Contoy Island
Isla Contoy is an area declared a Natural Reserve and National Fauna Refuge since 1961. It is located north of Isla Mujeres and is an islet uninhabited by humans and is home to the largest number of birds. That is why it is also known as the Island of Birds.

Its shape is elongated and it has an extension of 8 kilometers in length and 800 meters in its widest part. It is located on a reef mass so we can find a large number of marine species and especially crustaceans, because in addition to bird migration, it also welcomes hundreds of lobsters that seek refuge on the welcoming shores of Isla Contoy.

The wonderful waters of turquoise tones in Islas Contoy
The wonderful waters of turquoise tones in Islas Contoy
Some reptiles also walk freely, looking for sunlight like the brown iguana that can measure up to a meter in length.

It is a true paradise that brings together different species that coexist in harmony. If you want to live the tranquility, peace and nature up close and bathe in the crystal clear waters of its beaches, it is possible by hiring a tour that will take you there.

Things to do in Isla Contoy
In addition to immersing yourself in its warm and turquoise Caribbean waters, you can enjoy snorkeling in the Ixlaché reef, which belongs to the second largest barrier reef in the world, and live with a wide variety of marine species: corals, manta rays, multicolored fish, crustaceans and even sea turtles from diving partners.

The Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) is one of the three species of Sharks that feed through a water filtration mechanism, along with the Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and the Boquiancho shark (Mega Mouth Shark), which holds a wide variety of plankton and nekton, including small crustaceans like krill, crab and algae, small fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel and occasionally larger prey like small tuna and squid.

Whale Sharks are endangered species protected by the Mexican bill NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2001 which is based on global Wildlife preservation regulations. Mexican Government is highly concerned with preservation efforts and has created the National Comission for for the Protection of Nature Reserves (CONAMP) which enforces the regulation of Whale Shark encounters


Blue Marlin

The largest Billfish that can be caught while fishing in Isla Mujeres from March through August with female species reaching weights exceeding 1200 lbs. their diet consists of; Mackerel, Tuna and Squid. The most popular bait of choice while trolling for these giants by our Captains are Bonito and Black fin Tuna.

White Marlin

With an average size of about 45 to 65 lbs these species are the smallest Marlin in Isla Mujeres waters. The White Marlin prefers deep blue water with depths of a 100 feet and deeper and are usually caught trolling with Ballyhoo and lures.


The sailfish we are fishing for in the Isla Mujeres area are Atlantic Sailfish and are known for their incredible jumps. It is also one of the fastest fish in the ocean reaching speeds of 70 mph. Normally their dorsal fin or sail is down when swimming but when getting excited or feeling threatened they raise their sail making them look larger. This is the most common Billfish that can be caught in the waters surrounding Isla Mujeres. They are usually caught trolling with Ballyhoo or Sardines and even on Fly Rods.


Also known as Mahi-Mahi or Dolphin-fish is considered one of the most delicious fish to eat here in Isla Mujeres. The word “dorado” in Spanish means “gold” and the Dolphin-fish look like they are made of gold with beautiful colors including green, yellow, blue and even red dots. They are fast moving fish and very acrobatic while hooked and often change colors so pay attention when they are getting close to the boat and you will appreciate their amazing behavior.


Part of the Tuna family but smaller with a weight ranging from 1 lb up to 25 lbs and one of the most common fish to catch while offshore fishing in Isla Mujeres, but make no mistake, these fish put up quite a fight and are usually caught while trolling with feather rigs and Ballyhoo. They are schooling fish so normally you will get multiple hook-ups at the same time.


The most common Tuna that you can catch while deep sea fishing in Isla Mujeres are Black fin Tuna and Skipjacks. The Black fins and Skipjacks can reach a length of about 3 feet and can weigh about 40 lbs. Their diet consists of Mantis Shrimps, Squid and small fish as well . These are fast moving fish, very strong for their size and caught trolling.


Considered one of the fastest species in the sea, they can reach speeds up to 50 mph so when fishing for these fish the captains have to troll a lot faster than normal and usually use Ballyhoo as bait. They normally pull hard and fast on their first run and are a lot of fun to catch on medium to light tackle. Wahoo have white meat and are very good to eat so if you do get lucky enough to catch one of those speed machines, make sure you ask your Captain for some fillets.


The Barracuda looks very much like a Pike with sharp- edged fang-like teeth that are all different sizes which gives them that mean look on their face. Juvenile Barracudas like to hang out in groups while adults are more solitary. They can reach lengths of over 6 feet and speeds up to 25 mph. The Cudas can be caught trolling or while casting at the back of the boat and they’ll eat about any type of fish species and tearing chunks of flesh out of larger prey.


This medium sized fish is commonly found in waters between 40 and 150 feet and average 5 to 30lbs. A distant relative of the Wahoo it’s known for its blistering runs so no wonder fishermen consider this a highly prized specie. The winter months have proven to be the best months to target these bullets while fishing here in Isla Mujeres.

Amber Jack

This fish likes to hang out near the bottom in waters of 60 to 200 feet of water and are caught bottom fishing. They are known as a hard pulling fish and on average weigh in at about  40 lbs. They like to hang out in schools so don’t be surprised if everybody fights one of these muscle machines at the same time.


Although not known as a long distance and fast swimmer they can be quiet large with lengths over 3 feet and weights exceeding 200 lbs. They love hanging out near the bottom, at ship wrecks and caves and usually when hooked, that’s the first place they will shoot for so it’s important to keep the drag of your reel tight and keep them away from those obstacles. When ordering fish fillets in the restaurants around Cancun most likely it will be grouper you’ll be eating. If you’re interested in catching your own dinner, ask your Captain to take you bottom fishing for Grouper and Snapper.


Most common bottom fish to catch while fishing the Isla Mujeres area. The Cubera Snapper is by far the largest of them all, the all time world record stands at 151 lbs caught of the Texas coast. Red Snappers are abundant in our waters and make a great dinner either whole fried or fillet. They are averaging 5 to 10 lbs and can be caught on live bait or chunks of fish of the bottom. Other Snapper species that can be caught are Yellow tails and Mutton Snappers.


Book Now: Deep Sea fishing Isla Mujeres

There are beaches all around Isla Mujeres. The major beaches are on the north and west sides of Isla. Calm, turquoise waters and soft white sand make them ideal for sunning, swimming and snorkeling.  The spectacular and rocky eastern shore is too dangerous for swimming, the currents are very strong on the Caribbean side. There are posted warnings, but accidents can happen so please be careful and always supervise your children.

Playa Norte (North Beach) is considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and it deserves the honor. The soft white sand, palm trees and water so blue the sky looks pale, make it the perfect place to relax and unwind from the rigors of life. There is almost no current and you can wade out very far with the water still only coming to your waist.

In front of the hotels on Playa Norte there are beach bars offer lounge chairs and umbrellas (for a fee) with waiter service on the sand. You can also rent water toys, kayaks and snorkeling gear.

Playa Posada, which runs along west side of town, is usually less crowed than Playa Norte but the water is not as shallow and clear.

Playa Media Luna is a small, beautiful, curved beach just around the eastern bend of Playa Norte. There are no beach services and it is too dangerous for swimming because of the strong currents there.

Playa Paraiso, Playa Lancheros and Playa Indios

These more secluded beaches are located on the west side of Isla Mujeres facing Cancun, mid-island near Hacienda Mundaca. There are open air palapa restaurants, gift shops, bathrooms, chairs and umbrellas. You can also rent kayaks, canoes and even beach toys for the kids.

Garrafón Reef Park

The Park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and offers several packages including an all-inclusive package which includes a buffet lunch, beverages with open bar, snorkel equipment, life jackets, kayaks, hammocks, an infinity pool, bathrooms, showers and lockers as well as admission to Punta Sur and the Sculpture Garden.

Garrafón de Castilla

Located next to Garrafón Reed Park at the south end of the island. The entrance fee includes use of lounge and beach chairs with beach umbrellas, restrooms and shower facilities. Snorkel gear, lockers and towels are available for an additional cost. There is also a small restaurant/snack bar.


Lighthouse Reef (or El Farito Reef)

It’s a little reef located 5 minutes away on a boat from the island, which literally has a lighthouse in the surface, and really close to it you can find the statue of the “Saint of the lighthouse“.

farito reef

Manchones Reef


This is another reef 30 ft deep from the surface; the singularity of this place is that it shows the colorful marine life of Isla Mujeres and also it has a sculpture made of bronze named “The Bay Cross, in honor of men and women who died in the ocean.

manchones reef

The MUSA (Subactuatic Museum of Art)

It’s located just a few meters away from the Manchones Reef, and it’s considered the world’s longest artificial reef; it’s a permanent exhibition named “the silent evolution, it has 470 statues submerged and strategically placed so they can form an eye that can be seen from above the surface.

musa isla mujeres

Now that you know where to do snorkel in Isla Mujeres, what are you waiting to book your next trip to Isla Mujeres? You’ll love it!

The Yucatecan culture has a wide range of flavors, condiments, chili peppers, vegetables and for this reason the ancestral recipes are recognized throughout the world. Here we leave you just some of the many dishes that Yucatan brings us to enjoy. Which one have you already tried?

1. Huevos Motuleños

Start your morning off right with some tasty huevos motuleños. The northern Yucatán city of Motul created this delicacy.

This dish doesn’t require any complicated ingredients. Huevos motuleños are fried tortillas topped with eggs, red onion, habaneros, refried beans, green beans, cheese, plantains, turkey ham, and a spicy salsa roja. ¡Delicioso!

Cochinita Pibil, The Best Yucatan Dishes And Yucatan Cuisine

2. Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita Pibil is one of the quintessential Yucatán dishes. A traditional way of making it is by slowly roasting a whole suckling pig in banana leaves underground.

Pork shoulder or loin are meat cuts often used as alternatives. Bitter oranges and achiote give the dish a distinct flavor. Sides typically served with Cochinita Pibil include yellow corn tortillas, refried beans, pickled red onion, and habaneros. This dish melts in your mouth!

Papadzules, The Best Yucatan Dishes And Yucatan Cuisine

3. Papadzules

If you like enchiladas, you’ll love papadzules. This dish is ancient, even older than enchiladas!

Papadzules are corn tortillas dipped in a sauce made from pumpkin seeds flavored with epazote. The tortillas have a hardboiled egg filling and a tomato and chile topping. It’s a must-try dish!

Sopa De Lima, The Best Yucatan Dishes And Yucatan Cuisine

4. Sopa de Lima

Sopa de Lima is the ultimate comfort food that will warm your soul. It translates in English as “lime soup” because of the lime used to flavor it.

The soup is simple and is typically a broth with chicken or turkey, lime juice, and seasonings such as oregano, cloves, and cumin topped with fried tortilla strips and habaneros.

No matter where you come from, this dish will make you feel at home.

Queso Relleno, The Best Yucatan Dishes And Yucatan Cuisine

5. Queso Relleno

Queso Relleno is wildly popular among locals. The dish pays tribute to the peninsula’s multicultural heritage and Dutch influences.

This melt-in-your-mouth delicacy consists of Edam cheese hollowed out and stuffed with ground meat, raisins, olives, hardboiled eggs, and seasoned with various spices. The cheese is steamed and topped with a tomato and white sauce. You’ll have to try this decadent dish!

Panuchos And Salbutes, The Best Yucatan Dishes And Yucatan Cuisine

6. Panuchos and Salbutes

Panuchos and Salbutes are very similar dishes with slight differences. Both are made with corn masa and topped with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, meat, pickled onions, and avocados. However, the corn dough for panuchos is stuffed with black beans and fried lightly.

Salbutes do not have refried beans in them and can also have pork, beef, seafood, scrambled egg, or stews as toppings. They are not as crunchy as panuchos, but both are delicious appetizers that you can buy at a panucheria with a soda on the side.

Dulce De Papaya, The Best Yucatan Dishes And Yucatan Cuisine

7. Dulce de Papaya

If you have a sweet tooth, you have to try Dulce de Papaya. This popular Yucatán dessert consists of papaya slow cooked in water with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It is served cold, soaked in syrup, and topped with either coconut, shredded cheese, or Dutch cheese cubes. It’s the perfect treat to end your Yucatán meal!

See & Do

Golf carts are a very popular mode of transportation on Isla Mujeres and, on any given day, you’ll see caravans of carts tooling around the island.  Half-day and full-day cart rentals are available. During your island tour, stop by the Turtle Farm (La Tortugranja) to see baby sea turtles and other marine life. If you are lucky, you might be able to participate in a turtle release, where humans help newly-hatched sea turtles make their way to the sea. After your visit to the turtle farm, continue going toward the southern end of the island, where you will find a small Mayan temple and spectacular sea views. Continue your journey around the island and you will pass by the “seashell house”, an unconventional home that is built in the shape of a conch shell. Make your way back to the north end of the island, to North Beach, and finish your island tour by shopping and having some ice-cold cervezas (beers) at one of the quaint beach bars.


Isla Mujeres is small and narrow, so water is always nearby. For that reason, dining by the sea, or somewhere with a water view  is quite common. Finding fresh seafood is not difficult either. Go to any of the seaside restaurants in the downtown area and on North Beach and you’ll have some of the freshest, most delicious (and relatively inexpensive too!) seafood that you’ve ever tasted. In fact, many times, the fish is caught just moments before it’s served to you. The restaurants on the beach may not look like much, but don’t let that fool you. Some of the best food you can find, in Mexico, is often served at the most unassuming of venues. Minino’s, located just steps away from the Ultramar ferry dock, is one of those unassuming restaurants that serves delicious, fresh food at low prices.


Life on the island is very laid back and relaxed and you will not find much nightlife here. There are a number of bars open in the evening but people wanting late-night parties in big nightclubs will be majorly disappointed on Isla Mujeres. Sure, there are a couple of discos (clubs are still often referred to as “discos”, in Mexico) on the island but the nightlife pales in comparison to that of Cancun, which is only a short ferry ride away. When on Isla Mujeres, Jax Bar & Grill is one of the best spots for a fun-filled night out on the town. They have live music, gourmet food, great drink prices, and an ocean view…although, you’ll have to return for a meal, during daylight hours, to enjoy the ocean view.


Visitors to Isla Mujeres will find a wide variety of lodging options, at different price levels.  A number of bed & breakfasts, boutique hotels, luxury resorts, and condos can be found on the island, but Hotel Villa Rolandi Thalasso Spa, Gourmet & Beach Club is the best and brightest of them all.  This 35-suite, boutique hotel has been a fixture on Isla Mujeres for many years and is known for its fantastic food and outstanding service, and, most recently, for it’s full-service spa. The resort does not have stuffy dress codes, like some other nearby resorts of this caliber. Fitting with the island’s casual vibe, jeans and t-shirts are fully acceptable attire at Villa Rolandi. When making hotel reservations, you can choose between two different meal plans. This upscale resort only accepts guests ages 13 and older.


The downtown area (at the north end of the island, by the ferry docks) is the island’s main locale for shopping. You’ll find the typical souvenir & t-shirt shops in this area but, if you want to purchase unique mementos or gifts; like wood carvings, Talavery pottery, hand-painted rugs, or handicrafts and works of art created by local artists, you will find those too. There are also shops and boutiques that carry bathing suits, beach bags, silver jewelry, cigars, batik clothing & clothing from different parts of Mexico.

8 years ago, in 2009 a monumental underwater contemporary museum of art called MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte) was formed.

On land, Mexico is widely regarded as a country shrouded in the magic and mystery of ancient Mayan histories and traditions.

But the big blue ocean that surrounds this remarkable part of paradise houses many secrets of its own…

Prepare to be enchanted by a little-known spectacle awaiting to be discovered on the ocean bed floor.

There is an underwater world that lies beneath the crystal clear waters of CancunIsla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc.

Inhabited by over 500 eerie structures it is a sight not to be missed!

What is the Underwater Museum of Art?

Roberto Díaz Abraham (former President of the Cancun Nautical Association) and Jaime González Cano (Director of the National Marine Park) founded the project in an attempt to save, protect, and promote the vibrant coral reefs that surround Quintana Roo.

Together they hired an English Sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor to create the intricate and striking structures that would later be submerged in the water.

Museum of art

Today, in MUSA there are now over 500 permanent life-sized structures and it is one of the largest and most ambitious underwater attractions in the world.

Unlike conventional museums there are no walls, the only thing separating it from the rest of the world is the big blue ocean. Are you ready to dive in?

Why did they build the Underwater Museum of Art?

This genius idea aims to demonstrate a conscious interaction between art and environmental science.

The structures, over time, will hopefully form part of a complex reef structure for marine life to colonize and inhabit.

Museum of art

All of the sculptures are fixed to the seabed and made out of specialized materials. The marine grade cement consists of a PH-neutral surface that promotes coral growth.

Taylor allowed the plaster to dry before removing it and filling in the remainder of the sculptures.

Since they were submerged the statues have become covered in algae and coral, they sure are a stunning sight to behold!

If you visit you may notice that some of the structures look like people you would meet in your everyday life.

Taylor did this on purpose as a satirical commentary on humanity. He created “The Banker”, a series of men in business suits who have their heads buried in the sand.

He got the idea after visiting a climate-change conference in Cancun.

“It represents the loud acknowledgment made about the issue, but when it comes to taking action nobody wants to stick their neck out and do something about it,” Taylor said about the work.

His masterpieces are scattered across the ocean bed floor occupying an area of over 420sq meters.  In total, the sculptures weigh in at over 200 tons.

museum of art

How do you visit MUSA?


On our Isla Contoy & Isla Mujeres and Cancun Catamaran to Isla Mujeres tours there is the opportunity to snorkel areas of the Underwater Museum of Art, however, visibility can sometimes be limited dependant on the weather.

On a beautiful day, it is likely you will see them, but some of the structures are situated 8 meters deep.

This is the perfect choice for people who still want to witness the amazing museum, but aren’t comfortable going fully underwater.

The water surrounding Isla Mujeres is often shallow and you are guaranteed to see some vibrant marine life.

Glass Bottom Boats

Unfortunately, we don’t offer this option here at PlayaDelCarmen.Com, however, for people not comfortable being in the ocean, there are tours that offer to take you in a glass bottom boat.

You can inquire about this option from tour stands in Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cancun. It’s an activity for all ages, and you’ll be able to view the depths of the ocean without getting wet at all.

Are you ready to explore this underwater world frozen in time beneath the depths of the ocean?

Need a little more convincing?

Snorkeling With Whale Sharks In Cancun Is An Experience Like No Other

The greater Cancun region is home to several breathtaking natural wonders and genuinely astounding tropical wildlife. Few are more spectacular than the region’s largest wildlife resident: the whale shark. Here at Island Adventures Mexico with our expert team, from the beginning of June to mid-September, you get the chance to snorkel with whale sharks in Cancun and experience these marine giants like never before.

Swim alongside 10-meter (35-foot) whale sharks with the safety of our trained expert snorkeling guides. Journey with us away from your resort and out into the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean to the largest whale shark gathering in the world. Experience the awe and adrenaline as whale sharks swim right beside you!



The Whale Sharks of Isla Mujeres… Every year, as the summer heat descends on the Yucatan peninsula. A truly amazing phenomenon happens  to the north-east of the small holiday island of Isla Mujeres.

Local fishermen call it the “Afuera’’ – Mexican for outside. In reference to those deeper waters offshore from the tip of the Yucatan. Where, come July and August, the largest known gathering of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) takes place.

Long considered as solitary giants roaming the open oceans, aggregations seemed quite rare. And, prior to the discovery of the Afuera, a large gathering was thought to be 15 to 20 whale sharks. Typically those aggregations were associated with high seasonal concentrations of zooplankton.

But it seems that whale sharks are really quite social creatures when something special is on the menu. And the Afuera offers them something really different… An almost unlimited quantity of rich, energy-dense nourishment. With literally hundreds of whale sharks gathering to gorge themselves on this “all you can eat” buffet of nature.

The Afuera… Hidden in Plain Site

Incredibly it would seem that this massive aggregation has been happening for many years, generations possibly… All quite unbeknownst to either the scientific or ecotourism communities. But the local fishermen knew, and the first rumors apparently surfaced as early as 2002.

However, at that time all the attention was on a different aggregation. The recently discovered gathering of whale sharks and manta rays in the shallow coastal waters of the northern tip of the Yucatan. Between Cabo Catoche and Isla Holbox,

The discovery of the “Cabo Catoche aggregation” led to a number of scientific surveys to quantify the population and dynamics.

Followed by the eventual establishment of a Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve by the Mexican government in 2009.

It also created a thriving and regulated ecotourism whale shark watching industry on nearby Isla Holbox.

So, it was not until September 2006 that the Afuera was actually investigated. When Mexican whale shark scientist Rafael de la Parra managed to organize a series of five aerial surveys.

Flight Paths of the Aerial Surveys in September 2006 – Courtesy of Rafael de la Parra

What the survey revealed astonished everyone involved. Because not only were the rumours true, but the numbers of whale sharks spotted were almost unbelievable. With a total of 480 sightings recorded in an elliptical area of open ocean of about 18 km2!