Take a day trip to Isla Holbox
Over the Christmas & New Year break we tried out the Holbox boat trip available through Tours Aventura (booked with Luis in the El Cuyo main square – the house with the lighthouse wallart). Nora @solotravelz was my travel buddy for the day and we were both visiting Holbox for the first time – with high expectations but not much background knowledge.
We made our way to the port to meet our Captain Luis at 7am and we left the harbour shortly after – on a day considered ‘a bit’ windy. The journey to Holbox is only 31 km and usually takes an hour, but Luis wasn’t able to get up much speed without us bouncing on the waves, so we tootled along slowly. Thankfully this meant we were able to spot and slow down in time to coast along and watch a family of dolphins swim along beside us – two adults and a baby!
By the time we reached Holbox, I was getting hungry and my telephone was showing the time as just past 10am. Holbox is in Quintana Roo which is one hour ahead during winter daylight saving time, so the journey had only taken 2 hours – and not 3 as I’d originally thought (although to be honest, my bum felt more like it had been 3!). Luis informed us we had till 1pm to be back on the boat (so 2pm going by the time on my phone) and off we went to explore the island.
To get around Holbox ‘downtown’, you can explore easily on foot, however to visit the further away and less touristy parts, you can rent golf buggy or bikes by the hour, or you can take one of the island’s yellow taxi golf carts. After a very brief discussion regarding the limited time we had and the size of the island (41km long), we opted for renting a golf buggy.
Golf buggy hire prices are pretty standard across the island at $200/hour. We rented from Gama Extreme which has a palapa hut right by the Tiburon Ballena jetty, and this worked out fine. Make sure you have the payment in cash and they’ll take an ID card from you as a deposit.
If you’re interested in bike hire, there are loads of places in town to choose from and prices vary. It usually works out at about 50$/hour.
Taxis are priciest, if you choose to do a tour they’ll charge around 250$ per person per hour – so if you’re on your own it’s not too bad, but if there are 4 of you, it’s much cheaper to hire your own buggy.
I’d heard a lot about Holbox (pronounced Hol-bosh). In fact, when I arrived in Mexico over 18 months ago, the first person I met had told me it was the most beautiful place she’d visited since she’d been travelling Mexico, and that it had to be seen to be believed. Sand tracks, no cars, brightly painted wooden houses, hammocks in the sea, a traveller vibe, great wall art, and peace and tranquility…my idea of bliss…fingers crossed it was going to live up to expectations!
First off we drove around ‘downtown’, doing photo stops at the best wall art, and then we headed to the ferry port – not much to see, but the yellow taxi golf carts lined up waiting for people getting off the ferry was funny! By now, I was starving, but thankfully Nora has some snacks as we were in too much of a rush to stop anywhere and have breakfast.
Time was ticking, so next on the list was Punta Coco. I don’t think we actually made it all the way, but we ended up at the Carolinda beach club, where the beach had a totally wild feel about it. We spent some time chilling out in the free hammocks (no drink purchase necessay!), swinging on the swings, wandering in the white sand and swimming in the shallow green waters. There are some really great photo opportunities here so if you’re a budding photographer (or just an Instagram fan) this place is worth a visit. By the time we were leaving Carolinda beach, I was much more relaxed and although our visit to Holbox would soon be over, I’d stopped stressing so much about seeing EVERYTHING…it’s just not possible! Better to relax and enjoy!!!
We U-turned back into town and stopped for lunch (by this stage I’d munched through my finger nails and was ready to eat my own arm) at a little French café called Cafecito. The sign outside said ‘Not fast food’ but I asked if it was possible to get take out as we had to return to the boat in 30 minutes, and they happily agreed. The salmon and cream cheese croissant was superb, as was the melon water – and I think it cost about $100 (I remember thinking it was much cheaper than I’d expected!). It was super speedy too so we actually sat and ate it in the café. All in all, a very nice experience.
And then we had another little wander in town, bought an ice-cream, tootled back to return the golf buggy (and to retrieve my driving licence) and headed back to the pier where Luis was waiting in the boat.
The return journey was much less choppy (as we were travelling with the wind), and we sped along happily. No dolphins this time, but sting rays instead! We stopped off at ‘La Isla Bonita’ – a shallow area of turquoise crystalline water somewhere in between Holbox and El Cuyo. The experience of standing waist high in water in the middle of the sea is just surreal! Coming back into El Cuyo, the kiteboarders were out in force so we whizzed past them performing tricks and turns for us, and we were back in El Cuyo port for 3.15pm.
SUMMARY TOUR COSTS & INFORMATION
This trip with Luis (who speaks a little English) at Tours Aventura costs $3000 and the boat can take up to 5 people. Please note that the boat is a standard and clean fishing boat which isn’t kitted out for tourists, but Luis is a safe and confident captain who rides the waves well! He leaves port at 7am and returns at 3.15pm. All in all, I’d recommend the day – and yes, Holbox was as good as I’d hoped and is definitely worth a visit…I’ll be going back! Aventura Tours do a number of other boat trips from El Cuyo – click here for more information.
Nuscaa Experiences (a newly established tour provider in El Cuyo) have two different offerings for Holbox. They do a one-way tour via Holbox to Cancun for those who want to make the most of their travel day (or who need to be in Cancun for an early flight), or they also do a day trip package to Holbox that uses a local Captain, includes all of the above – plus the Yalahau cenote, pick up from accommodation, information, map and recommendations on what’s best to do on Holbox and a ceviche picnic on the return journey. For more information and prices, please click here.
If you have your own car, you can drive to Chiquila (it takes approximately 1 hour 45 minutes), leave the car there and take the ferry to the island. There are several car parks costing $50 half day or $100 for 24 hours. The ferry takes about 30 minutes and costs $140/adult, $90/child. Ferries start leaving Chiquila from 6am and go approx every two hours depending on the season. Return ferries leave on the hour from 4pm until 8pm, and then the final one at 9.30pm. During peak vacation dates the ferry is hourly. Click here for up to date ferry times and prices.
If you need any further information, or you’d like to pre-book a tour; please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org