Did you ever experience someone calling out your name on a creepy night? Or felt something scratching, lurking around you all the time? Well, I know an island that might excite you if you want to get the vibe.
Brace yourself! In the south of Mexico City, the Island of the Dead Dolls, having hundreds (thousands!) of decapitated dolls with/without heads, missing eyes is now ready to take you onto your ultimate adventure.
The haunted island of La Isla de las Muñecas, alternatively called the Island of the Dead Dolls got the fame right after a Mexican filmmaker set out to make a film on it. Many famous local, international channels like the Huffington Post, Travel Channel, ABC News started featuring the island in their shows and articles.
Soon after, the island became a curiosity among travelers, making it a popular tourist destination to visit.
Where exactly is the island of dead dolls? How to get there?
All you need to do is to reach Embarcadero Cuemanco (name of the dock), walk up to hundreds of colorfully painted gondolas on Xochimilco lake, and rent one. During the boat ride of around 2 hours, you will also get to see pelicans, kingfishers, egrets dwelling around.
As you gradually go forward, you will get to see lots of abandoned boats, beheaded dolls floating around the quiet waters, and a strange silence all around. There you are, at the creepy yet mysterious island of Mexico City.
It all started with the Little Dead Girl…
Why is the island called ‘the island of the dead dolls‘? Aren’t you excited to know the story behind all those creepy stuff?
Let’s go back to the 1950s. In the middle of the 20th century, there was a man named Don Julian Santana Barrera, a native of Xochimilco. One day, he left everything at home and started his journey seeking peace and solitude.
Leaving his wife and children, he sailed through Teshuilo Lake and arrived on a deserted, small island. Days went, he had lived on that island as a caretaker. But on a spooky day, he saw a girl drowning but couldn’t save her. Not being able to rescue the young girl from drowning, he was devasted.
When Don Julian found the drowned girl, he had also seen a doll floating not much away from the spot. On her memory, he decided to pick that up and hung the doll in a tree.
Mysterious incidents started appearing the day after. Local legend says that Don Julian was haunted by the dead girl’s spirit right after he had found her. He could sense the doll whispering into his ears every day. Don Julián Santana Barrera was very sure that the lost soul of that young little girl got trapped in that doll hanging in the tree.
To please her dead spirit and other dead girls, he started hanging more dolls. He would find abandoned dolls in the channel floating from nowhere and hang them in the woods.
Eventually, the entire island got filled with decapitated dolls. Some didn’t have heads, some were missing their eyes, but Don Julien wouldn’t care! He kept on building his own empire of abandoned dolls, turning the whole island into a spooky, horrifying, weird place to visit. Thus, the island of the dolls got its very name from the story of a young deceased girl, her doll, and Don Julian Santana Barrera.
Strange right? But, some locals wouldn’t believe this story and called Don Julian a person with a disturbed mind. Some would say no dead body was spotted in the water like what he claimed; it was all in his mind.
But, they all do agree at the point, Don Julian started hanging old ripped discarded dolls and unknowingly made ‘the island of the dead dolls’ a tourist attraction.
What happened next? Well, under mysterious circumstances, after half a century, Don Julian Santana Barrera was found dead exactly at the same spot, where he claimed to have found the young girl drowned. No one knows the reason. Maybe he was possessed by the deceased girl!
Locals claim that they have seen the dolls coming into life and even heard the dolls whispering to each other at night. Maybe the dead spirit of Don Julian joined them too!
What to expect in the Island of the Dead Dolls?
It’s time to give you a picture of the island and an idea of how much you need to spend. So, this small island is around 17 miles away from Mexico City’s center. Reaching Xochimilco, get to Embarcadero Cuemanco Dock and rent any one boat from hundreds standing by.
The tour to the island of the dead dolls is a four-hour round trip and would cost $75 US Dollars. Your boat ride will be complemented by some floating eateries, from where you could buy some snacks for the day.
As you start your journey through the calm waters of Teshuilo Lake, you will see abandoned boats dumped by the sides and decaying dolls floating around. When you see a bamboo boundary and thousands of dolls hanging from the trees, then you must take hold of yourself. You are about to reach the small creepy island.
Surreal and scary at the same time!
Passing through a narrow way with headless dolls on both sides, the first thing that will excite you is the cabin of Don Julián Santana Barrera. You will be surrounded by some scary decade-old dolls, which were hung by the person himself. Could you imagine living among these dolls in a tiny wooden cabin by yourself? Don Julien did (strange man!).
In that cabin, you will find his photo and all the original stuff he used to hung. There is so much stuff like the newspaper clippings, his belongings, and the actual doll he found on that deadliest day. That doll did not have any feet or any arms!
Moving ahead, you will find a shrine of his supposed favorite doll, named “Augustinita”, and an offering place in front of it. If you want, you can offer any amount. Who knows, it might calm the dead girls’ spirit for the time being.
Movies and Travel Shows on The Island of The Dead Dolls
If you want to have more information about the island of the dead dolls, be sure you go through the travel shows aired by local and international channels.
Island of the dolls (Sebastian Mantilla)
In 2018, a filmmaker named Sebastian Mantilla documented the whole incident and made a movie on it. “Island of the dolls” revolves around Emily, a British Journalist. She went to the island of the dead dolls to research and uncover some mysterious incidents of 1957. Did she succeed? Or was she drawn to the haunted waters of Xochimilco?
Watch the movie trailer below:
Fear on the Island of Dolls (Travel Channel)
Travel Channel: an internationally acclaimed travel show, conducted a special investigation on the island. Paranormal investigators Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin were part of that team. They beautifully documented every scare, every terror related to it.
Terror on Doll Island (Discovery Channel)
Jessica Chobot, Phil Torres, and their Discovery Channel Team went to this mysterious island to feature it in their ‘Expedition X’ series. Jessica’s encounter with a doll strolling over her head, some creepy voices calling out for ‘help!’, all these experiences had made the episode terrifying yet an interesting one to watch.
The island got featured in Episode 3 of 1st Season of the series. Want to watch the episode right away?
Mysterious Island Draws Tourists to Mexico (Al Jazeera English)
Al Jazeera English, one of the finest news channels in the world, did step up for covering this strange island in their report. The team interviewed Anastasio Santana Velasco, the nephew of Don Julian Santana, who told the actual story that started with his uncle.
The episode also features some other legends related to the Xochimilco lake. Some are even from the 10th century (whoa!).
All these news/blogs/travel shows have mentioned the island of the dead dolls as a unique place to visit. The Island of the Dead Dolls has become the choicest destination for travelers, Ghoshunters from everywhere.
Want to visit? Be careful!
Are you excited to visit the island? Calm down! There is a thing you need to note before planning your trip. On the way, you will find some fake islands pretending to be Isla de las muñecas. They would hang dolls like Don Julien did and scam people claiming it to be the original island.
Be sure you stay away from such scams and research all these islands before setting your foot into the island of the dead dolls. There might be two to three fake doll islands pretending to be the original one. Do keep your eyes open!
There is one life; make the most out of it. Explore places, learn and enjoy!
People from all corners of the world are now aiming to visit this spooky island in Mexico City and, they have a good reason for doing so. Why not you too? Aren’t you adventurous enough?
You are two-step behind to book your tickets and experience the terror on this remote island. Fly now to Mexico City and live the story in your own skin on Isla De Las Muñecas or the Island of the Dead Dolls.
If you are a person of history, culture, art, tradition, mouth-watering cuisine, and architecture, read 6 Best Cities Of Mexico and plan your vacation to Mexico City.
Loved the article? Do let us know what do you think of it.
Is the island of the dead dolls really spooky or, are they some self-made stories to lure tourists? Comment below your thoughts.