On our third day in the Mayan Riviera, we drove north for two hours, from Playa del Carmen to a town called Chiquilá, to take a ferry to Holbox island (pronounced holbósh). Despite the island’s very recent popularity, we were a bit disapointed to see that a lot of people were going there, huge ferries going and coming every half hour or so. Nevertheless, we parked near the docks for only $50 mxn and got on the Holbox Express for $150 (each way). The trip takes about 30 minutes. We got decent seats on the top part and, were it not for the loud reggaetón music, it would have been an enjoyable ride.
I heard of Holbox some four years ago and that image stayed with me: a small haven in Quintana Roo the big hotels hadn’t spoiled yet. Perhaps it was so then. Now, even when there are no big hotels, there however many small fancy restaurants, beach clubs and small hotels. The unpaved streets and the fact that finding an ATM is pretty hard give the place some kind of deserted island vibe, but a look around the beach would shatter that perception. Holbox, however, is the perfect weekend getaway: bad phone service, quiet beaches by day, plenty of coffee and gelato places and a growing number of environmentally-conscious tours by boat to see the whales, dolphins and sharks.
Holbox has one of the most beautiful beaches too, the only one were sargasso was not a problem. You could walk towards the sea for about 300 meters and the crystal clear water would barely reach your knees. For the same reason, the waters is a bit warmer than at the mainland, but by morning is good for paddling and kayaking. The island is the perfect Caribbean location: palm trees, snow-white sand, clear blue sky and an even clearer sea. The streets and plazas of the town are covered in urban art with Mexican motifs and so there’s plenty to see both at the beach and in the town.
We hired some (overpriced) hammocks at the beach and left our stuff there while we swam, we read a bit and found a place to eat as the afternoon approached. As we did not spend the night there, we had to take one of the last ferries at 6:00 pm, but anyway that was enough time to take a look around, chill and swim.
For lunch we went to a place called Mandarina, which belongs to the hotel Casa las Tortugas. The food was amazing and not so expensive, the location is perfect as it is right in front of the beach. The beachside restaurants and bars reminded me a bit of Tulum in style and vibes: Holbox is one of the most relaxing places I’ve been to, and people there are somehow so chill and fashionable at the same time, everybody walks or rides a bike along the sand-covered streets and the biggest vehicles around are golf cars and quads.
All in all, Holbox was one of my favorite places in Quintana Roo, I just wish he had stayed longer there.
Have you been to Holbox? What are your thoughts on it?
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