Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
It’s a tiny speck of land sitting a short ferry or yacht ride from Cancun. There’s a point where the ferry lands that has become a sort of satellite Cancun atmosphere where 2×1 margarita specials and crummy t-shirts are dime a dozen, but the rest of the island is still enchantingly pure and quiet.
Historically, Isla Mujeres is an interesting footnote. The island was considered sacred for the Mayan Goddess of childbirth. In 1517 Spanish butcher Francisco Hermandez de Cordoba came to the island in search of slaves for Cuban mines, but only found old statues that resembled females. Hence the name, Isla Mujeres. Later, the Spanish pirate Fermin Anonio Mundaca went there and built a small hacienda whose restored ruins can still be seen today.
There’s an authenticity here that Cancun lacks. The interior is still forested. Family run boat workshops line the lagoons and shore. There are laid back taquerias and fishermen still cut up their catch right on the beach. Head to the small market in the island’s one town for the best meals, though Avenida Hidalgo, the main pedestrian thoroughfare has dozens of small cafes and restaurants.
Cancun is just ten miles away, but Isla Mujeres is a long way from Spring Break.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.