A mere eight miles off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, all your questions whether heaven really is a place on earth are answered. Isla Holbox is an island in its truest form: 26 miles long, less than a mile wide, a rare find with nothing but a stretch of beach, a small town and the occasional yogi crossing your path on a bicycle. A car-free (and care-free) sanctuary, Isla Holbox is the perfect place to explore by foot, bike or (yes) golf-cart. Even though it’s often branded as “the next Tulum”, it still holds the magic of a sleepy getaway that lets you truly unplug.
How to Get There:
You have two options here…
- You can fly directly from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. This is obviously the more expensive option but it’s quick, so you could make a day trip out of it.
- You can follow in my footsteps and hop on the old ADO bus (leaves from the ADO station in Cancun) and enjoy a 3 – 4 hour ‘journey’ to Chiquilá, where you will then catch a ferry across to Holbox. The bus leaves from Cancun 3 x per day and costs $118 peso ($7 USD), they do fill up so make sure to get to the station in good time. There are two ferries that run all day in half hour intervals, it costs $120 peso (also roughly $7USD) and takes 30 minutes to get you from Chiquilá to Holbox. In all honestly I would suggest this option as although it is a long drive, you really get an authentic experience on the bus, driving through multiple small towns, picking up school children and other commuters along the way. By the time you get to Chiquilá you might even be able to say more than just “Hola”. (Traveler tip: Make sure you pee before you board.)
Where I stayed:
Holbox Dream Resort – This place is basically a tree fort for adults. It’s a down-to-earth beach front property with really good food and beautiful staff. Breakfast is served daily on the beach front and offers both “westernized” options as well as traditional Mexican dishes. The sunrise is insane, so get down to breakfast early, grab a plate and enjoy what is truly a serene moment.
Where to Eat & Drink:
Hot Corner – It could not be more appropriately named being the ‘hottest spot in town” for live music and drinks. It is also located on the corner of the main intersection – go figure.
Taco Queto – This restaurant is basically a bunch of picnic tables under a tarp with a food truck backed into one corner. It’s so fantastic, and so cheap! I paid $45 peso for 3 veggie tacos. What a dream.
Las Panchas – Great fresh fish and Seafood – though this is everywhere on the island.
Basico – The most expensive place to eat in Holbox but it’s still very reasonable. Beautiful dishes and decor.
Naay – A super healthy, fresh, organic salad bar. I couldn’t eat here myself as they had peanut in the kitchen and couldn’t guarantee cross contamination, however its definitely a place to check out if you’re not an allergy kid.
Viva Zapata – Sit in the front on the swings or couches and have some fajitas and beer!
Back in the 18th century, Isla Holbox was famous for providing asylum for fugitive pirates from Spain and Italy. Some used it as a stopover, and some decided to stop pirating and stay – honestly can’t blame them.
Photos by myself & Jeff Shuh.