Isla Mujeres is an island on the Mexican Caribbean. Surrounded by gentle, startlingly turquoise waters, this small Caribbean island is located 8 miles from Cancun and is part of the state of Quintana Roo. It offers a variety of tourist activities with its uniquely beautiful natural parks and is site of the Por La Libre open water swimming competition.
Isla Mujeres, which means “Island of the Women”, was discovered in 1517 by Francisco Hernandez de Córdoba. He chose this name because he was surprised by the number of idols of women floating on the sea. What this explorer was not to know is that the idols were offerings to the goddess Ixchel, a deity concerned with fertility, love and the moon, for whom the island was sacred. It was a place where the Maya prayed for the prosperity of their land, for the health of their unborn children and cures for their illnesses.
Today, Isla Mujeres is visited by thousands of tourists and open water swimmers who come to seek out the marine life with its rays and sharks and to marvel at the Mesoamerican Reef, the second longest in the world.
This heavenly paradise is admired for its many attractions, among them the El Garrafón Nature Park which has various water activities. There you can also find Punta Sur, which is attractive for its huge cliffs that seem to have been made by the gods.
The international tourist and boutique hotels give Isla Mujeres a cosmopolitan air, while the local people have blended Mayan and Spanish traditions ever since the conquest in what are known as syncretic beliefs. Evidence of this is to be seen in the veneration of the Virgin of El Farito, protector of boats and men alongside the celebration of ancestral rites and prayers to the goddess Ixchel.
The sacred Mayan island of Isla Mujeres is today an icon of modernity, which brings together mysticism and underwater experiences all in one place.