Located just 13 km from Cancun, in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, Isla de Mujeres meaning the Island of Women is worlds apart from its neighbor on the Yucatan Peninsula. Traditionally the Isla de Mujeres was a quiet fishing village until the late 50’s when mainland Mexicans discovered the beauty of the island and started transforming the island into a vacation spot. The Americans soon followed in the 60’s to this small 8 km long by 1 km wide island lying in the clear blue waters of the Yucatan’s Peninsula northeast shore. Today the island is a laid back tourist destination with small boutique and bed and breakfast inns. Small shops, narrow streets lined with outdoor cafés have given this a bohemian feel quite different than the large hotels and mall like shops and restaurants of nearby Cancun.
Even though the name of Isla de Mujeres is translated into the Island of Women, it is not known for sure how the island got its name, it is said the Mayans used the island for worshiping the Ixchel goddess, a beautiful girl with unbelievable skin, the goddess of fertility and child birth. It is also said that when the conquistadors arrived in the early 1500, that they only found women on the island, and clay idols depicting women and the goddess Ixchel. Another favorite is the pirates of the 17th century would hide their women on the island as they traveled the Caribbean in search of treasure. It is said the pirates Henry Morgan and Jean Lafitte hid their treasures on the beaches of Isla de Mujeres.
One will find getting to Isla de Mujeres is very easy from Cancun, from Puerto Juarez Gran Puerto Cancun the 20 min ferry runs every ˝ hour starting at 6 in the morning and from Playa Tortuga in the hotel zone of Cancun the ferry runs every hour starting at 9 in the morning. Arriving on Isla de Mujeres one will quickly realize the main mode of transportation of the island is scooters and golf carts, with the laid back atmosphere, narrow roads and very few cars, the scooters and golf carts have added to the charm of the island. Taxis are also available and easily accessible at the dock.
Once onIsla de Mujeres, whether for a day trip or a long stay, the narrow streets lined with boutique and tourist shops, street cafes and beach side restaurants offering an assortment of fish as well as traditional Mexican dishes will keep you busy for hours. When the time comes to hit the beach and get some sun, powder white sands to steep rock bluffs will appeal to almost all sun worshipers. With waist deep waters that extend hundreds of feet out into the clear turquoise water have made Playas Los Cocos and Playa Norte a favorite destination. Heading east towards Playa Sur, intimate coves and steep rock bluffs will provide the perfect backdrop for snorkeling, wave riding and just doing nothing. If fishing or snorkeling and scuba diving are what you desire there are many boats and day tours available as you exit the ferry boat and enter town.