Guest Blog

Isla De Las Muñecas: Haunted Island of the Dead Dolls

Are You Game To Explore The Isla De Las Muñecas - The Haunted Island Of The Dead Dolls?

Hi, I am Warren from The Nomad Hive and I hope you enjoy this guest post on Hot Mama Travel! As someone who has always been fascinated by haunted places in Mexico, I couldn’t resist the lure of Isla de las Muñecas, also known as the Island of the Dead Dolls. This eerie island, shrouded in legends and mystery, promised to be an adventure. Here’s my personal journey through this chilling yet surprisingly fun destination.

Disclaimer: Links in this page are meant to help you find relevant information and book attractions easier by linking directly to specific pages on partner websites (i.e. TripAdvisor, If you click a link, we may earn a small commission on transactions. This helps support the cost of running our website, and it adds absolutely no extra cost to you as the consumer. Thank you, we appreciate your support! You can read more on our disclosure policy.

The Story of Isla De Las Muñecas

(Haunted Island Of The Dead Dolls)

Nestled among the canals of Xochimilco, a short trip from Mexico City, lies a unique and haunting destination: Isla de las Muñecas, or the Island of the Dead Dolls. This small island presents a disturbing gallery of dolls, decaying, dismembered, and hanging from trees. The sight is as unsettling as it is captivating, drawing visitors from around the world to witness its eerie beauty and to experience one of the most haunted places in Mexico. The island’s story is a fascinating blend of local folklore, personal tragedy, and a touch of the supernatural.

True Story Behind the Haunted Island of Dead Dolls in Mexio
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

The Truth Behind the Story

The origin of Isla de las Muñecas starts with the former caretaker, Don Julian Santana Barrera. Don Julian found a young girl drowned in one of the canals surrounding the island. Near her, he discovered a floating doll, which he hung on a tree as a mark of respect and to calm her troubled spirit. Consumed by the thought of her spirit lingering, he continued to hang more dolls, many of which he found in the canals or were given to him.

Over the decades, Don Julian dedicated himself to this eerie project. He believed that these dolls helped to chase away the spirit of the drowned girl and protect the island from evil. The dolls, affected by time and weather, have taken on a macabre appearance, with missing limbs and hollowed eyes, giving the island a chilling atmosphere.

Don passed away in 2001, and some say his death mirrored the girl’s, found drowned in the same canal where he believed she died. Since then, the Island of the Dead Dolls has become a peculiar shrine to his memory, a testament to his life’s strange mission.

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Is Isla de las Munecas Haunted?
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

Is Isla de las Muñecas Haunted?

The haunting aura of Isla de las Muñecas stirs debates about its paranormal status. Visitors feel an eerie presence, especially at night. There are often reports of whispers, a sense of being watched and even seeing shadowy figures. Whether fact or folklore, the island’s chilling atmosphere makes it a captivating destination for those fascinated by the supernatural.

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How to Get to Isla De Las Muñecas

How to get to Isla de las Munecas
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

To start your adventure to the Island of the Dead Dolls, you first need to go to Xochimilco. From Mexico City, the most straightforward way to get to Xochimilco is by taking a 30-minute Uber or taxi ride.

Upon arriving at Xochimilco, hiring a trajinera, a colorful, flat-bottomed boat, is essential to navigate the extensive network of canals leading to the island. These boats are unique to the Xochimilco area and are part of the region’s rich cultural heritage. The trajinera ride to Isla de las Muñecas is about 2 hours long each way, offering a peaceful cruise through the scenic and historic canals.

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Real Haunted Island of Dead Dolls
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

Go to the Real Haunted Island Of The Dead Dolls

Once you’re on the trajinera and en route, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re heading to the genuine Isla de las Muñecas. While there are other spots along the canals that feature dolls, they do not possess the same historical and eerie significance as the original island. To guarantee your visit to the authentic Island of the Dead Dolls, communicate clearly with your boat operator about your intended destination.

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Xochimilco Boat Ride (Trajinera)

Xochimilco Boat Ride
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

These traditional boats, brightly painted and often adorned with colorful flowers and names, provide a vibrant and authentic Mexican experience. As you glide through the ancient canal system of Xochimilco, you’re stepping into a living piece of Mexican culture and history.

The canals, remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs, are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As your trajinera floats along these historic waters, you’ll pass by floating gardens (chinampas), other trajineras filled with loud music and lively parties, local vendors selling traditional foods and drinks, and even mariachi bands playing on neighboring boats or along the banks. The atmosphere is lively and festive, with music, laughter, and the vibrant colors of Mexico all around.

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Boat ride to island of dolls in mexico
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

Is it a Party Boat?

While trajineras are often synonymous with celebration and are popular for parties and gatherings, the mood can vary. On weekends and holidays, they are bustling with energy, music, and festivities. However, the trajineras heading towards Isla de las Muñecas often have a more subdued atmosphere, particularly as they near the island. The shift from the lively energy of Xochimilco’s main canal areas to the quieter, more reflective mood as you approach the Island of the Dead Dolls is palpable, adding to the anticipation and mystique of the journey.

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Journey to the Island of the Dead Dolls
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

How Long Does it Take?

The boat ride to Isla de las Muñecas is a relaxed and picturesque journey, taking about two hours to get there and two hours to return. In total, the trip lasts about five hours, which includes roughly an hour for exploring the various interesting spots you will stop along the way.

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How Much Does The Whole Trip Cost?

The overall expense of the trip can vary, but here’s a breakdown of what we spent during our trip to the haunted island of the dead dolls.

Costs to visit Isla de las Munecas
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

Transport to Xochimilco: The journey started with getting to Xochimilco from Mexico City. The taxi ride cost us $250mxn in the morning.

Trajinera (Boat) Hire: The heart of the experience lies in the trajinera ride through the canals to the island. To rent one of these distinctive, flat-bottomed boats for a round trip to Isla de las Muñecas typically costs us $175mxn. This rate can cover a group of up to 20 people, making it more cost-effective if you’re traveling with friends or family.

Additional Expenses: On your journey, decided to enjoy some local music by hiring a mariachi band, which could cost us $300 MXN for a few songs. We also bought our own food, drinks, and snacks, which totaled $320 mxn.

Return Transport: Finally, the return trip to Mexico City was by Uber which is a bit more expensive in the evening. It cost $290 mxn.

In total, we went with a group of 5 people and the cost for a single person turned out to be about $600 mxn. Keep in mind, that this amount can vary based on individual choices, the number of people in your group, and other incidental expenses. Remember to carry some extra cash for any unplanned purchases or experiences along the way!

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When is the best time to go to?

Selecting the optimal time to visit Isla de las Muñecas greatly influences the kind of experience you’ll have at this intriguing yet haunting location. The island, with its mysterious and somber atmosphere, can present different facets depending on the season and time of day you choose for your visit.

Seasonal Factors:

The climate in and around Xochimilco, where the island is located, is generally pleasant throughout the year, making it a year-round destination. However, consider avoiding the rainy season, which typically runs from May to September.

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Daytime Visits:

If you’re interested in a more straightforward sightseeing experience, where you can clearly see and photograph the dolls, a daytime visit is advisable. The natural daylight allows for better visibility and can make the island feel slightly less eerie, suitable for those who might prefer a less intense experience.

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Weekdays vs Weekends:

Weekends in Xochimilco can get quite crowded, with the canals bustling with locals and tourists alike, great for a party experience. For a quieter experience, consider visiting on a weekday when the crowds are thinner. This will give you a more personal and reflective experience as you navigate through the canals to the island.

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Evening visits to island of dead dolls
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

Go Late in the Evening for a Scarier Experience!

Tours to Isla de las Muñecas go until late, about 9 pm. For those seeking a truly spine tingling experience, planning to arrive on the island in the late evening is ideal. As the light fades and shadows grow, the silhouettes of hundreds of dolls become more pronounced against the dimming sky, creating an atmosphere that is both unnerving and captivating. The quiet of the evening, adds to the island’s mysterious allure. This timing is perfect for those who want to fully immerse themselves in the haunted and otherworldly essence of the Island of the Dead Dolls.

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What Else Can You Experience On The Xochimilco Boat Ride?

The journey to Isla de las Muñecas on a Xochimilco trajinera offers a multitude of experiences beyond the destination itself. Here are some of the highlights that you can enjoy during this unique boat ride.

See the Salamanders (or Ajolotes):

Xochimilco is renowned for its native axolotls, the fascinating Mexican walking fish. As you navigate the canals, look out for these unique amphibians in special conservation areas along the route.

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Drinking & Dancing:

The trajineras are known for their lively atmosphere. You can bring your own beverages and enjoy a floating party. Often, other boats with live bands pass by, offering the perfect opportunity to experience music and dance while on the water.

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Along the canals, you’ll encounter floating markets and vendors. They offer a variety of items, from traditional crafts and souvenirs to snacks and drinks. It’s a great way to indulge in some shopping while enjoying the scenic ride.

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Fun at Isla de las munecas
Courtesy of The Nomad Hive

Enjoy the time with your friends:

One of the best parts of the trajinera ride is the opportunity to relax and socialize with friends or family. It’s a shared experience that allows for bonding, conversation, and creating memories against the backdrop of Xochimilco’s picturesque canals.

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What to Bring?

When planning your trip to Isla de las Muñecas and a trajinera ride in Xochimilco, it’s essential to pack thoughtfully to ensure the most enjoyable experience. Here’s a recommended list of what we packed.

Hat, Sunscreen & Sunglasses:

The sun can be strong on the open water, so don’t forget sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from UV rays.

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Food and Drinks:

Since the trajinera ride is several hours long, bringing along snacks, a light meal, and drinks can make your journey more enjoyable. Many people treat the ride like a floating picnic.

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Staying hydrated is key, so pack enough water for everyone in your group, especially on warmer days.

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Having cash on hand is important for purchasing items from floating vendors or in case of any incidental expenses.

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Portable Speaker:

A portable speaker and a good playlist can enhance the atmosphere, especially if your trip is more of a leisurely excursion.

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That’s A Wrap!

In conclusion, a visit to Isla de las Muñecas, nestled in the canals of Xochimilco, is truly an authentic Mexican experience unlike any other. This Haunted Island Of The Dead Dolls is not just a destination; it’s a journey into a unique blend of history, folklore, and eerie beauty. From the lively trajinera ride through the ancient canals, filled with cultural sights and sounds, to the chilling yet fascinating encounter with the dolls themselves, each moment is steeped in mystery and intrigue.

If you’re looking for a less touristy experience in Mexico, you might be interested in The Best Non-Touristy Beach Towns in Mexico. Or, if you want to spend an extended amount of time in Mexico, take a look at the different visa options available for travelers and digital nomads.

Disclaimer: Links in this page are meant to help you find relevant information and book attractions easier by linking directly to specific pages on partner websites (i.e. TripAdvisor, If you click a link, we may earn a small commission on transactions. This helps support the cost of running our website, and it adds absolutely no extra cost to you as the consumer. Thank you, we appreciate your support! You can read more on our disclosure policy.

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I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".

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