Switch off and relax in Holbox, Mexico
Quiet paradise, Holbox
Holbox is a narrow island running alongside the North-East tip of the Yucatan peninsula and is to some extent a protected area. For example, visitors are not allowed to bring cars to the island, these need to be left in parking near the ferry port. It's a bit of a journey to get here as the last leg of the drive is through pretty bad roads (about an hour on this road). Otherwise it's easy to get here, if coming from Cancun there is highway for half of the journey, then the above mentioned road to Chiquilá, and it takes about two hours to get there. We came from another direction as we spent some days in Merida and Campeche before heading to the beach, but again, the peninsula's infrastructure is quite good and easy to navigate. There are also bus services from Cancun (I saw a couple of buses heading back from the ferry) so renting a car isn't even necessary. Chiquilá is the village where we had to leave the car and take the ferry to the island. I previously read that the last ferry leaves at 7pm but realised that this isn't true once we got to the port, there are plenty of ferries up until 9pm. The ferry takes only 25 minutes to cross and costs 150 pesos.
Once we arrived to the island we took a golf cart taxi (about 50pesos) to take us to the hotel. It's either that or walking through the otherwise small village. Our hotel was not directly on the beachfront but only a five minutes' walk and about 10 minutes from the town centre. Another reason why I wanted to stay in Holbox was the value of hotels in comparison with Tulum. The prices of the hotels near the beach are much more affordable compared to the chic eco-hotels of Tulum. While I wouldn't say that Holbox is cheap, it's much better value for money when it comes to those beach hotels.
Things to do in Holbox
Enjoy the food - Lobster
The signature dish in Holbox is lobster, more specifically the lobster pizza which is pricey but worth trying at least once as it's delicious. We went to ROOTS Pizzas, and were amazed how good this creation tasted.
There are a few great places to eat lobster, we tried Las Panchas based on recommendation and were not disappointed! The portions were quite big for the price, the aguachile was also delicious and the place has a good selection of mezcal and tequila if you want to have a shot or two with lunch.
Good news about Holbox that there is a typical Mexican town centre with street food stands and while they are slightly more expensive than in an average non-touristic city, they are still great alternatives to a restaurant meal. At least I am always delighted when I see a marquesita (a sort of pancake and I recommend trying the ‘queso-cajeta’ version) or an esquite (boiled or char-grilled corn) stand. As we walked around in the small streets near the main square, we also stumbled upon small taco vendors, selling from their home. We usually just rely on Hector’s judgement when it comes street food and we weren’t disappointed. But if you don’t dare to venture into the small streets, the main square has very good food as well, definitely worth trying.
Enjoy being close to nature - Flamingos, rays and else
Holbox is a small place and most of the activities are aimed at discovering the surrounding flora&fauna. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed my time here so much. On the first morning we went for a walk and while walking in the knee deep sea, I saw a ray swimming past me. Little scared at first, then amazed how close I found myself to the animals I have never seen in the wild.
Another morning we rented kayaks and rowed to Punta Mosquito where you can find the flamingos (and as the name suggests, lots of mosquitos). We docked our kayaks on the shore and walked nearer to the group of flamingos to admire them while they were still far away from us.
During the summer, you can see whale sharks so that's a reason to come back here!
There are tours to take you around the island to see the biodiversity and in the night you can see bioluminescence caused by plankton in the sea.
Everything on this island is relaxing and the fact that Holbox is tucked away from the crowds just makes it a great destination if what you are looking for is switching off. It’s great to experience the closeness of nature, which is not always easy in Mexico. Plus it’s a nice colourful town with a hint of the South East Asian relaxed vibes - here it doesn’t matter if your hair is matted together and you are pulling on the same cloth over your bathing suit every day! The fact that it’s so easily accessible from Cancun just makes it a great 2-4 days trip and I would totally include it in my next adventure on the peninsula.