Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time on a tiny island can tell you there is a completely different local mind-set than that of the mainland, than the rest of the world that isn’t a small island. It’s not that islanders don’t care about what’s going on in the world, it just seems they are more in tuned with the things the rest of the world has forgotten, like living simple so everyone can enjoy living more. Isla Holbox is one of these places. Here, there is an unmistakable, laid-back, collective consciousness that moves to an island groove into which visitors just want to fall. Isla Holbox has a year round vibe that is more than whale shark season, more than just a Mayan fishing village…Isla Holbox is coming into its own eclectic island culture.
This virgin tourist destination maintains its pristine natural beauty because of its inaccessibility, and because no one really visited until the whale sharks’ Yucatan migration was discovered about 10 years ago. One must drive or ride in a bus 2 hours from Cancun to Chiquila and then take a 30 minute ferry out to the island…but the destination is well worth the effort.
Isla Holbox is located in the Gulf of Mexico with the Caribbean a short boat ride away. The waters lapping the island’s shores are gin clear and bright shades of green. These are some of the cleanest beaches I have ever seen, and you will swear they are endless! The sand is powder white and feels like silt when stepping into the water. Beach activities here include shell collecting, kite boarding, fishing, tanning, reading and kayaking. You will hear the occasional motor boat go by, but otherwise these beaches are peaceful, no loud music or jet skis here. In my opinion, the best thing to do on the island is nothing. In Holbox you don’t have to feel bad about lying in a hammock all day while simply reading a book and sipping on a margarita…even after you have slept til noon!
Quirky and fun perfectly describe Holbox’s town center. Golf cart taxis, bicycles and 4 wheeler ATVs dominate the sandy streets. Vendors selling fresh coconut ice cream push their carts passed buildings painted in bright, Caribbean colors with sea life themed murals. If you must shop, there are all kinds of boutiques selling local folk art, beach wear and hand-made jewelry. Ride a bike to one of the pizzerias n the town square and indulge in a lobster pizza, the island specialty. Nightlife is a bonfire on the beach while listening to a live Cuban band…who needs a disco?
For the past 2 years, Isla Holbox has hosted a Gastronomical Fall Festival in which all of the island restaurants participate. Live music, dancing on the beach barefoot, cold local beer, and delicious Caribbean, Italian and Mexican specialties make this an island event that we anticipate will get bigger and better every year.
Getting comfortable for sunset is a daily ritual for just about everyone on the island, and the perfect opportunity for visitors to let the tranquility of Isla Holbox sink into their bones. In the late afternoon, grab a beer or a mojito at any one of the beach bars, or just stake your claim on the sand and watch the sun melt into the sea.
Yes, the migration of the whale sharks each Summer is the island’s big attraction, but there is so much more natural beauty here that can be experienced all year round. Holbox is home to over 155 species of birds including flamingos, pelicans, frigates, white ibis, heron, and storks. Crocodiles, dolphins, horseshoe crabs and sting rays are just a few of the “locals” that live here 24/7. Isla Pajaros, Bird Island in English, is a small island a quick boat ride away from Holbox that is considered the birder’s paradise. Tour operators combine Bird Island with a trek out to Yalahau, a natural lagoon fed by a fresh water spring, for a refreshing swim.
Start planning your Isla Holbox vacation by finding a chill place to stay.