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Holbox Visitors Guide

How to Get There, Things to Do & More

Updated October 2021

Holbox visitors guide, the best things to do in Holbox, Mexico
Holbox visitors guide, the best things to do in Holbox, Mexico

Welcome to Holbox

Holbox, properly pronounced “hol-bosh” is a rustic, tropical island located a few hours north of Cancun. Its crystal-clear blue waters, pristine beaches, and relaxed life pace are enough to attract anyone. With no cars and no worries, Holbox is famous for its bioluminescent waters and whalesharks. It truly is a place to behold.

Holbox, properly pronounced “hol-bosh” is a rustic, tropical island located a few hours north of Cancun. Its crystal-clear blue waters, pristine beaches, and relaxed life pace are enough to attract anyone. With no cars and no worries, Holbox is famous for its bioluminescent waters and whalesharks. It truly is a place to behold.

Holbox Port
Holbox, Mexico Port. One Of The Best Things To Do In Holbox Mexico

A Bit Of History

In the Mayan language, Holbox translates to “black hole”, the name bestowed on the island when the first recorded inhabitants arrived here, having fled their home city on the mainland (now known as Punta Coco) due to an attack by the Maya during the Caste Wars. At many times throughout history, the Yucatan and Mexican governments tried to relocate the indigenous inhabitants of Holbox, but to no avail. Once occupied, the settlers stayed put, refusing to leave their new stunning land. The people of Holbox have an incredible reputation for being brave and strong, two characteristics that have helped them preserve their slice of paradise for centuries. Even today, they have strict rules about tourism so as to keep their island a glorious gem.

House In Holbox. Mexico Hobash Mexico. What To Do In Holbox Mexico

Holbox Today

Today, Holbox is a tropical paradise where visitors can escape the mainland crowds of Tulum or Cancun. However, this doesn’t mean there is a lack of things to do. The beauty of Holbox is in the simplicity, the nature and the slow rhythm it exists in. Art, happiness and a sense of calm abound everywhere. When you are here you can’t help but slow down and take it all in. It is a refreshing destination free from congestion and stress. Below is our guide to Isla Holbox with a few tips and tricks to enjoy all she has to offer.

Where Is Holbox?

Holbox Visitors Guide

Holbox is a small island just off the north coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Holbox is about two hours north of Cancun and is accessed by a ferry from the small town of Chiquila.

While the island is technically located on the Gulf of Mexico as opposed to the Caribbean Sea, the turquoise waters and white sands will leave you breathless.

When To Visit Holbox

The tropical climate in Holbox is quite predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F) it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.

Incredible Holbox Water
Incredible Holbox Water

How To Get To Holbox

Important – There are a few ways to get to Holbox. All of them involve taking ground transportation to the town of Chiquila and then the ferry to Holbox. Note that many larger hotels in Holbox provide free transportation to town, so check ahead before planning alternative transportation.

Island Life Mexico

Shuttle to Chiquila

1. Take Shuttle to Chiquila.

Some suggest the easiest way to go is by hiring a shuttle ride in advance. The shuttle company will take you from the Cancun airport directly to the ferry terminal in Chiquilá. An airport shuttle from Terminal 2 at Cancún Airport takes around 2.5 hours and costs $50 one way. You must book your ticket in advance.

2. Take ferry to Holbox (see below)

Island Life Mexico

Bus to Chiquila

1. Take Bus to Chiquila.

The ADO Bus from Cancun takes a little over two hours and costs just under $15 one way. Find the ADO passenger’s booth at the airport and go from there.

2. Take ferry to Holbox (see below)

Island Life Mexico

Taxi to Chiquila

1. Take Taxi to Chiquila.

If you don’t feel like renting a vehicle but don’t want to take a bus, taking a taxi is an efficient option. Numerous taxis wait outside the Cancun airport or can pick you up at your hotel. Be sure to discuss the prices in advance of taking the ride so you don’t get overcharged. Taking a taxi is an efficient option to reach Chiquila and takes just under two hours, but costs roughly $40 one way.

2. Take ferry to Holbox (see below)

Island Life Mexico

Rental Car to Chiquila

1. Take Rental Car to Chiquila.

Renting a vehicle may be the most convenient choice depending on how much exploring you plan to do on your own. It is an easy and affordable option. You can rent a car from the Cancun airport and drive to Chiquila in just under two hours. Most rental companies are just past customs and average $13/day. There is a parking lot that costs around $5 a day at the Chiquila dock with 24/7 surveillance. We recommend booking your car here for the best prices and service.

2. Take ferry to Holbox (see below)

Colectivo In Mexico

Colectivo to Chiquila

1. Take Colectivo to Chiquila. This option costs a little over $12 and takes a bit over two hours to reach Chiquila. Pick up is in Central Cancun near the Soriana car park.

2. Take ferry to Holbox (see below)

Holbox Port. How To Get To Holbox Mexico

Ferry To Holbox

The journey between Chiquila and Holbox is a 25-minute ferry ride on the Holbox Ferry. It roughly costs between $5-10 to ride the ferry. You can buy tickets online.

How To Get To Cancun

For more transportation information, check out our Getting Around The Yucatan Guide

Holbox Sunset
Holbox Sunset

Things To Do In Holbox

Holbox's Top Highlights

Holbox is an outdoor lover’s paradise. You can enjoy the sun on the beach, kitesurf, kayak in the mangroves, take a boat tour, or even whale watch. Here are some of our favorites in Holbox!

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Snorkel with Whale Sharks
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1. Snorkel with Whale Sharks

Holbox is one of the most famous places in the Caribbean to see the massive (but friendly) whale sharks! These exquisite creatures eat plankton, so no need to worry about getting scarfed down in their presence. Scuba diving with the sharks isn’t allowed so you’ll need to book a snorkeling tour with an operator that will take you out to find the beautiful creatures. Please don’t wear sunblock, use flash photography or touch the whale sharks. Whale Shark season is between mid-May to mid-September.

  To go snorkeling with the whale sharks from Isla Holbox, we recommend this top rated tour.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When going on vacation in the time of Covid, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Most of the current policies cover Covid medical issues as well as vacation delays due to Covid. They typically even cover your hotel if you test positive in Mexico and have to extend your trip a few days until you get a negative test. Our visitors almost unanimously choose a Trawick International Safe Travels plan which was a Forbes top-rated travel insurance plan of 2021. Easily compare the different Trawick, Generali and other top travel insurance plans here.

2
See Bioluminescent Water At Night
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2. See Bioluminescent Water At Night

Have you ever seen glowing blue water? If not, you must check out the bioluminescent waters of Holbox at night. Caused by microscopic phytoplankton, the water glows blue when agitated by waves or splashing. The best ways to experience the bioluminescence are by night snorkeling or night kayaking. Very, very cool!

  Take a look at this highly rated bioluminesence night snorkeling tour.

  This night kayaking experience is also supposed to be wonderful.

3
Be Lazy
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3. Be lazy

Enjoy every day. Be lazy. Wander through the town center. Admire the brightly painted buildings. Eat delicious food like the famous lobster pizza. Savor a tropical cocktail. Lounge in a sea hammock. This island should be treasured for its slow paced pleasure. Be sure to check out the fantastic street art. Many an alley and road here have vividly painted monuments, murals, and artistic creations. Many vendors sell handmade artisan pieces too, so you can easily take a piece of the island’s art home with you.

  This affordable street art walking tour takes you around town for several hours learning about the history of Holbox and its art scene.

4
Try Kitesurfing
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4. Try Kitesurfing

Holbox is famous for this exciting water sport. If you are already experienced in the sport you will easily find your favorite spot to soar along the far-reaching, flat coastline, especially during the winter months. Holbox is famous for its ideal conditions for beginners to learn in shallow waters with no big obstacles, a wide coastline and easy wind conditions. There are classes daily from shops on the island year round.

  This popular private kitesurfing lesson by Kukulkite is the top rated on the island.

5
Take a Three Islands Tour
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5. Take a Three Islands Tour

The highly popular Three Islands boat tour off the coast of Isla Holbox is a wonderful way to experience firsthand the nature of the island and its surroundings. Isla Holbox is famous for having an abundance of wildlife, especially birds, and this tour allows you to witness these nimble creatures in their habitat. Your first stop on the tour is the aptly named Bird Island, (Isla Pajaros). You won’t be allowed to walk among the birds as it is a protected area, but there is a dock and viewing platforms for watching and photographing the flamingos, horned bills, pelicans, and many other species.

Your other two stops will be Passion Island (Isla Pasion) where you’ll be able to wander on the island, go hand fishing and spot wildlife, and visit the naturally bubbling Yalahau Cenote. At Yalahau you’ll be able to spend a good amount of time swimming and exploring in the fresh water. The order in which you visit these locations will depend on your guide and how busy each place is.

  Book your private three islands boat tour here.

5
Hit The Beach
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6. Hit The Beach

While not quite as picture-perfect as beaches on Cozumel or Isla Mujeres, Holbox beaches are beautiful nevertheless and a great way to spend the day relaxing, swimming and snorkeling.

  ISLAND LIFE TRAVEL TIP : GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

When going on vacation in the time of Covid, Travel Insurance is a must in our opinion. Most of the current policies cover Covid medical issues as well as vacation delays due to Covid. They typically even cover your hotel if you test positive in Mexico and have to extend your trip a few days until you get a negative test. Our visitors almost unanimously choose a Trawick International Safe Travels plan which was a Forbes top-rated travel insurance plan of 2021. Easily compare the different Trawick, Generali and other top travel insurance plans here.

Where To Stay In Holbox

There are all types of wonderful accommodations in Holbox. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique hotels and more. Location and amenities are the two top things to look for. For information about the different neighborhoods and great hotel recommendations, check out our Holbox Hotel Guide.

Holbox Hotel Guide. Where To Stay In Holbox

For hotel recommendations for every budget, check out our Holbox Hotel Guide

What To Eat In Holbox

Whether you’re looking to just grab a bite or go on a culinary adventure, there are some great restaurants all over Holbox. For some awesome restaurant recommendations at any budget, check out our Holbox Restaurant Guide.

Holbox Restaurant Guide

For great restaurant recommendations, check out our Holbox Restaurant Guide

What To Pack For Your Trip!

The Mexican Caribbean is an enchanting wonderland of relaxation and adventure, one can easily have the trip of a lifetime here. Packing for such a vacation shouldn’t be hard, so we’ve put together a list to help you pack and included some of our favorites as well. Check out our What To Pack For Your Mexico Vacation Guide.

What To Pack For Your Mexican Vacation

Check out our guide for what to bring on your Mexican vacation!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. We wanted to go somewhere that wasn’t Cancun for our girlfriends graduation and after reading your visitor guide we knew we had to come here. This is truly a gorgeous place for a getaway. Thank you so much for posting!

  2. I loved reading about the history of this place. Very interesting. Great post, I look forward to my visit even more now.

  3. This has to be the most efficient guide I have found about the area. I only wish I had found it before I wasted so much time on other websites. Thank you!

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