Panoramic view looking down the 4.3-mile coast of Isla Mujeres – from the southern point of Punta Sur to Playa Norte.
Isla Mujeres was sacred to the Maya goddess of childbirth and medicine, Ixchel. The Spanish arrived in the 16th century and named it “Isla Mujeres” because of the many images of goddesses. The island was 1 of 4 Maya provinces in what is today the state of Quintana Roo. The Mayans also exploited the salt that the island produced in the “salinas” (small interior lagoons). The salt was used not only for the conservation of food and medicine but also as a generally accepted currency for commerce of goods along the whole Maya region.
A small Maya temple was once located on the southern tip of the island. Hurricane Gilbert caused extensive damage in 1988 (our last visit had been before that), leaving most of the foundation but only a very small portion of the temple. Since the 1970s, both Cancun and Isla Mujeres have seen substantial tourist development. In fact, we remarked quite often about this during our stay and in conversations with the locals, looking for locations and sites that are no longer there, have been rebuilt, and areas fairly unrecognizable. Yet, in the end, while much had changed, it’s fair to say that nothing had changed.