Holbox Beach, the hidden gem of Mexico

The hidden gem of Mexico.
The fantastic and picturesque Holbox Beach and its Village are  magical places with a perfect balance between wild nature and  a small but vibrant social life.
The car-free island is part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve and is separated from the mainland by the Yalahau lagoon, which is home to flamingos and pelicans, it also boasts rich marine life such as sea turtles, whale sharks and bioluminescent beaches.
And from Punta Coco you can admire one of the best sunsets in the world.

Beautiful and picturesque town of Holbox with its colorful houses
The colorful Holbox Village.

Where is Holbox Beach located?

Holbox Beach is located on the island of the same name in the north of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, Quintana Roo, 60 km/37 mi  northwest of  Cancún.

How to get to Holbox Beach?

To get to Holbox Beach, most people take a ferry to Holbox Island from Chiquilá, an approximately 2 hours drive from Cancun airport. Buses from downtown Cancún take 2h20 and cost around US$15. The Ferry operates every day from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm every half hour. The ferry from Chiquila to Holbox costs around US$ 7 dollars and the crossing to the island takes 30 minutes.
Another option is to fly with a Private Charter from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Cancun or Isla Mujeres.
These Private Charter flights have a maximum capacity of 5 passengers and prices range between US$ 500 and US$ 600, depending on the starting point.

From Playa del Carmen it is a 40 minute flight with a price of US$ 550.
From Cozumel it is a 45 minute flight with a price of US$ 600.
From Cancun it is a 25 minute flight with a price of US$ 500.
From Isla Mujeres it is a 30 minute flight with a price of $ 500.

holbox beach, Mexico
Holbox Beach, Mexico.

Things to do in Holbox Beach.

Bioluminescent Tours.

This spectacular phenomenon happens when a bloom of dinoflagellates, microscopic algae, occurs at sea, often in quiet bays or lagoons that trap this plankton. Under certain conditions, a chemical reaction within these organisms will produces flashes of light in the blue-green part of the spectrum, illuminating the waters and the beach when washed ashore. The southern beaches of Holbox regularly witness this event, particularly Playa Punta Cocos. Typical fare for a tour is around $20/person, the kayak tours being the best. Bioluminescence can occur at any time of the year but the better months are currently June to September.

Swimming with Whale Sharks.

Every year from mid-Mai to mid-September, the gentle giants (up to 15 metric tons) congregate off the Yucatan’s coast to feed off the seasonal plankton-rich waters forming what is currently known as the biggest worldwide aggregation of the animal. Otherwise solitary, studies have shown that some whale sharks roam as far as Brazil or the mid Atlantic Range when the plankton season is off in Yucatán. Others just wander around the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico. Expect to pay around 120 usd per person; choose a reputable operator and maintain an appropriate behavior: whale sharks should not be touched, fed, chased or harassed.

Contemplate the Pink Flamingos,

In Punta Mosquitos, north coast of Holbox. Boat tours go there but you can reach it walking, go east from ‘town’ and wade your way to the sand bar; keep walking until you see the flamingos. Beautiful walk whether you see them or not.

Just enjoy the place.

Holbox means black hole in Mayan, but it sure does look and feel more like a branch of Paradise, Inc than a hell pit! The international crowd happily flow with the local vibes and you’ll meet plenty of fine people.

Holbox Beach at night with the bioluminescent phenomenon.

Where to stay in Holbox Beach?

Accommodation prices start at around 20 usd/night

If you are looking for a nice place with good quality / price, try the beautiful and colorful Tribu Hostel. They organize different thematic nights that attract good crowds and should not be missed.
If you are looking for more tranquility, you may be interested in Villa HM Paraiso Del Mar, with a medium price.
If luxury is your thing, then choose CasaSandra Boutique Hotel.

photo of Tribu hostel in Holbox, Mexico
The colorful Tribu Hostel, Holbox, Mexico.

What does Holbox mean?

You know already that it means “black hole” in Mayan if you’ve read the previous articles. Locals say that the name come from the water of the Yalahao lagoon, which is partly dark in color due to the mangroves, and form a “black hole” in the ocean, where the fishermen make their biggest catches.

Spectacular mural of a boy with a hat in full color
Holbox wonderful Village.

When is the best time to spot Whale Sharks in Holbox Beach?

The best time to spot Whale Sharks in Holbox Beach is June to September, when they gather around this corner of the Gulf of Mexico to feast on the plankton accumulation that occurs at that time. 

Diving with Whale Shark
Whale Shark, Holbox Beach, Mexico.

How to get around Holbox Beach?

Holbox is car-free, or rather asphalt-free. The only vehicles available on the entire island are electric golf carts or bicycles. Most visitors find that the best way to get around Holbox Beach is using the later or walk. 

Electric golf cars that are used as a taxi in Holbox
Holbox, Golf Cart Taxi.

Is Holbox Beach worth visiting?

Holbox Beach is worth visiting only if you like incredible beaches, good vibes, wild nature and a – still – truly authentic Mexican vibe. Just the bus trip from Cancún, on a regular line, will show you more about the country than 10 spring breaks holed up in the touristic ghettos of the Mayan Riveria. 

Group of flamingos on beach at sunset
Holbox Pink Flamingo.

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