Turquoise water, white, powdery beaches beneath your feet and background noise that solely consists of birds? On the Caribbean Island Isla Holbox, you will find exactly this paradise feeling. Holbox Island is the perfect place to close your eyes, listen to the sound of the ocean and relax. To make your stay even better, we bundled some helpful tips around the hidden gem of Mexico.
Isla Holbox. A little Caribbean Island 15-minute ferry ride from the Yucatán peninsula, approximately 27 miles long and only 1.2 miles wide. Literally a little paradise island. The name comes from the Mayan language and means translated “Black Hole”. You will not encounter any disturbing car sounds as the only means of transportation are bikes, golf cars, and scooters. Besides a couple of trucks which deliver food and drinks, you will not see any cars. What you definitely will encounter is a long coast with crystal clear water and palm trees as far as you can see. Here and there you will spot some pelicans sitting on a wooden stake looking for a snack. Time to switch your personal relax mode on.
How to get to Isla Holbox?
The island is located in the north of the Yucatan peninsula. Basically, you have two options to get to Isla Holbox, from which one is quite costly.
Reach Isla Holbox by plane
This is a pretty costly, but probably also a pretty cool option. Aerosaab offers private flights departing from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Cancun. Leaving the island is possible to the mentioned cities and additionally Tulum. Here you have the choice between five-person propeller plane and a slightly bigger plane that can accommodate up to 13 passengers. Prices vary between USD $450 and $522 depending on if you pay in cash or not. This price is per plane. If you are eager to arrive in Isla Holbox by air, just visit this site.
Reach Isla Holbox by ferry
The most common – and a lot more sustainable way – to reach Isla Holbox is the ferry. Arriving with the bus in Chiquila you just continue walking to the harbor where you will be welcomed with the words “feeeeery tickets?”. Here you can just buy a one-way ticket, which costs 140 Pesos per person. Here you can find ferry schedules to Isla Holbox (mostly half-hourly, the first ferry departs at 5 am).
Tip: If you travel by a rental car you can park it in Chiquila directly at the harbor for 6 US-Dollars per day.
How to get from Cancun to Isla Holbox
From Cancun, you simply hop on a bus to Chiquila, then take the ferry to the wonderful Isla Holbox.
Prices on Isla Holbox
Compared to the rest of Mexico, especially Oaxaca and Chiapas, you should be clear that Isla Holbox is more expensive. Here a shortlist to get a feeling on what to spend.
Sleeping in a Hammock: 10 USD
Hostel: 30-50 USD
Apartment: ca. 50-70 USD
AirBnB: 50 USD and more
Resort: 250 USD
Traditional Food: Fish ca. 11-13 USD
European / Western Food: 7 USD and more
Cocktails: ca. 5 USD
Bike rental: ca. 2 USD per hour | ca. 10 USD per day
Golf carts rental: ca. 50 USD per day
Where to stay in Isla Holbox?
As soon as you leave the ferry you will notice that the main ways of transportation are bikes and golf carts. As you are quite likely carrying a lot of baggage, just hop on a cart and enjoy the first ride on this little paradise.
Beach vs. Town
As in every other destination you will find accommodations in very different price categories. Now you face the question: “Hotel or Hostel”? Are you willing to spend more money for a fancy place directly at the beach or would something cheaper and less fancy suit your budget better?
Hostels & Camping
For backpackers, hostels are normally the go-to place. While staying in a hostel you save valuable money for your onwards journey. The cheapest possibilities to stay on Isla Holbox are:
While booking we actually expected a hostel but without knowing we got an apartment. In the end, it was a tiny bit more expensive than a hostel but for four nights a great place to stay and still did not ruin us financially, as the bill was split by two. Apart from that, hostels are not too cheap either on the island.
We chose Casa Frida*. The accommodation is located close to the ferry, not directly at the beach but within a five-minute walk you will be in the lukewarm ocean. For us, this was the perfect alternative to overpriced accommodation directly at the beach. We had a big kitchen, in which we could prepare our own meals – which is also great to save some bucks – a great shower and a very comfortable bed with air conditioning. So definitely more than enough! Casa Frida has five apartments, a little garden and some hammocks where you can relax while reading a book in the shade.
You will not be welcomed by a receptionist, as there is no reception but from a friendly letter with your name written on. We were positively surprised when we stepped in our three-room apartment. Apart from the above mentioned, you will also find fresh towels, organic shampoo, and conditioner in a simply great and clean place. Perhaps you can tell already, we were super delighted.
Price per night for 2 people: 60 USD
If you have a look on AirBnB you will find many accommodations. Prices start at 40 bucks per night.
Especially at the beach you will find many hotels and resorts with private beaches. The prices obviously exceed hostels or apartments in town by far. If you are willing to spend a couple of bucks more, check these out:
Tip: Book your accommodation in Isla Holbox a few days, or even better a few weeks, in advance as it is often quite busy. According to the Holboxeños there is no low season anymore and thus often fully booked.
Best food on Isla Holbox
On Mexico’s little paradise island, you will find countless restaurants and cafes. Some are very present, others more hidden in a side road. Here a few food recommendations.
Breakfast is not included in your hostel? This French bakery offers everything what you crave for after getting out of bed. From nice coffee to huge fruit platters and fresh croissants – you will be served well for sure.
Café El Encanto
The rustic Café “El Encanto” is located on a “roof-topesque” terrace on the first floor. Besides a great view it offers a nice atmosphere which can be perfectly enjoyed together with your daily dose of caffeine. The small café was surprisingly closed every time when we wanted to
go up, so you need to test your luck and just pop in.
Tierra y Mar Juice & Coffee
The tiny café on the sandy street invites to chill with a café or a smoothie. A perfect place to watch the happening and observe all the different people passing by. Definitely try the smoothies.
La Tortilleria Española
This Tortilleria offers a great distraction to all the Tacos and fish – Spanish omelet. On the menu, you will find various different egg variations, with many different ingredients. So you will find something whatever you are in the mood for. After this little culinary excursion you will get super excited for the next Tacos, promised :)
El Taco Gordo [2019, permanently closed]
Speaking of Tacos! El Taco Gordo (engl.: “The Fat Taco”) has some really good Tacos. Their Tacos “Al Pastor” are definitely our favorite on Isla Holbox. The best of all: One of the cheapest restaurants we have found on Isla Holbox. Amazing! The Tacos come either with Maiz (corn) or Harina (wheat) tortillas.
The small family-owned restaurant offers a great variety of Mexican food. From tostadas to sandwiches to tacos and soups with meat or suitable for vegetarians. At “La Sirenita” everybody will get a full belly. The restaurant just opens in the evening.
Ukulele unites good food and sports events. The wide restaurant is split into two areas. Downstairs you can enjoy fancy hamburgers or vegetarian food and upstairs you can chill with a beer watching NHL, NFL or Champions League.
You will first notify the greenish bully from “Et Voilá”. The restaurant offers some seats close to the street and also has some possibilities to eat and listen to live music in a yard. We had baguettes with meat and many vegetables, which was really good. The band played some amazing music which made it quite easy for us to sit and relax.
Raices Beach Club
“Raicies” is basically located on the beach and offers a great variety of fresh fish and fruity cocktails. Especially the fish with garlic was super yummy. So if you are into fish, definitely have a look at the menu.
You are looking for something a bit fancier as you have a special occasion? Then “Milpa” is most likely the best place for you. It offers finest Mexican cuisine and you will be able to choose from many different meat, fish or sea fruit meals. The stylish restaurant is nothing for a quick visit but more a place to spend a bit of time. We have heard the best about the Bourbon Caribeño-Cocktail, which is a mixture of Jack Daniels, banana, peach and pineapple juice.
Prices for main dishes start around 200 Pesos.
Shopping on Isla Holbox
Leather bags, colorful beach towels, and jewelry. The island offers a few options to buy souvenirs for your friends or yourself but everything is quite costly and a lot of vendors or stores offer very similar things. Having that said, here are two of our favorite stores.
The small fashion store has some great dresses and shirts for women to sell. Other than that, they also offer nice beach fashion. If you fall in love with one of the hand-made cardigans there is just one issue: It’s quite costly (USD$ 50+), especially for people who travel for more than a couple of days and need to watch where to spend their money. But “We Love” is the go-to place to treat yourself. Besides the nice and quite costly clothes, they also sell beautiful bracelets, which might be a nice souvenir or something for yourself, where you can think of the good time you had in Mexico.
A beautiful little boutique with stuff you do not see every day. Besides beachwear, they also have perfumes and jewelry. Definitely worth checking out.
Activities on Isla Holbox
Traveling to an Island always comes with relaxation. You might want to forget everything around you? Then a massage at the beach might be the right fit for you.
Besides all the relaxation the island also offers some sporty activities such as snorkeling, cycling or stand-up paddling. We fell in love with the bike rental, got a bike for a couple of hours, explored the island on two wheels and enjoyed the sunset. Through this you can relax and do some sport at the same time.
As well as that, you can learn kite-surfing. On Isla Holbox you will find two possibilities. Personally we did not try kite surfing on Isla Holbox but just watching the surfers has been a lot of fun. If you are not into kite surfing, just rent a snorkel and go on a trip. Unfortunately, we have not been in the “right” time on Isla Holbox but from May to September you can see the impressive whale sharks while snorkeling. If you are at Isla Holbox in this time, please go for a trip and share the photos with us.
Tip: On this page you are always in the loop with upcoming events. Yoga classes, salsa dance, live music, and much more. You will definitely find something suitable for you!
Good to know
Besides three pharmacies – Utstal, Farmacia Jessy and Farmacia Pepe – the island also has a health center (Centro de Salud). If you need to see a doctor or a pharmacy just ask someone on the street, people are happy to help with directions.
Leaving Isla Holbox
As mentioned above, you have two possibilities to leave the island. Either with a plane or the more economical option, via ferry. If you decide on a ferry, you can check departure times here.
We hope you enjoyed our insights for Isla Holbox and you liked it as much as we liked Mexico’s hidden gem. If we missed out on something or you want to share your experiences with us, please leave a comment. Have fun in the Caribbean.
So, if you are in Mexico soon, have a look at our detailed blog post on Mexico.
// *Affiliate-Link: When you book via this link we will receive a small commission. But don’t worry, there won’t be any additional costs for you.
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