My daughter left today for a week long vacation to Isla de Mujeres, an island off the coast of Cancún. It is a small island that has recently been developed with resorts and hotels. When I was there in there in the 1980s, it was a laid back, quaint little island that people visited for local color. No resorts, no big hotels. Just a quaint little island.
Now it is well developed into a tourist resort with large hotels and resorts, restaurants and things for tourists to do. To reach the island, one takes a ferry from Cancún. It is not a long ride and the ferry has been much improved from the days when I was there. Then there was a rickety old ferry where the water came in through the bottom of the boat. The boat was so small the sea often felt rough. Now the ferry is modern and sleek and geared toward the tourists.
Wikipedia describes the island this way: Isla Mujeres (Spanish for Women Island) is one of the ten municipalities of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The municipality, located in the northeastern corner of the state is mostly on the mainland and has a municipal seat of the same name; Isla Mujeres. The municipal seat is a small island town a short distance off the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea about 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) northeast of Cancún. The island is some 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long and 650 metres (2,130 ft) wide. In the 2005 census, the town had a population of 11,147.
In Pre-Columbian times the island was sacred to the Mayan aged goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ix Chel. When the Spanish arrived here in the 16th century they named it “Isla Mujeres” because of the many cult images of goddesses here. But the first news we have about Isla Mujeres are from the period between the years 564 – 1516 AC, when the island was part of the mayan province called Ekab (there where 4 mayan provinces in what is today the State of Quintana Roo). Since then, the island was considered sacred by the mayan civilization, therefore, this was not a mayan village where to live in, but a sanctuary dedicated to mayan goddess Ixchel. Besides this, the mayan also exploited the salt that the island produced in the “salinas” (small interior lagoons) that back in those times, the salt was used not only for the conservation of food and medicine but also has a generally accepted currency for commerce of goods along the whole mayan region. The Mayan goddess Ixchel had a temple in what is today the Hacienda Mundaca (Mundaca’s Plantation House)
There was a small Mayan temple on the south tip of the island, however in 1988 Hurricane Gilbert caused extensive damage to it, leaving most of the foundation and a very small portion of the temple. Since the 1970s along with Cancún there has been substantial development for tourism in Isla Mujeres.
My daughter went to Isla de Mujeres last year for her postponed honeymoon and chose it again this year for her vacation. She loves the island and its amenities.