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Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico

By Gabriela Noguez |

Visit Holbox, a destination in the Mexican Caribbean where you can swim with whale sharks, find bioluminescent beaches, and discover natural wonders. 

The Caribbean, a magnificent littoral that covers 1,600 kilometers of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, is a dreamy destination. We have already traveled to the Dominican RepublicColombia, and to the beaches of Bacalar and Akumal, in Quintana Roo. This time, we’ll bathe in the waters of another paradise in this Mexican state: Holbox Island.

Where Is Holbox Island Located?

North of the state of Quinana Roo, in the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas, you’ll find the island of Holbox. This little treasure of the Mexican Caribbean is almost virgin  and exists in perfect harmony with its inhabitants. Given its natural resources and spectacular beauty, it’s considered one of the most outstanding destinations in Mexico.

How to Get to Holbox Island

To get to the island you need to go to the town of Chiquilá, which is located approximately two hours away from the city of Cancún and three hours away from the city of Mérida. Once there, you can board a ferry to the island every half an hour. If you prefer to drive to Chiquilá, don´t worry! The town has several public parking places where your car will be safe.

3 Activities in Holbox 

Holbox means “black hole” in Maya, but actually, this place is full of light. It is part of the Yum Balam Natural Reserve, and covers a territory of 42 kilometers. DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, offers you the best tips to enjoy your trip to Holbox.

There are many things to do in Holbox Island, but here are 3 activities you can’t miss:

#1 Ecotourism in Holbox 

Holbox offers a great variety of ecotourism activities for those who love nature and adventure. However, it is also perfect for those who simply want to rest. It’s beaches are calm and not too deep, so you’ll be able to swim or practice paddleboard without any problem.

Moreover, you can ride a bicycle around the island or explore the coast on a kayak. Most hotels lend you the necessary equipment for free for 45 minutes. You can also rent a windsurf board or snorkel equipment.

#2 Whale Shark Diving in Holbox  

In spite of its impressive name, this species of sharks is harmless. Still, whale sharks are the largest fish in the world! Between the months of May and October, they swim to the Mexican coasts to mate. For this reason, these are the ideal months to visit Holbox if you want to swim with these wondrous creatures.

In order to do it in a responsible way and return home safe, DINKtravelers recommends following these tips:

  • Swim with whale sharks accompanied by a certified guide.
  • Keep a safe distance from the whale sharks since, even though they are not agressive, they can accidentally hit you with their huge fins.
  • Try to do this activity early in the morning to avoid crowds.
  • Respect the species that inhabit the region.

#3 Bioluminescence in Holbox 

When the night falls in Holbox,  a light show in the sea awaits adventurous travelers. The spectacle is possible due to microorganisms (plankton) that emit light when fish churn the water around them.

The crystal clear waters are illuminated, as if the stars had fallen into them. In order to appreciate this gift of nature, total darkness is required. This phenomenon can be seen all year long; however, summertime is the best season for maximum visibility. There are guides who offer special tours to see bioluminescence, but if you prefer, you can walk along the coast, away from the hotel lights.

4 Places to Visit in Holbox

In Holbox, there are many places that will bring out your spirit of adventure and make you enjoy the natural environment of southeastern Mexico. Here are 4 that you should visit:

#1 Isla Pájaros  

The territory of Holbox includes Isla Pájaros (Bird Island), a natural protected area to which visitors have no access. However, it’s possible to see the species that inhabit it from afar, from an overlook located a few meters away from the area. Look carefully! You’ll spot flamingoes, pelicans, seagulls, and frigate birds sharing the habitat.

#2 Isla Pasión

If you want to visit another virgin beach, wait to see Isla Pasión (Passion Island). It’s a small island with very fine sand. Climb up the wooden overlook and enjoy nature in full splendor.

#3 Yalahau Cenote in Holbox

If you want to discover the wonders of local vegetation, visit Yalahau. This waterhole is surrounded by mangroves, which serve as a natural barrier during hurricane season and help prevent earth erosion. There you can swim with whale sharks and enjoy a bioluminescent spectacle at night.

#4 Cabo Catoche Near Holbox  

Cabo Catoche (Cape Catoche), 43 kilometers away from Holbox, is the exact point where the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico meet. There, you can visit the archaeological site of Ekab, as well as Boca Iglesia, a colonial temple considered the first sanctuary built in Latin America.

What makes Cape Catoche so interesting is that it’s practically an uninhabited island, so it’s full of plants and animals worthy of being photographed. You can get to this island from Holbox by boat. You can get more information in this link.

#1 Isla Pájaros
#2 Isla Pasión
#3 Cenote Yalahau
#4 Cabo Catoche

Recommendations While Visiting Holbox Island

  • Despite the island’s extension, the access to some places is limited, so we recommend you  take a couple of days for your visit.
  • Take some cash with you since, even though most of the stores accept credit card payments, there are some that don’t.
  • The streets in Holbox are not paved, so the way to get around is by foot, bicycle, or golf cart.
  • Since the island has a lot of virgin areas, you’ll find many different species of wildlife. Don’t hurt them or remove them from their habitat.
  • In order to keep the beaches clean, there are stores that offer discounts for tourists who hand in PET bottles full of fag ends.
  • Apart from tourism, responsible fishing is the island’s main economic activity. We recommend you try the region’s typical seafood dishes.

Now you know more about Holbox Island, start planning your trip to this paradise in  southeastern Mexico. Don’t forget to follow our tips to enjoy everything Holbox has to offer.