This secluded island which is lined by pristine palm-lined beaches and idyllic turquoise waters is a paradise just waiting to be explored. Picture-perfect, Isla Contoy National Park protects the island after which it is named and the tropical marine birds that reside within it. An important nesting area for four type of marine turtles, eco-tourism to the island is strictly managed to preserve its unique ecosystem.
Whether it is snorkeling in its clear waters, wandering along the perfect beaches or taking a boat trip to better gaze upon this astounding natural beauty, Isla Contoy needs to be seen to be believed.
History of Isla Contoy National Park
Based on findings made on the island like ceramic ítems it has been calculated that the island would have been occupied since 300-200 bc, even before consolidation of the mayan culture, in the period known as “preclassic superior”. The island was a part of the ancient pre-hispanic maritime route that linked the Laguna de Terminos with all the Caribbean islands that covered all the Yucatan peninsula’s coast.
During the colony its surrounding waters were witness of naval battles between galleons and pirate ships as well as shipwrecks. The first oficial news out of the island comes from John L. Stephens back in 1892 who specially mentioned the presence of a large number and different kind of birds, other sources mentioned that, during the 50´s, the island was temporary inhabited by turtle camps, this activity remained for a while and it represented an important activity for the locals up to 20 years ago.
During Porfirio Diaz presidency, in the late 1800’s and early 1900´s, the lighthouse for the island was constructed. Back then the Island was already called “Island of birds” and it began to be recognized as a sanctuary. Mexican ecological authorities and naturists began top ay attention to the island shortly after 1950.
Where is Isla Contoy National Park ?
Isla Contoy is a small island in the northeast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This untouched natural wonder is just a few miles off the coast of Cancun and near to Isla Mujeres. Isla Contoy is widely considered one of the best and most unique of the Yucatan islands. Located on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the second-longest coral reef system in the world), Isla Contoy is in a perfect spot for turquoise Caribbean waters, white sand beaches, and world-class diving and snorkeling. This is DEFINITELY the island life.
The Best Time to Visit Isla Contoy National Park
Looking for the best time to go to Isla Contoy? The tropical climate in Isla Contoy is quite predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F) it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.
January – April
Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.
May – October
The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.
November – December
The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Isla Contoy. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.
How to Get to Isla Contoy National Park
You can only visit Isla Contoy through a boat tour company as there is no way of reaching the island on your own. To preserve the island’s lush natural habitat, it has a limit of 200 guests per day. Most tours offer roughly the same package, so you can choose the one that is most convenient for you.
Generally, a tour to Isla Contoy:
Costs between $100-175 USD and typically includes Isla Mujeres as well.
Includes a light breakfast, drinks and snacks on the boat, and lunch.
May offer hotel pickup in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Riviera Maya (optional for an extra fee).
Takes you to Ixlache Reef to snorkel.
Lasts from 9 am – 5 pm (not including pickup time).
Does not include a $15 national park fee (payable in cash at the island).
What You Need To Know
Before going on the trip, you should review your tour’s information and guidelines. Some important general information that you should know includes:
Sunscreen and bug repellent are not allowed on the island to protect the fragile reefs. You need to apply both (reef-safe biodegradable) before going on the boat.
There is no smoking on the island or the boat.
You should bring a swimsuit, change of clothes, comfy shoes, sunglasses, a towel, a hat, binoculars, and $10 for the park entrance fee with you. Check out our What To Pack Guide for great tips and recommendations.
If you tend to get seasick, consider bringing some Dramamine.