Isla Mujeres is a small island just a short distance off the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea about 13 kilometers (8.1 miles) northeast of Cancun.
Long before tourists arrived on Isla Mujeres, it was a sacred site for the Mayan people. In fact, it was never used for Mayan settlements, but rather considered a sanctuary where a temple was built to honor the Mayan goddess, Ixchel.
With relatively close proximity to the Yucatan Peninsula mainland, the Mayan found it convenient to mine the salt found in the interior lagoons, and they used that salt as currency, as well as for food preservation.
When the Spanish arrived here in the 16th century they named it Isla Mujeres, Spanish for "Women Island," because of the many cult images of goddesses they found here.
For the next three centuries the island was all but uninhabited. The only visitors were fisherman, and the assorted pirates that used it as a refuge.
And speaking of pirates, legend has it that infamous buccaneers such as Henry Morgan and Jean Lafitte spent time on Isla Mujeres, and like other islands in the Caribbean, they supposedly buried their stolen treasures here as well.
After Mexico gained its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810, a small village began in what is now the downtown area. Mayan fisherman found the waters around the island to be a fisherman's paradise and the village slowly grew in both size and population.
Long before Cancun was developed, Isla Mujeres received its first tourists; intrepid travelers that journeyed the 8 miles across the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women) from the mainland in boats supplied by local fisherman.
In 1967, the Mexican Government, with the help of many local divers installed an under-the-sea purified water piping system, the first in the world. Consequently, first class tourist facilities would soon follow.
The island is easily reached by ferry boats from Cancun, so it's a very popular activity for Cancun day trippers as well as for those looking for a quiet place to relax in the sun.
Travelers to this pleasant island come to see the sights, which include North Beach, one of the best in the Caribbean; the sea turtle rehabilitation center; Garafon Beach Park, and the charming shops and restaurants in the downtown area.
On this very laid-back island water sport activities are favored, including scuba diving, snorkeling, or just simply swimming in the calm and warm coastal waters.
We strongly endorse this wonderful island for couples, families and individuals, as it has everything a get-away-from-it-all vacation requires. Enjoy!