I’m not a huge fan of Mexico. Cancun AKA “Mexican Miami” ruined it for me. Y’all know the vibes… overpriced, crowded parties, ability to walk around drunk, and then the all inclusive deals ( 6 restaurants to choose from, all the rail drinks you can have for a massive hangover for days to come). Either way, it is a hard no for me.
In walks COVID (whatever strand we are on right now) and the only border open to the US is… Mexico. Go figure. Insert rolling eyes emoji. Last year, I went to Cabo because it was a quick flight from Los Angeles, also I desperately needed to leave. It was cool, but it was Mexico. But Holbox… Holbox won me over. Honestly, I really don’t want to share this place because I don’t want it to become Tulum. #IYKYK
Isla Holbox is located 2 ½ hours away (car and ferry) north from Cancun airport. It is known for Whale sharks sighting (May – September), kite surfing, street art, food and white, sandy beaches. Holbox is NOT a binge party island nor are there a lot of activities, excursions available. What it does have is tranquility and what I call “low key turn up.”
How to get there
The closest airport to Isla Holbox is Cancun airport. There are a few ways to get there.
1. The expensive route is taking a plane which takes 30 minutes ( $700 charter flight fits up to 5- 6 people).
2. Public bus from downtown Cancun which was about 2 dollars a person but then it takes about 3- 4 hours.
3. I took a private transportation from Cancun to Chiquila for $100 with Go Holbox Transfers. There was a hitch going to Holbox (the driver unexpectedly had to go to the hospital, so they didn’t show up) but the company was responsive, and was able to find another driver immediately. It was a 2 hour ride and it stops at the ferry port.
4. Shared van: There are scheduled times and it is 300 pesos a person. you can find information about it here.
If you chose the option #2- 4, you will have to take a ferry over to Holbox. The ferry runs every 30 mins from 8 am – 9 pm. It cost 220 pesos for one person. Here is the schedule.
Holbox do not have cars, few ways to get around: golf carts, bicycles or by foot. I pretty much got around walking and sometimes with the golf carts taxi. The golf taxi ran around $50 – 250 pesos depending on where you are going and if it is raining or rain the night before. The bicycles are cool but it was raining here and there on the island but the roads got flooded easily.
There are options to rent a golf cart ( roughly around $2,500 pesos a day) or bicycles ( roughly around $350 pesos a day).
I stayed at two different parts of the island. The first hotel I stayed at was Casa Astral. it is located closer to the Punta Coco. It was much quieter, the beach around the hotel did not have much foot traffic and the sunset was prettier. The hotel is relatively new, wifi was great, and the hotel have apartment like feel to it.
The second leg of the trip I stayed at Villas HM Palpas Del Mar. That side of the island is lively, closer to downtown, more food and bar options. The wifi and cell service on this side of the island was a bit sketchy.
My option about staying in town is … I wouldn’t stay in the town. It is ghost town during the day and if you want to really get some good night sleep. Staying in town is not the move.
Las Planchas: Reasonably priced seafood restaurant that is in town. They close around 4pm.
Mojito Beach Club: cute restaurant on the beach. Unfortunately, the beach chairs around the restaurant is hotel guest only. Their ceviche is really good.
Raices: a good seafood restaurant on the beach. They have hammocks and beach chairs free of charge when you dine with them.
Roots: The infamous lobster pizza. Idk how many people recommended this damn lobster pizza but it did not live up the hype. Maybe because I live and die by NY pizza ( I said what I said) or maybe it didn’t have the amount of lobster on the pizza. Either way it was meh. I could have lived without it.
Basicio: cute, vibey restaurant in the town. Food and cocktails were good. If you are hungry though, they are on island time. Don’t go hangry.
Luuma: Tapas restaurant. This was by far my favorite place. The food was everything. Pricey but amazing good. I went here for my last night and I was thoroughly over eating in Holbox. Luuma somehow felt that and was like bish… how dare you?! Let me fuck you entire palate up. It indeed did that. Make sure to grab reservations.
Salma: Pirate vibe. They had some exotic stuff on their menu like crickets. Cocktails were good. I think this place is an after dinner type vibe since they have a DJ after hours.
El Chapulim: The prix fixe menu varies on a day to day basis. The decor was super cute the food wasn’t the best compared to everything I had during my stay.
Taco Queto: Bomb ass street tacos for like a dollar. That is it. Line can be long depending the time you arrive.
Barba Negra: Another taco spot, a little more pricey compared to Taco Queto but they have different types of tacos like octopus, fish and shrimp tacos. Barba Negra is located in a food market hub where there was burgers, pasta and pizza.
If you are looking for a night of drunk dancing on the table… this might not be the vibe for you. It is super low key. Here are a list of things I stumbled upon:
The Hot corner: literally the hottest corner at night. A live band places and everyone is the street dancing and drinking.
Basicio turns into a semi night vibe after hours with a DJ.
Hostel Tribu have a cool chill vibe, they have an open mic night, live band night and the cocktails are really good.
Things to do
Other than laying hammocks, getting a tan, drinking mezcals and eating ceviche all day… there are few other things you can do during the day.
1. Island hopping: They have a half day tour that takes you around the island. There is a part of the island you can go to only by boat. A bunch of the birds and other animals there.
2. Whale shark tour: The sadness that I had when I found out that whale shark season was over when I go there is the like Sadness from Inside Out. Snorkeling with whale sharks happens between May- September. I was told it was “Amazing!” ” You can miss this!” -_-
3. Bioluminescent tour: Actually did this one. The tour guide will pick you up from the hotel and take you to a secluded space where there is plankton that light up in the water when you come in contact with them. I would make sure it is a new moon, the bioluminescence is visible with less light.
4. Kite Surfing: Probably the only adrenaline rush thing to do on this island. Holbox is known for kite surfing due to the amount of wind they get there. I opted out because I didn’t feel like waking up in the morning that I did a thousand pull ups. Also, if this is your first time, you will have to do a multi day course.
Things to know:
Most of the island takes cash only, there are maybe two or three ATMs on the island. I would suggest to bring cash with you. Some of the fancier restaurants take credit cards and majority of the hotels. My rule of thumb is to bring emergency cash with you just in case you lose your wallet.
Bring a flashlight for the night time. I found your cellphone flashlight works as well but I am also “What if my cell phone battery dies and now I am without a cellphone and light to walk home?”
Bug repellant: These mofos will come for you.
Here is the link to the latest travel requirements going and coming back from Mexico.
Holbox was pretty good with COVID, mask are required before dining in. They do take temperatures.