Introducing Jaina Island
Jaina Island is a small limestone island in the Yucatan Peninsula about 50 miles north of the city of Campeche. Jaina was once an elite Maya burial site with an estimated 20,000 graves, of which about 1,000 have been excavated, and it is famous for the ceramic figurines which are found in the graves. The graves contain the human remains with one or more ceramic figurines on their chest or held in their hands as well as glassware, slate ware, pottery, hand woven cotton mats or other ceremonial objects. The island was first settled about 300 AD and was abandoned about 1200 AD. At present there is no park, no facilities, and it is closed to the public.
Present-day ruins consist of two small plaza groups and a ballcourt. Visitors may also explore the island to enjoy the marine wildlife.
There is no museum on the island, but the famous figurines found there can be seen in museums around the world. The figurines are made of orange clay about 10 – 25 inches tall and are often painted. They are in a realistic style and reveal glimpses of the daily life of the Maya elite. They are “generally regarded as the finest figurine art produced throughout the ancient Americas”.
How To Get There
Jaina Island is closed to the public, but it is possible to get a special permit to go there. The best way would be to see a travel agent in Campeche who can do the paperwork and quickly get a permit. Once the permit is obtained, the travel agency can arrange for boat transportation to the island. It is also possible to access the island by land, but it is complicated.
Individuals can apply for a permit in person at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Campeche. The INAH or the Campeche state tourist office can offer assistance in getting transportation and guide service.