Traveling with Stephy

Holbox: the best tropical paradise in Mexico with free activities!

Have you dreamed of a beach getaway in Mexico? No need to look any further, I have the perfect destination for you! Located in the Caribbean Sea, Holbox island is the ideal place to enjoy the best tropical paradise in Mexico, with free activities! In this travel guide, I share with you everything you need to know to plan your trip to Holbox and enjoy your time to the fullest!

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Since Holbox island is located just off the North coast of Mexico’s Peninsula, this tropical paradise is easily accessible from Cancun Airport, or any other part of the Mexico Peninsula. Indeed, you can conveniently get to Holbox either by car (and ferry) or public transportation in only 3,5 hours.  

For my fellow backpackers and if you are visiting Mexico by bus, I advise you to ride with ADO, which is a first-class bus company. Indeed, there are TV screens, A/C,  large leg space, and WC onboard! Above all, the bus ride is most of the time a direct journey to the destination, compared to the other local bus companies that stop along the way. Of course, keep in mind that prices are then relatively more expensive but you pay the comfort and time savings! Download the free ADO app on your phone and start booking your seats now!

Travel itinerary from Cancun Airport to Holbox island by ADO bus: 

  • From Cancun Airport Terminal 2 to Cancun downtown: approximately 35 minutes. Price (May 2022): 98 pesos per person way.
  • From Cancun downtown (same bus terminal coming from Cancun Airport) to Chiquila Harbour: about 2,5 hours. Price (May 2022): 316 pesos per person one way. As Holbox island is only accessible by ferry, you need to go to Chiquila Harbour first.
  • From Chiquila Harbour to Holbox: about 30 minutes. Price (May 2022): 220 pesos per person one way
From Chiquila Harbour, you will have to take one of the two ferry companies (called respectively Holbox Express and 9 Hermanos) that goes to Holbox. They both cost the same price, namely 220 pesos one way. They are running alternatively every 30 minutes. Therefore, this alternating schedule makes your journey to Holbox very easy and convenient. Consequently, you don’t need to book your ferry tickets in advance on the Internet. Just go to the ticket counter for the next ferry departure (you will see signs of what company leaves next).
“Be aware that there is an additional fee of 5% if you pay the ferry ride by card. Otherwise, they accept US dollars if you didn’t have the chance to do the change to Mexican Pesos yet. There is a currency exchange on the island.”

How long to stay on Holbox island?

Since Holbox is a small island, you can visit all the best beaches and spots quite quickly (and easily!). However, it all depends on what type of stay you want to have (and the time you have for your Mexican vacation). In other words, Holbox is a great destination for lying down on the beach, eating good local food, and enjoying relaxing moments with friends, family, or your partner. That’s why I would say that you can easily stay one week on the island, which will give you the break you need to recharge your batteries!

On the contrary, if you want to visit Holbox island as a stop during your stay across Mexico’s Peninsula and don’t have a lot of days ahead of you, I would advise you to stay for three days (2 nights). In this way, you will just have the right amount of time to enjoy the bohemian vibes of this Mexican tropical paradise before continuing your journey to the mainland.

Where to stay on Holbox island?

Holbox downtown is very small, so small that you can easily visit it on foot Consequently, you won’t find many accommodation options in the center. However, don’t worry as you don’t need to stay in the city center to enjoy your stay on Holbox island.

Even though Holbox is a brand new touristic destination, the island is starting to have more and more 5-star hotels along its main beach. They are mainly decorated in the bohemian chic style, almost always with swimming pools.

Here are my hotel and hostels recommendations for your stay in Holbox:

“Keep in mind that Holbox is a busy and popular place along travelers and locals, so I advise you to book your accommodation in advance (at least 2 months ahead).”

How to move around Holbox island?

Did you know that no private car is authorized on Holbox island? How great is that! Therefore, you get 4 ways to move around Holbox:

  • On foot – a sustainable way to discover the island. Very easy to discover most of the activities. 
  • By bike – a sustainable way to discover the island. Easier to discover the most remote places such as Playa Coco. 
  • By golf cart – I don’t recommend renting a golf cart as it pollutes the Earth and makes very bad noise.  
  • By taxi golf cart – it can be a good plan B in case someday you don’t have the energy to walk or to get home after a night out.
“Just keep in mind that when there is a lot of rain on Holbox island, all the roads are flooded. Consequently, the poor road condition makes walking/biking impossible.”

What to do on Holbox island?

As stated before, Holbox is the perfect destination for lying down on white sand beaches and enjoying the turquoise clear waters! In addition to that, if you like water activities, such as snorkeling or boat sailing, this island will suit you perfectly too!

Below, I share with you only free activities that you can do by yourself on Holbox island! However, if you are looking for a guided adventure such as a boat tour or a snorkeling adventure, I advise you to check out all the best Holbox experiences here!

Playa Holbox

Playa Holbox is the main beach of the island. Located a few meters away from the center, it makes a convenient place to enjoy the clear turquoise waters Hoblox has to offer! In addition to its magnificent watercolor, the sea is very calm (like a lagoon) and with little depth. Therefore, this is also the ideal place for families with kids. Moreover, the beach is packed with different hotels more luxurious than the others. Nonetheless, all the hotels are not big nor high, they all have a maximum of one floor and are mainly made of wood with a bohemian style. Subsequently, Playa Holbox remains authentic with white sandbanks.

However, it is important to take into consideration that there are not many public places to rest on the beach. Indeed, the hotels have privatized parts of the beach. Of course, most of these hotels offer the possibility to anyone (even if you are not a guest) to get a day pass to enjoy the beach and its facilities. A day pass usually includes a voucher for drinks and food in addition to the sunbeds. But this has a price, approximately between 500 pesos and 1000 pesos for two people for the whole day.

If you are not the kind of person who likes lying down on the beach, no worries, you can easily walk for hours along Playa Holbox.

Local Market

You will probably find out by yourself once you get to Holbox but this island doesn’t have (yet) cheap supermarkets. In other words, there are only small markets with expensive food and mostly no fresh fruits or vegetables. But I got you! There is a local market every day from 6:30 am to 2:00 pm.

Located out of the city center (click here), the local market offers fresh fruits and vegetables as well as cheap Mexican tacos. This is for sure a great place to stock up on good vitamins before starting your day!

Holbox downtown

Famous for its paradise-like beaches, Holbox is equally well-known for its street art! Moreover, Holbox downtown is packed with many restaurants and cafes, where you can enjoy healthy and fresh (local) food.

Playa cocos

Playa Cocos is located on the westernmost part of Holbox island. Subsequently, as the beach is in a remote location, the surroundings are wilder than in Holbox Beach for instance. Situated 35 minutes away from the center, Playa Cocos is the ideal place to enjoy a rare phenomenon at night called bioluminescence. 

“To fully enjoy the bioluminescence, you will need to go to Playa Cocos around midnight. Therefore, I advise you to go there by taxi. Indeed, the road to the beach is not very well lit at night and in poor condition.”

Playa Mosquito

Mosquito Beach is a protected beach and access is not allowed by yourself. However, you can walk along the white sandbank that joins Holbox Beach to the beginning of Mosquito Beach. Walking in the middle of the Caribbean Sea is a unique experience!

However, to be able to walk on the sandbank safely, it is mandatory to check out the tide levels on the Internet beforehand. The tide changes every 6 hours. Make sure you start your walk as soon as possible from the beginning of the low tide.

“You will see signs saying you are not allowed to cross the line to protect the fauna and flora. Please, do so, and don’t cross just to get a better picture! I mean, does it get any prettier than this?”

Where to eat on Holbox island?

Holbox has so many restaurants and cafes with any type of cuisine from local one to international one!
Frankly, at this time, Holbox island is very suitable for travelers who want to eat out rather than cook for themselves. Here are my restaurant recommendations: 

  • La Pine to go: the is perfect place to grab a snack and eat it in Playa Holbox! They make delicious bread (30 pesos)! Otherwise, they also have pizza slides (50 pesos) and focaccia slides (35 pesos)
  • Clandestino Coffe shop: best avocado toast on the island with fresh orange juice!

In conclusion

To summarize, Holbox island is the perfect destination if you want to enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico’s Peninsula. On top of that, this paradise is conveniently accessible 3,5 hours away from the International Airport of Cancun (how cool is that!). For all lovers of heavenly white sand beaches and bohemian atmosphere, Holbox island is for you!

I sincerely hope I have inspired you to add Holbox to your bucket list next time you visit Mexico. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

Finally, don’t forget to check out all my posts related to Mexico to get more inspiration!

Sending you lots of love,

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