A true paradise of tranquility
At the meeting point of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, Holbox, which means “black hole” in Maya, may feel like it’s completely off the grid (no cars, paved roads, or high rises), yet it still boasts plenty of modern amenities to make for a comfortable and romantic stay for couples and honeymooners.
From Cancun to Holbox, it’s about a two-hour drive to Chiquilá, where the ferry departs on a 20-minute ride. The 26-mile-long island is located within the Nature Reserve of Yum Balam, which was declared a Flora and Fauna Nature Reserve.
Where to Stay
It won’t take long to figure out where the action is happening. The main strip, Calle Tiburón Ballena, or Whale Shark Street, runs parallel to the beach, and golf carts and bikes are the main modes of transport.
On one end, you’ll find a mix of hotels that range from luxury boutiques to rustic wooden cabins and hostels. Since there are only a handful of hotels—all of which are on the smaller side—the rest of the island never feels overcrowded. The island sits along the shore watching the fiery show before strolling “downtown” for dinner and cocktails.
What to Do
Isla Holbox features a wonderful and diverse array of restaurants and bars. Some of the more upscale boutique hotels offer gastronomic takes on Mexican or international cuisine, while toes-in-the-sand eateries lining the few blocks that make up downtown offer a mix of tacos and the island’s “local” specialty, lobster pizza. For dessert, sample a marquesita, a crepe-style rolled wafer, from one of the vendors in the main square.
Murals grace the sides of the houses and palapas, so take the time to admire the street art while biking or shopping along downtown’s main sandy strip. The real sight to see when coming to Holbox is the whale sharks, which migrate to the waters around the island from May to September. A day-long tour serves as a water safari cruising off the coast in search of these gentle giants, which can grow up to 45 feet long and weigh up to 15 tons.
In addition to swimming with whale sharks, visitors can take a boat tour out to the Yalahau cenote, which, according to local legend, is known as the “source of eternal youth.”
The cenote is part of the Three Islands, which includes Isla Pájaros (Bird Island), home to more than 150 different species of birds, and the tiny Isla Pasión (Passion Island), the best for basking on the sandy shores and admiring the views. The easiest way to explore the Three Islands is on a boat tour heading through the natural oasis surrounded by mangroves and a lagoon that is home to Holbox’s star resident pink flamingos.
Another of the unique natural experiences that Holbox offers are admiring the area’s bioluminescence. Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon produced by microorganisms that radiate a bright turquoise light when movement occurs at the sea. Bioluminescence can be seen all year long, but it is better appreciated between April and August, and when there is no moonlight. The best places to observe it are at the beaches that are located far away from the city lights: Punta Cocos and Punta Mosquito.
To appreciate the bioluminescence it is necessary to get into the ocean since the lights of the island can make it a little difficult to observe it. If you want to add more adventure to it, then we recommend you book a kayak tour with one of the region’s certified companies. This will take your experience to another level!