I'm back from vacation and I wasted NO time getting this guide together! Holbox is a magical paradise and was just the reset I needed post birthday.
Holbox is an island on the North side of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. It is 26 miles long and about 1 mile wide-- much of the island is mangroves and the Yum Balum Nature Reserve. Less crowded than Cancun and more low key than Tulum-- this is the perfect place for tropical vacation.
How to get to Holbox:
Getting to Holbox is a little lengthy— but trust me it will be worth it. You will need to fly in to Cancun airport and from there you have a few options to get to the Island.
Private flight to Holbox:
This is about $850-$1000 and is a private flight on a small prop plane. From Cancun to Holbox airport is about 30 minutes.
This is the option we choose so that way we could have it tailored to our schedule and have have a worry free ride. I always use Etransfers— they are reliable, friendly and always punctual. From Cancun to Holbox a private Etransfer is about $240 round trip for a private van and $280 for a private suburban (This is per round trip and not per person). Don’t forget to tip your driver!
Ado bus: if you are on a budget and don’t mind this is a good option. ADO buses are very reliable and tickets from Cancun airport are around $14-$28 USD.
Since Holbox is an island you will need to take a ferry to get there (unless you take the private flight route). From the Chiquila port you can take the Holbox express which runs every hour and half hour— this takes about 20 minutes and costs 200 pesos per ticket ($9osh usd). Something to note: the last ferry of the day to Holbox is at 9pm—after that you won’t be able to get to the island until the next morning.
Getting around Holbox:
Aside from a few delivery and construction vehicles there are no cars on Holbox. The main ways to get around are ATV, golf cart, biking, walking. You can get a taxi or rent a golf cart for a few hours or for the length of your stay. Many of the hotels have bicycles you can rent as well. Since the town is so small you can definitely walk most everywhere.
Where to stay in Holbox:
Holbox has plenty of hotels, resorts and Airbnb options. For this trip we wanted to a luxe and worth free experience so we opted for hotels.
Punta Caliza: A small boutique hotel that is a relaxing, zen paradise. I loved that each room had a small private pool with doors you could open that connected to the main pool. Breakfast was included and each day it was a new delicious offering (still dreaming about the Avocado toast!) This was about a 15 minute walk to the town center.
Aldea Kuka: Another boutique hotel with a much more energetic and upscale vibe. They have tree house style rooms right on the beach. They offer complimentary morning yoga classes, breakfast is included and there is a sushi restaurant on site. J also liked that this one had bikes and paddleboards to rent ($15/day). This was a little further out and would be about a 30 minute walk to the town center or a short bike ride.
This was an option we consisted but ultimately decided on the others. I did make sure to pop in while we were down there to check it out for next time though (and of course to share with y'all!). They have a gorgeous spa as well as 3 restaurants on site. The location was great as well and was about a 5 minute walk to the town center.
What to do in Holbox:
Relax: This was my main priority this trip! The beaches are so pristine and the water is calm so it makes for a relaxing place to unwind and unplug.
Punta mosquito: This is a large sandbar on the north part of the island. Once you are out there you get panoramic views of the crystal clear water and you can also see flamingos! We rode bikes to the entrance of the preserve then it was about a mile hike through the mangroves. After that you do have to cross water to reach it, we went at high tide and the water was a little less than waist deep.
See bioluminescence: I’ll be honest— I sort of didn’t believe this was a thing? But on a walk back to the hotel after dinner we waded in the water and saw this beautiful natural phenomenon for ourselves!
Whale watching: this was something I really wanted to do but sadly whale shark season is April to September and they migrate away from the area. Next trip I’ll be sure to come in season because this is something I'd love to experience!
Water activities: There are so many water activities you can do in Holbox! We went kayaking one day and it was a lot of fun. There are also options to paddleboarding, kite surfing and more!
Where to eat & drink in Holbox:
Luuma: This was our favorite meal in Holbox! Situated on a narrow street by Casa Tortugas this gathering bar was chic, luxe and had delicious tapas and phenomenal cocktails.
Basico: This is a gorgeous bohemian restaurant near the town center. They have a great cocktail bar but also really good Mexican inspired food. I had the lobster pasta and it was insanely good.
Peidra Santa: This restaurant had an incredible atmosphere and vibe--it really embraces nature and you feel like you are in the middle of the jungle. The food was very unique and inventive (definitely get the lobster risotto) and the cocktails were beautiful and also tasty.
Raices: This is THE spot if you want a mid day cerveza or a casual dinner on the beach. The food is authentic and they have the best fresh seafood-- fish tacos, ceviche, aguachile etc.
Salma: This is a super FUN restaurant and bar with a pirate/tiki vibe. They had a DJ and the cocktails were creative and boozy.
My 3 tips for visiting Holbox:
Bring cash & small bills: You will need pesos for the ferry, taxis, tips. Do not rely on credit or debit cards— many places cannot accept them and sometimes the service will go other on the island cause credit card machines to not work. There are a couple ATMs on the island but there is no guarantee they will work. I'd suggest having 10,000 peso (approx $490 per person for a week's stay.
Comfortable/durable shoes are a must: I brought 4 pairs of shoes and ended up not wearing any of them (I put a pair of heels on for a photo and that was it). Since there are no paved roads and it was rainy season my shoes would’ve been muddy and ruined after one wear. I ended up buying a pair of foam flip flops from the market for 200 pesos ($9 USD) that I wore the entire time. Water shoes, birkinstocks or sandals you dont mind getting muddy will be your best bet. Don't waste time packing heels.
Dogs: this isn’t so much of a tip as a PSA. Holbox island is home to many dogs… while they don’t have owners they aren’t technically strays either. They roam the island and are cared for by the locals. They are friendly and might come up to you for pets and even beg for a bite of your food. For an animal lover like myself it was difficult for me to see all of these dogs and not worry about their well being. But they seemed happy, free and well cared for.
I hope this guide was helpful and encourages you to explore this beautiful piece of paradise! Be sure to let me know if you go OR if you need any help planning your trip!