Isla Contoy Tours
The Isla Contoy Tour from Cancun is somewhat of a secret. With only two boats (max 200 people total) allowed to visit per day for ecological reasons there are few tourists who take the opportunity to visit this fantastic wildlife paradise island.
If you've been to Isla Mujeres and done most of the busy popular tours then Isla Contoy should be on your list for your next Cancun visit.
Lying some 15 miles north of Isla Mujeres, Isla Contoy is 4 miles long and only 20 meters wide at it's narrowest point and just over a 2 hour boat ride from Cancun.
Inhabited only by wardens and biology students preparing their theses, it is the wildlife that rule here. There are 152 recorded species of birds (including egrets, terns, spoonbills, pelicans, flamingos and frigate birds). Plus reptiles, marine life and exotic plants, some of which are endemic to the Yucatan. (Endemic means they are found nowhere else in the world)
Isla Contoy Tours From Cancun
Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Only
Isla Contoy Day Trip:
Sea life is abundant and the tour includes a snorkel stop at the reef nearby en route, on our trip we saw barracuda, angelfish, butterfly fish and far too many other species I didn't recognize. We did however see stingrays swimming in only 4 inches of water. The stingrays were friendly and were happy to be stroked, but watch out for the tail, they get their name for a reason.
The island runs north - south with palm fringed white sandy beaches overlooking the bay on the western side. To the east a rocky shore buffeted by strong winds looks out over the vast expanse of the Caribbean Sea. It is here that the Whale Shark is sometimes observed. The Whale Shark is regarded as the largest fish in the ocean (yes it is a fish not a whale) weighing up to 15 tons and 46 feet long, its mouth can open up to be 4 feet wide! but it is a filter feeder and only eats plankton. On our visit in our tour guide had seen one early that morning, although on this occasion we, ourselves, were unlucky.
Our tour guide was a very educated girl from Mexico City, she was completing her PhD thesis on Isla Contoy, she led our group to the observatory tower for a steep climb up a spiral staircase which rewarded us with fantastic views in all directions across the whole island. We then made our way to a saltwater lagoon (there is no freshwater on Contoy) where hundreds if not thousands of Frigate birds were nesting. A short amble away and you are at the highest natural point of Contoy which looks out over the pounding surf of the Caribbean.
Lunch for us was a giant grouper which must have been 5 feet long, with salad, vegetables, rice, fruit and of course open bar. It was during lunch that we noticed iguanas basking in the sun and looking further, hundreds of hermit crabs in the bushes. Hermit crabs use an empty shell as their home and thus come in variety of forms, we were told that some hermit crabs had even been found to make their home inside coca cola cans!
Isla Contoy is certainly something different, and a little of a rarity in the Cancun area, if you want to visit an uninhabited, unspoiled, idyllic island surrounded by the warm Caribbean and filled with exotic life then take a day trip to Isla Contoy, you wont forget it.
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