Ixchel Ruins and Sculpture Garden
At the southern tip of Isla Mujeres, a crumbling Maya temple stands on a cliff overlooking the sea. Thought to be dedicated to Ixchel—the goddess of the moon, fertility, weaving, and childbirth—the ruins are believed to have been a pilgrimage site that also may have doubled as an observation post or as an astronomical observatory.
In any case, when Francisco Hernández de Córdoba first reported their existence in 1517, they had been long abandoned.
By themselves, the ruins aren’t too exciting—hurricanes have all but destroyed them—but a visit here also includes stopping in a tiny museum, climbing a renovated lighthouse, and enjoying the sculpture garden—a dozen or so multicolored modern sculptures lining the path to the ruins. There also is a kitschy Caribbean “village”—a set of shops and a restaurant inside a set of clapboard structures.
Just past the ruins, the trail continues to the very tip of the island—the easternmost point of Mexico actually—before looping back along the craggy waterfront to the entrance. It’s a decent side trip, especially if you have a golf cart at your disposal.
Admission to the Ixchel Ruins is included in the ticket price to Parque Garrafón; all others must pay US$3 (10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily).
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition