Contoy Island is a small island in the Caribbean Sea very close to Cancun.
Because the island has been declared a protected area since 1961, it escaped the change of mass tourism and remain a tropical oasis. The island is protected as a nature reserve and inhabited only by few biologists who study the ecosystem of the island and there are some strict rules to obey, like only 200 people are allowed on the island per day and you are not allowed to use any sun creme of any kind.
It is the perfect place to be, for nature lovers. The island is also located in the transition zone between the warm, clear water of the Caribbean and the deep, cold water of the Gulf of Mexico, making the place a special one for scuba diving, dense vegetation, right biodiversity, and pristine beaches.
Unfortunately, you can’t go to this island on your own and you are forced to pay for a tour to visit it.
To arrive in Isla Contoy, you can take a tour either from Cancun or from Isla Mujeres.
Although many companies are operating this tour, fortunately, it is not very crowded. Contoy Island is less known compared to other Mexican Riviera spots.
We booked a tour with Contoyadventure and pay 100 USD for a tour. We had a snorkel stop, visit Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres.
This is not a paid post. It is our experience shared with you.
Description of the tour: Isla Contoy + snorkles+ Isla Mujeres
-The transfer from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum to Punta Sam Ferry terminal can be offered as an extra charged service.
The transfer from Playa del Carmen to Cancun is about 35 USD.
Way too expensive. So we used our rental to reach Cancun from Playa del Carmen.
-Light breakfast which is included in the tour
-9.30-10.00 Boarding the ship
-First, stop for snorkeling in Ixlache reef for 45 minutes
-Second stop Contoy island where you will have included a sightseeing tour of the island with our certified guide, lunch and free time.
-Third stop and the last one Isla Mujeres for about 60 minutes.
-Back at the pier at around 17.00
Most of the tour will offer almost the same things, maybe not exactly in this order.
Transfer to Punta Sam Pier in Cancun
The tour offered a transfer from the hotel to Cancun, but in our opinion, it was too expensive.
Therefore, we choose to use our rental for this transfer.
Our day started quite early in the morning.
We left our hotel in Playa del Carmen around 7.00 and drove to Cancun, Punta Sam Pier, the place of boarding.
The trip took us about 2 hours, so around 9.00 we reached the pier.
Once we reach the dock, while we wait for the others, we had some snacks and coffee, no extra charge.
You should not count on this breakfast, because is very frugal.
Moreover, you should pack some snacks. You won’t be able to find shops to buy some things if you would wish.
Snorkeling at Ixlache reef for 45 minutes
The first stop was at the Ixlache reef, is where the Mesoamerican reef begins, the second largest reef in the world.
Here we had the change to do some snorkeling and enjoy the beauty of the undersea.
This is an amazing experience. Floating above the water and see the coral reefs, colorful tropical.
On the way to Contoy Island, the weather changed. It started to rain and the sea started to be very agitated.
Once we reached the island, we had the chance to wander around.
It was raining but this didn’t stop us.
Of course, the island is more beautiful in the Caribbean sun, but we still found it very beautiful.
In no time, lunch came and we all were invited to have lunch.
We were served a local recipe, which included the famous Tikin Xic (dry fish). Tikin Xic is a whole fish split in two, marinated in delicious mixture.
Following the lunch, we had a guided tour around the island.
Don’t imagine that it was a long tour. After all, the island has just a few sandy tracks, which quickly took us on the other side of the island. There was nothing to do there, except to enjoy the beauty of nature. Except for the sandy white beaches and lush palm trees, the island boasts of bird species, making the island an important nesting place.
Later on, we had some free time to walk around the island or hang out at the beach.
A Quick Visit to Isla Mujeres
After we said goodbye to Contoy island, we board again to the boat and head over to the more famous Isla Mujeres.
The trip is about 50 minutes long.
Upon arriving at Isla Mujeres, we had about one hour of free time to walk around the island’s downtown area or the beach.
One hour is not much time, but it is enough to check out the charming town and the amazing North Beach in Isla Mujeres, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.
Isla Mujeres is a lay-back former fishing village, full of colorful buildings, surrounded by crystal clear waters.
It seemed to us to touristic.
The island is split into three district area:
-the north –also the most touristic part of the island because here you find lots of shops, restaurants, and its best beach.
-the mid-island- where are the locals and small family-run cafes
-the south- small guesthouses and more tranquility.
We reached the north part of the island and only one hour to spend here, there is not so much to be done.
North beach is that type of Caribbean dream.
We couldn’t stay long but it was enough to enjoy its beauty.
There are also other things to be taken into consideration if you can spend more time here. We advise you to rent a scooter for about 25-30 USD/day.
Go to the Garrafon Natural Reef Park
It is located in the south part of the island and there is a great natural adventure park with many fun activities like snorkeling, zip-lining and many more.
Explore the East Coast beaches
The east coast of the island is more rough with sheer cliff and rocky beaches but at the same time very beautiful. You can stop along the coast for a drink or two.
Snorkel in the famous underwater art Museum (MUSA)
Very close to Isla Mujeres there is a unique museum. It is called MUSA.
Here you will have the chance to snorkel and dive to see some very interesting statues on the bottom of the sea.
There are over 500 statues and they have turned into part of the coral reef.
Returning to Cancun
The trip back to Cancun is only about a 10-minute boat ride.
We returned to the same pier from where we took our rental and head back to our hotel.
We know that there are so many amazing things to do in Riviera Maya, but if you are a nature lover then you shouldn’t miss this tour.
Isla Contoy is a dream, a virgin Island on the edge of the Caribbean and bird sanctuary.
It is truly an amazing experience and the staff handling the tour were friendly and attentive.
The only downside of this tour is the price. To pay about 100 USD for a few hours tour seems a little too much.
Isla Contoy Tips
Here are 6 tips to make sure you have the best possible experience on your Isla Contoy tour:
- Make sure you bring a hat, something to cover your skin.
- It is advised to make your plans ahead of time as only a few tour operators are allowed to bring visitors to the island.
- 200 visitor max per day so tour space can be limited
- The trip between Cancun and Isla Mujeres to Isla Contoy will take around one to two hours
- The oils from sunscreens are harmful to both the coral reefs as well as the local marine life such as sea turtles.
- There is a 10 USD Deck and Preservation Federal Tax per Person that has to be paid in cash the dock
Isla Mujeres is indeed very beautiful but is also quite touristic. At the same time is it a good alternative to the more busy inland Mexico.
You can choose a day trip or an entire vacation here, and you won’t be sorry.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to enjoy everything that the island can offer.
This is not a paid post. It is simply our adventure.
Many companies are offering this tour it is best to choose the one that suits you.
We used Contoyadventure and we were very happy with their services.