When you visit Cancun, make time to see the surrounding sights, too. Off the Mexican coast, you can visit Isla Contoy, an uninhabited island steeped in natural history. The islands’ only human residents, a handful of scientists living there to study its habitat, share the island with four species of sea turtles and 150 species of tropical birds.
Located on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Isla Contoy offers one of the best Cancun Snorkeling locations, plus white sand beaches for those who prefer to sunbathe. Northeast of the Mexican Yucatan peninsula, the unique destination provides a respite from the tourist shops and street vendors of Cancun. Many vacationers compliment its change of pace from the major Mexican cities and call it “the best part” of their trip to Mexico.
The Reef stretches for 650 miles, stretching the length of the Caribbean coast of Central America. The Reef borders many of Central America’s vacation highlights – Isla Contoy, Belize, Guatemala, and the Bay Islands in Honduras.
How to Get to Isla Contoy
While most Mexican destinations offer a number of ways to get there, this island receives special protection from the Mexican government. The only way to reach it is by tour boat. A visitor limit of 200 individuals per day limits access to the island. Even if you could rent a boat on your own, the tours claim all of the visitor spots and the Mexican government makes no exceptions. If you aren’t one of the 200 ticket holders per day, you cannot visit the island that day.
The tours typically cost $100 to $150 for a one-day visit. Many of these tours also include a visit to Isla Mujeres, a nearby location.
You do get quite a bit for your money. The cost provides both breakfast and lunch on the ship, plus drinks and snacks. You visit two island locations, one of which few people get to visit. You also get to stop at Ixlache Reef for snorkeling.
The tours also typically provide a shuttle from your hotel to the boat, so long as you are either staying in Cancun, Riviera Maya, or Playa del Carmen. You’re booking an all-day tour as it lasts from 9 am to 5 pm.
Things You Need to Take with You
You will need pesos for the trip. The island has a $10 park entry fee, and it is cash only.
You cannot apply sunscreen or bug repellent on the island. You must do this before you go on the boat. Both items contain chemicals that harm the reefs and the government banned them to protect nature. You should either spray yourself before getting on the boat or purchase a bug repellent bracelet.
The boats and the island ban smoking. If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, you will need to wear a patch because you cannot light up on either.
Pack a backpack or tote bag with your swimsuit, a change of clothes, shoes, a hat, a beach towel, binoculars, and, if you get seasick or car sick, Dramamine.
Purchase travel insurance before you go on the boat if you did not already for your whole vacation. This just provides you extra protection.
Planning Your Isla Contoy Trip
You can visit the uninhabited island of Isla Contoy to view four endangered species of sea turtles and a plethora of tropical birds. You must plan ahead, beat the rush to buy your tour tickets, and pack artfully. You cannot spend the night on the island even to camp, so consider it a day trip only.