When we set off for Mexico in June I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew Mexico is a huge travel destination for Americans but I’d never really heard of many Aussies making the journey. I mean, 26 hours in transit isn’t really ideal but I promise you its worth it.
As we were setting out our itinerary to try and make the most of our 4 weeks we changed ideas and destinations sooooo many times. We decided to stick to the Riviera Maya this time around as there seemed to be so many amazing places to discover, and we could drive between them all which was a huge bonus. We planned our itinerary, and it just didn’t seem to be enough, so we scrolled the internet for hours in search of another destination in the area we could add in.
We finally discovered Isla Holbox, a sleepy island to the North of Cancun (about 2.5 hours) and it was exactly what we were looking for!
Now, we did hire a car for majority of our time in the Riviera Maya but handed it back a few days before we headed to Holbox as it seemed to be the cheapest and most convenient option. We caught the ADO bus from Playa Del Carmen to Chiquila which cost about $25AUD per person, then the 9 Hermanos ferry across to Holbox which was $10AUD.
I fell in love as soon as we arrived. Mitch, not so much. (It was about 40 degrees and he had food poisoning… So I can’t really blame him.) Here are my top 10 reasons to visit Holbox.
1. There are no cars on the Island
Isla Holbox is only 40kms long by 1.5kms wide so there is really no need for cars. The roads are all sand and the only way to get around is by Golf Cart, ATV or on foot. We did most of our exploring on foot, but we did hire a golf cart for a few hours so we could go a bit further out. Walking around at midday in 40 degree heat is not ideal! The golf cart was a perfect option!
2. The Sunrises and Sunsets
The main beach on Isla Holbox runs NE to SW, so the sun (just) rises and sets over the ocean, you can head to one end of the beach in the morning, and the other in the afternoon. They aren’t just average either, They are absolutely incredible. I mean, there’s nothing better than waking up to the sunrise over the ocean on your morning walk, and the sunsets light up the entire sky!
3. The Artwork
The main town square is full of so much life, with beautiful hand painted works of art on almost every building. Everywhere you look, there are vibrant colours from the restaurants to the boutiques to the houses. It was so magical!
4. The Sea life
As avid divers, the main thing that drew our attention to Isla Holbox was the sea life. Now although you can’t go diving from Holbox (the closest hyperbaric chamber is in Cancun – 3 hours away) we did have the opportunity to go snorkelling with the largest fish in the ocean. Whale Sharks. And we were there right at the start of their migration season! How could we say no??
We were a little worried that we wouldn’t be able to find any, but after a 2 and a half hour boat ride into the Caribbean Sea, we finally found them and they were MAGICAL! This was to date the most incredible experience of my life.
The photos that we got were terrible, it was a bit frantic in the water… But the experience was amazing!
On our way back from swimming with the Whale Sharks we also got to swim with Sea Turtles and we even saw some Flamingos!
5. The Island Vibe
A caribbean island in the middle of summer usually sounds like a disaster. Isla Holbox is the complete opposite. While you think it would be overcrowded with tourists, it doesn’t seem to be a hot spot for the international crowd just yet! Majority of the tourists that we came across were actually Mexican Nationals. This may be because its a bit of a hike from popular tourist spots like Playa Del Carmen, Cancun and the recently popular Tulum. The island was not over crowded and the resort that we stayed at was very calm.
Most of the resorts are along the beach, but the beaches themselves aren’t private. Which means you can pick a spot anywhere along the beach and don’t have to pay for a Cabana!
Isla Holbox is the kind of Island where you don’t have to think about anything except which cocktail to have next or what time the sun is setting so you can set up prime location on the beach!
Mexico in most parts can get very hectic, so if you are after a few days of relaxation among it all you can’t go past sleepy little Holbox!
Where to stay?
If you are after a little luxury without a huge price tag the HM Palapas Del Mar is the place for you. We paid $350 per night, and didn’t opt for the all inclusive package despite eating at the resort for most meals. In comparison to the normal rate, the All inclusive rate is quite pricey! All rooms come with breakfast included, and you can purchase the buffet lunch or dinner for $25USD per person which includes alcoholic drinks. (There are plenty of other delicious options for food on the island that are very reasonably priced if you want to leave the resort)
If you want any other travel tips, or are planning to visit Isla Holbox soon let me know!