5 star rating: Highly Recommended 23 Reviews

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  • Location:Cancun, Mexico
  • Duration:8 hours (approx.)

Best Isla Contoy Day Trip: Snorkeling at Ixlache Reef and Eco-Paradise Tour

Cruise on a comfortable vessel north of Cancun and soak up the beauty of Ixlache Reef and Isla Contoy. At Ixlache Reef, snorkel near coral, sea turtles, and fish of every color. Then join the privileged few allowed to visit Isla Contoy, a national park and wildlife refuge to various turtles and more than 150 species of birds. A certified guide takes you on a tour of the island, after which you have plenty of time to wander on a trail, visit a nesting lagoon or lounge on the beach. A continental breakfast and domestic open bar on the boat, along with a buffet lunch on the island, ensure you’ll have the energy to enjoy the day.


  • Snorkeling at Ixlache Reef, followed by a guided tour and free time on Contoy Island, from Cancun
  • Begin your day with a continental breakfast on the boat ride to Ixlache Reef
  • Witness marine life wonders at Ixlache Reef, including coral, a variety of fish, spiny lobster and queen conch
  • Enjoy a domestic open bar on the boat, which includes rum, tequila, vodka, beer, juice and water
  • Learn from a certified expert guide about Isla Contoy, a wildlife refuge for birds, sea turtles and other species
  • Choose one of several walking trails or lounge on the white-sand beaches of Isla Contoy
  • Feast on a buffet lunch with beer and soft drinks on the island
  • Snorkeling gear and safety briefing included

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Best Isla Contoy Day Trip: Snorkeling at Ixlache Reef and Eco-Paradise Tour

Enjoy the ride to Isla Contoy aboard a comfortable vessel!

Meet your guides at the Scuba Cancun Marina on Kukulcan Avenue in the Hotel Zone, across the street from the Vacation Club International Hotel and the Casa Maya Hotel. Plan to arrive by 8:30am, as the boat will leave at 9am. Make sure to bring biodegradable sunscreen, most hotels in the area sell it, which is necessary to protect the marine life in the waters you’ll be swimming in during the tour. A comfortable vessel transports you to Ixlache Reef, north of Cancun. If you missed breakfast, there will be some on the boat for you!

Grab a pastry or whatever strikes your fancy from the continental breakfast offered between 9am and 10am. Savor your morning coffee as you take in stunning blue waters and bask in the warm air. After about a 90-minute ride, you’ll arrive at Ixlache Reef on the northern end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest reef system in the world. Your guides will provide a safety briefing on snorkeling. Pull on your provided gear and jump in!

Pick a color, any color, and you’ll likely spot a fish sporting that hue flash by you. The clear and shallow water — typically no more than nine feet (three meters) deep — makes it easy to spot swirling schools as they dance around the coral and queen conchs attached to the sea floor. Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles, too!

After about an hour of snorkeling, get back on the boat and cruise to Isla Contoy, where you’ll arrive around noon. Stretching five miles (eight kilometers) long, tiny Isla Contoy is home to more than 150 species of resident and migratory birds, such as the frigate, brown pelican and double-crested cormorant. Leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles use the beaches as their nesting grounds.

Because of the island’s protected status as a national park, there’s a limit to how many people can visit per day, and only a few tour companies are allowed to bring visitors here. You are one of the privileged few! A certified expert guide takes you on a 45-minute tour of the park, pointing out the wildlife and noting the importance of its preservation.

After the tour, enjoy the island on your own at the nesting lagoon, nature museum or lighthouse. Watch your step, an iguana could be sharing the trail with you. To unwind, meander to the beach and spread out your towel, and marvel at how the soft white sand doesn’t stick to your skin.

In the early afternoon, a buffet lunch is served, with beer and soft drinks. Try the regional specialty tikin-xic — Mayan for “dry-wing" — fish. The whole fish is prepared butterfly-style and cooked over a wood or charcoal fire.

After lunch, hop back on your vessel to arrive back at the Scuba Cancun Marina around 5pm. Time flies on the ride, as you’re probably busy scrolling through the dozens of pictures you took of this unique day.

Customer Reviews

Jennifer G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended February 2016

Excellent day trip. Really enjoyed the island. The snorkeling was okay but not great, however the island part of the trip more than made up for it. The tour guide and the crew were wonderful. Very hospitable and knowledgeable. What a great day!

Victor H USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2015

My wife and I had a wonderful time. The tur guide was exceptional and even though we were the only people to speak English he kept us well informed by repeating first in Spanish then in English. The food was great and the snorkeling was a highlight! Dr, Victor and Beverlee Hawkins, Carmichael, CA


5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2015

I recommend this Isla Contoy tour to healthy/active adults and mature/older children interested in nature and wildlife. I'd love to do it again. Isla Contoy hosts a huge breeding population of Magnificant Frigatebirds juveniles were mostly grown by late October. From the observation tower I also saw a Roseate Spoonbill and a crocodile while using 10x50 binoculars and 30x optical-zoom camera. A scope and higher zoom lens would've been very useful. Isla Contoy is literally crawling with hermit crabs and many iguanas. Visiting the mangroves requires serious protection from massive swarms of mosquitos, but it's a good opportunity to see more wildlife.

This is not a casual or luxury tour expect camping conditions throughout. The snorkeling segment requires decent swimming skills. The island tour includes a fast, challenging walk up a sandy/rocky path. Isla Contoy has no fresh water of any kind. Tour groups bring their own cooking/drinking water. The latrines are only accessible by steep wooden stairs.

Listen carefully and move quickly to keep up with your guide. There isn't much time to dawdle or examine details. As a wildlife enthusiast, the time limits were the most difficult aspect for me. I would like to return to see more.

It's essential to confirm your tour 24 hours ahead. Stormy weather postponed my Saturday tour to Tuesday. We couldn't visit Ixlache reef because of rough water instead we stopped closer to Isla Mujeres. Autumn weather often includes afternoon rain I regretted not bringing my poncho. The boat is mostly open, so only bring items that can either get wet or are carefully protected from water damage. Bring your own towels.

Vegetarians and those with special dietary needs must bring their own food. Breakfast was boxed juice, a container of coffee and a bowl of pastries. Drinks offered later were bottle water, juice, soda, rum and tequila. Lunch was communal with other tour groups. Hermit crabs and iguanas provided our dining entertainment.

marc m

5 star rating: Highly Recommended October 2015

Had a great time, the boat staff was great, laid back with snorkeling and beer on the way back, what's not to love.


5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

This is an awesome tour. Everyone on the boat from the boat captain to his assistants were very nice. The crew took really good care of everyone. The food was delicious. Make sure to take a good repellent as their a lot of mosquitoes. Beach is absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend this tour.


5 star rating: Highly Recommended July 2015

The local tour guides were extremely pleasant and helpful. Very relaxing tour, definitely recommended!


5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

Awesome trip this is an all day adventure ... The boat ride is about an hour before we got to the snorkeling spot not a lot fish to see but it was a lot fun after about an hour we headed over to go contoy island this place is a national
Park beautiful beach and a grand a relaxation spot great times!

Robert G

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

The tour company did a great job. There was plenty to eat and drink and the island is beautiful. There were were only about 60 people on the island with two different tours so it was wonderful.

Marco M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2015

A must do when in Cancun, the crew was awesome, the snorkeling great and when you get to the island it is just amazing. It was truly an amazing day.. I highly recommend it

Stuart H

5 star rating: Highly Recommended April 2015

This is a must see while in the Cancun area ..boat ride was picturess ...snorkeling was fantastic...lunch was excellent. ..island was spectacular. ..crew was perfect

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Tour code: 3206CONTOY


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