Isla Mujeres

Cancun | Isla Mujeres | Cozumel | Tulúm | Riviera Maya

Island of women. this name was given the island in 1517 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, who at the time was leading a Spanish expedition in search of labourers for the gold mines of Cuba. So much is attested by the Bishop Diego de Landa in his famous historical tract Relaciónes de las Cosas de Yucatán, written in 1566. Córdoba was apparently inspired by the many statues representing the female figure that were found in the Mayan temples of the island, the majority of which were certainly erected in homage to Ix-Chel, the goddess of the moon and the fertility. It seems that the Maya never actually inhabited the island, that it served solely as the destination of pilgrimages.

Through the 17th and 18th centuries, pirates and traffickers of all sorts daily paid homage to "the god of concupiscence" at the island and left the place to fishermen, who were its only visitors until the first tourists started to appear, about 20 years ago. During the second world war, the allies constructed a naval base here, which today is used by the Mexican government.

The island is eight kilometers long and 800 meters across at its widest point. the enchanting charm of this locale is a combination of many white-sand beaches, lagoons, coral reefs teeming with marine life, and swaying coconut trees.

The town of Isla Mujeres has about 10,000 residents and 15 criss-crossing streets, spread out on the northern end of the island. Wrought-iron balconies and whitewashed walls contribute to its altogether Mexican atmosphere. Most of the restaurants, hotels and shops of the island are concentrated in this little city, and it is a good idea to visit it outside of the tourist rush hour (mainly between noon and 3pm), when guides arrive leading throngs of visitors from Cancún and Cozumel.

The beaches and the coral reefs are generally in the southwest, facing the mainland. On the other side of the island the sea is so rough that it is unsafe to engage in water sports.

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