The dream of finding your own private tropical island can come true. Just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula (and not far from Occidental at Xcaret Destination, Royal Hideaway Playacar, Occidental Costa Cancún, Occidental Tucancún and Barceló Maya Grand Resort) you’ll find several hidden paradises, with lovely beaches, eco-adventures and that feeling you get when you really get away from it
A pristine (and car-free!) island situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, Isla Holbox is a must-visit for eco-tourists – bird lovers, in particular. The shallow lagoon on the island attracts an array of feathered friends, including flamingos, pelicans and other exotic species. And if you’re visiting between June and September, get ready to meet some incredible whale sharks – the world’s largest fish, up to 40 feet long and 47,000 pounds! During this time, the biggest collection of these gentle giants arrives in these waters, and you can even snorkel amidst them on Isla Holbox. In between your adventures, take some time to explore the sandy streets of the island’s charmingly rustic villages – and of course, relax on the uncrowded, unspoiled beaches. Tip: The sunsets here are to die for.
Eight miles off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is just a quick boat ride away from Occidental Costa Cancún and Occidental Tucancún. But once you’re there, you’ll feel like you’re a world away from pretty much everything. There are countless adventures to be found on Isla Mujeres (which translates to “Bay of Women”), from snorkeling and kayaking in crystal clear waters amidst dazzling tropical fish to ziplining through a canopy of trees. Scuba divers won’t want to miss a truly amazing attraction – a massive underwater contemporary museum of art called MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), featuring more than 500 life-size sculptures on the ocean’s floor. And of course, the pristine beaches that line Isla Mujeres are perfect for relaxation and sunbathing in a romantic secluded setting.
At just under two square miles, Isla Contoy is tiny. But every inch of it is packed with natural wonders. Located north of Isla Mujeres, the eco-system on this gorgeous island and national park is diverse and fascinating. More than 150 bird species nest here annually, including the frigate, the brown pelican and the double-crested cormorant. Sea turtles also nest on Isla Contoy amidst lush palm trees and sparkling white sand. The waters surrounding the island are remarkably clear, allowing snorkelers to see spiny lobsters, manta rays and much more. In order to preserve this delicate landscape, only 200 daily visitors are allowed on Isla Contoy, and just a handful of tour operators are allowed. Visit www.islacontoy.org to learn how you can experience this unique destination.
Part of the Alacranes Reef National Park, the serene Isla Perez is a favorite for snorkelers and scuba divers – the clear waters here boast extensive and colorful reefs and some amazing sunken vessels. It’s also a fisherman’s paradise, attracting anglers on the hunt for bonefish, which are notoriously hard to catch. Isla Perez isn’t quite a deserted island, but it’s close. The only inhabitants are the lighthouse keeper and a few members of the Mexican navy. While you explore Isla Perez, you’ll feel like you’re living out your very own Robinson Crusoe fantasy.