Believe it or not, when you’re planning a vacation in Cancun, there’s practically nothing to plan. Most all-inclusive hotels in Cancun provide you with everything you need to spend a fabulous beach vacation, and more; the rest consists in just looking around: 14 miles of impressive white-sanded beaches, a beautiful turquoise sea, unique underground rivers (cenotes), and plenty of beach and water activities to enjoy. Cancun’s surroundings are equally idyllic, with part of the second largest coral reef in the world extending right off its coast and several heavenly little islands around to explore.
Enjoying the exciting resort is really entertaining, but you might want to spend a couple of days surrounded by nature, discovering the most beautiful hidden treasures near Cancun. If that’s the case someday, take note of these 3 islands to visit during your stay in Cancun: Mujeres, Holbox and Contoy.
- Isla Mujeres:
Isla Mujeres means Island of Women in Spanish, and this tiny little island definitely honors its name. Beautiful, warm and enchanting, you’ll find at Isla Mujeres as much peace, quiet and beauty as you may dream. Travelling to the island takes only 20 minutes by ferry and as soon as the boat starts getting close to the shore, you’ll feel the charm. Isla Mujeres is only 5 miles long and less than a mile wide. Tourists and locals tour the island by golf carts, bikes or on foot and the town is colorful, laid-back and friendly.
The Caribbean Sea offers its clearest and warmest waters in this area and the beaches are wide, soft sanded and idyllic. On Isla Mujeres, you can snorkel, zip-line, kayak and swim in the beautiful Garrafón Marine Park; tour the romantic Hacienda Mundaca; visit Punta Sur to know the lighthouse and the Mayan temple dedicated to the Goddess of fertility, Ixchel; swim with dolphins or take a memorable tour to the underwater museum located at Manchones Reef.
- Isla Holbox:
The shallow Yalahau Lagoon that serves as home to a wide variety of flora and fauna separates this idyllic island from the mainland. Holbox is merely 26 miles long and less than two miles wide. Most of its terrain is covered by pristine beaches and sand, a lot of sand. Even the streets in town are as sandy as the beach, and people travel them in scooters and golf carts.
At Holbox, the Sea of Cortez meets the Caribbean Sea, and the water is so nutrient that many different species of fish, crustaceans and other marine animals come to feed by the coast making this little island a wildlife paradise. Some of the not-to-miss activities during your visit are swimming with the giant whale sharks (from June to September); snorkeling or diving at Yalahau Cenote (considered as the source of youth by the Mayas); enjoying bird watching at Isla Pájaros; and fishing (if you’re keen on it).
- Isla Contoy:
This 5-mile long island is a protected area since 1961 and a National Park since 1998. There are no people living on the island with the exception of a reduced group of biologists sponsored by the Mexican government to study and take care of the environment. Only a reduced group of visitors is allowed on the island daily to protect the ecosystem as much as possible. Isla Contoy is the most important bird sanctuary in the Mexican Caribbean, and bird watching is the main attraction on the island. During the summer, it is also possible to spot several species of sea turtles that arrive at Contoy Island to lay their eggs on the beach. Some operators offer snorkeling tours to the nearby Ixchel Reef, where you can admire beautiful coral gardens and a varied marine life.
Visiting these islands during your stay in Cancun will grant you a new and different view of life. You won’t believe you eyes! So make sure to take your camera everywhere.
Images: Flickr. Authors: GRI SHA/ d.aniela/ Alaskan Dude