Isla Contoy in the State of Quintana Roo
approximately 20 Nautical Miles north of Cancún is located at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The island, with it's 5 Miles length, is considered the most important nesting place of sea birds in the Mexican Caribbean.
Protected by the Mexican government since 1961, and declared a National Park February 1998, the Island is presently jointly taking care of by the Mexican Commission of National Protected Areas (CONANP) and the Cancun-based Non-Governmental Organization, Amigos de Isla Contoy A. C.“ (AIC)
Besides its unparalleled beauty, secluded sandy white beaches and lush palm trees, the island boasts more than a hundred migrating and resident bird species, of which the most numerous and easy to observe are the frigate, the brown pelican and the double-crested cormorant. The island is also an important nesting place for Sea Turtles. From April to October, four species of turtles, which are currently in danger of extinction (loggerhead Caretta Caretta , Green Chelonia Mydas , Hawksbill Eretmochelys Imbricata and Leatherback Dermochelys c .), find, on the beaches of Contoy Island, a safe haven for nesting.
So far, 98 species of plants have been identified, of which the most important are the four species of mangrove that cover more than 50% of the of the island's surface. These trees grow around the lagoons in the interior of the island because they are able to deal with the high degree of salinity and excess water present in this environment.
Visitors to the island should bring sunglasses, caps, biodegradable sunscreen, mosquito repellent, photographic equipment and binoculars.
The island is also host to a group of government-sponsored biologists who continually monitor and investigate the ecosystem of the island. It also supports supervised eco tourism and regulated commercial fishing. Existing facilities on the island consist of a visitor center with a pier; a museum, a resting area with benches and palapa huts; a grill for barbecue; a twenty-meter high Panoramic tower and two walking-paths along which visitors are able to learn about the local flora and fauna.
Before arriving at Contoy Island, time and weather conditions permitting, visitors can stop on the way and snorkel the incomparable beauty of the Ixlache Reef, home to countless marine species.
On reaching the island, visitors can enjoy a guided tour led by the trained host of the boat they arrived on and additional questions will be answered by one of the resident biologists. After savoring a delicious meal highlighted by the chef's specialty, BBQ Fish Tikin xik you may relax on this beautifull beach or explore the new anderwater museum. Part of the proceeds from excursion fares, additional activities and souvenir store, will be used to support the continued scientific work that will ensure the conservation and sustainability of the island for the benefit of future generations.
The excursion to the park is by few officially allowed boats. These sail from Isla Mujeres or Cancun around 9.00 a.m. Depending on the weather and the type of boat, the trip should take one to two hours. Return time is estimated between 4 and 5 p.m. If you plan to visit the island in your own vessel, you are required to apply for permission first . This can be arranged (3 days in advance) at the Park offices in Isla Mujeres or Cancun.