México is a land of tremendous diversity, colour and vibrancy. From the hustle and bustle of México City to sleepy towns full of lagoons and cenotes. México is also home to world class beaches and islands that rival any found in the Caribbean in terms of natural beauty, pace of life and of course those indescribable Caribbean vibes.
Isla Holbox, pronounced more like “Holbosh” if you want to sound like a legit traveller, is the perfect blend of slow living, stunning beaches, fantastic food and and that certain “Je ne sais quoi” that is hard to put a finger on, but you can sense from the moment your ferry pulls in to port. For one, there are virtually no roads on the island, so locals buzz around in quads, motorcycles, and golf carts. Giant pot holes the size of a small car dot the dusty roads, often filled with recent rain waters, and seemingly sources unknown. Trust me, when you go you’ll know. This almost sounds like a criticism, but it is exactly the promise of what island life should be – a little inconvenient, a lot of relaxation and an opportunity to truly disconnect from daily grind we call life in the modern world.
Our four day vacation from a vacation began in the blazing sun. Each day the sun rises, and soon after the heatwave is sure to follow. My advise: get up early, catch the sunrise then enjoy a quiet breakfast while planning out which piece of paradise to set up camp on for the day. Isla Holbox makes like simple. Eat, Beach, Beer, and Repeat. There is a local grocer and beer/liqour store on the main road which makes packing a lunch easy and convenient. Trust me, this travelhack will save you a small fortune and keep your energy level up under the midday sun.
It’ll also mean you’ll have more pesos to blow on late night taco stands, cocktails, and fresh sea food sourced in the very waters you basked in all day long. But make sure you take the time to sit on the beach with a cerveza to enjoy the incredible sunset each night. Keep an eye out for resident dolphins who like to put on a show to awe-struck onlookers, making the sunsets even more magical.
Should you fancy a fiesta, it may take a little effort to track down, but for the inspired and well lubricated, it is certainly in the realm of possibility. Take in a night of dancing in the moonlight with a piña colada, mojito or whatever your maximum chill the f*ck out drink of choice may be.
When to go: August to mid November is low season which is ideal for those looking to have as much of the island to themselves as possible. From what I can tell, this is precisely the reason you should come to a place like this.
How to get there
Buses from all the main towns will take you directly to the ferry port in Chiquila, where ferries run every half hour. Return buses are timetabled in accordance with the ferries making for an easy transfer.
What will it cost
Bus prices vary depending on where you’re coming from and how far in advance you book it. A one-way ticket from Tulum booked the day before cost 280 pesos. You can buy your return ticket in advance or at the port on Isla Holbox when you finally decide to leave. Grab a ticket for the ferry from any of the stands at the port – they all charge the same price of 140 pesos each way.
An average daily budget of less than 500 pesos will get you a nice place to stay and all the food and beer you need to enjoy the slow pace of island life.
Where to stay
In Isla Holbox, you can find accommodations to suit your budget. From five star hotels, stunning beach front boutiques, or cozy cabanas but naturally for this island get away, we opted for a simpler option.
Ida y Vuelta offers a range of accommodation options from hammocks and camping to dorms and private cabañas. This eco-friendly place is perfectly located just a few minutes stroll to the beach, and offers an incredible breakfast consisting of homemade cakes, coffee, and fresh juices all included in the price of your stay. You can also opt to add a little extra to set you up for the day, with a choice of egg based dishes and fruit bowls.
What to eat
If you like sea food, Isla Holbox is the place for you. There are loads of restaurants in town and along the beach that serve up incredible fresh fish every day. Our favourite was a tropical beachfront restaurant adequately named ‘Holbox Dream’. It’s a super relaxed atmosphere with loungers and cushions along the beach, and the ceviche and fish tacos are to die for!
If you’re looking for something cheaper and more authentic, there’s a great little Mexican food place that opens up from 9pm, about 200m down the road from Ida y Vuelta. It’s run by friendly locals after the church service each night – be sure to try the salbutes and sopas.