Isla Holbox is a small island off the coast of Mexico and, like Cozumel, Tulum, Bacalar and Mahahual, is located in the state of Quintana Roo. The island is mainly known for its beautiful beaches and the great opportunity to spot whale sharks. We stayed three days on Isla Holbox and for us that was sufficient. We stayed overnight in accommodation Maria Carlota, a relatively new hotel with beautiful rooms.
In this article you will find information about what to do on Isla Holbox and which attractions can be found here.
How to get to Isla Holbox?
Isla Holbox can be reached by ferry from Chiquilà. The town of Chiquilà is easy to reach by public transport or by car. The ferry sails every half hour. Did you just miss the ferry by a few minutes like we did? There are small boats that will get you across as well. We’d imagined the price to be higher, but it turned out to be the same, namely 80 pesos per person for a single trip. The boat trip takes about 20 minutes.
Discover Isla Holbox on your bike
As there are no cars on the island, you can rent golf carts and bikes in many places. For us Dutchmen the bicycle is the best way to discover the island. The distances are small, and the paths are (if it hasn’t rained) reasonably doable. At our chosen accommodation we could even use bicycles for free! If you want a little more comfort or travel faster, go for a golf cart.
The center of Holbox is very colorful! Around the central square you will find colorful houses and awesome street art. There’s just so much to see and do! Once you’ve seen the cozy center, you can cycle along the beach. The beaches are beautiful and once you get out of the center, you have the bounty beaches all to yourself.
Chilling out in the Holbox hammocks
You probably know them from the ‘gram: The Holbox Hammocks. These seven poles in the water with hammocks in between them. On top of the poles you’ll find the letters ‘Holbox’, which makes it a perfect photo opportunity! You will find the hammocks in front of hotel Villas Tiburon and in front of Club de Playa Mantartaya. There is a sign that the hammocks are only accessible to guests, but they won’t check this. Besides the nice hammocks, the water is also beautiful, which makes it a great place to spend a few hours!
Note: if you cycle from the center to the official hammocks, you will first come across a simpler variant. The hammocks you usually see on the pictures are at the end of the road.
Walk the sandbanks of Isla Holbox
There are sandbanks along a large part of the coast at Isla Holbox. Sandbanks are shallow stretches in the sea. This means that when it’s low tide, you can walk a long way into the sea and the water will only get up to your ankles. The sandbanks start at Punta Mosquito, which is about 1.5 km from the center.
Note: You may encounter stretches that are a bit deeper, so you might want to put your stuff in a waterproof bag.
I thought walking the sandbanks was quite special. It is weird when you are a hundreds of meters from the coast and still only up to your ankles in the sea.
Find the Holbox sign
Just like in all other cities we visited in Mexico; Isla Holbox has a sign. This sign is slightly different from the other signs we’ve seen so far. You have to stand between them to complete the letters! The letters can be found at the pier, good luck!
Watching the sunset from the beach
If you walk from the center to the beach and then head east, you will find several beach bars where you can watch the sunset while enjoying a drink or cocktail. We visited Raices, a cozy reggae bar with live music during the day.
Note: not every hotel is happy to accommodate guests from outside unless you pay a lot of money. Combine a day at the beach at a more expensive hotel with nice sunbeds with watching the sunset or watch the sunset at a stand-alone bar like Raices.
Snorkeling with whale sharks
The most popular activity at Holbox is snorkeling with whale sharks. From 15 May to 15 September, a number of boats depart daily in search of whale sharks. This was also one of the main reasons for us to visit Isla Holbox. Because we visited the island in mid-May (the beginning of the season), we had contact with VIP Holbox Experience about booking our whale shark tour prior to our trip. We knew that there was a risk that we wouldn’t be able to see whale sharks, but we were in good spirits because we saw pictures of people who’d already spotted whale sharks on Instagram. The cost for the trip would be $120 per person including breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks and snorkeling equipment.
Due to the bad weather and a wild sea, unfortunately the tour was cancelled for the next 5 days. We contacted some touroperators in Isla Mujeres and they told us whale shark tours were still schedulled. That’s why we decided to leave for Isla Mujeres last minute for 1 day. But unfortunately, it didn’t work out either. The weather changed and all whale sharks’ tours were cancelled as well.