Located at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, Isla Contoy is the most important nesting place for seabirds in all of the Mexican Caribbean. This little island, just 5 miles (8.5 km) long, is a protected nature reserve and a well-known spot for an eco-adventure.
Just 200 visitors are allowed on its silky-sand shores every day, arriving in boats that run from Isla Mujeres or Cancun (approximately a two-hour trip). Here you can sit on the beach and watch the brown pelicans and double-crested cormorants on the water, or head inland to the Puerto Viejo lagoon, an important nesting site. The island is uninhabited, and a trip here is like being a castaway for the day. Climbing up the observation tower provides you with a great view of the whole island.
It is not just the birds that love to nest here. Isla Contoy is an important nesting site for four types of sea turtle, with secluded palm-fringed, white-sand beaches giving them the chance to bury their eggs undisturbed. The water around the island is crystal clear, so you can see from your boat what is going on under the sea: great manta rays swooping around and plenty of tropical fish against a backdrop of coral.
Boat trips to the island typically stop at the Ixlache reef so that visitors can go snorkeling. Giant stingray, primary-colored parrot fish, clown fish, barracuda, and angel fish are just some of the species you might see—not to mention the turtles. Every summer, visitors have the chance to see the world’s largest living fish (the whale shark) pass by Cancun—a viewing trip may be incorporated on your watery safari. A trip to the island is certainty an adventurous addition to any journey to this part of the Mexican coast and is not to be missed.