Hello Questers!, my name is Sabrina! Today I will tell you about a small but spectacular piece of land in the middle of the Caribbean sea, near my hometown Cancún; this magical island, I recently visited for the first time.
In the state of Quintana Roo, near Isla Mujeres, there is a small paradisiacal island named Isla Contoy, also known as the famous "Island of the Birds." Just by telling you that is a protected national park, I think you'll get a good idea of all the beauty, the magic, and plenty of wildlife you'll find here!
To preserve its ecosystem, Isla Contoy is limited to 200 people a day to reduce the carbon footprint in this protected area. However, keep reading if you want to find out how you can visit it and be one of the few to witness this heavenly island.
First Stop: Isla Mujeres
We arrived around 9:00 a.m. at the marina in Cancun to board the catamaran, and we were greeted with some refreshing mimosas to set sail in style. The mesmerizing turquoise blue of the Caribbean Sea on the Cancun-Isla Mujeres stretch made it clear to us why this is one of the most visited destinations in the world!
If you don't believe me, admire this beautiful view I photographed aboard:
Our ride to Isla Mujeres lasted approximately an hour, and during that time, the catamaran staff taught us about the measures we should follow at all times to preserve the marine wildlife and the right way to make a safe descent into the sea.
Land in sight! Before disembarking at Isla Mujeres, we enjoyed a short guided snorkeling session. We were very fortunate to get close to a nearby school of fish – a colorful spectacle of nature that made us forget how cold the water was at the time!
Upon arriving at the port of Isla Mujeres, we had the opportunity to explore the island. You can buy clothes and souvenirs downtown and enjoy a delicious and fresh ceviche by the seashore.
Snorkeling left me tired, and that was just the beginning of the trip! So I took the chance to have a relaxing massage by the beach for only $25 USD!
What I loved most about Isla Mujeres is that everything is relatively close. Walk a couple of minutes, and you'll eventually arrive at Playa Norte, considered one of the most beautiful beaches by visitors worldwide and prestigious travel magazines. And trust me, you will feel like you're in a dream when you see just how beautiful it is!
After enjoying our free time, we returned to the boat to head to our main destination, about 20 miles north of Isla Mujeres.
Welcome to paradise!
If you've loved this adventure so far, get ready because we are about to discover a true hidden jewel of the Mexican Caribbean: Isla Contoy!
Just south of Isla Contoy lies the second-longest barrier reef in the world; the Great Mesoamerican Reef. On our way to Isla Contoy, we saw giant sea turtles coming up to the surface for air; I counted more than 20 of them! All of us on board were captivated by this magical moment because, without a doubt, witnessing this unreal display of marine life in absolute freedom is priceless.
When we arrived at the island, we were greeted by a peaceful atmosphere full of life. The dazzling sun, the shimmering sea, and the beautiful endemic species you can find here are part of this incredible landscape that is hard to find elsewhere near the area.
We first visited the Isla Contoy museum, where you can find a map of the entire island. Here, you can also learn about all the types of marine and terrestrial species, including dolphins, turtles, crabs, whales, birds, and many others.
After leaving the museum, we continued exploring the island until we arrived at the nesting lagoon. At first glance, this place seems like a very quiet place, but when you look closely, you will notice that all the vegetation is full of birds and nests. The mangroves are favorable for incubating and breeding, so you will be able to find more than 250 different kinds of birds, such as terns, herons, frigate birds, and more.
We enjoyed a pleasant moment of tranquility, contemplating the lagoon and all birds and other species that live in absolute calm due to the lagoon being free of predators.
Continuing with the tour, we walked over dunes and vegetation to reach the top of the island's lookout point. Despite the intense sun, the sea breeze, and the strong wind, create a weather that was more than ideal to go out and explore.
The island's lookout point offers one of the most majestic views of the breathtaking Gulf of Mexico. This site is ideal for observing the entire island, so picture what a beautiful experience it is to have the opportunity to see the whole island! Nothing but white sand, the calm waving of the ocean and the incredible rain forest!
Before returning to the city, we enjoyed a delicious buffet and took a dip in the crystalline waters of the beach of this paradisiacal island.
Once on board, and to everyone's surprise, the Caribbean Sea still had one final gift left for us that day: a beautiful sunset that I will always remember!
There are many incredible things to do in the Riviera Maya. As a GlobeQuest Member, you have access to unbeatable rates at the best resorts in the Mexican Caribbean.
So, if you're planning a trip to Cancun, don't miss the opportunity to have a one-of-a-kind experience on Isla Contoy, a true heaven on earth.