[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Ximena Pascutti (Vía País) reports on one of Mexico’s stunning Caribbean areas: “In Mexico, they say that, in Mayan times, Isla Mujeres was consecrated to the goddess Ixchel, the protective deity of fertility, waters, love, and the moon. Communities traveled there to celebrate girls’ rites of passage and to ask for health during pregnancies.” Pascutti writes:
Today, Isla Mujeres and the continental municipality that bears its name, located 30 kilometers from the Cancun airport, have become a paradisiacal destination in the Mexican Riviera Maya region, geared towards an exclusive tourism for those who seek serene and comfortable vacations steps away from the Caribbean Sea and far from the madding crowd. On its 930 hectares—with 3.2 kilometers of soft white sand beaches—there are a handful of luxury hotels and resorts that are, without exaggeration, small cities perfumed by sun and sea.
Oasis ahead: Isla Mujeres and Manchones
Far away on the bluish horizon, from Costa Mujeres you can see a patch of tropical thicket that gleams in the cloudless days of the Caribbean. That oasis is called Isla Mujeres, and it is located at 14 kilometers from the coast, in the beautiful Riviera Maya. It is famous for its mythical past and an environmental wealth that unfolds, in an extraordinary way, by air, land, and sea.
In addition to enjoying its serene beaches, here you can see migratory birds, iguanas everywhere and giant tortoises, and you can also snorkel and dive among dolphins and tropical fish close to the coral reefs. Formerly, the island was consecrated to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility. Perhaps for this reason, the Spanish conquistadors found on its banks, upon their arrival in 1517, hundreds of statuettes representing the female body.
Today it is a tourist paradise accessible after a 15-minute ferry ride from Puerto Juárez. Among its unique attractions, undoubtedly, are its undersea excursions. One of them, for the brave, is diving through the Cave of the Sleeping Sharks [Cueva de los Tiburones Dormidos], discovered in 1970. Another unique adventure is diving through the Underwater Museum of Art [Museo Subacuático de Arte], an incredible space where 500 underwater sculptures by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor and Mexican artists Karen Salinas, Rodrigo Quiñones, Roberto Díaz, and Salvador Quiroz.
Family getaway: Xel-Há Water Park
110 kilometers from Cancun and 9 kilometers from the Ruins of Tulum is the Xel-Há Park, a natural aquarium where one can spend the day doing outdoor activities; it is especially fun for a family plan. The park is located at the exact point where the boldness of the Caribbean Sea faces the fresh waters of Caleta Xel-Há, into which Tulum’s underground rivers flow.
Therefore, underground caves abound there and there are cenotes where you can swim, snorkel, or dive among amazing fish. There is also a 30-meter high water slide, a zip line, a botanical garden, mangroves, a suspension bridge, restaurants, and a dream beach to enjoy.
The Ruins of Tulum: A trip to the Mayan world
Due to its historical value and privileged location on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, the site of the ruins of the Mayan city of Tulum (in May, Zamá: sunrise) is a very interesting getaway if we find ourselves at Costa Mujeres or another enclave of the Riviera Maya.
This important walled city, 130 kilometers south of Cancun, was at its highest moments of splendor during the XIII and XIV centuries, although there are records of the first constructions dating around the year 564. Today, the remains of its temples can be visited daily, from 8:00am to 5:00pm, on tours that last around three hours. The route from the entrance to the archaeological zone is 1 kilometers and we can do it by train or on foot. [. . .]
[Photo above courtesy of Costa Mujeres, Rumbos: With a length of up to 15 meters, the whale shark is the largest fish in the world, a docile and threatened species. From mid-May to September, hundreds of them gather near Isla Mujeres and many visitors are encouraged to dive among them.]
For full article and related photos, see https://viapais.com.ar/rumbos/1617041-costa-mujeres-la-isla-caribena-de-la-diosa-ixchel-mexico