The Horror of Doll Island

Mexico is a major tourist attraction for not only those Americans that love spring break in Cancun or Acapulco but for the world at large who come to see their fantastic beaches and drink some Tequila.  However there is a much creepier and perhaps haunted location that is starting to get a lot of tourist buzz in the canals of Xochmico near Mexico City.  It is known as the Island of the Dolls.  This small island is loaded from top to bottom with discarded dolls, many of which are missing limbs and all of which stare lifelessly at any visitor brave enough to walk among them.  Sound like a horror story to you….keep reading.

Island of the dolls1

As the story goes the island’s only inhabitant, Don Julian Santana, found the body of a drowned child in the canal some 50 years ago. He was haunted by her death, so when he saw a doll floating by in the canal soon after, he hung it in a tree to please the girl. He hoped to both appease her tortured soul and protect the island from further evil.  It is said that the only thing that would keep her apparition at bay was the placing of new dolls and doll parts throughout the island.  So for the next 25 years, until his death, Don Julian placed these discarded dolls throughout the little island in an effort to keep her satisfied.  In a strange and frankly slightly terrifying turn of events, Don Julian himself died by drowning in the same canal as this little girl.

Island of the dolls2

But what would possess a man to go to such extremes; to not only fish any doll or doll part out of the canals that he found but to trade his crops for dolls.  If we were going to “go down the rabbit hole” as the guys from MU are so fond of saying, perhaps there was the ghost of a little girl that needed to be appeased.  Perhaps she returned to the sight looking for her doll that she dropped while falling into the water that would claim her life.  Finding that she could not take it with her she would return often looking for one that she could bring with her onto another plane.

Or perhaps we need to look further back in time to where this land originated.  The canals themselves were built by the Aztecs that ruled this area hundreds of years ago.  Stories of cursed and haunted native lands abound in all corners of the Americas and this is no different.  The Aztecs often practiced human sacrifice to appease their Gods.  This being Aztec land perhaps the idea of sacrifice echoes throughout the area.  Don Julian appeased the Gods with his giving of the dolls, and when he was unable to continue the Gods drown him in the same way the little girl was taken.  Or perhaps Don Julian was simply so scarred by the sight of a little girl dead in the water where he lived that his mind made up the idea of pleasing the little girl and her spirit.

Antonina- Don Julian's favorite doll said to answer prayers

Now there are plenty of stories that visitors to the island report: the dolls eyes following the, limbs moving on their own, and the like.  To look at this from a logical sense it is more than likely a creepy island that will give many people an eerie and ominous feeling, a lot like going into a dark, dank basement on a stormy night.  The reality is however CREEPY does not equal HAUNTED.  It is logical and realistic to think that if you are going to a reported haunted location with as eerie a feeling as these mangled and bug infested dolls would give off, that you may get the feeling of someone watching you, limbs moving (though it could simply be a breeze picking up or your own body brushing up against them), and being followed.  But is the island really haunted?  I don’t know.  It is certainly somewhere that is worth reading about if you are a fan of the creepy and strange.

To read more about the island you can visit either  or .

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  1. You really can’t ‘visit’ the island per se. You can only glimpse at it from afar while taking a trip on one of the traditional trajineras circling the canals.

    Xochimilco is a pretty magical place, though. A fainting mirage of what the lake surrounding the mighty city of Tenochtitlán might have looked like. If you guys ever come down here, we’ll make a trip down there, hire a trajinera & bring a few bottles of Mezcal –We’ll give them dollies something to open their eyes for! 😉

    1. Jared Grace says:

      RPJ my friend…you got yourself a deal.

    2. Graham says:

      Hey RPJ!!

      Now we know where are all of your missing dolls ended up 😉


      1. Red Pill Junkie says:

        ‘Beyond the Island of the Dolls.’ That sounds like the title for a future Grimerica special 😛

  2. Jared Grace says:

    I love that idea. Let’s see what you guys can drudge up. You have a bigger forum than I here haha.

  3. Darren says:

    I’m in, but I get to pack the food for the TRIP 😉

    1. What’s this? You think you wouldn’t be able to find food to your satisfaction in the biggest city in the continent, sir??

      1. Jared Grace says:

        The food will be fine…it’s just the water we have to worry about right? 😉

        1. Ugh… that ole fear about the water.

          Nobody drinks water down here anyway; haven’t you heard? Mexico is the CocaCola capital of the world 😉

          1. Jared Grace says:

            I actually did not know this. The idea of drinking Coke on a hot Mexican day grosses me out though. Too much syrup, too dehydrated, I’ll bring my own water..perhaps some lemonade lol

          2. Suit yourself, vato.

            With that fancy Evian bottle in your hand, it will be almost as if you had a big ‘rich foreign tourist’ sign on your back 😛

      2. D-ron says:

        no I’m all about different foods I was thinking more along the lines of I’d be in charge of the food, saturday nights dinner boiled mushrooms………

  4. Jared Grace says:

    lmao not like my Irish/Scottish/French Canadian complexion wouldn’t give me away but I was thinking I might dump out a bottle of Corona and just keep filling it up at the hotel room. Always thinking here 😉

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