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The Mysterious and Horrifying 'Island of the Dolls' in Mexico

Neha B Deshpande
Little is known that the beautiful Xochimilco canals of Mexico have an island that is home to hundreds of spooky, mutilated, and decaying dolls. How did these dolls find shelter on this island? Read to find out.

Famous Horror Movies with Spooky Dolls

  • Toy Story
  • The Conjuring
  • Child's Play
  • Annabelle
If you thought that creepy, bizarre dolls are limited to movies, you're wrong. There is a place on this Earth which is home to such spooky, mutilated, and abandoned dolls. Moreover, its spookiness makes it a magic tourist attraction. It is rather unusual as to what draws humans more to creepy places. 
Tourist attractions are meant to enchant you with their scenic beauty, but the story of the island 'Isla de las Munecas' located in the Xochimilco canals of Mexico is rather different. People visit the island just to experience the goose bumps that one gets by going there.
Popularly referred as 'La Isla de las Munecas' (Island of the Dolls), the island, which is to the south of Mexico City, is home to many abandoned dolls. Dolls usually look creepy because of their uncanny resemblance to human bodies, which gives us a feeling that there is life in them.
Then imagine the sight of hundreds of them hanging around, some with severed parts, hollow eyes, bizarre attire, hanging on trees, staring back at you. Spooky, isn't it?

But why would someone go on hanging scary and mutilated dolls across a lonely island? This is the story of how the island gained attention as a dark tourist spot.

Legends and Myths About the Dead Girl

  • It is not known whether he has fabricated this story, or it is a real incident. He lived as a hermit on that island for his entire life, and continued tying abandoned and mutilated dolls on the trees there to please the angry spirit of the child.
  • The owner of the island Don Julian Santana, apparently found a dead girl floating in the waters on island, and was distraught over the fact that he could not save her. Later, he found a doll floating, and believed that it was possessed by the spirit of the girl. In a bid to appease to spirit of the girl, he started hanging dolls on the trees around the area.
  • He used to fish out abandoned dolls from the waters, and instead of repairing them, positioned them in exactly the horrific state that they were. On top of that, the dirt accumulated on them over a period of time made them appear more eerie.
  • In fact, locals from the surrounding areas state that, sometimes, he also traded the produce which he cultivated on the island to buy used dolls from them. In short, this man dedicated 50 years of his life decorating the trees, not with beautiful lights, but scary dolls.
  • The dolls, in their mutilated, decaying form, look horrific indeed. Today, hundreds of mutilated dolls hang there, some with broken limbs, dressed shabbily, or undressed, and look at everyone with spine-chilling eyes. They're nothing less than a Hollywood blockbuster horror movie.
  • Also, eerily, in 2001, he (Don Julian Santana) was found dead in the same place where he claimed that he saw the girl. Since then, there have been tales surrounding the island. It is said that, the dolls are possessed by spirits, and locals claim that they have heard giggles and laughter.
  • Some claim that the dolls make strange sounds and whisper to each other. True or not, the mere sight of horrifying, decapitated dolls hanging on a lonely island is enough to send shivers down the spine of one and all.
  • Lots of superstitions roam around that the island since then. It is suggested that tourists bring a doll along to please the spirits of the dolls already there. Locals also claim that, Don Julian Santana often haunts the place, keeping a keen eye on the dolls and also on visitors.

Is the Island Open to Tourists?

Well, for those bravehearts who want to witness this site, it is definitely a tourist attraction in Mexico. However, it is usually not included in regular itinerary plans. Hence, you've to hire a ferry to the island with a willing driver who will stop at this destination. Of course, the charges will vary, but you need to ensure that booking is done in advance. It takes around 2 - 4 hours for the visit.

Spooky Pictures From the Island

Mangled doll hanging creepily

A doll with scary eyes

Hanging dolls on the lush green island

The Island of the Dolls is indeed one of the creepiest places on Earth. However, for those daredevils who would want to experience the thrill of spookiness, it is a major tourist attraction.
Nevertheless, if the background story is true, it is a rather unfortunate one. Whether it is indeed haunted or not is an unanswerable question; the sight though is intimidating enough to scare anyone.