Isla Mujeres, “Island of Women”, is a quick 20 minute ferry ride 8 miles across the bay from Cancun. This beautiful island, 5 miles long and half a mile wide, is like taking a step back in time. It is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and thankfully has not become over saturated with mega resorts and a raging nightlife scene like it’s mainland neighbor. It is a destination for people who love Mexico, the beach, and for people who want to truly relax and enjoy a slower pace of life and the simple pleasures. And YES…..the water and sky really are THIS BLUE!
Take Off Your Watch And
Lose Your Shoes
Isla Mujeres is rich in history and rich in culture. After you experience all that Isla has to offer, you will be anxious to share the island with your friends on your next visit to CASA MÚSICA DEL CARIBE – where returning guests get 15% discount and there is never a booking fee when booking direct with owner.
More Than Just A Fishing Village
For hundreds of years, Isla Mujeres was a fishing village and, though it is now thoroughly discovered by tourists, it still retains its charming and tranquil atmosphere. As you explore the island and stroll through the streets, you will see families gathered together in Caribbean styled homes, tucked between small hotels, shops and restaurants, giving Isla a small town feeling – very different from the high-rise hotels and designer stores of Cancun.
Isla’s history dates back over 1500 years when it was part of the Maya province, Ekab. The island served as the sanctuary for the goddess Ixchel, the Maya goddess of the moon, fertility, medicine and happiness. The Temple was located at the South point of the island and was also used as the lighthouse. The light from torches was shown through holes in the walls, which could be seen by the navigators at sea. The Maya also came to the island to harvest salt from the salt lagoons.
Isla remained a sanctuary until it was discovered by Francisco Fernández de Córdoba in 1517, a Spanish conquistador, who left Santiago, Cuba on Feb 8, 1517 with ~110 men in two warships and a brigantine. The bloody, ill-fated expedition was piloted by Antón de Alaminos, who had navigated for Christopher Columbus. Bad weather blew them off course, and it took a month to make the hundred mile trip from Cuba to Isla Mujeres. Legend has it that the only inhabitants of the island were the priestess of Ixchel and her court of women. Scattered around were numerous gold, silver and clay statues of Ixchel, and so the island got its name: Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women. After leaving the island, they engaged in multiple battles as they traveled the coast, resulting in injuries to all the men, except one who disappeared in Florida. Cordoba died shortly after returning to Cuba.
Pirates and Buried Treasure
Isla’s strategic location plus the protective waters of the Lagoon Makax made a perfect refuge for pirates and buccaneers. It was from the Yucatan that the Spanish transported massive amounts of gold to Europe and the pirates took advantage of the opportunity to blunder the merchant ships. Legend has it that they kept their women here while they went out plundering, another reason Isla is called “The Island of Women”. Infamous pirates such as Henry Morgan and Jean Lafitte walked the shores of Isla.
Captain Jean Lafitte was rumored to have made Isla Mujeres his base towards the end of his life. There are many different accounts how, when and where Jean Lafitte died and where is body lies. Some say that he was killed by a Spanish warship out at sea, but his biographer, Jack C Ramsey, in his book “Jean Lafitte: Prince of Pirates”, wrote that Lafitte died on Isla Mujeres in 1826 from dengue fever.
Fermin Anonio Mundaca y Marecheaga was born in October of the year 1825 in the village Bermeo of Santa Maria, Spain. After completing his studies, he set out for the New World to make his fortune. He arrived on the shores of Isla in 1858 after acquiring his wealth. Some believe this was illegal slave trading. In any case he deemed Isla Mujeres a suitable hiding place and stayed. There have been reports that he had a relationship with the Yucatan Government as a trader of Mayan slaves to Cuba.
Mundaca immediately set out building a large hacienda he named “Vista Alegre” (Happy View) which eventually covered over 40% of the island. There were areas for livestock, birds, vegetables gardens, fruit orchards and exotic plants that were brought from all over the world. A special garden called “The Rose of the Winds” was constructed which served as a sundial telling the time of the day by its shadows. All reports of Mundaca suggest him to be a solitary man who had little contact with Isla Mujeres’ people. He spoke only to his servants, plantation workers and the commercialists he sold his products to.
In 1862 Martiniana (Prisca) Gomez Pantoja was born. She was one of five sisters and it is been said that she was a willowy woman with green eyes, white skin bronzed by the Caribbean sun and long, straight brown hair. Called “La Triguena” (the brunette), many men fell in love with her including Fermin Mundaca. He set out to win her, the arches above the gates were dedicated to her, naming them “The Entrance of the Triguena” and “The Pass of the Triguena” in hopes his wealth and power would win the local beauty 37 years younger then himself. His dedication was in vain, she married a man closer to her own age and as legend tells it, Fermin Mundaca slowly went insane and died, alone, in Merida. His empty tomb still awaits him in the Isla Mujeres cemetery. Carved by his own hands are the skull and cross bones, in memory of his pirating days and the words meant for his love, “As you are, I was. As I am, you will be”