Isla's strategic location between Cuba and the Yucatan, and between South America and Europe, plus the protective waters of the Lagoon Makax made a perfect paradise for nearby fisherman and a perfect refuge for pirates and buccaneers. It was from the Yucatan that the Spanish transported massive amounts of gold to Europe and the pirates took advantage of the opportunity to plunder the merchant ships. Legend has it that they stashed their women "for safe-keeping" here while they went out plundering and picked them up later, another reason Isla maybe have been given the name which means “The Island of Women”.
Famous Pirates like Henry Morgan, El Olonés, Diego el Mulato, Lorencillo, Pata de Palo and Jean Lafitte are said to have walked the beaches. As legend goes, they also buried their stolen treasures and jewels under the white sands on the island.
Captain Jean Lafitte was rumored to have made Isla Mujeres his base towards the end of his life. There are many different accounts how, when and where Jean Lafitte died and where is body lies. Some say that he was killed by a Spanish warship out at sea, but his biographer, Jack C Ramsey, in his book “Jean Lafitte: Prince of Pirates”, wrote that Lafitte died on Isla Mujeres in 1826 from dengue fever.