Located in the beautiful state of Quintana Roo and situated just a short distance from popular Yucatan peninsula destinations including Playa del Carmen and Cancun, Holbox Island Mexico is the ideal place for a laid-back beach getaway.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Holbox Island

Pronounced “hole-bosh” instead of “hole-box” and sometimes referred to as Isla Holbox or simply Holbox, this long, narrow island offers a little something for everyone who’s longing to enjoy a slow-paced vacation far from busier hotspots.

With a length of 26 miles and a width of just a mile, this stunning destination is much like other Mexico islands in that it is divided into different regions including town, lush landscape, and a blend of busy beaches as well as more secluded ones that offer a pristine, undeveloped feel. The overall atmosphere is carefree; you can wear flip flops everywhere you go, and no one will look twice. Beautiful murals are everywhere, adding even more color to the landscape while doubling as fascinating backdrops for your photos.

Since there aren’t many cars on Holbox, most people travel the narrow, unpaved streets via golf cart when they’re not in the mood to walk. Even the taxis are modified golf buggies! They’re happy to take you from beach to café to hotel, so you can enjoy all the cocktails you like with your lunch without worrying about having to drive.

No one who visits goes hungry. There are tons of local Holbox Island restaurants to try; most offer simple, authentic fare of the most satisfying kind. Of course, there are a few nicer restaurants for those special evenings out, plus there are bakeries where you can treat yourself to delightful pastries before heading out for the day’s adventures. Many restaurants and beach clubs offer excellent views, so you can watch the sunset while sipping your favorite cocktail.

With its incredible street art, its remarkably laid-back vibe, and its glorious scenery, Holbox Island is the perfect place to hide away from life’s stresses for a while. If you’re longing for an idyllic retreat far from the beaten path, you’ll want to put this welcoming island on your shortlist.

Holbox island mexico

Miles of tranquil beach, mangrove forest, and gentle reef make Isla Holbox an unforgettable getaway.

How to get to Holbox Island

Since it’s not a major destination, the question of how to get to Isla Holbox is a really common one. The good news is that it’s fairly easy to reach this idyllic piece of paradise, and there are a few different ways to go about it.

In case you’re considering a day trip from Cancun to Holbox, look no further than the Cancun Clipper, which provides roundtrip transportation to and from the island, as well as the opportunity to spend some time birdwatching at Bird Island, which is only accessible via boat. This day trip also includes a visit to Cenote Yalahau, a delicious meal with a courtesy drink, and some free time to spend at Holbox Island itself.

In case you’re wondering how to get to Holbox from Cancun but you’re not into the clipper, you’ll be glad to discover that there’s a ferry from Chiquila, which is about two hours car or a longer 3 ½ hour bus trip from Cancun. The actual ferry trip from Chiquila to Holbox is about 15 minutes. Ferries start running at 5 a.m. and run until about 8:30 p.m.

There are also small plane flights to Isla Holbox, which save time but understandably cost more. Flights to Holbox depart from Cancun for the most part, but you can also catch a plane from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Merida, or Tulum. Average flight time is just 40 minutes.

Must-do activities on Holbox Island

Not only is Isla Holbox Mexico the ideal spot for days spent lounging in a beachside palapa, it’s also a great place to get active, if you like. Swim in the clear, warm water, particularly along the northern shore where conditions are typically calm or enjoy magical encounters with whale sharks and other underwater wildlife while snorkeling. Consider a side trip to Bird Island, where you can view many beautiful species in a pristine habitat.

If above-water activities are on your list, you’ll find that this is the ideal place to perfect your kayaking skills as you explore the mangroves or enjoy the fun of stand-up paddle boarding. Burn your breakfast off with a hike or take time out for yoga classes. In case you’ve ever wanted to try horseback riding on the beach, this is a great place to do it.

Colorful artwork in Holbox island

Colorful artwork is everywhere at Holbox – even on the waterfront!

Nearby Activities

Because Isla Holbox Mexico is situated just a short distance from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, there’s no shortage of experiences on offer nearby. Spend a night or two in Cancun’s Hotel Zone and go clubbing, enjoy even more beach time, or take day trips to Mexico’s famous pyramids including Chichen Itza. The ruins of Tulum are within easy reach as well.

Get even more island time with a visit to Isla Mujeres, which is easily accessed via Catamaran from Cancun. This is one of Mexico’s best places to encounter sea turtles, and it’s also a great place to snorkel.

In case you’d like to learn to scuba dive, you can do it in nearby Playa del Carmen. Divers who are already certified can enjoy fun dive packages here, which offer the opportunity to encounter stunning marine animals in their natural habitat.

Isla Pasion, situated closer to Cozumel, is another nearby place for a fun getaway. Exciting jeep tours, ATV tours, and JetBoat rides balance out laid back beach activities such as swimming, snorkeling, or just lounging in a water hammock.

Your Holbox Island Mexico Packing List

A sunny laid-back destination calls for simple, comfortable attire and plenty of reef-safe sunscreen. You don’t need much else. Here’s a quick list:

  • Basic toiletries
  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuit (bring at least 2 for multi-day trips)
  • Beach towel
  • Juicy novel to read on the beach
  • Sandals
  • Comfortable, casual outfits suitable for warm weather
  • Hiking shoes for longer walks
  • Binoculars for bird watching
  • Camera / underwater camera
holbox-island-caribbean-houses

Most Holbox Island restaurants offer a laid-back, beachy vibe.

Where to stay on Holbox Island and Beyond

If you’re looking for huge, luxurious resort-style hotels, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If, on the other hand, you’re seeking comfortable, slightly upscale accommodations, Holbox Island has a few different options from which to choose.

Those who are looking for a great bargain will not be disappointed. Isla Holbox Mexico accommodations tend to be cheap when compared with prices at busier destinations, and many of the most pared-back places offer comfortable beds, attractive décor, and small outdoor swimming pools where you can cool off before turning in for the night.

In case you’re only visiting for the day, consider staying in Cancun Downtown or the more laid back Playa del Carmen. Mexico City, Puerto Escondido, and Oaxaca are further away, but well worth exploring as all three destinations offer a magic that’s all their own.

Holbox Island Weather

Isla Holbox weather is fantastic year-round. December and January are the coolest months, with lows around 70 degrees and highs around 80. June, July, and August are the hottest, with average temperatures above 90 and lows just below 80. Rain can happen anytime, but the likelihood of wet weather is highest between September and November.

What’s the best time to visit Holbox Island?

The short answer is that there is no “bad” time to visit this amazing piece of paradise! If you’re hoping to avoid wet weather, consider planning your trip for anytime between December and August. October is the rainiest month, with an average of more than 15 days with precipitation. September and November are a bit drier, but still average more than 10 days with precipitation.

Selina Puerto Escondido

Guests at Selina Puerto Escondido.

Holbox Island FAQs

Q: Can I use my credit card to pay for things?

A: Most places accept credit and debit cards, but terminals aren’t always reliable. As ATMs are few and far between, it’s a very good idea to bring some cash along so that you can easily pay for refreshments and other expenses.

Q: How much is the golf cart ride from the ferry terminal to the center of town?

A: The average price of a golf cart ride is 20-30 MXN, and the ride takes just a few minutes.

Q: Can I rent my own golf buggy at Holbox Island?

A: Yes! There are plenty of places to rent a golf cart. If you’d rather pedal, you can rent a bike instead.

Q: Can I swim with Whale shark Holbox? If so, when?

A: Yes, swimming with whale sharks is one of the best things to do at Holbox Island. Most whale shark activity occurs between the middle of May and the middle of September, so plan your trip accordingly if whale shark encounters are on your bucket list.

Q: How’s the Isla Holbox surfing?

A: There’s a little bit of surfing at Holbox Island, but kite surfing is by far the more popular sport since waves tend to be small, but breezes are typically steady. Give it a try!

Plan Your Trip

Now that you’re better acquainted with Holbox Island, it’s time to plan your getaway. Whether you’re thinking about a smaller side trip while enjoying a vacation in Cancun or Cozumel, or if you’re thinking about spending a full week or two simply hiding away from the world, Isla Holbox will make your Mexico vacation dreams come true. Whatever you do, relax and have fun. This unforgettable destination is the perfect place to let stress evaporate!

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