Isla Contoy is small uninhabited island about 20 miles North of Cancun. It is a designated national park and although visitors are welcome
only an absolute maximum of 200 a day are allowed to visit the island. The tour operator has to get a special pass for each person landing
on the island. This costs you an additional few dollars on top of the normal fee for reef snorkelling but is absolutely worthwhile.
The island is run by volunteers. About five stay on the island on a temporary basis. The operators running the boat trips to the island are themselves closely monitored and controlled. There are only two or three operators working out of Cancun that are allowed to land on the Isla Contoy. There are more who have not qualified for access to the island. Be aware there is a level of sour grapes with some of these failed operators who will try and convince you that the island is not worth the visit. A visit to the Isla Contoy and the associated reef snorkelling is worth every penny of your money and time. Find an operator that goes there. ( and do the reef snorkelling as well, even if you are a novice ). These approved operators give good value for money as well as showing an obvious concern for their environment.
Usually visitors arrive after having been snorkelling for an hour or so on the Great Mesoamerican reef. On arrival they then are taken on a short tour of the island, including climbing the blue watchtower. Then follows a large barbeque with lots of beer and wine. The natural instinct of many is to flop down on the beautiful beach close to the visitors center and have a doze. But you can always sleep later! Take my word for it, it is well worth using the short time you have on Isla Contoy for a little exploration. Stay to the paths but have a close look at the wonderful natural limestone wall that gets pounded by the sea. Watch the Hermit crabs scuttle by and watch the masses of Frigate birds as they circle the island.
There are no poisonous snakes on the Isla Contoy and no fresh water, which probably explains why it has been free from development so far.
The beaches are nesting grounds for several different species of turtle and there are over 100 different species of marine birds on the island.
The island is home to over 4000 Frigate birds. The inland lagoon and the surrounding mangrove are major nesting and rest over areas for these birds.
The picture above,on the left is one of those photos that really dissapoints you when you see it. The beach was beautiful and yet this
photo makes it look a little dirty and dull. It was anything but dirty and dull. True there was a little seaweed on the foreshore due to a
recent storm but otherwise it was bright and clean. The fault was with the photographer.
You only get about 4 hours on Isla Contoy. There are only a few exceptions to this, a handful of wildlife volunteers known as the
Amigos de Isla Contoy and the occasional passing scientist. Remember that even with only 4 hours you are one of the privileged few who
will ever get here. Only 200 people a day maximum will ever view this amazing place, and thats how it should be. The world is losing far too much of its wildlife havens to concrete.