Isla Holbox: Mexico’s Hidden Paradise
The Yucatan Peninsula is the most touristic part of Mexico and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches of the Caribbean coast. From Cancun to Playa del Carmen to Tulum, Mexico has built a reputation for prime all-inclusive resorts locations. The lively country, the beaches, the food and the people make it a must to escape the cold North American winters. Despite being so well-known, the Yucatan Peninsula still has some hidden secrets only waiting to be discovered.
Isla Holbox – pronounced hol-bosh – is the jewel of the Yucatan. Some people call it the Tulum of 20 years ago, before the tourism industry took over. Now is the time to discover this beautiful island before it becomes the touristic chaos that is the rest of the Yucatan peninsula. Before traveling to Mexico, I had never heard of Holbox. Everyone started telling me how beautiful it was, but by then I was already in Southern Mexico so I did not visit. Then, a few months later, my mom and I were looking for a place to celebrate her birthday. Flights to Cancun were quite cheap and since I had already explored the Yucatan, there was only Holbox that I wanted to see. I took a break from Central America, flew to Cancun, and visited the island with my mom that I had not seen in more than six months. Maybe I find this island so out of this world because I was there with my mother, or maybe it is just as magnificent as everyone says. There is only one way to find out.
How to Get There
It’s actually really easy to get to Isla Holbox. Take a bus of from Cancun or Playa del Carmen directly to Chiquila. From there a ferry will take you to the island within 30 minutes.
About half of the island is inhabited with long stretches of untouched beaches. If you like long walks on the beach that can go on for kilometres, Holbox is for you. My mother and I spent hours walking by the beach and every time the heat would be getting too intense, we went for a swim.
Relax on a Hammock
This is the most famous picture of Isla Holbox! Relaxing on a hammock in the ocean with this breathtaking view. There aren’t that many hammocks over the water around the island, but on the beach, in most hotels and hostels, hammocks are everywhere. It’s all you need for the perfect afternoon siesta.
Rent a Golf Cart
If you want to explore the island in dept, you need to rent a golf cart. You can also use a bicycle, but to visit all the hidden beaches of the island, the golf cart is the best option. The most beautiful inhabited beaches like Punta Roca, are accessible through a series of little roads. It had rained the day before we rented the cart and the many holes along the dirt road had become small rivers. We even got completely stuck at some point, but with a little push and some mud splashing in my face, we were back on tracks.
Holbox is renowned for its beautiful sunsets. Punta Roca is by far the best point to see it. Since we had rented the cart for the day, we made it back to this side of the island to film the sunset. At 6pm, a little before sunset, a white van showed up on the little path with a big group of locals. At first, we wondered if it was a good idea to be filming with the drone, but we kept on going anyway. Turns out that it was a group of locals who came to fish with a giant net. They were actually fishing for their families, not even to sell. I filmed them with the drone and they loved it. I loved it too! It looks great on video and it was such a random unplanned event that it became even more special. As they were finishing to take the fish out of their net, the sun started hitting the water and the view was just as magical as I had hoped for.
Holbox is surrounded by beautiful murals all over the town center. This little girl is one of the iconic ones and my personal favorite.
There’s a lot of restaurants in Holbox that range from all prices and the food is simply delicious. Overall I would say that it was the best food that I’ve had in Mexico. The seafood is to die for, but there are also food trucks at night that will keep you fed for very little money.
Isla Holbox is renowned for its whale shark season. From June to September is the best moment to go on a tour and snorkel with them. Unfortunately, they weren’t around during my six-days visit to the island so I didn’t get to see them.
3 Islands Tour
This is the most popular tour on Holbox. It will take you first to Isla Parajos (Bird Island) where you’ll witness all the birds flying around from the beautiful wooden viewpoint.
From there we went for a swim at Yalahau, a natural pool of water on a small island that resembles cenotes.
The last stop, famous for having flamingos, was Isla de la Pasion (Passion Island). Unfortunately there was no flamingos to be seen during our tour. It even started to rain and I missed my chance to film with the drone. I still enjoyed myself and I would definitely recommend this tour during a stay on the island.
There are a lot of hostels with budget dorms at about 10-15$ USD, but if you’re looking for a hotel it is a little more expensive. There are no resorts on the island, but you’ll find a lot of beautiful rustic villas or hotels by the beach that are very luxurious in their laid-back style. And by luxurious, I mean quite expensive. My mom and I struggled for a while to find a place to stay because I insisted to have a kitchen. I really wanted to cook, but the grocery stores on Holbox are very limited so it would have been better to save and rent a room without a kitchen because we ended up eating out almost all the time.