Holbox is an island in the Quintana Roo State of Mexico north of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve and has a ton of rich marine life.
The Yalahau Lagoon separates the island from mainland Mexico.
Isla Holbox is 26 miles long but only one mile wide, even though it is small there are still plenty of fun things to do in Holbox.
The island does not have any cars and has a very laidback and carefree environment. It is the best place to add to your Yucatan off-the-beaten-path locations.
This is a paradise island and makes for the perfect getaway vacation. There are still plenty of things to do in Holbox.
The island has not been inundated by commercialization like many other locations in Mexico.
Holbox has remained quaint and has refrained from being overcrowded. You can stroll the streets, relax on the beach, and enjoy a good meal as if you were a local.
Holbox isn’t as well known as other Mexican cities like Cancun or Cabo so it’s kept its charm really well.
You won’t find nearly as many tourists here which is the best part, but it is still easy to access. Holbox to Cancun airport is only about an hour and a half and you get to take a ferry.
What makes Holbox so appealing to people is the almost “untouched” feeling it has. With globalization, it’s hard to come across that these days, especially in places where there is a ton of tourism.
There is nothing wrong with adapting to tourism but sometimes a quaint, out-of-the-ordinary location is preferred especially if the goal of your trip is relaxation.
It is almost impossible not to fall in love with Holbox.
Characteristics of Holbox
- No cars
- No paved roads
- No chain restaurants
- No highrise buildings
Holbox has maintained its charm and has not been influenced by outside factors.
For instance, you won’t find any cars on the island and because of this, there are no paved streets only compact sandy roads. Perfect for strolling the island barefoot.
In lieu of cars, you’ll find golf carts are the main form of transportation. There are no chain restaurants, either, which is super refreshing.
Every establishment is locally owned and independent.
Only just over 1000 people live on the island full time so it has an amazing small-town vibe to it.
Holbox comes from the Mayan language and actually stands for “black hole” which really isn’t fitting for the bright, colorful little island. Also, it’s pronounced “hole – bosch”
Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico
When in Holbox, expect to be relaxed. Time seems to slow down and you can just enjoy living in the moment.
Depending on the type of person you are, you may not think there is a ton to do in Holbox.
But, if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway then you’ll love the slow and laidback environment that Holbox invites.
Your days can be spent strolling the streets, eating good food, and sitting at the beach.
What more could you ask for? There are still tons of activities you can partake in though so keep reading to find out the best ways to spend your days in Holbox.
Whale shark season occurs from June to September so if you’re visiting during this time consider swimming with whale sharks.
It is the number 1 reason that brought me to Holbox in the first place.
Yes, they have sharks in their name but no, they’re not scary. Whale sharks are gentle and Holbox is one of the best places in the world to swim with this marine animal.
They can grow to over 40 feet in length but they really are peaceful and graceful.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that you will never forget. Holbox is pretty much the only place in the world where they guarantee you will see one. If you go during the season, there will be thousands of them.
Be sure to practice responsible tourism when diving with the whale sharks. Do not touch the wildlife. It is meant to be viewed, but not touched.
2. Do Nothing
The best part about visiting Holbox is the relaxed and laid-back environment it has. Spend some time doing absolutely nothing because it’ll be rejuvenating and relaxing.
Read a book, look out over the water, sip a coffee, whatever complete relaxation means to you.
Holbox offers you the chance to slow down and not get caught up in all the little things.
3. Visit the Beach
An obvious yet important activity while in Holbox is to visit the beach. The water surrounding the island is turquoise blue and stunning.
There is nothing like sitting in the warm, soft sand and looking out over the ocean or laying under the warms sun.
The water stays shallow for a bit, allowing you to wade out and swim.
You can relax, swim, and even catch the sunset on the beach. Holbox is home to some amazing sunsets, so you don’t want to miss out on this activity.
The best place to see the sunset is right on the pier. Spend an afternoon basked in a hammock under the shade of a tree, a few hours you’ll never forget.
|Make sure you pack correctly for your trip with this Tropical Island Packing List|
The Yalahau cenote is about 30 minutes from Holbox by boat. The ride there itself is gorgeous and you may even see dolphins!
It’s located in Yum Balam Nature Reserve on the mainland.
Cenotes are only located in this region of Mexico and they’re natural sinkholes from the collapse of limestone bedrock that are filled with groundwater.
They’re basically gorgeous natural swimming pools. The Yalahau cenote is surrounded by mangroves and in a beautiful setting. It’s absolutely worth it if you have the time.
5. Grab a Drink at the Gas Station
There are tons of beach bars where you can get a drink with a view.
But some are just better than others. Be sure to stop by the Gas Station to fuel up on drinks.
It is also in the perfect location to make a day of bar-hopping around.
The Gas Station is always pumping the tunes, it is right on the beach and a great place to meet fellow travelers.
6. Take Instagram Photos
Take your time and walk around Holbox. It is very picturesque, even if you don’t want to take Instagram Photos, you are going to want to take pictures as it is a stunning island.
You’ll find quaint shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, and so much untouched beach.
Holbox is truly a special place, and you don’t have to spend loads of money to find something to do.
7. Enjoy the Street Art
Many beautiful and bright-colored murals can be found on walls all around Holbox. The perfect afternoon can be spent aimlessly walking around and spotting the murals.
You can enjoy all the artistic talent and even snap an Instagram photo in front of them.
They’re utterly unique and magnificent pieces of art that depict the culture, life in Holbox, and so much more.
They are also great for taking inspiring Instagram posts. Want help taking better travel photos?
A great way to see the island from a different perspective is to go on a boat tour. Different tours will take you by boat around the entire island.
You’ll get to enjoy the island’s wildlife, the beautiful ocean around you, and so much more. If you don’t have much time in Holbox, this is a great way to capitalize on your time and see as much of the island as possible.
Holbox has some amazing wildlife on the island, including pink flamingos. Why not take a Kayak Tour?
Stroll through the Mangroves, enjoy the sun and get up close and personal with the Flamingos.
Do an active activity on vacation and enjoy being outdoors.
10. Dance the Night Away at the Hot Corner
Holbox is a magical place, it is relaxing and adventurous all at the same time. It is small and doesn’t have the same typical Mexican tourist beach town vibe.
It also has a very unique nightlife to it that everyone has to experience.
Rather than having a particular bar or club everyone goes to, in Holbox, everyone comes together in the street and has a street party.
There is live music and everyone buys their own drinks and brings them down to the Hot Corner.
Don’t worry if you forget to bring your own beers, everyone is super friendly and shares.
It is like having a house party with everyone on the island. Truly something you won’t want to miss.
11. Explore Holbox by Golf Cart or Bicycle
One way to explore the island is by golf cart or bicycle. Consider renting one (or both) and taking off to see all that Holbox has to offer.
You can rent a bike for just 1 or 2 USD and a golf cart for 7 or 8 USD for an hour.
If you don’t have a ton of time in Holbox this is the best way to maximize your time and see as much as possible, especially if you’re only on the island for a day or even just a few nights.
On the northern coast of Holbox, you might want to consider kitesurfing if you’re looking for sport and adventure. This area provides consistent winds which makes it one of the best places in Mexico for the sport.
If you’re not interested in kitesurfing yourself, head to the beach and watch others kitesurf. It’s almost as interesting to watch as it is to partake in because it’s such a unique activity. It is a great place to find a kitesurfing camp if you have ever wanted to learn the sport.
13. Go Snorkeling
Various tours will take you by boat out to some reefs for snorkeling. One of the best spots is where the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico meet.
You can find an abundance of marine life when snorkeling in the clear waters.
However, around Holbox itself, there isn’t great snorkeling but you’re only a boat ride away from some really great spots.
It would make for the perfect day trip.
14. Experience the Bioluminescence Phenomenon
This is a must-see while in Holbox because there aren’t many places around the world that this occurs.
At night on some of the beaches on the island, the water will light up and shimmer in blue which occurs from glowing microscopic plankton.
It has to be very dark out in order to see this Bioluminescence phenomenon.
So why not throw on your bathing suit and enjoy the beauty of this occurrence up close.
A great nighttime activity you won’t want to miss.
How To Get To Holbox, Mexico
The easiest way to get to Holbox is by ferry from the Port of Chiquila which is 2 hours from Cancun. There is a ferry every 30 minutes and it only takes 15 minutes to get to the island.
The ferry costs 220 pesos (around 11 USD) each way.
From the ferry port, it’s only about a 10-minute walk to the island center or you can take a taxi golf cart to your accommodation for around 20 to 30 pesos or 1 to 2 USD.
How Long To Spend In Holbox
Holbox is a small island so you could most likely do a day trip if you’re just hoping to see what it’s like and relax a bit.
However, you should plan to stay at least a few nights to get the full experience. If you really want to discover as much of it as possible you’ll need more than a single day.
Holbox is truly perfect and a paradise on earth. It’s full of untouched beauty and will hopefully stay that way for many years to come.
If you’re in need of some major relaxation this is your destination. You’ll find yourself more than rejuvenated by the end of your trip.
Enjoy all this island has to offer and take some time to slow down and live in the moment. You should absolutely visit the island if you get the chance because you won’t regret visiting. There are so many things to do in Holbox.
Have you been to Holbox? Have you done something awesome in Holbox that is not on this list? Say so in the comments below.