Discover Cancun: Things to do on Holbox Island

By: Catherine Gordon

February 7, 2014

The quiet island of Holbox is the perfect place to park yourself if you want to get away from it all. With its sandy streets, shallow calm waters and less touristy vibe, the island will appeal to those in need of nothing more than swinging in a hammock and flicking through a book.

Located north west of Cancun, across the Yalahau Lagoon, Holbox is just 26 miles long and has less than 2,000 inhabitants. The central square has a good selection of cafes and restaurants, while the rest of the island is filled with dunes, palm trees and pelicans.

Holbox Island | Where to go on Holbox Island

Holbox Island is a car-free zone © Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau


This is a car-free zone, so your transport options are a rented golf cart, bicycle or scooter. It’s also blissfully free of high-rise resorts, with smaller boutique hotels located along the island’s sleepy shoreline.


Casa Las Tortugas | Where to go on Holbox Island

Relax in one of many boutique hotels along the shoreline © Casa Las Tortugas


Although many people opt to completely relax and do very little on Holbox, there are plenty of activities for the more energetic traveller – from paddling around the bay in a kayak to windsurfing and kite boarding. Visitors can also explore the island on horseback or via a hiking trail along the beach paths and through the mangroves.



And if you visit between May and September, you’ll be able to take the popular bucket list excursion to swim with the gigantic whale sharks who visit the waters near the island every summer to feed on plankton.


If you need to escape the island heat, take a cooling dip in the natural fresh waters of the Yalahau Lagoon, a tranquil spot known as “˜the fountain of youth’, which is surrounded by lush jungle.


Beach | Where to go on Holbox Island

Enjoying the island’s shallow and calm waters © Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau


There are also several islotes (tiny islands) to visit nearby. Twitchers should include a trip to Isla Pajaros, where you can spot flocks of flamingos (April to October), as well as frigatebirds, white ibis and snowy egrets. Or for unadulterated tropical tranquillity, visit Isla Pasión, a Robinson Crusoe-esque island with deserted beaches.


Villas Flamingo | Where to go on Holbox Island

There are plenty of opportunities for eating and drinking on Holbox Island © Villas Flamingos


When you get peckish, the local fishing community will provide fresh maritime treats – look out for the famous lobster pizza at Pizzeria Edelyn. Dedicated foodies should time their visit during the 3rd annual Holbox Gastro Festival in October 2014, where Mexican chefs get together to show off their culinary talents.


Casa Las Tortugas | Where to go on Holbox Island

Chill-out area at Casa Las Tortugas © Casa Las Tortugas


Think beachside bungalows and palapas when planning somewhere to stay on Holbox. Casa Las Tortugas offers comfortable queen-sized beds and private verandas overlooking the sea. The hotel also boasts an organic restaurant, holistic spa, and yoga pavilion. Villas Flamingos fulfils its green credentials with its ecological bathroom systems, which use shower water to irrigate the gardens.


Villas Flamingo | Where to go on Holbox Island

Dine with an ocean view at Villas Flamingos © Villas Flamingos


The journey from Cancun to Holbox will take you around three and a half hours by bus, car or private transfer, including the 15 minute ferry ride from Chiquila across to Holbox Island. Those willing to splash out can travel from Cancun to Holbox by private air taxi.


Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to Cancun from London Gatwick. Book your flight today.


Have you visited Holbox Island? What are your favourite things to do there? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Written by Catherine Gordon


Catherine Gordon

British freelance journalist Catherine Gordon is based in Cancun, Mexico. She writes about Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan for newspapers, magazines and online media. She specialises in travel, culture, health, luxury, water sports and off-the-beaten-track city guides. Her website can be viewed at

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