The Ultimate Guide to Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox Sign

Holbox is a total island paradise, just off the coast of Chiquila, Mexico. The second you step off the boat onto the white sands your heart rate slows, your muscles relax, and all your worries simply melt away into the midday sun. With whale sharks, dolphins, breathtaking sunsets, the freshest seafood, and laid-back lifestyle, who wouldn’t want to visit this amazing island?! If you too are itching to jet off to your own Caribbean Paradise, then my ultimate guide to Holbox will tell you all you need to know, including some local tips and hidden gems on the island.

Getting there

The first step of your journey is getting to Chiquila, Quintana Roo, you can do this easily by bus, car or taxi. You will then need to take the ferry from Chiquila across to Holbox Island.

Bus

All ticket prices are in Mexican pesos, and could change depending on season or fluctuation. Bus times are all in a 24 hour format, yes… one leaves at 2:30am!

Bus Information Table

Car

If you decide to go by car, then you can save around an hour or so, compared to the bus journey times. Secure, guarded parking is available at the ferry port in Chiquila for $50 pesos a day.

Taxi

This is definitely the most expensive way to get to Chiquila, and prices vary dramatically depending on party number and the actual taxi driver you book with.

Ferry

The Ferries leave on the hour every hour from Chiquila to Holbox. Tickets cost $80 pesos per person, and it takes around 20 minutes to cross. The Ferry is very comfortable with flat screen TVs, a choice or air-conditioned seating, or open air seating on the top floor, and a spacious bathroom.
Ferry Holbox Express

Where to Stay

As Holbox is such a small island, all the hostels and hotels are in great locations, with the only real difference is being beach front or not. So, the main question is do you want a budget stay, or a luxury one?

Budget Stay

Posada Ingrid

At $700 pesos per night for two people Posada Ingrid is a great option for a budget stay on the island. All rooms come with private bathroom, TV, air-conditioning, and access to the shared kitchen and garden area. Posada Ingrid is also located two blocks from the town square and two from the beach.

Posada Ingrid

Tribu Hostel 

A private room for two is $570 pesos, making this a great option for a young couple or friends on a budget. The room has a double bed, private bathroom, and some hanging space, but is fairly small, with no aircon. The upside to staying in a hostel however, is the daily FREE activities, and the chance to meet open and likeminded people. This hip hostel is located one block from the beach, and three blocks from the town square.

Tribu Hostel

Los Arcos

At $400 pesos a night this is the cheapest room in my recommendations list. This room is spacious, has its own bathroom, and air conditioning. Los Arcos also has a nice little garden in the centre to sit out in the evening, and opens right onto the town square.

Los Arcos Hotel

Luxury Stay

Holbox Dream 

At $144 USD a night Holbox Dream hotel is the cheapest of the Luxury hotels I recommend, however it doesn’t lack any of the splendour the others have. With extremely spacious rooms, friendly staff, gourmet restaurant and private beach club, this is a place to kick back and relax in style.

Holbox Dream

Casa Las Tortugas 

This stunning hotel will set you back $171 USD a night, and is worth every cent! It boasts two pools, spa like decor, luxury private beach club, and beautiful island inspired rooms.

Las Tortugas Holbox

Villas Flamingos

Probably the most famous hotel in Holbox, Villas Flamingos costs $180 USD per night. This stylish beach front hotel is known for it’s iconic round pool and ocean hammocks, but the comfortable rooms with large balconies aren’t to be sniffed at either.

Villas Flamingos

Tours

There are many tour operators all over the town, however the most recommended tour group on the island is Moguel Tours. They can be found on the top left corner of the town square, in front of the small yellow corner store.

Whale Shark Tour 

The most iconic tour in Holbox, and a reason why most people venture out to the island, is the Whale Shark Tour. This 7 hour-long tour will take you to swim with the magnificent whale sharks, snorkel in the turquoise waters, and eat fresh ceviche at the amazing Yum Balam nature reserve.

Tours cost $1300 – $1500 pesos depending on who you book with. The only real difference in the tours is the time they leave. I would recommend finding a tour that leaves at 6am not 7am, as this way you are one step ahead of the crowds at each point in your tour.

You can read all about my whale shark experience, and watch my video on swimming with these amazing creatures here!

Whale Shark Tour

Three Island Tour

This tour lasts between 2 to 3 hours, and will take you to three ‘islands’ within Holbox. The first is Isla Pajaros, where you can see 140 different bird species, then Yalahau, a fresh water cenote, and finally Passion Island, a beautiful deserted beach full of pink seashells.

This tour costs around $300 pesos, and leaves either early in the morning, before the sun is too hot, or in the afternoon when the sun is less strong.

Three Island Tour

Bioluminescence Tour

Available only at certain times of year, this fascinating tour will take you out into the ocean in the dead of night, to see this natural phenomenon. At the slightest touch you set off a chain reaction within the plankton on the water’s surface, lighting up the ocean like a night sky full of stars.

This tour costs around $350 pesos per person, and starts at 11:30 at night. You will be taken out on a quick boat trip to a sand bank in the ocean, where you can enter the water and create your own glowing plankton show.

Bioluminescence Tour

Where to eat

El Sushi Holbox 

If you are a sushi lover, or just a fresh fish lover, then you are sure to fall head over heals with the delicious rolls offered at El Sushi Holbox! Try the Salmon Teriyaki roll (my favourite), or if you’re into the Holbox spirit, then the luxury Lobster roll may be for you.

El Sushi Holbox

Di Vino

The best Italian restaurant in town! Serving freshly made pasta and pizza every day, accompanied by some of the best locally sourced beers and wines, what’s not to like? If you visit this lovely local Italian then you must try the famous Lobster Pizza.

Di Vino

La Sirenita 

This is the ultimate local restaurant on Holbox island. You can stuff yourself to the brim for under $10 bucks, and still have change for a churro. Known for its fresh fish and delicious tacos, this place isn’t just for those on a budget.

La Sirenita

Hotel Arena Bar 

Is your idea of paradise sitting in the warm night breeze, watching the sunset, and sipping on a cocktail? Then this is the place for you! The rooftop bar at Hotel Arena is home to some amazing mixologists, delicious cocktails, and the best views of town.

Arena Bar

Villa Mar

This is the perfect restaurant to take advantage of the fresh catches from the local fisherman. Every morning the fishermen bring in their best fish, you then pick the one you want, how you want it cooked and you’re set up for a deliciously fresh meal! Every fish is priced to weight and is accompanied by rice, salad and of course, tortillas.

Villa Mar

Eating in

Holbox has a whole host of small corner shops and market stalls, where you can buy the everyday necessities such as; fresh fruit, eggs, meat, cheese, bread, pop, liquor, beer, chocolate etc. Produce here is fairly expensive compared to the rest of Mexico, but is priced around the same as produce in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. You can also buy fresh fish directly from the fishermen on the beach each morning and afternoon for very cheap.

Getting around the island

Taxis

Baring in mind there are no cars on the island, taxis are actually bright yellow golf carts. A trip from the ferry to downtown, or anywhere in the downtown area, will cost you $30, trips to the hotel zone will cost you $50-70 pesos, and anything further than that will be around $100 pesos

Holbox Taxi

Bike

You can rent a bike from around $20 pesos an hour or $120 pesos a day from Posada Ingrid, which is the cheapest I’ve found on the island. However, there are many spots where you can rent a bike all over the town.

Golf Cart

If you don’t feel like hopping on and off taxis, then you can pay around $17 USD per hour or $70 USD a day to rent a golf cart. There are five major golf car rental places on the island, but the best are Monkey’s, on the main street coming into town from the Pier, and Rentadora Glendy, which is one block west of the Park and church.

Walking

As I said before, the island is very small, you can even walk from the ferry to the town square in around 20 minutes. Getting around the main town is easy, and walking though the hotel district is scenic and relaxing, so there’s no reason not to try exploring Holbox on foot.

Top Tips

  • Taxis are sometimes very hard to find, especially if it’s raining, so take down a number of a taxi driver or two to use during your stay on the island.
  • There are tonnes of mosquitos on Holbox, that come out in droves after 5:30pm, so be sure to bring a very strong bug repellent, preferably with DEET, or cover up well with long sleeves.
  • There are no real roads on the island, so the rides on the golf carts can get very bumpy. Drive slowly and carefully, and if you have a bad back, or are pregnant, I would recommend walking instead.
  • There are three ATMs on the island, but they are very unreliable, and most vendors don’t accept card payments, so be sure to bring plenty of cash in the form of UDS of Mexican Pesos.
  • Bring biodegradable sunscreen. It can be hard to find on the island, and most water based tours require that you use it.

Have you ever been to Holbox, what was your favourite part? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay Salty x

15 Comment

  1. Adele says: Reply

    Wow this looks fab Fern. So comprehensive and inspiring x

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was fun compiling all my favourite spots in Holbox into one post 🙂

  2. Ivan says: Reply

    I love the island of Holbox, see you again in March.

    1. It’s amazing no?! So great you are going back in March, we want to go in December again 🙂

  3. […] The Ultimate Guide to Isla Holbox […]

  4. sherrie says: Reply

    Great info! Are the whaleshark tours seasonal? Is there a time of year when mosquitos are gone. My hubby is like a magnet and he will be miserable.

    1. Yes, they are from the end of July to the beginning of September. Unfortunately there are always mosquitos, I am a magnet too, but managed 3 days with only a couple bites wearing DEET. There will be less in the winter months, but still a fair few.

  5. Wendy Kotch says: Reply

    This is informative. There are many more great restaurants though. We were there in April, 2016 and barely experienced mosquitos at any point in the evening.

    1. Oh yes, in winter there are much less mosquitos, although they are having a plague worthy problem with them right now. Yes, there are lots of fantastic restaurants in Holbox, I just listed the ones I personally recommend. There are also many more lovely hotels.

  6. Clio says: Reply

    Amazing Island ! Especially thé gréât tours you discribe to us thanks a lot!

    1. Oh yes, I loved the whale shark tour so much! You can read more about it, and see the video of my experience here.

  7. Heidi says: Reply

    Hi!
    Amazing photos! Did you travel to Yucatan during summer? How was the weather?

    1. Hi! I actually live here, so I can tell you anything you need to know. The weather in the summer months is extremely hot, the local even complain haha. It’s fine if you are hanging at the resort near the pool or sea all day, but otherwise I’d say to wait until October, November time.

  8. Marie says: Reply

    Thank you, Fern, for writing all of this! Great to know as we are now planning our trip. We will arrive in Cancun in mid December and leave for Holbox on New Years Eve! Will there still be ferries and open restaurants Dec31st and Jan1st?
    And lucky you to live in a warm country!

    Greetings from a chilly autumn-Sweden!

    1. Hi there Marie!

      I’m so glad you found this post useful! You’re going to love Holbox. There will definitely be bars and restaurants open on those days, but the schedule of the ferries could change. The whole process is still very localised, so you’ll have to check once you’re in Cancun the departure times etc.

      Thank you for getting in touch! Let me know if you need any more help!

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