounter with these lands of southeastern Mexico is quite different from the celebration that takes place on the dock of Isla Mujeres every year. It certainly has very little to do with a bloody and painful war and even less with the controversies regarding the encounter of two worlds and the consequences, good and bad, of the subsequent Spanish conquest. In order to celebrate this date, the town’s children, led by their teachers, dress up in simple costumes of Indians and Spaniards. We were surprised to see that most children wanted to be Indians, except without tattoos and earrings. They covered their backs with black and white capes decorated with drawings of Mayan glyphs and carried harmless spears made out of thin broomsticks and bright golden paper. There were fewer kids dressed up as Spaniards, since it was a real ordeal to use the uniforms of Spanish soldiers under the hot Caribbean sun. Three boats that cruised around the island were adapted to play the parts of “La Niña”, “La Pinta”, and “La Santa María”. Young girls put their makeup on before boarding the ship in order to look like pretty Indians. Boys played the part of Indian emperors and wore blue and yellow breastplates and crowns made of golden paper, which were hard to keep on during the whole trip in the high seas. A couple of pirates with strings tied to their heads also got on board. Logically, there was a small Christopher Columbus walking among many children and adolescents. The objective was to go around the island on ships that resembled old caravels. October 12 is celebrated in Isla Mujeres like nowhere else; there were no solemn speeches or protests. The children and adults of the island did not miss having to memorize and recite parts of history. The laid-back, cheerful children of this Caribbean town were happy to go on a ride around the peaceful, beautiful turquoise waters; to them, Admiral Christopher Columbus’ utopia was worth the long trip.
The arrival of the Spanish to this region dates back to 1517, when Francisco Hernández de Córdoba landed on the place he later named Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) after the large number of small clay statues of women. One of the many exciting stories of other Spaniards, who landed before Hernández de Córdoba, took place in 1511. Pedro de Valdivia’s ship, the “Santa María de la Barca”, sunk when it hit a reef near the island. Twenty men survived the catastrophe, including Captain Valdivia, the chaplain Jerónimo de Aguilar, and the soldier Gonzalo Guerrero. The latter two and a few others settled in Ecab (which belonged to a Mayan domain that included Holbox, Homhom, Contoy, Blanca, Mujeres, Cancún, Cozumel, and Xelhá) and later became prisoners of a group of Mayan warriors. According to the story, the Spaniards were taken to Halach Uinik, the chief of Ecab, who decided to sacrifice them. Guerrero and Aguilar were able to escape and hide in the jungle for a while, until they were caught and sold as slaves to the chieftain of Xamanhá. Afterwards, Gonzalo Guerrero was given to the chief of Chactemal, the powerful and feared Nachan Can, and later earned the trust and affection of the Indian leader by participating in battles against the Spanish. By 1514, Guerrero had become a nacom or military chief. He became completely integrated to this culture when he married a noble woman, perhaps the daughter of Nachan Can himself. Their children were to become the first Mexican mestizos.
Source of Info: Here
This island of 8000 habitants, is situated on the east coast of Mexico. It is a twenty minute boat ride from Puerto Juarez, Cancun. The island is 1.5 km wide and 8km long. Transportation on the island is available on site; one can hail a cab; rent a bicycle or even a golf cart( although you can`t rent a car) for about 40USD a day.
Favourite spots:
The island is somewhat divided in three. There`s Punta Norte, Punta Sur and Garrafon. Punta Norte is where you`ll usually arrive from Puerto Juarez. While Punta Sur is where you`ll find a mayan ruin built for the goddess Ixchel, and El Garrafon`s National Park. In between those two areas, you`ll walk through a residential area, a small airport and what seems to be a rudimental army training ground.
What's really great:
We stayed in Punta Norte, where `Downtown`is. Here are where most of the restaurants, night life and hotels are. From the Playa Norte beach and all South of the island down to Garrafon the beaches have white sand and the water isn`t deep. Great for swimming and scuba diving.
Isla Mujeres is a fairly safe place to be, although pickpockets are everywhere tourists are and one must always be careful. Venders are quite pushy, but if one stands one`s ground they back off. Don`t hesistate to bargain for at least half the price they initially offered for the article you want to buy.
There isn`t a lot of tourists here, but you`ll find ATM, phone and internet access easily.
I heard that part of the Jurassic Park film had been filmed here and they had left parts of their sets here, but I didn`t see any. Perhaps I didn`t search enough.
In Garrafon there`s a sculpture garden where a dozen metal Mexican artists show their art. There is also a gorgeous walkway around the tip of Punta Sur (if you`re here early morning, you`ll be able to brag that you`re the first one in Mexico to have seen the sun rise, as it is the part of Mexico the farthest to the east.) and up to the Mayan ruin. The Mayan ruin wasn`t as impressive as some people may hope. Hurricane Gilbert 1988, did destroy a large part of this national treasure and history. Garrafon also hosts a carribean village. The carribean village has a cute yet expensive restaurant (no deserts though) a jewellery and a souvenir shop; also it has a light house you can climb. Outside are carts with assorted wares, yet you should wait in Punta Norte where you can get souvenirs at a cheaper price.
There are many hotels on Isla Mujeres. Most are family owned and although they seem dodgy, most are very clean and comfortable. One doesn`t necesarily need reservations (although they are always recommended), You can just show up at the hotel and ask for a room, you should definitely bargain the price of your room too.
See the reference to the restaurants in my guide listing.
Other recommendations:
A certain Mr Mundaca landed on the island a few hundred years ago. They said he was a pirate who was hiding. He named the island Isla Mujeres. He fell in love with a local woman. He built her a house and wooed her all his life. Yet she married a local and made her life with her husband. Mundaca`s tomb can be visited in Punta Norte and the hacienda he build for her is close to the middle area of the island. A very small museum with parts of this story can be visited in the Carribean Village.
And if you`re interested, turtle farm can be visited although I didn`t have time to do so.
Source of Info: Here
Si alguna vez tuvo la fantasía de vacacionar en una pequeña isla, alejado de todo lo que pueda perturbarle el descanso y la tranquilidad y donde el tiempo transcurra despacio, sin prisas, Isla Mujeres es el lugar perfecto para usted.
Situada en el mar Caribe, a quince minutos en barco de las costas mexicanas de Quintana Roo, Isla Mujeres es un sitio sereno y apacible, rodeado por aguas de diferentes tonalidades azules y verdes, auténtico paraíso para quienes gustan del buceo.
Ciertamente, Isla Mujeres resulta ideal para vacacionar con la familia, ya que tanto adultos como pequeños disfrutarán de su compacta geografía (8 km de largo por 1.5 en la parte más ancha) y del centro urbano, que tiene sólo seis cuadras por cuatro.
Además de la tranquilidad , el principal atractivo de Isla Mujeres lo constituyen el mar que la rodea y las actividades que en él pueden realizarse. Al sur de la isla se localiza el Parque Nacional El Garrafón, un sitio insuperable para bucear y practicar esnórquel. Sus paisajes submarinos están integrados por corales, formaciones rocosas y diversas clases de esponjas, crustáceos y vegetación.
Si usted es un buzo experto, podrá visitar la Cueva de los Tiburones Dormidos, localizada al este de Isla Mujeres y que hiciera famosa Jacques Cousteau. Si no es tan experto, lo mejor será contratar una excursión al Arrecife de Manchones (la excursión incluye lancha, renta de equipo para bucear o esnorquelear e instructor, si se desea). O bien hacer un viaje a la Isla Contoy, santuario de un centenar de especies de aves y en cuyas aguas habitan infinidad de peces tanto del Golfo de México como del Caribe.
Playa Norte es una joya de aguas transparentes color turquesa, donde usted se sentirá en absoluta libertad de acción y en donde podrá rentar equipo acuático o nadar aprovechando la gran extensión de playas bajas.
En Isla Mujeres hay una importante variedad de flora y fauna. Entre los animales de la región destacan las iguanas y otros reptiles, una gran cantidad de aves como garzas, gaviotas y fragatas, y unas quinientas variedades de habitantes del mar.
Isla Mujeres forma parte del Mundo Maya, territorio que fue habitado por una de las civilizaciones más avanzadas de la antigüedad ; y las principales zonas arqueológicas de la región están muy cerca. Por ejemplo :
Chichen Itzá. Donde son de admirarse la pirámide de Kukulcán, el Observatorio, el Juego de Pelota y el Cenote Sagrado.
Tulum. Fortaleza amurallada sobre un acantilado. La excursión incluye visitar el acuario natural de Xel-Há.
Xcaret. Santuario ecoturístico por el cual corre un majestuoso río subterráneo.
Son dos las versiones sobre el origen del nombre de Isla Mujeres. Una dice que durante el siglo XV la isla fue un santuario dedicado a Ixchel, diosa de la fertilidad y el amor. Según esta versión, los españoles dieron su actual nombre a la isla cuando en ella encontraron un adoratorio con estatuas de diosas mayas.
La segunda leyenda sostiene que la isla sirvió como refugio para los piratas que durante sus correrías secuestraban mujeres. Uno de ellos, Fermín Mundaca, construyó en el lugar una hacienda para habitarla con la cautiva de quien estaba enamorado. Los restos de esa construcción son un recuerdo de aquellos tiempos.