Marc Hoover:
Mexico’s island of creepy dolls

As long as mankind has existed, people have collected dolls. As someone who has collected comics and magazines, I don’t understand the fascination in collecting dolls.

Maybe I have watched too many Twilight Zone episodes about dolls that come to life and terrorize people.

So imagine a creepy tourist site inhabited solely by withered and decaying dolls.

Marc Hoover

After studying different haunted locations, I found an island in Mexico to be one of the spookiest places on Earth.

The Isla de Las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls) is the home of one of Mexico’s spookiest legends. Imagine an island with nothing but lifeless eyes made of plastic watching your every move. But depending on who you ask, these eyes may not be so lifeless.

Supposedly, a dead girl’s spirit haunts the island through the eyes of over 100 grotesque dolls.

I have seen pictures of the island and they are terrifying. According to the official Isla de Las Muñecas website, a man named Don Julian Santana Barrera once cared for the island. Julian left his wife and daughter to become the island’s caretaker until his death. While working on the island, he allegedly found the body of a dead girl floating in a canal. He also found a doll he assumed belonged to the girl. Don Julian thought the girl’s spirit haunted the island.

As a tribute to the deceased girl, the bewildered caretaker hung the doll from a tree to honor her memory. Although reclusive, Don Julian still didn’t mind the company of visitors. He even made extra money by charging for pictures and shared stories about the dolls. Don Julian collected dolls for 50 years before he died in 2001. Ironically, he died in the same canal as the alleged dead girl.

Visitors keep Don Julian’s tradition alive by bringing dolls and hanging them in the trees. Over the years the dolls have survived heavy winds, rain and other harsh elements.

However, Don Julian’s family didn’t believe his story about the dead girl. They said he lived a reclusive life and was delusional. But then being on an island with a bunch of lifeless dolls can make anyone delusional. Julian became obsessed with the dolls as he collected them and dressed them in different costumes. Not only he hang his dolls from the trees but he kept them inside his cabin.

The island has been the topic of various television programs and ghostly tales. Although people live near the island, no one lives on the island once occupied by Don Julian. Locals believe his spirit has now become one with the island. Perhaps Julian loved the island so much that he continues to live on the island inside one of his beloved dolls.

Visitors have made strange claims about the dolls.

Supposedly, the dolls whisper to one another at night, and the eyes and limbs move.

Part of the island’s legend is that each doll houses the spirit of a dead girl.

Does the spirit of an unidentified dead girl haunt the Island of the Dolls? No can either prove or disprove this belief.

But the late Don Julian believed this to be so. Furthermore, Julian’s family claim the dead girl story could be fictitious since no one has found a grave or any signs of a dead child.

But, it’s possible that Don Julian burned the body or return her body back to the canal. Visitors can tour the island if they aren’t too afraid. The island isn’t easily accessible and takes three to four hours by boat. If you visit, don’t forget to bring a doll for the island.

Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page Life with Grandpa and he also just wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on