Visit the Island of Holbox

Love the Yucatan in Mexico?  Take the short ferry ride off the peninsula to the island of Holbox – where the art of relaxation has been perfected!

Okay, so getting to the island is a bit more complicated than taking a hotel shuttle from the Cancun airport to touristy Riviera Maya, but you’ll find it’s well worth the trip.  From the Cancun airport you have the option of ground transport by bus, shuttle, taxi or rental car to the quaint fishing village of Chiquila, about 2 hours north of the airport.  Depending on which accommodation on Holbox you have booked, this transfer may be included with your hotel stay.  Chiquila is the ferry port where you will begin the final leg of your trip to Holbox – a 25 minute ferry ride.  While waiting for your ferry transport, relax with a cerveza and some fresh ceviche as you overlook the small marina.  

Once on the island you’ll notice immediately that serious effort is being made to protect this unique environment from overdevelopment and pollution.  No cars are allowed on the island – visitors and locals get around on golf carts or bicycles – single use plastic items are banned, and hotel guests are reminded to limit their requests for housekeeping and laundry services, further reducing waste.  To protect plant and animal life, several of the animal reserve areas are restricted from visitors except for approved viewing towers offshore.  The island of Holbox (pronounced Hole-bosh) is part of the huge marine and land reserve known as Yum Balam.  Its diverse ecosystem of rainforests, mangroves, beaches, and numerous lagoons provide safe haven for its many land and sea creatures including jaguars, manatees, tapirs and a stunning number of bird species.  Whale sharks spend their summer near the island, and one of the most popular activities in Holbox is swimming with these gargantuan animals (no worries – they’re friendly!)

But being environmentally aware doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time!  A number of various tours to experience all that Holbox has to offer include: 

  • Night kayaking and night snorkeling in the entrancing bioluminescent waters just off the island. This small group experience with a certified guide includes transfers from your hotel and all necessary equipment.  An added bonus is the amazing view of the night sky, unpolluted by city lights!
  • A three-island boat tour which includes a visit to Bird Island where you’ll have access to  the offshore viewing towers for watching the pelicans, flamingos, egrets, ibis and cormorants. You’ll also visit Passion Island for some beach time and the Yalahau Cenote (believed by some to be a Fountain of Youth) where you can swim in its fresh bubbling water surrounded by lush plant life.
  • Kitesurf along the wide sandy beach at Las Nubes sandbank – a super location for both beginner and advanced kitesurfers.
  • If you’re in Holbox from mid-May through mid-September be sure and book a whale shark snorkel tour for a wildlife encounter that’s sure to leave you breathless!

If taking a tour just sounds like too much work, there’s a beach hammock with your name on it!  Unlike the frenetic pace of Cancun, you can just sit on the beach, relax at the pool and enjoy a cocktail or two before your afternoon nap, and no one will make you feel guilty.  Stroll around the town center among brightly painted buildings and enjoy local street art, street food, and lively street musicians.  You’ll find the villagers to be extremely welcoming, and unlike some of the tourist areas surrounding Cancun, the crime rate is very low.

If you’re looking for travel deals, consider visiting between May and October, when tourism drops off and hotels and other service businesses offer discounts. Peak hurricane season arrives with the months of September and October, but if you have purchased travel insurance this need not be a concern.

You’ll find accommodations for the budget-minded as well as those seeking a luxury property with many amenities.  Many hotels are located minutes away from the beach in the Centro neighborhood, with easy access to shopping, restaurants, and bars.  There are”adult only” accommodations as well as several that are family-oriented.  As you would expect, beachfront properties are more expensive but offer amenities like fitness centers, luxury spa facilities, on-site restaurants, and beachfront dining.

And speaking of dining, you’ll find amazing food ranging from beachfront fish taco joints to an offbeat pizzeria and an Argentine fusion restaurant featuring free-range beef imported from Argentina.  Many eateries offer vegetarian options.  Give Holbox’s signature beer a try – La Holboxena coconut porter has a unique flavor.  Gotta try the buttery soft shell blue crab at Piedrasanta, the chilaquiles at Arte Sano, and the ridiculously fresh ceviche served almost everywhere on the island.  Still have room for dessert?  Kahuil (chocolate brownie with dried chili ice cream and drenched with a tasty liqueur) will not disappoint!  

If you’re looking to branch out a bit from a typical getaway to Mexico, treat yourself to a trip to Holbox.  Our experienced agents at Travel Leaders can point you in the right direction!

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