Things to do Isla Holbox

by Kelly

There are loads of great things to do in Isla Holbox. It is a wonderful island that you need to add to your Mexico travel itinerary! While it is starting to become more well know and visited you can still find the charm of the early days in Tulum here. The sandy streets and sweet little stores are full of that boho vibe that we love so much. Here are all the things to do in Isla Holbox!

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How to get to Isla Holbox

It is incredibly easy to get to Isla Holbox you just have to head to the town of Chiquilá. You can hire a rental car and drive there or go on the ADO buses. From Cancun the bus takes about 2.5 hours, they run regularly and are really comfortable. We used them everywhere in the Yucatan and were always happy with them. If you have a car you will need to pay for parking and there are loads of options in the Chiquilá port area. If you take the ADO bus you will be dropped off right near the port, you will just walk over to it.

Chiquita harbour to Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox Ferry

There are two Isla Hollox ferry options. Both are as good as each other and leave almost at the same time, generally you buy a return ticket if you know when you are leaving. You can purchase online or at the port. When you arrive at the port the bus will pull in right where they sell the tickets and both companies will be calling out to you to purchase tickets. If you already have them online just walk down to the end of the pier and head to the left hand side for 9Hermanos or the right for Holbox Express.

Line up there and when the boat is ready they will scan your ticket, if your luggage is big it will be placed up the front for you. Head inside to find a seat or upstairs to sit outside and take in the views. The ferry takes about 45 minutes and adult tickets are 300MXN.

Cancun or Playa del Carmen to Isla Holbox

If you are staying in Cancun or Playa del Carmen you can still experience Isla Holbox on a day trip, this trip from Cancún/Playa del Carmen: Holbox Island Tour is really popular.

Holbox to Cancun

To leave Holbox you will jump back on the ferry and head to the mainland. From there you can get an ADO bus back to Cancun or your next destination. Alternatively you can prearrange transport from Isla Holbox to Cancun here.

Best Isla Holbox Hotels

Villas HM Palapas del Mar Isla Holbox

Villas hm palapas del mar Isla holbox is one of the most popular hotels on Isla Holbox. It has a great location, excellent rooms with breakfast included.

El Corazón Boutique Hotel 

El Corazón Boutique Hotel – Adults Only with Beach Club’s pass included it is a boho chic design with breakfast included.

Hostel Isla Holbox

If you are happy to stay in a tent there are some great cheap deals on Isla Holbox. These are the best we found.

Kin Hostal and Camping and La Aldea Holbox Cabañas y Camping– Really cheap tent accommodation.

Midrange Hotels Isla Holbox

Hotel Luna Roja Holbox – really popular, at a quiet end of town. The rooms are clean and spacious.

Villa Los Mangles Boutique Hotel – excellent location, peaceful, clean and spacious rooms. 2 min walk to beach.

Holbox by Xaloc– excellent location, beach club. Great rooms, clean. A really popular choice.

Casa Iguana Holbox – Beachfront Hotel, clean comfortable, incredible location.

Isla Holbox luxury accommodation:

These hotels are all luxurious and offer beachfront or close to beach front locations:

Palapas del Sol – clean airy rooms, excellent service, private beach, near to Punta Mosquito

Hotel Villas Flamingos – an easy 20min walk or bike to the centre of Holbox. Very beautiful in a quiet location. Private beach and breakfast included.

Nomade Holbox – close to Playa Punta Cocos and out of the main area of Holbox. Hiring a buggy or bike to stay here might be useful. It is a chic boho dream with excellent service.

Isla Holbox Weather

Visiting Isla Holbox is best in the dry season between Dec-April. You will find flamingo in Isla Holbox in late spring to early autumn and June to mid-September for whale sharks. We visited in early April and while there were no flamingos or whale sharks we really loved our time there. The weather was perfect.

Things to do Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox Beaches

There are a few beaches on Isla Holbox but these are the most visited.

Holbox Beach

Holbox Beach is the main beach on Isla Holbox. Here you will find beach clubs, a long stretch of sandy beach and the best sunset spots on the island. Parts of the beach are private hotel beaches but you can throw your towel down in the area in front of the small ropes. There is also a free public beach area with palm trees to catch some shade in the centre of the beach when walking to the left from town. You can even take a Guided Horseback Ride on the Beach which is a lovely way to spend a day.

Punta Mosquito Holbox ( Isla Holbox Sandbar)

Punta Mosquito Holbox is absolutely the best beach in Isla Holbox. There is no question in this. We just loved it here, it was like being in the Maldives. You will read a lot of information about how to get there, a lot makes it sound much harder than it is. It is basically a huge sandbar. To get here just head to the main Holbox Beach and walk along it to the right. You will walk for about a half an hour before you walk into the water and start crossing over to the sandbank. This is Punta Mosquito Holbox. As you are wading through the water you may see some sting rays etc. Just shuffle your feet in the water where you can’t see to make sure you don’t step on them.

It is a huge sandbar out in the water, but really not too far from the shore. Make sure to head there at low tide and back before high tide as the crossing gets a little deep then. There are no facilities at all, so take all your own food, water, drinks, towels etc. Make sure to take sunscreen and a hat as the sun is unforgiving and there is no shade.

Honestly it is so worth going here. A lot of tours do go here but you only get a half hour, it is worth walking out and doing it on your own as it is spectacular. I loved it so much here I wish we had gone there earlier in our trip and then everyday after that. If you are looking for some adventure you can do a kitesurfing lesson in Isla Holbox and you will get to try kitesurfing here!

Playa Punta Cocos

We walked down to Playa Punta Cocos and it was nice. There is a beach club there which is nice to chill at. I honestly think if you have time to head down then it’s nice to visit. If you have limited time and have to choose head straight to Punta Mosquito.

What about sargassum?

We were here in April and there was some sargassum (seaweed). I can’t say that it was free of sargassum as the main Holbox beach was actually full of it. Some hotels that have private beaches were cleaning it up in front of their sections but we had to wade through it to swim at the main beach. It was really smelly and was also built up at the sunset spot at the main beach. It is sadly unavoidable and part of nature that affects the Mexican beaches from Tulum to Holbox. If you are on Isla Holbox and find that the sargassum is there head to Punta Mosquito which is almost always free of seaweed.


The sunsets on Isla Holbox are spectacular. They light up the sky in everything from bright orange to pretty pinks. Everyday is a slightly different colour. Make sure to head to Holbox beach for the best view. We sat out on the long cement pipe with some beers and enjoyed the show. Alternatively you can watch it from one of the beach bars.

The best for sunset are Bar Zomay, Escape Holbox and rooftop bars at Villas Tiburon and Spirit Holbox Hotel. Looking for a beautiful experience for sunset? Try this Mangroves Paddling Tour and Sunset, the sunsets here are just magic!

Isla Holbox street art murals

Murals are big on Holbox. Take a walk through town and wander the sandy streets. You will come across some really beautiful murals, some are fun and others convey messages about caring for the ocean and culture.


 If you are an early riser you can watch the sunrise at the harbour where you arrive on Holbox. We had every intention of this but found ourselves enjoying our stay too much to leave our room. It is on the list for next trip!  For something different check out this awesome Kayak Mangroves Sunrise Experience. It is really popular and a lovely way to experience the magic sunsets on Isla Holbox.

Best tours on Isla Holbox | Things to do Isla Holbox

Bioluminiscencia Holbox

Bioluminescence is when microorganisms swimming in the sea glow. It is triggered by a chemical reaction inside them when touched. The phenomenon of bioluminescence is strongest at Holbox between July and January, but tours run year round. You will see them best around the dark skies of the new moon while full moon is the hardest to see them as it can be quite bright. It is almost always seen however the strength varies.

This is the best tour we found to witness the bioluminiscencia Holbox is:

Bioluminescence Experience in Holbox – A group of no more than 10 people, with a certified guide, experience nighttime snorkeling tour with transfers from your accommodation on Holbox Island. Includes snorkel gear, a long wetsuit, water shoes and mosquito protection.

The 3 Island Tour Holbox

Excursion to Isla Pasión, Isla Pájaros and Cenote Yalahau

The three island tour is the most popular thing to do on Isla Holbox. You will see them advertised everywhere. They visit the same islands although can be indifferent order. You will usually visit Isla Pasión, Isla Pájaros and Cenote Yalahau.

A great 3 island tour is the Yalahau, Passion Island and Punta Mosquito Boat Tour – discover the local bird population congregating at Punta Mosquito, a huge sandbank right off the coast of Holbox Island. Enjoy the pristine white sandbar with panoramic views and flamingo flocks. Learn about the local wildlife from your guide. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Yalahau Lagoon, which was historically used by pirates and fishermen as a freshwater source. Take a dip in the large natural pool with natural spring water, surrounded by plants, trees, and shrubs. Next, head to Passion Island, a true tropical paradise, far from civilization and noise. Spot a variety of birdlife and pink flamingos in their natural habitat and enjoy the colorful waters surrounding the island.

Another option is the Private Boat to visit Holbox surroundings (3-Island Tour)

Explore Yum-Balam Nature Reserve

One of the best things to do in Holbox is to head out to Yum-Balam Nature Reserve. You’ll find it at the northeastern end of the beach, just beyond Hotel Las Nubes. A walk through the swampy reserve will have you wading across ankle-deep rivers and ducking under tangled tree branches as you spot the local wildlife (including lizards, sandpipers, and herons). The path is winding and sometimes tricky to spot, so it feels like a mini-adventure! You can also find your very own private patch of beach as you follow the coast.

Cabo Catoche

Visiting Cabo Catoche makes a great day trip from Isla Holbox. This relaxing private boat tour to Cabo Catoche with fishing and snorkeling is particularly good as you can go in a group of up to 6 to make it more affordable. You will get the opportunity to fish on board, snorkel and swim as well as enjoy a seafood lunch which is included.

If you are more interested in fishing this is a full day tour with fishing and snorkeling. Cabo Catoche is located precisely where the Gulf of Mexico ends and the Caribbean Sea begins and can only be reached by boat from Holbox. It is a semi-uninhabited island where only the host, a family of fishermen live. It is the perfect place for fishing, snorkeling and a fresh ceviche with the catch of the day.

fishing tours from Isla Holbox

Big letters

Isla Holbox has big letters right at the main Holbox Beach for you to pose with, the L is missing so you can stand in place in that spot!

Flamingo Spotting on Holbox

The best place to see flamingos on Isla Holbox is Isla de Pasion, the small island close to Holbox. You can book a boat tour to get there. The best tour we found was VIP Kayak experience in the mangroves of Holbox to get as close to the mangroves as possible.

It is possible to walk to Punta Mosquito and Punta Cocos where you also have a chance of seeing the flamingoes or take a 3 island tour that goes to the cenote where flamingoes are spotted.

Relax on the beach or in a beach club

Isla Holbox is the cutest little town and island full of stealing coastline. Find your favourite spot on the sand or in a chill beach club and settle in for the day. Enjoy the sunshine and beautiful water, drink a coconut from one of the many vendors and relax. There is nothing to do except enjoy the scene, read a book or swing in a hammock.

Whale sharks Isla Holbox

If you are in Isla Holbox during June to September you have to check out the whale sharks! They run excellent tours from Isla Holbox where you can snorkel near them. You definitely need a tour as it will be impossible on your own. It is so high on our list for our next trip as we were out of season on this trip. The tour we will be doing is the-

Whale Shark and Snorkeling Adventure from Isla Holbox-Snorkel alongside docile whale sharks during this eco-adventure on Isla Holbox. With your local guides, board a boat and set off in search of these gentle giants, keeping a lookout for other species like giant manta rays and sea turtles as you cruise. On the way back, stop near Cabo Catoche to snorkel the ‘cuevones’ reef. Continue to Santa Paula to go swimming and enjoy freshly caught ceviche before returning to Holbox. Use of all equipment, breakfast and snacks are included.

Yum-Balam Nature Reserve

Yum Balam on the south side of the island is easy to reach by buggy or bike. You can walk there in about 40 minutes. It is located out of town behind the Las Nubes Hotel. It’s free to enter and offers wildlife spotting opportunities. Yum Balam is home to 420 bird species, crocodiles, jaguars, tapirs, monkeys, and hawksbill turtles, among others.

You can walk through the nature reserve and along the beach. When you reach the large river you should stop and not go further this is the end point. Don’t try to cross the river as crocodiles have been sighted there.

Take photos all around town and the beach

There are lots of hammocks on the beach (none are located in the water any more), big chairs and cute beach clubs perfect for photos. The town is photogenic as well, sandy streets, murals and cute restaurants and markets. You won’t find it hard to capture your holiday!

Best places to eat on Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox will be a little more expensive than the main land which makes sense as it is an island. It is not ridiculously expensive though.

Street Food on Isla Holbox

Around the main square in the evenings in town you will find a street food market with a few stalls selling tacos, tortas (sandwiches), and empanadas. They are all delicious and worth trying. They do start pretty late with most only firing up their hot plates around 6pm or 7pm.

Los Tacos De Barbacoa (parque) was our favourite, we tried their quesabirria and it was excellent! Honestly we could have eaten a dozen of them between us. 35MXN for quesabirria and

Cheap restaurants in Isla Holbox

La Conquista – is a cheap little empanada restaurant which is really good. They sell a range of flavours, Mike had breakfast here most days and loved them. The empanadas range from 20MXN to 40 MXN (for seafood)

La Chozita del Purux – This is a great budget option for lunches, they do great ranches, salutes and sopas. We went for lunch after being recommended by a local. The owner is really nice you will usually find locals here.

Antojitos Kanasin – you will find this place packed with locals in the evenings after sunset. They do lots of takeaway as well. Their panunchos (25MXN) were excellent so were the sopas (30MXN) and salbutes (25MXN).

Best cochinita pibil on Isla Holbox – an excellent food option is our favourite Mexican food – cochinita pibil! We searched high and low on Isla Holbox for a good cochinita and finally found the best. Now it’s not actually a restaurant and it is only available on Sunday morning but when I tell you it is worth it I mean it. Between 7am and 11am head to the Go Mart and then towards the ferries and you will see a line up on the left hand side.

Almost every local in town will be here lining up for their weekly cochinita. The people that sell it literally sell bulk lots to restaurants (we saw the owners buying it…and we had just eaten in their stores the day before!) You can buy it as a huge torta or by kg. Mike got a torta but sadly there was no gf option for me. Afterwards I realised I could have just bought a 1/4kg and bought some tortillas but I was too late by then to go back. They sell out fast…it is worth lining up for!

El Taco Queto – This taco place is right near the night markets a street down from the beach. Tacos are around 25MXN and is always busy. It is a really popular place for both lunch and dinner.

Snacks on Isla Holbox

We went to all the supermarkets and the best was Abarrotes Bunosusa. There isn’t a huge range of choice and not many gluten free options so bring anything you really need. I could always find GF cereal, snacks and tortillas but that was it.

There is a lady running a little fruit and veg market on the road to the port and her prices are the best. The produce is usually really good and super cheap too.

Head to Go Mart for cheap snacks, they look like a 7/11. They have a hot food section up the front a hot coffee machine and slushy machine. You will find different deals each day. One day Mike got 2 hot dogs for 50MXN, the next day we got 2 nachos with hot cheese sauce for 50MXN. This is fast convenient food, not traditional or high quality. But it fills you up on a budget!

There are also a couple of great spots for a quick bite such as the focaccia shop, slices of topped focaccia and croissants were cheap, the little shop Baguette de Mary and the cute little gelato cart near the beach.

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