As a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood, the Mayans had to go on a pilgrimage to Isla Mujeres, where there was a sanctuary dedicated to Ixchel, goddess of fertility. Later, following its discovery in 1517 by Spaniard Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, the island’s fate changed from sanctuary with no human settlement to refuge for pirates and slave dealers, eventually becoming an essential site for students of ocean floors and marine life. Today, it is a tourist destination with breathtaking landscapes that inspire visitors to see the world through different eyes.
Isla Mujeres is the purest representation of the magic of the Caribbean. It is so magical that its history contains one of the most beautiful love stories ever told. The Spanish pirate Fermín Mudaca de Marechega landed on the island in 1860 after fighting the British Navy and became completely besotted by a local indigenous girl known as La Tigreña. He was so in love that he decided to settle on the island and build her a home. Thus the Hacienda Mudaca was established, a property filled with arches, gardens, wells and exotic animals, covering 40% of the island’s surface area. Since then the island has become a favorite location for couples to marry and share the love of its two famous inhabitants.
Located very close to the Yucatán Peninsula in south east Mexico, it is the perfect habitat for turtles and dolphins, as well as whale sharks and other marine animals, which can be easily spotted by anyone who wishes to see them. Indeed, the island has focused most of its activities on the sea. Snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking are just some of the sports on offer which enable visitors to get a little closer to a marine world that even today remains a mystery to many.
However the island does live off the sea alone. The El Meco settlement, a name said to derive from one of its inhabitants who was lame, is an important archaeological site due to its location on the coast facing the island, linking it to a navigational aid system.
It also boasts a varied and interesting cuisine to satisfy the most discerning of taste buds.
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