Holbox Island is a tiny place located northwest of Cancun, a long strip of land forming part of a larger peninsula. The popularity of Holbox has been steadily growing over the last ten to fifteen years – and it’s no wonder. Holbox is a place to relax and disconnect, enjoying nature, the endless beaches, and the special vibes of a hideaway island.
There are a number of reasons why Holbox remains free of the overdevelopment that often plagues tropical islands like this. One is its location – you need to travel off the main tourist path to get here. Another is its infrastructure – it’s an island without paved roads or the utilities required to support a mass influx.
While Holbox is certainly busier than it used to be, it retains a charm all of its own. Read on to find out more about this enticing vacation destination.
How To Get To Holbox Island
Most people travel to Chiquilá – the gateway to Holbox – from Cancun and there are a couple of ways to make the journey. Easiest is a two-hour taxi ride, but a cheaper option is the ADO bus, which takes around 2 hrs 30 mins and costs M$300.
On arrival at Chiquilá, a small, dusty port town, you’ll want to head straight to the ferries that will make the 25-minute trip to the island. Two companies operate alternating schedules: 9 Hermanos ferries leave on the hour, and Holbox Express on the half-hour. Both companies charge the same rate – M$220 one way.
Top Rated Places To Stay On Holbox Island
There are plenty of 5-star hotels on Holbox, but also an impressive selection of mid and budget-range hotels to suit all pockets. Here are some of the best.
- Casa Las Tortugas
One of the original Holbox hotels, the beachfront Casa Las Tortugas remains a popular option. It’s a luxury place, but has a relaxed, homely feel, with classy dining options, including Mandarina, a quality restaurant situated right on the beach.
- Hotel El Pueblito
A great mid-range option, Hotel El Pueblito couldn’t be more central, located right on Holbox’s main square. An attractive wood and palapa design with many rooms spread across two floors, this hotel also offers an inviting pool area, plus convenient facilities including a coffee shop, souvenir store, and three restaurants making this option hard to beat.
- El Corazón Boutique Hotel
El Corazón Boutique Hotel consistently rates as one of the top hotels in Holbox, not least for its adults-only exclusive feel, its sustainable credentials, and its roof terrace with 360-degree views over Holbox.
Best Beaches On Holbox Island
There are two main beaches in Holbox, one in the center of town, and another to the west. Both can be reached on foot, or you can take a golf cart taxi for around M$100.
Catching a sunset from one of the beaches is a must-do while you’re here, and you won’t be alone – pretty much the whole island comes out to watch the stunning colors of nature as day becomes night.
- Playa Punta Cocos
As far west as you can go on Holbox, Playa Punta Cocos is an entirely undeveloped beach due to protection ordnance. There is one beachfront shack selling coffee and refreshments, but no restrooms. The vibe is ultra-chilled, quiet, and restful.
- Playa Holbox
This is the main city beach, where you’ll find the majority of beachfront hotels. It’s busy, and many hotels and beach clubs will charge for use of their loungers. But the water is calm, shallow, and inviting – you can walk out a fair distance and the water will still only reach your knees!
Best Restaurants in Holbox
Holbox has become quite the place for foodies, with a wide range of restaurants catering to budget street food enthusiasts, health food nuts, and fine dining aficionados. Here are some of the best dining options on Holbox in 2022.
Luuma is one of the hottest restaurants on Holbox right now. It’s high-end but is located in a simply gorgeous informal courtyard filled with fairy lights and seagrass decorations, creating a really special atmosphere. Specializing in Mexican-influenced tapas and serving inventive cocktails and fine wines, this place is perfect for a special vacation dining experience.
- Marquesitas, Central Square
When you need a sweet treat, head to the corner of the main square in Holbox town and you’ll find a street food vendor selling ‘marquesitas’, which are rolled up crisply pancakes filled with whatever you choose. Cheese and jam is the traditional filling (tastier than it sounds), but there are limitless choices and for only M$50, it’s a steal.
- Roots Pizzas
Holbox is famous for lobster, more specifically lobster pizza. Although which establishment serves the best version is open to debate, Roots is one of the originals – and still one of the most popular. It’s not cheap at around USD $30, but it’s delicious enough to justify the cost.
- Holbox Foodie Market
Another on-trend spot in Holbox town is the Holbox Foodie Market. Take your pick from five restaurants, order drinks from the brilliant Barba Negra, then enjoy your choices in the outdoor dining area. It’s always full, always lively, and always great fun.
Best Tours From Holbox
Depending on what time of year you’re visiting Holbox, there will be a tour to suit you. Here are some of the best, and there are more tour ideas in this Cancun Sun article.
- Whale Shark Tour
Whale sharks visit the waters off Holbox Island during their breeding season, which runs from May until September. Growing up to fourteen meters long, it’s exhilarating to be able to swim with these mighty creatures in their natural habitat. Tours with this company come highly recommended.
- Bioluminescence Tour
Bioluminescence is a magical phenomenon where micro-organisms in the ocean glow an otherworldly shade of blue when hit by waves. Bioluminescence can be seen all year round, but only during a new moon, when the skies are particularly dark. There are multiple ways to see this spectacular light show, but a paddleboarding tour is one of the most enjoyable.
- Three Islands Tour
Running all year round, on this tour you’ll be able to explore three of Holbox’s surrounding island neighbors:
- Isla Pasión (Passion Island)
- Isla Pájaros (Bird Island)
- The Yalahau swimming hole
- Are there ATMs on the island?
There are a couple of ATMs on Holbox Island, but you can’t always rely on them to work, or even to have money available. So it’s best to bring cash with you to the island.
- Are credit cards accepted on Holbox Island?
Most (but not all) hotels, bars, restaurants, and stores will accept credit cards. But watch out for added fees – some places will add 5% to your bill if you pay by credit card.
- Is internet available on the island?
You can access the internet, sometimes via 4G, others times via 3G, but the connection is notoriously patchy. Some places offer wifi, but this can also be unreliable. If consistent internet is vital to you, then Holbox may not be the destination for you.
- What are the roads like on Holbox?
None of the roads on Holbox are paved, so when it rains – which it does often – the lack of proper drainage means there will be big puddles. We mean puddles the entire width of the road – it can be that bad. Whether that’s a deal-breaker or all part of the fun is entirely up to you.
- How long should I stay on Holbox Island?
There isn’t so much to do on Holbox Island, but that’s part of its charm. If you only stay for a day or two, you won’t have time to acclimatize to ‘island life’, so at least three or four days is ideal.
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