Holbox Island Visitors Guide [y]

[y] Holbox Island Travel Guide

Travel Guide to Holbox Island (Isla Holbox, one of the most spectacular islands near Cancun and Riviera Maya. Amazing small hotels, unforgettable sunsets and landscapes to relax. Holbox Mexico Island is Quintana Roo´s northernmost island. This spectacular island near Cancun and Riviera Maya is the best-kept secret for your vacations. It is a tranquil refuge perfect for nature lovers with amazing white sandy beaches located in the Caribbean Sea.

Holbox in the Mayan language means “black hole”. It is part of the Yum Balam ecological reserve, separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon. It can be reached by a combination of minibus and ferry from Cancun or by small plane directly from the airport. Holbox Island is where the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico meet, making the sea a turquoise color and great for snorkeling and swimming with Whale Sharks in Holbox. The island boasts a long stretch of untouched coastline. During the summer months, the rare Hawksbill Turtle comes to the shores of Holbox to lay its eggs.

Holbox island is roughly 26 miles long and less than ¼ of a mile wide in most parts. The only town on the island is also known as Holbox. Its sandy streets are bordered by wooden houses painted in lively Caribbean colors with palm-thatched roofs and restaurants. The population of Isla Holbox is about 1,500 people. These friendly and welcoming indigenous are mostly fishermen, therefore the seafood sold in local restaurants is fresh and delicious!

It’s hard to believe that a treasure like this could be so close to the megalithic tourist destination of Cancun. This is a place to unwind and hide from the resort hustle. Everything in town is within walking distance. The jade-green waters that bathe the shores of this island are calm, shallow and swimmer-friendly.

What makes Holbox Island really famous is its seasonal snorkeling tours to see Whale Sharks and Manta Rays. The island can brag of being the world’s largest aggregation of these species. A marine park has been created to protect the sharks while they are in the area.

Holbox Mexico Caribbean Island is one of nature’s beauties of the State of Quintana Roo, an authentic paradise that waits for you to discover it! Find your hotel in Holbox here.

What to do in Holbox?

  • Rent a golf cart and visit the island.
  • Take a tour and swim with Whale Sharks (please note this is a seasonal activity, May to August).
  • Have dinner in a small, original restaurant on the island.
  • Watch the amazing sunsets in Holbox!
  • Snorkel in Holbox.
  • Go birdwatching to observe some exotic birds, such as pelicans and flamingos in Holbox. It is a MUST at sunset (we HIGHLY recommend you use insect repellent in the afternoon).
  • Take a tour of Isla Pajaros.
  • Take a tour to Isla Contoy.
  • Take a tour to Yalahau Lagoon.

Ready to go? Have a look at all our hotel deals in Holbox.

Top 5 Activities in Holbox

Original top activities on Holbox Island such as Whale Shark tours as well as Birds Island and Passion Island tours. Holbox is a beautiful island for people who love nature and adventure activities. In Holbox, you will find the ideal environment for those looking for pure relaxation in a virgin environment and participating in ecological activities. On Holbox Island, you can ride a golf cart and discover the exuberant vegetation and appreciate the wide variety of wildlife that hides amongst the bushes, such as crocodiles and exotic birds that are native to this paradisiac island.

One of the greatest things about Holbox Island is the capability to mix the comforts of modern life as well as the warmth of local people with the wildlife that encompasses it all.

TOP 5 ACTIVITIES IN HOLBOX

  1. HOLBOX WHALE SHARK TOUR“Swim alongside the largest fish in the sea”

What is the Whale Shark?

The Whale Shark is the largest fish in the world. It can grow up to around 15 meters (50 feet) and can weigh up to ten tons. Remarkably, it can live up to around 140 years of age and usually be seen in large groups close to the water’s surface.

Whale Sharks come to the coast of Yucatan and Quintana Roo México to feed. The Mexican Caribbean is one of the few places in the world where Whale Sharks group to feed. Other areas where Whale Sharks typically group are the coast of Australia and the Philippines.

The Tour

Depending on the package you want, the departure from Holbox dock is usually at 7am. You will be guided out to the sea where Whale Sharks are, and you will have roughly 1 hour in the water with them. You will be out at sea for just over 4 hours. After you have swum with Whale Sharks, you will be taken to fish (optional) and enjoy a tasty ceviche.

Whale Shark Season

The official season is from June 1st to September 15th. During the months of June to September, sea currents from the Gulf of Mexico meet with the waters of the Caribbean Sea and create the highest concentrations of Plankton in the world, generating the ideal feeding grounds for Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.

Prices (approx):

There exist 3 options for Whale Shark Tours:

  1. Holbox Whale Shark Tour without Transportation: 100 USD per person. It includes boat transportation, guided snorkeling tour with Whale Sharks, snorkeling equipment, box lunch and bottle of water.
  2. Holbox Whale Shark Tour with Transportation: 150 USD per person. It includes pick up from your hotel in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Cozumel, boat transportation, guided snorkeling tour with Whale Sharks, snorkeling equipment, box lunch and bottle of water. To reserve, please click here.
  3. Whale Shark Tour with Air Transportation: from Cancun 310 USD per person; Cozumel 300 USD per person; from Playa del Carmen 295 USD per person. Prices are per person and for groups of 4-5 people. Tour includes boat transportation, guided snorkeling tour with Whale Sharks, snorkeling equipment, box lunch and bottle of water.

Recommendations & Tips

  • If you suffer from seasickness, please make sure to bring some pills with you as you will be on a small boat for several hours.
  • Bring sunglasses, hat, towel and sunblock.
  • Please use bio-degradable sunblock.
  • Water is provided, but we recommend taking an extra bottle.
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • Underwater camera.
  1. VISIT BIRDS ISLAND & PASSION ISLAND“World Class birdwatching in the Gulf of Mexico”

During this tour, you will be taken to some of the most visually beautiful islands in the world. This tour takes you to 2 of the small islands close to Holbox. At Isla Pajaros (Bird Island) and Isla Passion (Passion Island), you will be able to see flamingos, cormorants, grey and white pelicans, crocodiles and sometimes dolphins.

  • Times: daily departure at 9am and 2pm.
  • Duration of Tour: 3 hours approx.
  • Price per person: 108 USD.
  1. CABO CATOCHE TOUR“Snorkel in some of the clearest waters in the word”

Cabo Catoche is located just 43 km on the eastern tip of Isla Holbox where the water of the Caribbean Sea meets the Gulf of Mexico. Here you will find stunning beaches and magnificent landscapes. This area is famous for its shallow waters and excellent snorkeling. The sea at “Los Cuevones” is only around 2 meters deep and makes for perfect snorkeling where you will be able to see turtles, manta rays, octopi, and lobsters.

  • Times: Departs daily at 7am returning at 1pm.
  • Duration of Tour: 6 hours approx.
  • Prices per person: 82 USD.
  1. WATCH THE FLAMINGOS BEFORE SUNSET“A totally amazing experience”

Holbox Island is one of the few places in the world where you can see these amazing birds living in their own environment.

Holbox is a very small island; however, we recommend you rent a golf cart and take a trip around the island. The best time to leave is roughly two hours before sunset. It is an amazing natural scenery that you will never forget. If you are not sure about where the flamingos are we recommend you ask local people or the concierge of your hotel.

Recommendations & Tips

  • Take your camera.
  • Use a lot of insect repellent.
  • We also recommend you take a towel or some pants to protect you from mosquito bites. The closer to sunset, the more mosquitoes appear and bite.
  • We highly recommend you go back to your hotel at least 1 hour before sunset, since it is a natural place and there’s no light.

Warning: Don’t enter into the sea, or into places where there’s no one around. Remember you are in the jungle and you may find a crocodile.

  1. AGUA SPA & YOGA CENTRE BY CASA LAS TORGUGAS“Relax, unwind & recharge at Agua Spa”

The Agua Spa located in the quaint hotel of Casa Las Tortugas is famous on Holbox Island as being the #1 place to relax and wash away the stresses of life. Its concept is based on the book by Elizabeth Gilberts “Eat, Pray & Love”, except it features an exclusive harmonizing package called “Eat, Love & Yoga” – a personalized plan to ensure ultimate relaxation and pampering.

  • Opening Times: 8am – 7pm.
  • Contact information: Telephone (+52) 984 875 2129 Twitter @HolboxHotel
  • Address: Calle Igualidad, Holbox.

Best 10 Restaurants in Holbox

Best restaurants on Holbox Island, including Mexican and traditional specialties. The best restaurants in Holbox are in the main square in the center of the village. In Holbox, you will find several restaurants from Mexican to international with first-class service and a lively atmosphere. Holbox has a rustic style and you will find that many of the restaurants feature terraces or open areas to enjoy the fresh air and a great view of the quaint village.

Most of the restaurants in Holbox include bars, which are used by the locals and tourists as their gathering spots. In Holbox you won’t find many restaurants, but they all have excellent service and high-quality dishes.

BEST 10 RESTAURANTS IN HOLBOX

  1. CASA NOSTRA RESTAURANT“Cozy Italian restaurant with amazing views of the ocean”

The famous restaurant Casa Nostra is located on the beach in front of Las Palapas Hotel. This classy small restaurant offers some extremely tasty meals at great prices! The Italian chef is well known throughout the island for his Cheesecake, which is simply irresistibly perfect.

  • Type of food: Mediterranean.
  • Opening times: Every day Breakfast 7.30am – 11.15am; Lunch/Snack Bar 12-6pm; Dinner 6pm – 10pm.
  • Price per person: 20 USD – 30 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 994 487 2121
  • Address: Las Palapas Hotel, Av. Morelos and the Beach, Holbox.
  1. LOS PELEONES HOLBOX“Worlds best chocolate brownie with chocolate chip ice-cream”

Los Peleones or “The Wrestlers” offers freshly homemade meals with traditional flavors. The décor is uniquely quirky with vibrant colors and paintings celebrating Lucha Libre. Some of the house specials include: Champagne Fish, Tagliatelle with Bacon & Tomato, and of course we cannot forget to mention the famous Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Chip ice-cream.

  • Type of food: Mexican/Seafood/International.
  • Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday 8.30am – 11pm.
  • Price per person: 10 USD – 40 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 994 120 9685
  • Address: right across from the Main SquareHolbox.
  1. RESTAURANTE LA GUAYA“A charming restaurant with outstanding food & service”

La Guaya is a restaurant in Holbox well-known for its wide variety of organic food, including their house specials Apple, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad and the Lobster Ravioli. The Italian head chef perfectly combines the traditional techniques of Italian home cooking with an interesting Mexican twist.

  • Type of food: Italian/Organic.
  • Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday 8.30am – 11pm.
  • Price per person: 20 USD – 40 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 875 2026
  • Address: Calle Palomino, Plaza El Pueblito, Holbox.
  1. MANDARINA RESTAURANT & BEACH CLUB “Kind of place you see in glossy travel magazines”

Mandarina is a beachfront luxurious and rustic restaurant at Casa Las Tortugas Hotel. It is perfectly located among stunning views of the blue sea, swaying palm trees and hammocks. The food here is French with a hint of Mexico – don’t miss out on the homemade habanero salsa!

  • Type of food: Organic.
  • Opening times: Everyday 6pm – 10.30pm.
  • Price per person: 10 USD – 30 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 487 2129
  • Address: Calle Palomino, Plaza El Pueblito, Holbox.
  1. LOS PELICANOS“Perfect choice for a romantic dinner or family gathering”

Perfectly located a few steps away from the Main Square, this Mediterranean restaurant offers excellent food in oversized portions at a great price. Famous for its seafood dishes they also pride themselves on serving the best lasagna in town! A must for pasta lovers.

  • Type of food: Mediterranean.
  • Opening times: Everyday 8.30pm – 10.30pm.
  • Price per person: 10 USD – 30 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 875 2026
  • Address: Calle Palomino, Main Plaza, Holbox.
  1. CARIOCAS PIZZAS HOLBOX“Quite possibly the tastiest pizza in Mexico!”

Who would have thought you would find great pizza on an island in the Gulf of Mexico? Well, at Cariocas Pizza Restaurant you can and they serve the best pizza in Holbox! Located in the heart of Holbox, this is the best place to have pizza. This is the perfect place to end the day after swimming with Whale Sharks or relaxing on the beach.

  • Type of food: Italian.
  • Opening times: Everyday 4.30pm – 10.30pm.
  • Price per person: 10 USD – 40 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 114 7101
  • Address: Calle Igualdad (close to Casa Las Tortugas Hotel), Holbox.
  1. RESTAURANTE CASA LUPITA“Authentic Mexican food”

If you are in Holbox and are looking for a Mexican restaurant that serves delicious and traditional food, then Casa Lupita is a perfect choice. The best Mexican food in Holbox can be found at this small traditional restaurant. Many people rave about the Chicken Burrito covered with a masterfully crafted Mole Sauce!

  • Type of food: Mexican.
  • Opening times: Everyday 4.30pm – 10.30pm.
  • Price per person: 10 USD – 40 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 875 2017
  • Address: Right across from the Main SquareHolbox.
  1. LE JARDIN“Oh la la… A slice of Paris on the sandy roads of Holbox”

Le Jardin Bakery is the #1 ranked the best restaurant by Trip Advisor in Holbox. Every traveler that visits Holbox has to visit it at least once to try the delicious coffee and the scrumptious French pastries. Although the menu is large, some of their house favorites are the Nutella and Banana Muffins, Chocolate Croissants and the Ham and Cheese Sandwich. A definite must!

  • Type of food: French Bakery.
  • Opening times: Wed – Fri & Sun 8am – 12noon and 5.30pm – 8pm; Sat 8am-1noon.
  • Price per person: 1 USD – 5 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 875 2331
  • Address: Calle Lisa, Holbox.
  1. EL CHAPULIM“A cozy Mexican Bistro serving gourmet meals”

El Chapulim is possibly the most popular restaurant amongst locals and visitors. Here you can enjoy big hearty meals or light snacks. All decorations at El Chapulim are made from recycled paper, giving this restaurant that little more character and charm. This is a “No Menu” restaurant; they have four options depending on the chef. The most popular by a long way is the Steak with Mushroom Sauce.

  • Type of food: Mexican.
  • Opening times: Monday – Saturday 6pm – 11pm.
  • Price per person: 10 USD – 30 USD.
  • Phone Number: (+52) 984 137 6069
  • Address: Av. Tiberon and Av. Damero,  Holbox.

Top 5 Bars and Nightclubs in Holbox

Top bars and nightclubs on Holbox Island that Mayan Explore recommends you.

When the sun goes down, nightlife on Holbox Island starts. You should definitely enjoy music and some drinks in the most famous bars. Holbox can give you everything you are looking for, from a romantic dinner in front of the sea, or dance to some Mexican Caribbean rhythms.

At night, local people in Holbox go out for a walk and meet with their friends and talk over a cold beer or coffee in a bar or coffee shop. The main square is the central point of nightlife in Holbox. You can choose among restaurants, hotels, and bars that offer you a typical Caribbean night especially during the weekend.

TOP 5 BARS ON HOLBOX ISLAND       

  1. HABANA NIGHTS“Cozy Caribbean fun at Habana Nights”

For those looking to kick back and enjoy a few cold beers or a tropical margarita, then this is the bar for you. With a Caribbean feeling, it makes for the ultimate end to a perfect day relaxing in Holbox.

  • Opening & Closing times: 7pm – 11pm.
  • Type of Music: Caribbean/Cuban.
  • Address: Main Plaza, Holbox.
  1. TRIBU HOSTEL“Party the night away at Tribu Hostal”

On weekends, the staff of this hostel organizes parties at the main bar. Every night they have something happening, including Salsa Nights, Tequila Nights and YouTube Nights. We recommend you visit the hostel and ask for their Saturday party nights.

  • Opening & Closing times: 7pm -11pm.
  • Type of Music: Pop/Caribbean.
  • Address: Av. Pedro Joaquin Coldwell #19 Holbox. 
  1. 3.TIKI TIKI HOLBOX“Amazing views of the main square”

A favorite amongst locals and tourists. This 2nd-floor bar offers a trendy mix of chill-out and lounge music and offers superb views of the small town and main square. This is a great example of laid back Caribbean living. Local DJs can often be found here spinning disks.

  • Opening & Closing times: 7pm – 11pm.
  • Type of Music: Chill-out/Lounge.
  • Address: Main Plaza, Holbox.
  1. LA ISLA“Enjoy an ice-cold beer at this great laid back bar and restaurant as well as some fresh seafood”

This famous bar/restaurant is one of the best places on the island for fresh seafood and its extensive variety of national and international beverages. This is the perfect place for a night out with your partner or for a few drinks between friends.

  • Opening & Closing times: 11am – 9pm.
  • Type of Music: Caribbean.
  • Address: on the beach, just past Hotel Mawimbi, Holbox. 
  1. RAICES BEACH CLUB & MARINA“Cold beers on the beach, life doesn’t get any better than that”

Located on one of the finest beaches in Holbox, this bar/restaurant is the perfect choice for relaxing on the beach with friends and family under the moon and stars. This is a bar not to be missed.

  • Opening & Closing times: 11am – 9pm.
  • Type of Music: Caribbean.
  • Address: on the beach, just past Hotel Mawimbi, Holbox.