Tourist guide to visit Isla Contoy National Park

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Isla Contoy is a perfect place for nature lovers. This corner of the Mexican Caribbean is not only a popular tourist destination, but also a national park, a bird sanctuary and a Protected Natural Area (PNA). It is also a Ramsar site, which means it is vital for the conservation of wetlands.

The island, which is only 9 kilometers long, plays a crucial role in the ecological balance of the region. Its name comes from the Mayan words “Kom” (low) and “To’oy” (shelter), as it used to serve as a refuge for sailors and fishermen. Another theory suggests that the name derives from “Pontó,” which in Mayan means pelican. It is also known as the island of birds due to the large number of birds that live there.

Birds flying at Isla Contoy National Park.
Birds flying in Isla Contoy
Pic by Suwanosejima from Wiki Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0

How to get to Isla Contoy National Park?

From Cancun: To get to Isla Contoy National Park, you must first head to Cancun. The easiest and fastest way is to take a flight to Cancun International Airport, which has connections to many cities around the world. From the airport, you can take a cab or bus to downtown Cancun.

Maritime transportation: Once in Cancun, you will need to take a boat tour to get to Isla Contoy. There are several tour companies that offer day trips, departing mainly from Puerto Juarez and the Cancun hotel zone. These tours usually include boat transportation, bilingual guides and snorkeling equipment.

Why is it a good place to visit?

Isla Contoy National Park is a unique destination for several reasons:

Biodiversity: It is home to more than 150 species of birds, including the iconic double-crested cormorant and the brown pelican. In addition, its crystal clear waters are home to a rich marine fauna, such as turtles and rays.

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Palms on Isla Contoy in Mexico wiki image.
View of the palm-lined beach on Isla Contoy
Pic by Giorgio Galeotti from Wiki Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0

Conservation: Isla Contoy is a protected area, which guarantees the preservation of its natural environment. Visits are regulated to minimize human impact, allowing tourists to enjoy an almost virgin environment.

What to do in Isla Contoy National Park?

Starfish in Isla Contoy.
Looking at starfish in the Isla Contoy waters
Pic by Giorgio Galeotti from Wiki Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0

Snorkeling and diving

The waters around Isla Contoy are ideal for snorkeling and diving. You can explore coral reefs and observe an impressive diversity of marine life. Many excursions include stops at popular snorkeling spots such as Ixlaché Reef.

Bird watching

Birds flying at Isla Contoy National Park.
Birds flying in Isla Contoy
Pic by Suwanosejima from Wiki Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0

For nature lovers, bird watching is a must-do activity. The island has several trails and observation towers that will allow you to admire birds in their natural habitat. Don’t forget to bring good binoculars and a camera with a good zoom.

Hiking

Hiking the island’s trails is an excellent way to explore its biodiversity. There are guided routes that take you through mangroves and dunes, offering panoramic views and opportunities to learn about the local flora and fauna.

Isla Contoy Flora and fauna Giorgio wiki image.
Vistas of flora on Isla Contoy
Pic by Giorgio Galeotti from Wiki Commons CC-BY-SA-4.0

Best Restaurants

Lorenzillo’s: A classic in Cancun’s hotel zone, famous for its lobster and fresh seafood.

La Habichuela: Offers traditional Mexican cuisine with a gourmet touch. Ideal for a quiet dinner after a day of sightseeing.

Navios: An overwater restaurant offering breathtaking views and an excellent selection of seafood.

Hours and rates

Hours

Access to Isla Contoy is regulated to protect the fragile ecosystem. Excursions usually depart early in the morning and return mid-afternoon. It is important to book in advance, as the number of visitors per day is limited.

Rates

Tour prices vary depending on the company and services included, but generally range between $100 and $150 USD per person. This cost usually includes transportation, snorkeling equipment, lunch and park entrance fee.

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Best lodging in cancun: Occidental Tucancun Hotel by Barcelo

Barcelo’s Occidental Tucancun Hotel is an excellent lodging option when visiting the Cancun area. This all-inclusive hotel offers a range of amenities and services to make your stay here unforgettable.

Restaurant view at Barcelo hotel.
View from one of the restaurants at Barcelo’s

Featured facilities

Pools: The hotel has three pools, including a children’s pool and an infinity pool overlooking the sea.

Gym and spa: Stay fit during your vacation and relax with world-class spa treatments.

Restaurants: With several themed restaurants, you can enjoy a wide range of dining options without leaving the hotel.

Location

Located in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone, the Occidental Tucancun Hotel offers easy access to the city’s main attractions, as well as departure points for excursions to Isla Contoy. Its proximity to shopping centers and dreamy beaches makes it an ideal choice for all types of travelers.

Why stay at the Occidental Tucancun by Barcelo Hotel?

Staying at Barcelo’s Occidental Tucancun Hotel allows you to enjoy luxury and comfort while exploring the region. Some reasons why this hotel stands out are:

Privileged location: Just minutes away from the main tourist attractions.

All-inclusive: Forget about worries with an all-inclusive package that covers meals, drinks and entertainment.

Exceptional service: The hotel staff strives to provide personalized, high-quality service.

For more details and reservations, visit: www.barcelo.com/en-us/occidental-tucancun/

Isla Contoy National Park Rules

  • Don’t use any sunscreen: The corals in the these reefs need to be protected, so you’re not allowed to use any sunscreen on Isla Contoy. if you find a biodegradable option, you might be allowed to use it. Check with the park before going.
  • Book ahead: No more than 200 people are allowed to visit a day, so it’s better to book ahead or you will be disappointed.
  • Do not bring pets: Isla Contoy is a protected ecosystem, so pets are not allowed. You may love your furry friend, but they can cause damage to the local fauna as such are not allowed to enter.
  • No littering: The basic rule that guides every place we visit. Be a responsible visitor and take your garbage with you while leaving. It’s not just about good manners, but also for the sake of the environment we need to protect.
  • Do not enter restricted areas: Some parts of the island are off-limits because they are more fragile, while others such as the Eastern coast are dangerous because of the slippery sharp rocks. Follow the park rangers’ instructions and only go where you’re allowed to.
  • Don’t camp here: While the idea of camping on a nature reserve is enticing, it is absolutely not allowed as it would considerably affect the ecosystem.
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Visiting Isla Contoy National Park is a unique experience that combines natural beauty, biodiversity and tranquility. Whether you’re interested in snorkeling, bird watching or just relaxing on its pristine beaches, this destination has something for everyone. And by staying at Barceló’s Occidental Tucancún Hotel, you’re assured of a comfortable stay full of first-class services.

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