Isla Holbox - Off the Beaten Path on the Yucatan Peninsula
Updated: May 19, 2021
Isla Holbox is a hidden treasure. Just two hours from Cancun, this laid-back island is undeveloped with untouched beauty. Instead of high-rises, they have hammocks. Instead cars, they have bikes and golf carts. Here are the top things to do and see in Isla Holbox.
WHAT TO DO IN ISLA HOLBOX
Honestly, one of the best things to do here is absolutely nothing. Just sit under a palapa or in a hammock and relax.
BIKE RIDE + EXPLORE
Less than a mile wide, the island is perfect for some carefree exploration on a bike. And you won't be able to walk too far without seeing a bike rental stand around here. Our rental was about $10 for the day. You can also rent a golf cart, but we loved the bikes!
Shopping & Street Art
Holbox is full of art and style - from street art and murals to the plethora of independently owned boutiques. I was surprised to see for such a small island how excellent the shopping choices were. What to shop for? Stylish swimwear, beachwear and dream catchers are the speciality. You can find very affordable crafts/souvenirs at the open-air market in town, or luxury apparel outside boutique hotels.
Sit on a swing and enjoy a drink under a palapa beach bar.
At night, the ocean lights up like the stars above in the night sky. As you move and swish through the water, it looks like you are creating a trail of tiny blue fireflies. The blue lights are actually microscopic plankton that emit light. There are only certain places in the world you can see bioluminescence, and Isla Holbox is one of them.
It is hard to capture this magical experience - you need special camera equipment - so I recommend just enjoying the moment! It's also best the darker your surroundings are - so don't use a flashlight and try to stay away from any lights nearby to get the best experience.
TIP: There are many kayak and boat tour options available around the island you can easily book when you are there. But if you don't get around to booking a tour - don't miss it! You can see it from pretty much any beach on the island if you go swimming at night.
THE SAND BAR
Past town, towards the end of the line of hotels is a long sand bar. The waters stay very shallow until you reach it, and it makes for an amazing walk with blue clear waters on both sides.
Have you ever seen a flamingo flock in the wild? You can here! The flamingo season is April to October and the best place to spot them is the beach Punta Mosquito in the Yum Balam Nature Reserve.
Whale Sharks are gentle giants and migrate through Isla Holbox from mid-June to mid-September. There are many tours that will take you out to go swimming and snorkeling with the whale sharks.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA HOLBOX
The Isla Holbox Ferry
2-hour drive from Cancun to Chiquila
25-min ferry to Isla Holbox
To get to Isla Holbox, you need to take a ferry from Chiquila, which is about a 2-hour drive from Cancun. The ferry cost 220 pesos, which today is about $11. The ferry is cheap, but the private transportation/drive was more expensive. When we booked our hotel on Isla Holbox, the hotel offered to arrange all the transportation, roundtrip. Once we got off the ferry, there was someone from the hotel with a sign with a golf cart, and a sign with our name on it.
WHERE TO STAY ON ISLA HOLBOX
Palapas del Sol
Palapas del Sol's colorful cottages are along one of the best areas of beach on the island. Rooms have a terrace with a hammock and traditional, yet chic Mexican decor.
It is a few minutes walk from the center of town, so the privacy and serenity was perfect. At times, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves, but if you wanted to socialize you could. The hotel staff was so friendly, and really enjoyed hanging out with them and other guests.