Holbox(pronounced “Hol-bosh” in English) is an island in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, located on the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. As it offers a perfect mix of relaxation, nature, great weather and a laid-back lifestyle, it should be an island in your travel bucket list before it gets packed with tourists.
How to get there when you are in Yucatan Peninsula:
By the ferry;
Ferry to Holbox island is located in Chiquila, about 1 hour and 48 mintues from Cancun Airport. From Chiquila, there are two ferry companies operating boats every 30 minutes to Holbox for the same price, 120 pesos. The water is calm and the ferries have a sun deck as well as air conditioned cabins. The ride takes about 25-30 minutes and you may even spot the flamingos on your way to Holbox Island.
By the air taxi;
Another option is the air taxi. You can fly from Cancun or Playa del Carmen directly to Holbox on a small 5 seat plane with AeroSaab Airline. The airline also offers aerial and panoramic tours over Chichen Itza or Holbox.
By ADO Bus and Ferry;
ADO Bus leaves from Playa Del Carmen and Cancun and arrives in Chiquila so that you can take the ferry from Chiquila to Holbox island. Checking departure times is highly recommended as the times may vary.
When you travel to Holbox, don’t forget to;
- Bring enough cash as the cash machines don’t always work
- Bring some mosquito repellent as it gets pretty annoying with mosquitos during the sunset
- Take a golf cart taxi when you get off the ferry, it’s only 40 pesos
So here are the top 10 reasons to visit Holbox Island when you are in Mexico:
1- Beautiful Crystal Clear Beaches:
Holbox’s vibe is more barefoot on the beach than late nights at the club. Stunningly beautiful, clean, warm, shallow and flat waters had not a single seaweed when Cancun and Tulum beaches were full of them.
Mexico’s best barefoot beaches come with over-water hammocks, creating a relaxing atmosphere for the visitors.
There are 6 beaches around the island and the Holbox Beach is the most popular one. If you like to discover the remote beaches, head to Punta Coco or Punta Mosquito.
2- Beautiful (and partly untouched) Nature
Holbox is rich in marine life such as sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks, making it a perfect destination for snorkelling. In addition to the marine life, you can spot beautiful birds and flamingos in especially quieter areas of the island. Many of these birds reproduce on the island so it is common to see the nests in the local vegetation. As Holbox is located in the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, you will witness the abundance of wildlife in this beautiful off-the-beaten-track location.
3- Amazing Food and Drinks
There are no chain restaurants or cafes in Holbox Island, but the streets are full of street food vendors where you can eat delicious tacos and local Mexican food. There are also a lot of trendy restaurant options, but our favorite was Taco Queto, which opens only evenings for dinner and gets packed up really quickly. Gringos, quesadillas and guacomole are definitely recommended!
Dining and having cocktails on the beach bars with swinging seats was also a great experience. Have sunset drinks in Raices Beach, and taste the famous Mexican drink ‘Michelada’ made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice, and chili peppers.
4- Bioluminescence Sea
Punta Cocos is the perfect beach to spend the whole day! During the day, you can float in the shallows, laze in the hammocks and walk along the perfectly white and sublime sands while at nights you can witness the bioluminescent phenomenon.
If you stay in the center, rent a bicycle, stock up and head to Punta Cocos to experience the sunset and swim in the bioluminescent sea. The road is dark but safe and doable.
5- Nightlife and Entertainment
Holbox is full of laid back beach bars where you can have your drinks in your swimsuits. We liked Zomay Beach Bar and Raices Beach Club for sunset drinks but there are also some hotel rooftops such as Mandarina Rooftop or Los Pedales in the famous Hotels Villas Flamingos.
For the late night drinks and live music, the famous corner is the ‘Hot Corner’. This fun, laid-back, open-air bar offers a rustic hipster atmosphere. During the day the vibe is relaxed, you can chill out on the outdoor sofas or enjoy some yummy snacks, while at night the place comes to life.
‘Mezcalito’ is another option on the island. There is great live music, reasonably priced drinks and a great atmosphere to meet fellow travelers or partying locals. Make sure to get there after eleven because you will be alone before that time.
6- Swimming with the Whale Sharks
Holbox has gained popularity since they offer tours for swimming with whale sharks from around 15th May until 15th September. If you are in Holbox during these dates, this is one activity you won’t want to miss. This ultimate sea safari is offered by almost all tour companies in the island.
7- Amazing Works of Street Art
Holbox participated in the first ever Festival Internacional de Arte Publico (FIAP) or, International Public Art Festival, in 2015 when they invited a group of international artists to come paint amazing works of art all over the town. This definitely gave the island a colorful characteristic.
8- Doing Nothing
Even though you have the option to fill your days with tours, it is perfectly fine to do nothing in Holbox island. Take your book, lay on a hammock or head to a beach bar, eat tacos and enjoy doing nothing in the paradise. It will be a day to remember.
9- Laid-back Lifestyle
Holbox is one of the quietest islands of Yucatan peninsula, and it doesn’t get a bulk of tourists yet. Visitors can walk around the town without shoes as almost the whole island is covered with the white sand.
There are bicycles and golf cards as the cars are not allowed on the island. If you want to rent bicycles, many stores in the island offer it for 20 pesos an hour (~$1) or a golf cart for 40 pesos.
10- Beautiful Sunsets
The sunsets on Holbox beaches are absolutely magical! While you can witness the beauty of sunset on almost all of Holbox beaches, I would highly recommend renting a bicycle and getting to Punta Coco one afternoon. Pack some drinks and snacks too, as you may want to stay longer to experience the remarkable bioluminescent phenomenon.