Skip to Content

Isla Holbox Mexico: 10 Excellent Things To Do On A Day Trip

Isla Holbox Mexico: 10 Excellent Things To Do On A Day Trip

If you dream of visiting a small island with powder-white sands, turquoise waters and a generally laid-back way of life, then we’ve found what you’re looking for. It’s called Isla Holbox and it’s located in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Holbox, in Mexico, is a beautiful island with no cars and general etiquette for relaxation. But, don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s not much to do. Certainly, you’ll struggle to get bored on Holbox Island, Mexico. From water sports, boat trips, beach bars and wildlife spotting, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Isla Holbox is a special place indeed.

So, without further ado, we’re going to tell you about 10 fantastic things to do on Isla Holbox, Mexico, as well as how to get there and where to stay.

But first, a little about Isla Holbox, Mexico.

For more travel guides like Isla Holbox Mexico, check out our Bacalar, Mexico: 10 Excellent Things To Do On A Day Trip and 21 Wonderful Things To Do In Valladolid Mexico guides.

About Isla Holbox Mexico

Isla Holbox is a small island in the Gulf of Mexico located in the state of Quintana Roo. It’s an easy destination to reach as a day trip, but it more than rewards those who choose to stay a night or three! The tropical island completely delivers when it comes to fine white sands and drool-worthy turquoise waters to splash around in. The car-free streets invite a slow ramble, whereas the beachfront bars welcome a moment’s rest. In truth, Isla Holbox is one of the best getaways within a getaway to Mexico.

Isla Holbox Mexico

Where Is Isla Holbox?

The island paradise lies on the northern coast of Quintana Roo on the Gulf of Mexico. The long sliver of land is most easily reached via the fishing town of Chiquila, from where you can then take a quick ferry of around 20 minutes.

Isla Holbox Map

Feel free to click on the interactive map below to see where Isla Holbox is located in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

10 Fantastic Things to Do in Isla Holbox Mexico

1. Go to the Beach

There’s no denying that one of the main draws of a trip to Holbox Island, Mexico, is the beautiful beaches. Playa Holbox is the main island beach accessible directly from the small town. The sand is pure white and the water a dazzling turquoise. It won’t be long ’til you’re throwing your belongings down and taking a dip in the tranquil and very calm waters off Playa Holbox.

Keep a look out for the fruit carts as they wander up and down the beach, and be sure to get yourself a little mango-pop.

Also, next to the beach you’ll find the Holbox letters (Letras Holbox). There’s likely to be a small queue of people waiting to have their picture taken, but as they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. What’s not to enjoy about fashioning yourself into an ‘L’ shape to complete the letters?

2. Relax at an Isla Holbox Beach Bar

Lining Playa Holbox is an array of beach bars. So, if you get a little uncomfortable lying on your own towel on the sand, you can always upgrade to a hammock or sun lounger at one of the many beach bars along Playa Holbox. Las Hamacas and Mantarraya Beach Clud & Hammocks are both sound options. At both of these beach clubs, you’ll find a range of beverages, decent food and a beautiful spot on the beachfront.

3. Try Kitesurfing

What you might not know, is that Isla Holbox Mexico is one of the best locations in the world for beginners to try their hand at kitesurfing. The shallow and calm waters off Holbox Mexico make this location ideal to have a go.

The Kukulkite Holbox Surf School is located here in central Holbox, Mexico. Alternatively, you can book Viator‘s Kitesurfing Lessons in Isla Holbox tour, which is run by the friendly guys at Kukulkite.

4. Take a Three Islands Tour

If you want to leave the moderate hustle and bustle of Holbox Island, Mexico behind, then taking a Three Islands Tour is an excellent option. These popular boat tours set sail to visit Bird Island (Isla Pajaros), Passion Island (Isla Pasion) and Yalahau Cenote.

Isla Pajaros is protected, so visitors can dock and then photograph the wildlife from the jetty. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for flamingoes and pelicans. You can try your hand at fishing on Isla Pasion before visiting and swimming at Yalahau Cenote. Because this is Mexico, and you HAVE to see a cenote.

GetYourGuide ofers this excellent Tour 3 islas “Islas pájaros, Yalahau & Isla de la Pasión”.

Viator also offers this extremely popular Private Boat to visit Holbox surroundings (3-Island Tour).

5. Swim With Whale Sharks

One of the most incredible parts of visiting Isla Holbox in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is the chance to swim with whale sharks. You’ll want to time your visit between May and September to make this dream a reality.

GetYourGuide offers the below Swim with Whale Sharks trip from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Alternatively, Viator offers a couple of cool whale shark swimming excursions also. This is one Isla Holbox Mexico attraction you do not want to miss out on.

6. Discover Murals & Street Art

As you wander the sandy streets of Holbox Island Mexico, you’ll notice many artworks and murals covering the sides of buildings and various other structures. Even slightly more dilapidated huts get a creative lick of paint. Certainly, wandering the Isla Holbox streets and alleyways and soaking up the street art is a relaxing way to pass an hour, and a great alternative to the beach if you get a little restless.

Dan wanders the streets of Isla Holbox Mexico

7. Hire a Bike/Golf Cart

If you fancy exploring a little further afield on Isla Holbox, then you should definitely consider hiring a bike or a golf cart. There are plenty of places in the centre to rent from, with a bicycle costing around $20MXN ($3USD) per hour and golf carts costing around $150MXN ($8.50USD) per hour.

8. Explore Isla Holbox Wildlife (& Punta Mosquito)

Once you’ve got your wheels of choice, you can then head out in search of the Holbox Island Mexico wildlife at Punta Mosquito. This sandbank is a beautiful location away from the crowds of Holbox Island Mexico and a true hive of wildlife.

Some of Punta Mosquito is a conservation area, so you won’t be able to explore everywhere. But, these protected areas mean more undisturbed wildlife. So, you might be lucky enough to spot flamingoes on the beach and stingrays in the water. Of course, there’s never a guarantee of spotting wildlife at Punta Mosquito. But, the deserted island experience makes a visit to Isla Holbox’s sandbank a worthwhile trip to make.

If you decide not to cycle of golf cart out there, you can take a taxi from the centre of town. This will cost in the region of $150MXN ($8.50USD) one way.

In addition, Isla Holbox Mexico has some of its own resident crocodiles. Although, you’d have to be lucky to see one. The below GetYourGuide Holbox Exclusive: Yalahau, Punta Mosquito y Isla Pasion is a great way to visit some of the lesser-seen parts of Isla Holbox Mexico.

9. Enjoy an Isla Holbox Sunrise/Sunset

Admittedly this might be a little tricky with the Isla Holbox ferry times for a day trip. But, if you end up staying a night or two on Isla Holbox, then prepare to be amazed by the awesome sunrise and sunsets on the island.

Either find a spot on the beach, at the bar, or even on the pier, and just enjoy. Alternatively, why not head out onto the water and enjoy watching the turquoise water turn golden as you watch the setting sun? Kayaks can be hired from Playa Holbox here. Otherwise, GetYourGuide offers this pretty cool Guided Sunrise Kayak Tour through Mangrove Reserve tour.

10. Marvel at the Bioluminescent Water

Admittedly, given the Holbox ferry times, you might be pushing it a little for this final activity. So, you might either need to spend the night on Isla Holbox or have chartered a private boat to get there. But, you can’t leave Holbox Island Mexico without having witnessed the incredible bioluminescence water.

At night, the water along the shoreline glows an electric blue colour. It’s incredible. The colour is caused by microscopic phytoplankton and one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacle is with a kayaking tour. GetYourGuide offers a fantastic Stars and Bioluminescent Marine Life Kayaking Tour with an experienced guide to talk you through the ecosystem and learn about what causes the Holbox bioluminescence, as well as a Private Bioluminescence Beach Tour by Golf Cart.

How to Get to Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo, Mexico

So, now you have an idea of what to do on Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo, Mexico, let’s take a look at how to get there.

As Holbox is an island, the easiest way to get there is by boarding the Holbox ferry from the small town of Chiquila, Mexico. But, of course, you’ll need to get to Chiquila first from wherever you are in the Yucatan Peninsula. Of course, most people travelling to Holbox Mexico generally do so from Cancun. But, it’s certainly possible to get there from other popular locations in Quintana Roo. So, below, we’ll go through all options for getting to Holbox via Chiquila for the ferry. These options include bus, rental car, shuttle service, tour and plane.

Dan and I travelled to Holbox Mexico from Cancun. For more in-depth information on getting from Cancun to Holbox, check out How To Get From Cancun to Holbox: The Complete Guide.

Travelling to Holbox Mexico 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 return trip. We travelled from Cancun, but you can certainly catch the bus to Isla Holbox from most major destinations in Quintana Roo, Mexico. We recommend using the ADO buses when travelling around Mexico as they’re 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 in whichever town you’re travelling from.

Once you arrive in Chiquila, you’ll need to walk a short way to the Holbox ferry terminal. You can see the location of the ADO bus terminal in Chiquila on the map below. It’s just a quick 5 minute walk.

Cancun to Holbox map

The bus to Chiquila for Holbox Mexico varies depending on where you are travelling from. Below. we’ve given you a rough idea of travel times. You can expect to pay $300–350MXN ($17–20USD) per ticket. But, ADO often has offers at particular times of the day. So, if you’re flexible with your departure time, you might be able to snap up a good deal.

  • Cancun: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cancun Airport: 3 hours 30 minutes (1 hour from the airport to Cancun, then take the bus from Cancun to Chiquila).
  • Playa del Carmen: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Tulum: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Valladolid: 2 hours 30 minutes

Travelling to Holbox Mexico 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 to Isla Holbox. In fact, if you have a car, it makes visiting Isla Holbox very easy from numerous other popular destinations in Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. 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
  • Cancun Airport: 2 hours // 144km
  • Playa del Carmen: 1 hour 30 minutes // 122km
  • Tulum: 2 hours 30 minutes // 167km
  • Valladolid: 2 hours // 159km

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.

Where to Park in Chiquila?

There are plenty of car parks to leave your car in Chiquila before you board the ferry to Isla Holbox, Mexico. The majority of car parks are centered around the roundabout at the end of the main strip through town, and close to the ferry terminal.

All the car parks near the Holbox ferry port are well set up for tourists heading to Isla Holbox, whether that be for a simple day trip or even for a few nights’ stay. 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.

Parking at Chiquila Holbox Ferry

Travelling to Holbox Mexico by Private Shuttle

Another option for travelling to Holbox, Mexico, is to arrange a shuttle bus/car. You can generally arrange a private shuttle from any of the major tourist destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Arranging a private shuttle is perhaps one of the most convenient options to get to Holbox in Mexico if you’re heading straight there upon arrival at Cancun International Airport. Both GetYourGuide and Viator are reputable companies you can book private shuttle transfers to Chiquila to get you to Isla Holbox, Mexico.

If you’re travelling from Cancun, you might also consider a taxi from the town or airport to the Holbox ferry terminal in Chiquila. This private transfer will likely set you back around $200USD.

Catching the Ferry From Chiquila to Isla Holbox

So, now you’ve made it to Chiquila from Cancun, you need to board the ferry to Holbox. At the very end of the main road running through Chiquila (Kantunilkin-Chiquila road) is the ferry terminal to Holbox (it’s referred to as Holbox Express on Google Maps).

Once there, you’ll see there are a couple of ferry companies to choose from – 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. So, essentially don’t worry too much about which one you go with.

Cancun to Holbox map

Between the two ferry companies, the first ferry to Holbox leaves at 6am, and the final ferry of the day returning to Chiquila is at 8:30pm. The 9 Hermanos ferry company departs on the hour, with the Holbox Express ferry company departing on the half hour. So, basically, ferries to Holbox Mexico run every 30 minutes.

FYI – the Holbox ferry times can be found on the official ferry company websites and also displayed on the ticket booths at the ferry terminal in Chiquila.

Holbox Ferry Tickets, Prices & Journey Times

You can buy Holbox ferry tickets online at the official websites of the ferry companies. Or, you can simply buy them at the Holbox ferry terminal ticket office. Prices are the same whichever way you choose to purchase your ticket. In addition, it would be highly unlikely for a ferry to completely book out, so you should be fine to rock up and pay at the ticket office in Chiquila.

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. It’s a good idea to carry pesos and pay in cash. Although, it’s possible to pay by card, just be mindful that card transactions will usually incur a fee.

Dan and I actually purchased 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. Additionally, the ferry tickets can be included as part of an Isla Holbox Tour.

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, it might be wise to take some travel sickness tablets beforehand, to be on the safe side.

For more information on catching the ferry to Holbox Mexico, read our Holbox Ferry From Chiquila: 9 Useful Things To Know guide.

Travelling to Holbox by Plane From Cancun

If you don’t have the sea legs for a ferry, then you can take a flight from mainland Mexico directly to Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo. Of course, flying to Isla Holbox is by far the most expensive option. But, the flights are scenic, private and very quick.

You can fly from Cancun to Holbox with Flights Holbox. The private planes to Holbox Mexico leave from both Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The planes have varying capacities from 5 to 15 seats, with a flight to Holbox Mexico taking no more than around 35 minutes. So, it’s by far the quickest way to travel.

Travelling to Holbox Mexico by Tour

Another option to consider when it comes to visiting Isla Holbox in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is to take a tour. GetYourGuide offers some very popular tours from Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Tour prices to Isla Holbox vary depending on the length of the tour, what’s included and where in Quintana Roo, Mexico, you travel from. Typically though, a day trip from Cancun to Isla Holbox will cost around $100USD.

Getting Around Isla Holbox

Once on the island, you’ll find there are no cars. The best way to get around Isla Holbox is to either take Holbox’s version of a taxi (it’s a golf cart with monster wheels), hire a bike, or simply walk. If you’re visiting Holbox Mexico for longer than a day trip, then you might want to hop in a golf cart if you have luggage. The typical price of a short journey in Holbox is around $20–30 MXN ($1–2USD).

Where to Stay in Holbox Mexico

Although it’s easy to visit Isla Holbox Mexico as a day trip, it’s also definitely worth considering staying for a night or two. In fact, there’s something for every budget on Isla Holbox. So, let’s take a look at some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury hotels in Holbox Mexico.

  • Budget – Mapache Hostel & Camping: the beautifully renovated Mapache Hostel & Camping guest house features lovely gardens, a shared kitchen and bicycle rental. Perfect for exploring Holbox Island, Mexico.
  • Mid-range – La Diosa Kali Beach Front Hotel: the beachfront location of La Diosa Kali Beach Front Hotel is hard to beat considering the price of this hotel.
  • Luxury – EL NIDO Holbox: the design and beautiful features of EL NIDO Holbox ensure you’ll have a memorable stay in Isla Holbox, Mexico. The outdoor pool is a welcome break from the busier beaches as this hotel is located in a quieter part of Holbox Island, Mexico. Alternatively, you should check out Nomade Holbox for a real treat.

Where to Eat in Holbox Mexico

There are plenty of excellent places to grab a bite to eat or a drink whilst on Isla Holbox. Yes, prices are slightly inflated compared to mainland Mexico. But, that’s to be expected when everything has to be shipped over. Albeit not far, but still, that’s what happens. Anyway, below we’ve hand-picked a selection of eateries to get you through the day.

In addition to the below, we recommend grabbing a drink from a local convenience store and finding a nice patch on the beach. Not everything has to cost an arm and a leg. We’ve added Google Map links to each location for your convenience.

  • Coffee & Breakfast – Tierra Mia Juice and Coffee: the small and friendly Tierra Mia Juice and Coffee is a great stop for a coffee, smoothie, or a bit of brekkie.
  • Snack – Barba Negra: for some of the best tacos on Isla Holbox, you’ll simply have to head to Barba Negra. The fish tacos are divine.
  • Dinner – Roots Pizza a Leña: what’s not to enjoy about wood-fired pizzas and live reggae music? If you ask the locals, they’ll tell you to try the lobster pizza (*chefs kiss!) at Roots Pizza.
  • Drinks – Luuma: a beautiful open-air bar close to the beach. Luuma is sure to become your new local as you unwind after a ‘hard’ day of Holbox Island life in Mexico. The artisan cocktails are particularly good.
  • Ice cream La Gelateria de Holbox: because you can’t take a trip to a beautiful island without getting ice cream. We recommend La Gelateria de Holbox.
Beck eats ice cream on Holbox Island mexico

The Best Time to Visit Holbox Mexico

When to visit Isla Holbox is a question many travellers have. But, the good news is the warm weather and pleasant climate experienced at Holbox Island, Mexico, is fairly constant year-round. The thing you’ll perhaps want to take into consideration is hurricane season. September and October are the months most at risk of a hurricane.

January through to April experiences the best and most stable weather. But, with that comes more tourists, so expect a busier island.

FAQs

Is It Worth Visiting Isla Holbox?

Yes. Whether you have just a day to spare or you can stay on Holbox Island Mexico longer, you’ll find plenty of wonderful things to do.

Is Holbox Safe?

On the whole, yes. But as with most places, don’t be flashy with your belongings and stick to busier areas. Dan and I didn’t experience anything negative during our trip to Isla Holbox.

How to Pronounce Isla Holbox

The pronunciation of Isla Holbox is ‘eye-lah hol-bosh‘.

Where to Snorkel Isla Holbox?

One of the best areas to snorkel in Isla Holbox is Cabo Catoche.

Is Isla Holbox Expensive?

Isla Holbox is typically a little less expensive compared to other Mexican islands. However, given the cost of importing supplies onto an island, plus the luxury of being a top tourist destination, you’ll find prices in Holbox Mexico are slightly more inflated than in areas of mainland Mexico.

How Big Is Isla Holbox?

Isla Holbox is approximately 42 km (26.00 miles) long and 1.5 km (0.9 miles) wide.

Can You Drive to Isla Holbox?

You can drive as far as Chiquila, on the northern coast of Quintana Roo. From there, you’ll need to take the Holbox ferry to reach the island. Holbox Island in Mexico is also car-free.

Cancun to Holbox

What to Pack For Isla Holbox

  • Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for exploring natural spaces, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
  • GoPro: great for capturing an action-filled day.
  • Swimming gear: you’ll definitely be needing your swimmers.
  • Microfibre towel: a small lightweight microfibre towel is a great addition to dry off after a swim.
  • Sunglasses, hat and insect repellant

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 alongside Isla Holbox.

  • 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.
Cenote Suytun in Valladolid, Mexico
Cenote Suytun, Valladolid

Travel Insurance

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.

Useful Information For Visiting Isla Holbox, Mexico

  • Carry cash: it’s simplest to pay with cash when heading to Isla Holbox. This way you avoid any credit card fees. In addition, Isla Holbox only has a handful of ATMs, so getting pesos out whilst you’re there can be a little problematic.
  • Luggage: there’s plenty of space to store luggage on the Holbox ferries since many people will visit for longer than a day.
  • WiFi: internet signal is pretty poor on Holbox Island in Mexico. You can find decent signal in some of the restaurants, beach bars and hotels. But otherwise, expect to unplug and (digitally) switch off during your visit.
  • Other Islands: Isla Mujeres on the Riviera Maya outside of Cancun is another excellent island to see. Stop in at the nearby Yum Balam Nature Reserve too.
Isla Holbox Quintana Roo Mexico

Central America Guides

If you have any useful tips for other travellers going to Isla Holbox, drop them in the comments below.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *