With its clear turquoise waters and white sand beaches, Isla Holbox is easily one of Mexico’s most beautiful islands. Located just two hours from Cancun, it’s easy to make a day trip to Isla Holbox, if not for longer. Unless you can afford to charter a flight (yeah, us neither!), then you’ll need to make your way to the little fishing town of Chiquila in order to get to Holbox. Then, from Chiquila, you can take the super quick Holbox ferry across to the island. Indeed, it’s an easy trip from Cancun and in this guide, we’ll tell you 9 useful things to know for getting the Holbox ferry.
Table of Contents
1. Where to Get the Ferry to Holbox
The Holbox Island ferry leaves from the small fishing town of Chiquila (Chiquilá). This little pueblo sits on the northern coast of Quintana Roo on the Gulf of Mexico. The location makes Chiquila the perfect place to catch the ferry to Isla Holbox and is just a two hour drive from Cancun.
Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see the location of Chiquila and how to get there for the Holbox ferry.
2. Catching the Ferry From Chiquila to Holbox
Once in Chiquila, you’ll need to board a ferry to get to Isla Holbox. This is very straightforward. As Chiquila is such a small town, the ferry port is easy to find. You’ll basically just head to the very end of the main road running through Chiquila (Kantunilkin-Chiquila road) and find the ferry terminal to Holbox at the end of it (it’s referred to as Holbox Express on Google Maps).
As you approach the Holbox ferry terminal, you’ll pass by the big colourful ‘Chiquila’ letters. They’re located close to the roundabout, just to help with your bearings.
3. Choosing a Holbox Ferry Company
Once you arrive at the Chiquila ferry terminal, you’ll see there are a few options for getting to Holbox. The main Chiquila-Holbox ferry companies you can travel with are the Holbox Express and 9 Hermanos. Both these Holbox ferry companies offer the same thing. The boats are nearly identical, the prices are the same and they leave and pick up from the same places. Additionally, even their websites are laid out exactly the same. They’re also very user-friendly.
4. What Is the Holbox Ferry Schedule?
Below are the Holbox ferry terminal schedules between mainland Chiquila and Isla Holbox. Of course, it’s always good practice to double-check on each company’s website if there are any changes. But, these schedules are pretty set in stone. As you’ll see, the 9 Hermanos ferry leaves on the hour, and the Holbox Express ferry leaves on the half-hour. So, this means the ferries between Chiquila and Holbox (and vice versa) leave every half an hour.
Between the two Holbox ferry companies, the first ferry of the day leaves from Chiquila to Isla Holbox at 6am. Then, the last ferry returns from Holbox to Chiquila at 8:30pm.
9 Hermanos Holbox Ferry Schedule
Holbox Express Ferry Schedule
FYI – the Holbox ferry times are also displayed on the ticket booths at the ferry terminal in Chiquila.
5. How to Buy Holbox Ferry Tickets
You can buy Holbox ferry tickets online at the official websites of the ferry companies. You can also simply buy them at the Holbox ferry terminal ticket office. Dan and I actually purchased our Holbox ferry tickets on the bus from Cancun to Chiquila. Additionally, they can be included as part of an Isla Holbox Tour.
It’s a good idea to carry pesos and pay in cash. Although, it is possible to pay by card. Just be mindful that card transactions will usually include an additional fee.
6. How Much Is the Ferry to Isla Holbox?
The Holbox ferry price is $220MXN ($13USD) per adult and $180MXN ($11USD) per child. Residents of Quintana Roo can also purchase a ticket for $180MXN. The cost is for a single journey.
As mentioned, Dan and I were actually given the option to buy our Holbox ferry tickets on the bus from Cancun to Chiquila. It was the same price and we had the freedom to board either Holbox ferry service. More on catching the bus from Cancun to Chiquila below.
7. Do You Need to Book the Holbox Ferry in Advance?
No. It’s not necessary to book a Holbox ferry ticket in advance. Ferries run so frequently, that you can simply book with the ferry company that leaves the soonest after you arrive at the terminal. This is true whether you’re taking the ferry from Holbox to Chiquila or Chiquila to Holbox.
Having said that, if you like to be organised and want to book in advance, you can certainly do so online.
FYI – booking online just means you don’t need to queue to buy a ticket once you arrive at the terminal. You’ll still need to join the queue to board the Holbox ferry.
8. How Long Is the Ferry to Holbox?
The ferry from Chiquila to Isla Holbox (and back) takes 20–30 minutes, max. This is true for both Holbox ferry companies. So, it really doesn’t matter whether you choose 9 Hermanos or Holbox Express. We also found the journey to be very smooth. But, if you suffer from sea sickness, you might be wise to take some travel sickness tablets beforehand, to be on the safe side.
9. How to Get to the Holbox Ferry?
The easiest place in the Yucatan to visit Isla Holbox is from Cancun. You can get to Chiquila to board the Holbox ferry, from Cancun, by bus, private shuttle, rental car or even flying. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the options.
Travelling to Isla Holbox by Bus
The most cost-effective way to travel to Chiquila for the ferry to Isla Holbox is by taking the bus. That’s exactly what Dan and I did and it was a very straightforward trip from Cancun. We recommend using the ADO buses when travelling around Mexico. Certainly, they’re often the most reliable, safe and comfortable to travel on.
You can purchase tickets directly on the ADO website, using Busbud or by booking directly at the ADO bus terminal, located here, in Cancun. We booked a return bus to Chiquila from Cancun directly from the ADO bus terminal. We definitely recommend booking a return bus ticket to Cancun, especially if you’re planning on visiting Isla Holbox as a day trip. This way you can book the last bus back from Chiquila to Cancun and be assured of a seat back to town.
Dan and I paid $505MXN ($30USD) each for a Cancun-Chiquila return bus ticket. We travelled around the new year and booked the night before from the bus station. So, it’s possible the price was somewhat overinflated. You can get up-to-date bus timetables and prices through the ADO website. And of course, booking online and in advance often results in a cheaper fare. So, if you can be organised when you visit Isla Holbox, you’ll likely save a little on bus fares.
Travelling to Isla Holbox by Car
If you’re renting a car in Mexico, then it’s very easy to drive yourself to Chiquila to board the Holbox ferry. In fact, if you have a car, it makes visiting Isla Holbox very easy from numerous other popular destinations in Quintana Roo and the wider Yucatan Peninsula. Below, we’ll take a look at some popular destinations to travel from, including their respective approximate drive times and distances, to Chiquila.
- Cancun: 1 hour 45 minutes // 139km
- Valladolid: 2 hours // 159km
- Tulum: 2 hours 30 minutes // 167km
- Playa del Carmen: 1 hour 30 minutes // 122km
If you want to hire a car from Cancun, or anywhere else in Mexico, then we recommend using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Discover Cars, which are very easy to book online, with a great cancellation fee if needed.
Parking at Chiquila Holbox Ferry
You’ll find plenty of car parks to leave your car as you drive down the main road through Chiquila and towards the roundabout at the very end of the road, next to the Holbox ferry terminal. All the car parks near the port are well set up for tourists heading to Isla Holbox, whether that be for a day trip or a few nights. The general cost is $100MXN ($6USD) per day. Be sure to remove all valuables from the car and leave nothing on show.
Using Google Maps, you can check the locations of the different car parks, opening hours and customer reviews.
Travelling to Isla Holbox by Private Shuttle
It’s possible to arrange a shuttle bus/car to take you between Cancun and Chiquila for the Holbox ferry. Indeed, it’s possible to arrange a shuttle bus from many of the other popular tourist destinations in Quintana Roo too. A private shuttle is perhaps most convenient if you are heading to Isla Holbox directly upon arrival at Cancun International Airport.
You might also consider a taxi from Cancun or Cancun Airport to the Holbox ferry terminal in Chiquila. This private transfer will likely set you back around $200USD.
Flight to Isla Holbox
If you don’t have sea legs, you can catch a flight from mainland Mexico directly to Isla Holbox and forego the Holbox ferry from Chiquila altogether. Of course, flying to Isla Holbox is by far the most expensive option. But, the flights are scenic, private and very quick.
Flights Holbox charter private planes to and from the island. Plane capacity varies from 5 to 15 seats, with a flight from Cancun taking no more than about 35 minutes. So, easily, it’s the quickest way to travel.
Travelling to Isla Holbox by Tour
Another option to consider when it comes to visiting Isla Holbox is a tour. A day tour to Isla Holbox will usually include the cost of getting a ferry to Holbox. Be sure to check with whichever tour company you book with as to what is included in the price.
GetYourGuide offers some very popular tours from Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Tour prices vary depending on the length of the tour, what’s included and where in Quintana Roo you travel from. Typically though, a day trip from Cancun to Isla Holbox will cost around $100USD.
Where Next After Isla Holbox?
Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is a fantastic destination full of ancient Mayan Ruins, beautiful cenotes, dreamy coastlines and of course, delicious cuisine. Below, are some of our favourite places we’ve visited, to date.
- Valladolid: a vibrant city of colour, history and natural attractions. Be sure to visit Cenote Suytun, Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Samula (the Dzitnup Cenotes), as well as the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Ek Balam. Indeed, Valladolid is a beautiful city and one of the best locations to visit some of Mexico’s best cenotes.
- Tulum Ruins: visit the beautiful Tulum Ruins set perfectly on the Quintana Roo coastline.
- Coba Ruins & Cenotes: the large ruins of Coba are truly spectacular. Also, you simply must add on a quick bike ride to the Coba Cenotes nearby.
- Bacalar: known as the lagoon of seven colours, Bacalar is a laid-back dream of good food, coffee and relaxing water sports. You’ll not regret adding on a visit here when you visit Mexico.
Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Mexico and Central America.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.
- Carry cash: there can often be a fee attached to paying for the Holbox ferry with a credit card. Also, it’s much better to pay for things with pesos once on Isla Holbox as it’s not guaranteed everywhere will take a credit card.
- Luggage: there’s plenty of space to store luggage on the Holbox ferries since many people will visit for longer than a day.
- What to do in Holbox: read our Isla Holbox guide for great ideas on what to do on a day trip including swimming with whale sharks.
- Day trips: don’t forget, there are plenty of great tour options out there to get you to and from Isla Holbox for the day.
If you have any useful tips for other travellers going to Isla Holbox, drop them in the comments below.