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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.