There now, the title of this post got some of your attentions I’m sure.

 

This isn’t the name of some fictional isle in a Carry-On film, but the literal translation of Islas de Mujeres which is a tiny Caribbean island nestling inside the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women) off the coast of Mexico a short trip across the bay from Cancun Airport on the Yucatan Peninsula

It gets its name from the Goddess Ixchel who was the Mayan deity responsible for fertility,and happiness. Ixchel apparently held court with only a retinue of female courtiers in attendance,and when the Conquistador Cordoba visited looking for slaves in 1517 he found icons and statues dedicated to this bountiful lady left behind by their predecessors.

 

 

Ixchel Goddess of Fertility and Happiness, this was a particularly striking example !! Displaying her bountiful assets ;)

Ixchel Goddess of Fertility and Happiness, this was a particularly striking example !! Displaying her bountiful assets 😉

 

 

And as pictured above,and still to this day you can find statues around the place dedicated to Ixchel fashioned by it’s more contemporary inhabitants.

I can’t speak for the fertility aspect, but I can say that the last time I visited there, made me and our photo workshoppers very happy, which is why I am visiting again this summer, and if that’s due to the goddess then I’m very grateful.
Of course I went with photography in mind but it would make a great destination with new divers wanting to expand their repertoire beyond the Red Sea.

 

 

The reefs at Islas de Mujeres are full of colour and fish, but very quiet of divers.

The reefs at Islas de Mujeres are full of colour and fish, but very quiet of divers.

 

 

The water is warm, shallow and generally very gentle, with unspoilt reefs fringing the leeward west side of this small island. The island is long and thin running north to south and is just under 5 miles from tip to tip, but only around half a mile at its widest point.
The small vibrant town which is a haven for artists and laid back holiday makers, is clustered in the north, with an outdoor modern sculpture park at the southern end.
Whilst you could walk it, taxi’s are really cheap, and another option is to hire golf carts which are very popular to tour around.

 

 

One of our party enjoying a topside excursion, to the southern tip of the island, easily achievable after a days diving, adding to the allure of this idyllic spot.

One of our party enjoying a topside excursion, to the southern tip of the island, easily achievable after a days diving, adding to the allure of this idyllic spot.

 

 

 

 

We stayed, and are staying again this year, at the Marina Paraiso hotel which is located around a third of the way down from the northern end of the island a very short 5mins trip from the town.
It’s a small unfussy boutique hotel run by an American couple.
The hotel has its own pool and also their own jetty.

 

 

 

Most days you'll find friendly Iguanas that hang around the dining tables. They certainly keep the local cats on their toes, and make great photo subjects.

Most days you’ll find friendly Iguanas that hang around the dining tables. They certainly keep the local cats on their toes, and make great photo subjects.

 
The hotel isn’t  geared up for large numbers, and a typical boatload of divers would be six.
The dives themselves are usually no more than 15 to 20 mins from port, and they perfectly located from the Musa, which is a collection of purpose sunk statues, designed to form an ever expanding artificial reef.

 

 

 

 

The statues are all of actual people that the artist knows and are slowly being taken over by the corals and providing homes for the marine life.

The statues are all of actual people that the artist knows and are slowly being taken over by the corals and providing homes for the marine life.

 

 

 

 

The statues are in very shallow water making them ideal for shooting available light, and make great compositional elements for putting into your foregrounds.

The statues are in very shallow water making them ideal for shooting available light, and make great compositional elements for putting into your foregrounds.

 
They are the work of  English artist Jason de Caires Taylor, an ex-dive instructor with a passion for the environment, and are usually in water shallow enough even for committed snorkelers.
So it was perfect for learning the basics of underwater photography, or for the more experienced to have the time and light to practice their available light skills.

 

 

 

Taking a selfie is becoming obligatory these days topside, so to show you the clarity and shallow water, I've done one from below the waterline here!!

Taking a selfie is becoming obligatory these days topside, so to show you the clarity and shallow water, I’ve done one from below the waterline here!!

Of course this also makes them the ideal environment for new divers too.
The marine life has taken the new additions to their environment to their hearts and there are fish aplenty amongst the colourful corals, fast propagating the statues and their surroundings.

I wrote about my past visit to Isla de Mujeres when I came back from there in 2014 so rather than repeat myself please check out my earlier full trip report and click here.

 

 

 

One of the great things about Isla de Mujeres is the huge aggregation of Whale Sharks that turn up in the summer, and a snorkelling excursion with these magnificent creatures is a perfect way to end your trip on your off gassing day.

One of the great things about Isla de Mujeres is the huge aggregation of Whale Sharks that turn up in the summer, and a snorkelling excursion with these magnificent creatures is a perfect way to end your trip on your off gassing day.

 

 

 

We combined our visit with a whale shark snorkelling experience which was a great thrill, this add on is available throughout most of the summer, and was a brilliant way to use your off gassing day. We also had a Cenotes trip to the mainland for a couple of days, which was fantastic, and so we are doing the same again this year.

Really this post was to outline what a great place this charming, sleepy corner of Mexico is for all divers that want to kick back, with easy gentle diving with lot’s to see, and for our regular bunch of photo trippers their resounding impression was that this island also had the best apres dive scene that we’d ever done, with awesome Mexican food and drink, occupying most of our late afternoons and evenings!!

 

 

 

 

Mexico has lot's to offer for your acres diving and visits to Mayan Temples and souvenir stands will round off you diving experiences, adding that little something different from the regular diving holiday.

Mexico has lot’s to offer for your apres diving and visits to Mayan Temples and souvenir stands will round off you diving experiences, adding that little something different from the regular diving trip.

 

 

 

Check out Available Light Photography and click here.

 

Check out our Mexican Whale Shark trip and shooting using shutter priority and click here

 

If you’d like to join us for this years trip we are running it again this summer,and we are keeping the numbers down to around ten people so if you’d like to join us please get in touch as places are filling fast.

Duxy

 

Mexico is really an interesting place to visit, with all sorts of amazing things to encounter. And we always try and make sure we see more of the place than just the undersea delights. Here is one of the Cenotes in the jungle, full of clear water perfect for an afternoon dip.

Mexico is really an interesting place to visit, with all sorts of amazing things to encounter. And we always try and make sure we see more of the place than just the undersea delights. Here is one of the Cenotes in the jungle, full of crystal clear water perfect for an afternoon dip.