This small island off of Mexico’s Caribbean coast has become one of the most important nature reserves in the region, particularly for marine birds such as the brown pelican and the double-crested cormorant. The tropical paradise, of which more than 70% is covered in mangrove forest, is home to white sand beaches and palms, as well as an extensive reef just off of its shores. Because the island is well protected, it is believed to have some of the best snorkeling and bird watching in the country.
At only five miles in length, Isla Contoy can make visitors feel like they have their own private tropical island. In addition to serving as a secluded getaway, the island is an important nesting ground for both local birds and sea turtles.
Trails wind throughout the island, offering views of the turquoise waters and beaches as well as many opportunities to see local wildlife. Guided tours take visitors through the wilderness and often include snorkeling on the beautiful Ixlache Reef.
Isla Contoy is about 30 miles north of Isla Mujeres, which is a short ferry ride from Cancun. Access is granted to a maximum of 200 daily visitors, so the area is best visited with a tour group to obtain the necessary permits.