Explore Isla Contoy, Mexico: Top Attractions, Activities, and More

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Explore Isla Contoy, Mexico: Top Attractions, Activities, and More

Welcome to the enchanting realm of Isla Contoy, nestled in the crystal-clear waters of the Mexican Caribbean, about 30 km north of Cancun.

It is a natural reserve that protects the flora and fauna of the region, especially the birds and turtles that nest there.

Isla Contoy is a place where you can enjoy the pristine beaches, turquoise water, and tropical breeze.

In this blog post, I will tell you everything you need to know about exploring Isla Contoy, Mexico, including how to get there, what to do, and where to stay.

Whether you are looking for a day trip or a longer stay, this charming Isla will offer you an unforgettable experience in the Mexican Caribbean.

Where is Isla Contoy, Mexico?

Isla Contoy is a small island in the northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

This unspoiled natural wonder is located a few kilometers off the coast of Cancun and near Isla Mujeres.

Isla Contoy is considered one of the best and most unique islands in Mexico.

You can reach the Island from Cancun, Isla Mujeres, or Puerto Morelos. These places have tour operators that offer a day trip to the paradisiacal Isla Contoy.

Just make sure they are certified by the Protected Area Authorities.

Otherwise, if your boat is inspected, you may not be allowed to enter the island. Most tours to Isla Contoy depart from Cancun and make a one-hour stop in Isla Mujeres.

You can also travel to Isla Mujeres on a ferry and sail to Isla Contoy on a separate tour.

With this option, you could take the opportunity to spend a night on Isla Mujeres to enjoy this vibrant tourist spot as well. Read more about Isla Mujeres.

There is no way to get to the island independently. Try to book in advance, as only 200 travelers per day can enter Isla Contoy. The national park fee is around 12 bucks, payable in cash on the island.

What’s Isla Contoy like?

isla contoy mexico
la isla

Again, Isla Contoy National Park is about 30 km north of Cancun, where the clear and turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea meet the Gulf of Mexico.

The Ixlaché reef south of Contoy marks the beginning of the second largest reef in the world, the Great Mesoamerican Reef.

Enjoy a relaxing trip in a comfortable boat with the best service, as bilingual guides provide you with all the information about the natural life that inhabits this beautiful island.

Have fun diving in this great reef and then enjoy a delicious lunch by the sea. A guided tour of the island and museum is included.

Contoy is one of the most beautiful islands in Mexico. The white sand and turquoise waters will take your breath away. Once you reach its beaches, you will enjoy unique landscapes.

Also, according to archaeological evidence, this Island was first visited in the third century B.C., although it is believed that it was never permanently inhabited due to the lack of fresh water.

In 1998 it was declared a Protected National Park and is heavily guarded. The regular inhabitants are researchers and biologists, and there is a limit of 200 visitors per day.

This destination captivated French biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau for its diversity, and to this day retains its natural beauty.

It has protected species of flora and fauna in its 230 hectares of paradise, home to magnificent natural wonders, such as the Ixlaché reef.

To preserve its semi-pristine beaches, this site has no hotels or places to stay. It can only be visited on a day tour, with plenty of time to enjoy it and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city and the daily routine.

If you want to know more about the island’s history or pre-Hispanic legacy, visit the local museum, where you will also learn more about the island’s unique flora and fauna.

What is there to do on Isla Contoy, Mexico?

isla contoy
Bathe in some of the most stunning beaches in the Mexican Caribbean

Isla Contoy is also known as Bird Island, due to the great diversity of birds that live and take refuge there.

In this park, you will find a sanctuary of protected species. In addition, during your visit to Isla Contoy, you can enjoy various activities.

Snorkeling is one of the main attractions since you will be able to observe the coral reef and all the marine life.

Also, Isla Contoy is a paradisiacal destination, ideal for those looking for virgin beaches, since this site is practically uninhabited.

Another great attraction is swimming with the largest fish in the ocean: the whale shark, a species that can measure up to 13 meters long, and here you will find the largest concentration of these animals.

Be careful where you step because there are many crabs in the area. You can also visit the lighthouse for a breathtaking panoramic view (free access).

Explore the Island on a tour

isla contoy

There are several tours to the island, which include round-trip marine transportation and snorkeling equipment.

The price will depend on where you depart from. For example, tours departing from Cancun cost approximately 90 USD for adults and 70 USD for children.

Some packages include insurance, a light breakfast, lunch, drinks, and even cocktails.

Always research and look for reputable tour operators to make the most of your day trip.

Don’t miss the Lighthouse

the lighthouse

The lighthouse is the highest point of Isla Contoy, from there you can see the whole island.

It is the best place to observe all the birds that fly around and around the island.

Admire the nature of the area

isla contoy
Perched Frigate Birds are popular on Isla Contoy

Again, this Island is uninhabited, therefore, there is no fresh water on the island.

Contoy is mainly covered with mangroves and is the main nesting site for birds in the entire Mexican Caribbean.

It is home to more than 150 bird species, including brown pelicans, more than 5,000 frigate birds with wingspans of up to 3 meters, and more than 3,000 cormorants.

The island is also home to a colony of flamingos and is a breeding ground for sea turtles. The waters around Contoy are home to many exotic fish species.

The crystal clear water around Isla Contoy allows a wonderful view of the underwater world.

A variety of colorful creatures live on the reef. And in the bay, next to the jetty of the tourist boats, manta rays glide fearlessly through the water among the bathers.

You can also find whale sharks near Contoy. During the mating season May to October, they visit the northeastern waters of the island.

Whale sharks are gentle creatures. They feed on plankton, however, they are the largest fish in the world with a length of up to about 13 meters.

When is the best time to visit Isla Contoy?

isla contoy

The tropical weather on Isla Contoy is quite predictable and easy to plan for.

Without much difference in temperature throughout the year (the average temperature stays around 83 degrees F), it is the rainy and hurricane season that most travelers should pay attention to.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but has the largest influx of tourists. If you’re not a social person, consider this.

May – October

The warmest and rainiest months of the year, but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm waters for snorkeling and diving.

Also, hurricane season peaks in September and October, so keep an eye on the forecasts and get travel insurance just in case.

Fewer tourists means you can usually expect lower rates at hotels, resorts, and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The fall-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Isla Contoy.

Hurricane season is over and humidity is low. It can be a bit chilly at night.


Isla Contoy stands as a pristine jewel in the Mexican Caribbean, offering an unparalleled experience for nature enthusiasts and beach lovers alike.

Whether you’re snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters, basking in the sun on the pristine beaches, or immersing yourself in the local traditions, Isla Contoy promises a unique and unforgettable adventure.

As you navigate through the various attractions and activities this paradise has to offer, you’ll find yourself not just on a vacation but on a journey to connect with nature, history, and the vibrant spirit of Mexico.

So, pack your bags, embark on this extraordinary voyage, and let the enchantment of Isla Contoy leave an indelible mark on your travel memories.

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