The extraordinary transparency of the Caribbean waters are caused by its biological poverty, the different sandy or grassy sea beds and variations in depth cause the spectacular hues of blue that characterize the Caribbean Sea in Mexico.
Eleven kilometers (6.8 miles) of land emerging from the Caribbean Sea, this is Isla Mujeres. The island’s magic makes it the ideal spot for all of those who fantasize about enjoying their vacation in a place where time moves at their own slow pace.
A small temple was built on the southern tip of Isla Mujeres by the ancient Maya to honor Ixchel, the goddess of fertility. They chose the beautiful and easternmost point in Mexico so that the goddess would always welcome the first rays of the sun that would shine on the entire country.
A small lighthouse marks the entrance to one of the navigation canals leading to Isla Mujeres while the buoys assist the tourists that arrive every day in order to safely admire the abundant marine life.
Grand tourism hotels, apartments and rental homes, all kinds of lodging options can be found on both sides of the island.
Even though the Isla Mujeres Municipality includes a stretch of territory on the mainland, most of its 16,000 inhabitants have their homes on the “Isle of Women”. It was given its name by the Spaniards who arrived on the island and found clay figurines representing only women.
In order to cross the entire island leeward to windward, one must only cross a few streets. The narrowest part of island is only about 500 meters (1,640 feet wide).
The conservation of the natural scenery and keeping the ecosystems pristine on Isla Blanca are challenges that will be faced by future tourism projects.
Thousands of cormorants are testimony to the importance of Isla Contoy as a National Park. It is one of the 25 nature reserves that can be found in Quintana Roo.
The National Natural Protected Areas Commission and the entrepreneurs have achieved an extraordinary example of tourism management; only 200 people can visit Isla Contoy each day.
The Isla Contoy National Park protects more than 150 species of birds and the Ixlaché coral reef. In addition to the pelicans, frigate birds, boobies, egrets and terns find food and refuge on this heavenly island.
Endowed with webbed feet like ducks, cormorants are expert divers. These birds can dive up to 10 meters (30 feet) in order to catch fish, their principal diet.
Contoy Island is 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) long. It covers an area of 230 hectares (568 acres) and a marine area of 4,900 hectares (12,108 acres). It is the most important marine bird sanctuary in the Mexican Caribbean. Its lagoons, mangroves and tropical rainforest are the habitats where more than 10,000 birds come together.
One of the most deformed birds is also one of the most beautiful ones. Its neck is longer than its body and its knees are backwards. The Pink Flamingo nests on the coasts of the neighboring state of Yucatan and then scatters throughout the entire peninsula, some are found on Isla Contoy.
Capturing a special place in people’s imagination, lighthouses have been shining a friendly light for sailors, fishermen and seaborne passengers since the pre-Hispanic era, offering them a safe passage to the Mexican Caribbean coast. The peaceful and lonely life of the lighthouse keeper is now at risk due to the advent of GPS.
Just like a giant marine vacuum cleaner, the huge manta ray swims around the waters of Isla Contoy catching the plankton on which it feeds. The experience of snorkeling alongside these giants is an experience of a lifetime for any tourist.
A tourist watches the tail of a Whale Shark. The grouping of an estimated 400 individuals that arrive each summer to the waters of Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Holbox is considered the largest in the world.
The largest fish that exists can measure up to 18 meters (59 feet). To swim with these giants is one of the leading attractions in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. The preservation of their ocean habitat is everyone’s responsibility.
Channels wind through the mangroves, wetlands, savannas and forests of Yum Balam Reserve which are a haven for birds, crocodiles and even jaguars and monkeys.
In northern Quintana Roo, the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea. This mingling of waters creates incredibly beautiful scenery, an explosion of colors and an abundance of life.
The red mangrove could be called “the tree of life.” It creates solid ground, its evergreen leaves produce oxygen, it absorbs carbon dioxide, it offers protection to birds, mammals and humans.
The Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area encompasses more than 150,000 hectares (370,658 acres) of coastal lands. Its preservation directly benefits the tourism projects in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
The wetlands are land that is flooded or saturated with water for most of the year. This type of landscape predominates along the northern coast of Quintana Roo and provides important environmental services to the tourism industry.
Isla de Pajaros or the Island of Birds near Holbox does justice to its name. At sunset, thousands of herons, egrets, ibis and other waders, frigate birds and pelicans gather here to roost.
Cancun and Holbox have something in common, both are sandbars and form a peninsula which is so close to the mainland that it is sometimes hard to call them islands.
The islands in the wetlands surrounding Holbox are steeped in legends. Once the haunt of Mayan traders, Spanish soldiers manning an ill-fated 16th-century garrison, and pirates, they are now visited by fishermen and nature lovers.
Most of the inhabitants of the small village of Holbox earn their living from fishing or by looking after the tourists who flock here in search of peace; they find it on the island’s pristine beaches and in the natural beauty of the surrounding area.