An absolute highlight of my trip to Mexico was staying on Isla Holbox. I always like to add a tropical beach destination to my itinerary and I added Isla Holbox because I visited the island in whale shark season. The whale shark season at Holbox is at its peak in July and August and that was exactly the time that we visited. Luckily, Isla Holbox is a fun destination year round, as there are many other activities you can do. Read all about in on this blog.
I visited Isla Holbox after my time in Tulum with Hielke. We took the ADO bus from Tulum to Cancun and changed buses in Cancun to get to Chiquila. You can check the ADO bus schedule for the current schedule and prices. In Chiquila you can take the ferry which leaves each half hour. If you come by car you can park your car in Chiquila (paid). When you arrive at Isla Holbox you can take a golf cart taxi to your hotel. Golf carts are the primary way of transport on Isla Holbox, you can take them as a taxi but also rent one for a few hours of a full day.
On Holbox there are only ATM which apparently do not always work. We made sure we brought enough cash but noticed that it was often possible to pay with a credit card as well (for tours, food and hotel).
We stayed in Casa Barbara, which had a good location and a pool. However we did not love our room, it had a weird smell and no internet reception. Casa Barbara also does not offer breakfast. The hospitality level was quite low compared to other hotels where we stayed in Mexico, it was a pretty impersonal stay.
Whale shark tours: One important reason to visit Isla Holbox is because you can snorkel with whalesharks. We booked our whale shark tour upon arrival and did a little bargaining to get a discount. There are a few tour companies that offer the tours, they all offer about the same program, price and food. To snorkel with the whalesharks you need an early rise, we had to be in the “harbor” really early in the morning. I think we sailed for almost two hours before we reached the whalesharks, luckily we were in good company. The tour guides make sure that not too many boats approach the whalesharks and that everybody on the boat gets time to snorkel with the whalesharks. They do swim fast, so you have to make sure to keep up. I am not an amazing swimmer, but still felt I was able to keep up for some time and experience these amazing animals up and close. After swimming with the whalesharks we received a delicious fresh ceviche on the boat and we received the opportunity to do snorkeling in another location. There were little sharks in the water which scared me a bit, so I decided to head back to the boat and because of that I was the only lucky person to spot the stingray that was swimming near the boat! And if that was not enough for the day, on the way back we got to see an abundance of flamingos and pelicans! Concluding, this tour is an absolute must if you are on Holbox island!
Going to the beach: Isla Holbox is one big beach, even the town consists of sandy roads. I loved the beaches near the town. You can use most of the beach chairs that belong to the hotels at the beach as long as you pay a small fee. To keep your holiday affordable it is better to have a hotel that is not located at the waterfront and hire the beach chairs and still enjoy the facilities. We went to Zomay hotel to enjoy the beach, the hotel has a fun bar that is situated right on the beach and also has lovely hammocks in the water, which was the perfect way to cool down. Isla Holbox is situated at the Gulf of Mexico and the water is super clear and has the perfect temperature year round. It never gets below 20 degrees Celsius, absolutely amazing 😊 You can also go to the beach for free, but I prefer having a comfy chair.
Renting a golf cart: We rented a golf cart for one afternoon to cruise the island. The island is very little, I don’t think you need a golf cart for more than two hours, as you will have seen everything in two hours. We liked to drive around the town and see the street art and colorful hotels. Afterwards we drove to Punta Mosquito to watch the sunset. You will find the rental company in town and it is really easy to hire a golf cart.
Kayaking tour: The nature at Holbox is gorgeous and we wanted to see more of it, so we participated in a private kayaking tour. We kayaked on the open see and in a stunning lagoon, where we saw no other kayaks except our tour guides’. Kayaking is a great way to watch the flamingos in absolute peace, because we went kayaking I did not bring my camera, but just snapped some pictures on my phone. We also spotted a crocodile on this tour. If you do not dress up a little you will absolutely burn in your kayak.
Bioluminescence: I really wanted to do a bioluminescence tour in Holbox. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by living organisms. In Holbox you can experience the sea lighting up because of the plankton producing little lights. However there are only a few tours offered per month, depending on the week and we visited in the wrong week. On this website you can check out the tour dates: www.holboxisland.com.
I was surprised about the variety of food in Holbox island. We had traditional Mexican food, sushi, pizza, contemporary Mexican cuisine, burrito breakfasts at someone’s home, sandwiches and streetfood. The supermarket in Holbox was great as well. The price level did not seem much higher than the Mexican mainland (but we just came from Tulum), overall I was really enthusiastic about the quality and variety of the food on the island. My favorite dish in Mexico was fresh ceviche (a fish that is “cooked” in lemon juice), which you can order about everywhere on Holbox! On Holbox there is food for each wallet.