Isla Contoy is a small island located about 30 kilometers north of the famous Isla Mujeres. The island is tiny, with only 8.5 kilometers in length and an area of 3.17 square kilometers in total. It was declared a national park in 1998 and is heavily controlled by the government – only a few tour companies can operate here and they are only allowed to bring in maximum 200 visitors per day. Aside from that, each visitors needs a special permit to enter the island, which can be obtained in Isla Mujeres and Cancun.
Despite the fact that 200 visitors are allowed each day, only a few dozens visit it, making Isla Contoy a paradise for those who prefer a quiet and solitary off-the-beaten-track beach to relax in.
The island is rich in landscapes: on the western coast, you’ll be able to relax in the white sand beaches under tall palm tress. On the eastern side, the beaches are covered with calcareous rocks. Inland, you’ll be able to find lagoons, jungles, and even sand dunes.
Fauna: The reserve acts as a sanctuary to a rich variety of marine wildlife. Among the most notable animals are four different endangered species of turtle which find a safe home to nest in from April to October. These species of turtles are the Loggerhead Caretta Caretta, the Green Chelonia Mydas, the Hawkbill Eretmochelys Imbricata and the Leatherback Demochelys. A few meters from the mainland exists a reef and the life in it is clearly visible from afar as the water around the island is extremely crystalline. Contoy Island is truly one of the most breath-taking places you will ever snorkel or scuba dive in.
Birds: With over 150 species of birds roaming around, half of which permanently reside on the island and the other half being migratory, Isla Contoy is a haven for those who enjoy birdwatching. Isla Contoy is mostly famous for homing pelican coffees and it is one of the largest populations in the Caribbean – they nest and reproduce here. Isla Contoy is considered the most important nesting place of tropical birds in the Mexican Caribbean.
Flora: in total, 98 different species of plants have been identified here. The most common plant found in the island is the mangrove, which covers about half of the total area.
In the island, you will also be able to find a visitor center, a pier, a museum, resting areas with benches and a grill, a watchtower and even a souvenir store.
The island is host to a group of biologists who monitor and study the ecosystem in the island as well as regulate tourism and fishing.