Dream island, paradise, oasis. Holbox is the place that almost every Yucatán travelogue raves about. The small island in the north of the mainland has climbed steeply in the popularity ranking in recent years. While a few years ago Holbox was considered an “insider tip”, nobody seems to be missing out on Holbox these days.
Holbox didn’t get us off to an easy start. Bad weather, seaweed en masse and accommodation that did not meet our expectations. Speaking of expectations: we set them too high, definitely. That’s why we’re glad that we didn’t leave early and gave the island another chance.
In nice weather and on In the right place, Holbox is really heavenly beautiful, that’s for sure. In this blog article we will tell you what awaits you in Holbox and what you can experience on the island.
1. The island of Holbox at a glance: things worth knowing & impressions Isla Holbox is a narrow, elongated island in the north of the Yucatán Peninsula. When we say “narrow”, we mean it: Holbox is just two kilometers wide, but over 40 Kilometer long. If you’re wondering about the correct pronunciation like we are – here we go: One says “Holbosch” – so the “x” is not pronounced as such.
Only a very small part of the island is inhabited , namely just west of Holbox. People live in and around the only real place on the island (also called “Holbox”). This is also where the ferries that cross from the mainland to Holbox dock.
Sorry if we spoil dreams, but Holbox is not (anymore) an unspoilt island paradise – at least not that populated part of the island. There are now too many hotels, too many tourists and too many souvenir shops. And by the way, the golf carts pounding down the sandy slopes are making a crazy noise.
You read correctly: sandy slopes . There are no conventional roads on Holbox, only sandy paths. This has two disadvantages: If it’s too dry, a decent layer of dust will cover everything near the “road”. If it rains too much, gigantic pools of water are formed that you have to cross.
What Holbox doesn’t have – at least officially – are cars. Or rather: As a tourist you are not allowed to take your car to the island. However, the locals sometimes drive around very well in their cars. Apparently there are exceptions, which is perfectly legitimate. However, considering the level of noise generated by golf cart engines, we find it a bit misleading to call it a “car-free” island. Because engine noise is definitely there.
If you are looking for peace and quiet on Holbox, you should hurry towards the beach move. Because there you will (finally!) find the paradise you have been looking for for so long.
The best time to travel to Holbox The best time to travel to Holbox is during the dry season from December to April. Then it doesn’t rain that often and it’s usually pleasantly warm. We say “usually” because the tropical weather doesn’t always stick to plan: During our visit in December, for example, it only had a maximum of during the day degrees Celsius, which is quite little for a beach holiday. In the evening it got quite cool: You couldn’t do it without long clothes.
From May/June the rainy season slowly begins. During the rainy season you can of course also travel to Holbox, but then you have to be prepared for a little more precipitation. The sea can also be a bit choppy during the rainy and hurricane season (approx. July to October).
How long should I stay on Holbox? We ourselves were three nights on Holbox and found this period ideal to be able to switch off a bit. We would not recommend less than two nights due to the quite tedious journey. And of course you can always stay longer – provided you don’t have a problem with the fact that the day consists only of lazing around and swimming in the sea.
2. Activities on Holbox Switch off, relax, laze around – that’s what Holbox is all about. Sounds good right? We spent most of the time reading a good book and enjoying the sea views. If you’ve had enough of sunbathing, then we have a tip or two for you.
Admire the street art of Holbox Admittedly: Holbox can’t match the variety of street art in Bacalar. Nevertheless, there are beautiful works to admire on the island. Just keep your eyes peeled: you will stumble across more street art than you initially think. Many of these are conjured up on the walls with impressive detail.
Enjoying the sunset Is part of an island vacation: Watching the sunset from the beach. Not a night goes by that we’re not found on the beach at this time of day.
On the west side of the main beach at Holbox there is a kind of cove from which you have a nice view of the have setting sun. We have marked the location on the map at the end of the article.
If you want to drive a little further: A very popular and well-known sunset spot is also the pier at Punta Cocos. We’ll tell you a bit more about that in a moment.
Explore the island by bike Sitting still is not our thing in the long run, so it was clear that we will rent a bike by day 2 at the latest. The sandy slopes are very flat, so you can explore the island perfectly by bike. For 24 hours a bike costs 150 Pesos.
Our first stop took us east to the Punta Mosquito. At low tide you can reach the beach over a long sandbank. You simply park your bike at the end of the path. Be prepared for a 1 hour walk. (Caution: From the early afternoon the water level gets higher and you may no longer be able to walk on the sandbank, but have to cross a small lagoon where crocodiles live.)
With a bit of luck you can watch flamingos at Punta Mosquito at certain times of the year. The best period for this should probably be from April to October.
Back towards the main town and after lunch we continued west. There is another beach that should be worthwhile: Punta Cocos. The way there by bike takes about 30 Minutes.
Unfortunately the beach was completely covered with seaweed on the day of our visit, which is why we started the return journey earlier than expected and didn’t stay until sunset. When the weather is nice and there is no seaweed, Punta Cocos is certainly a great place to relax.
3. Restaurants & Cafes The restaurant density on Holbox is enormous – and it feels like new, hip bars are added every day. The fact that Holbox is now quite touristy is reflected in the offer: from pizza to sushi to Mexican cuisine, everything is there. We are therefore briefly presenting our favorites so that you do not feel overwhelmed by the selection.
LUUMA Welcome to probably the hippest restaurant on Holbox. The Luuma is very reminiscent of the trendy places in Tulum – both in terms of atmosphere and in terms of price.
The menu features dishes in tapas -Sizes and larger platters. We shared two starters and one vegetarian platter. There were also two cocktails. Conclusion: If you want to treat yourself to something in a great atmosphere, this is the perfect place for it. For every day it would definitely be too expensive for us.
Address: Avenida Damero 220 (corner Calle Sierra), Isla Holbox
Prices: 800 Pesos for both of us (2 appetizers, 1 large plate, 2 cocktails)
Alma Bar Egg a very cool rooftop pool bar for during the day or at sunset! The bar is located on the beach – more precisely on the roof of the property called Villas Tiburon.
From the two sun loungers you have a direct view of the sea. The downside: You can only sit here if you consume at least two cocktails per person. We didn’t do it, which is why we were “only” allowed to enjoy the beautiful ambience of the bar. At the weekend there will probably be a DJ. Important to know: From 15 am not allowed children more in the bar, but adults only.
Address: Calle Paseo Kuka 30, Isla Holbox Prices: Cocktails approx. 187 pesos
Other restaurants and cafe on Holbox that we liked and can recommend ROOTS: Well the pizzeria on Holbox. You sit on tree trunks, which is a bit uncomfortable in the long run. The lobster pizza is said to be legendary. We stayed vegetarian and still paid 200 Pesos per pizza.
Taco Queto: Cheap and authentic. You sit on the notorious red plastic chairs. There are tacos, quesadillas and co. The service is a bit slow, but you shouldn’t be in a hurry on Holbox anyway.
Le Jardin: A very cozy, French breakfast place with many homemade delicacies. There are delicious croissants, pains au chocolat and sandwiches, among other things. Owner and staff are extremely friendly.
4. Our accommodation on Holbox We spent our time on Holbox in the Hotel El Pueblito, which we unfortunately can only recommend to a limited extent . The reason: It is in the middle of the main street. The noise level is therefore quite high due to the golf carts.
Unfortunately, we had the misfortune that our room (“suite with queen-size bed”) went directly onto the street and was therefore even louder than others. It’s a shame, because we really liked the design and furnishings of the hotel. Unfortunately, we could only enjoy our great terrace to a limited extent. There are some rooms further back that face the inner courtyard – that’s definitely a better way to enjoy your time and that’s probably why this hotel has such a good rating.
Annoyed we talk about the breakfast. There are several dishes to choose from on the menu, but a surcharge is required for many dishes. We really don’t understand why they don’t just include everything here for hotel guests. That makes a very bad impression.
Conclusion: We would not stay here again, although we really liked our maisonette room. If you’re ever on an island, you’d rather enjoy your peace and quiet.
Sleeping on Holbox: Our alternative suggestions Mid price Casa Mech: A beautifully designed, very family run accommodation in Holbox. There are only six rooms, all of which are incredibly tastefully decorated. A highlight on top is the small pool on the roof.
Tierra Mia Boutique Hotel: We almost chose this hotel and ultimately regretted it. We then walked past it out of interest. Conclusion: Very inviting and quite quiet as it is off the main road.
Upper price range El Corazón Boutique Hotel: Simply wow! A beautifully designed facility. The rooms are extremely comfortable and furnished with great attention to detail. The hotel is not directly on the beach but only 3 minutes away.
Holbox Casa Punta Coco: We’ve only heard good things about this place so far. The boutique hotel is located near Punta Coco (and thus far from the main town). From the room terrace you have a great view of the sea. The downside: There are no restaurants nearby – it takes a long time by bike to get to the center.
5. Getting to Holbox With the boat Isla Holbox is best reached by boat. Boats to Holbox depart from the tiny town of Chiquilá in the north of the Yucatán Peninsula.
1. Step: Getting to Chiquilá (ferry port) The easiest way to get to Chiquilá is by rental car. We came from Valladolid and drove about two hours. It’s also about two hours from Cancún via the quickest route. On the Valladolid route, a toll of 187 Pesos per car due.
In Chiquilá you have to park your car, before you transfer to Holbox. The approximate parking fee is currently (as of December 2019) 150 Pesos for 24 Hours. There is one parking space after the next – just choose the one that suits you.
There is also an ADO bus station in Chiquilá. There are daily bus connections to Chiquilá from all major towns. Attention: From some places (eg from Valladolid) there is only one connection per day. You can check the timetable online: ADO website.
2. Step: Ferry from Chiquilá to Holbox From Chiquilá drive every day from 6 a.m. to 24: 21 PM Ferries to Holbox. The route is served by two operators: 9 Hermanos and Holbox Express. The schedule is aligned so that all 15 Minutes (always at On the hour and on the half hour) a boat departs from the mainland to Holbox.
There is no significant difference between the providers. When you arrive at the pier, you automatically buy your ticket for the next timeslot.
Ticket Price: 220 Pesos per person (one-way)
By plane There are no scheduled flights to Holbox, but if you want to spend a lot of money you can still travel to Holbox by plane. There is a runway where small, private planes can land. There are flights to Holbox from Cancún, Mérida, Tulum and Playa del Carmen, among others.
The price for this experience is of course correspondingly higher: from around 500 US dollars (for the entire aircraft) you can, for example, book a private flight from Cancún to Holbox in a Cessna 206 to organize. Sometimes there are also last minute offers. If this is an option for you, you can find more information on this website: Flights to Holbox.
6. Our verdict on Holbox Is Holbox worth the trip? We say yes. The island did not completely inspire us from the first moment, but over time we liked it better and better. However, we warn against expectations that are too high, because unfortunately Holbox is not (anymore) an untouched island paradise.
It is best to )Check the weather, so that you don’t get into a similar low weather situation as we do. When the weather is nice, Holbox is a thousand times more beautiful and inviting and comes pretty close to the ideal of a dream island.
And another tip: Mosquito spray not forget. Not only are there a lot of mosquitoes, but also a lot of pesky sand flies on Holbox.
Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever been to Isla Holbox? We would be very interested in how you experienced it. If you have any other tips for Holbox, we’d love to hear your comments. Many Thanks!