Holbox Island is a true paradise island just a ferry ride away from the mainland of Yucatan, Mexico. This white sand island with no paved roads really gives you the relaxing vibes you’re looking for during your vacation. Amazing street art, stunning beaches, the possibility to swim with whale sharks, see bioluminescent plankton at night, or just relaxing with a coconut in a hammock, Isla Holbox has it all! Read in this blog post all the best things to do on Holbox Island!
Getting to Holbox / Ferry Holbox
There is only one option to get to Holbox Island, and that’s with the ferry from Chiquila. You can find all the details, up to date time schedule and prices here.
Best time to go to Holbox
Isla Holbox has a tropical climate with high temperatures throughout the year. So theoretically you can visit Holbox Island year round. But January through March are the best months to visit Holbox, the temperature is nice and it’s usually dry. Although, this is the peak season and prices will be higher.
November and December are great months too and a bit cooler, but as this is the end of the rainy season you might get a little wet during your stay.
Try to avoid the summer months: it’s not the best time to visit Holbox Island, it’s hot and very humid, and the mosquitos are especially hungry. However, if you are coming to Holbox for the whale sharks it is the best period between June and September.
We’ve visited Holbox Island in June and it was indeed very humid, but also quiet with tourists. I was bitten by mosquitos a lot, therefore don’t forget mosquito repellent!
How to get around?
The best part about Isla Holbox is that there are no cars or paved roads. Transportation in Isla Holbox is limited to walking, golf carts, ATV, or bicycles.
Cinematic travel video Holbox
During our time on Holbox Island, we’ve made a short travel documentary about Isla Holbox and the to do’s. Watch the video below and let us know if you’d like to see more of these kind of videos!
Holbox street art
Holbox Island is, together with the blue pearl Chefchaouen in Morocco, one of the most colorful places we have seen in the world. There are beautiful murals in every street, it is like walking in an open-air museum. Since 2014, when the first edition of Mexico’s International Public Art Festival took place in Holbox, the island changed in bright and inviting murals. Ever since the innovative and intriguing art has become an integral part of the island’s landscape and is truly worth to visit!
Getting there: From Chiquila you have to take the ferry to Holbox Island. The ferry goes every half an hour and the costs are 140 per person for a single journey.
Entrance fee: Of course the street art and murals are free to visit.
Best time to go for photos: In the morning or afternoon when there are no harsh shadows and there are fewer people around.
Photo tip: Don’t photograph the murals when there is direct sunlight on it, or too harsh shadows on the floor. It will kind of ruin your photo. A cloudy day is not what you want on Holbox island, but is actually the best weather circumstances to photograph the murals because you don’t have direct sunlight.
The wooden bridge at Isla Holbox beach
It might be the first time that this spot is mentioned in a blog post, but we really like this wooden bridge and the depth and leading lines it give to a picture. You can do several things on this bridge to frame your picture in and take advantage of the leading lines. It makes a beach shot on Holbox island more interesting than seeing only the beach and the sea. And you can use the bridge as a kinda catwalk, great for the perfect Instagram shot 😉
Getting there: At the opposite of Villas HM Paraiso del Mar you will find this bridge towards the beach.
Entrance fee: Free.
Best time to go for photos: Early in the morning or during sunset for some nice colors in the sky.
Photo tip: Frame the bridge in the middle of your shot to take the best advantage of the leading lines of the bridge.
Holbox Punta Mosquito
Punta Mosquito is a sandbank where you have the chance to see and photograph flamingos! It will give you a little bit of feeling as if you’re in the Maldives, with unending views of turquoise water. This place is pretty cool when you have a drone and you can capture the sandbank from birds eye perspective. If you want to capture the flamingos you’ll definitely need a tele lens as they are far away.
Getting there: Go to the end of Holbox island, with a bike, or walking, or with a golf car. There you have to walk a little further to enter the sandbank. You may find the flamingos at the end of the sandbank.
Entrance fee: Free.
Best time to go for photos: Early in the morning when the sun is still low, or in the afternoon before or during sunset. Take a towel with you to put your backpack on because the sand might be wet.
Photo tip: Don’t forget your ND filters! If you have a drone you’ll capture some beautiful shots too!
Swim with Whale sharks
If you’re in the right season between June and mid-September, swimming with whale sharks is a must do when you’re visiting Holbox island! It is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with them in the open sea. We went to Holbox Island in June and swimming with the whale sharks was for sure THE HIGHLIGHT of our time in Mexico. After a two hour boat ride from the coast of Holbox you will arrive on the open sea where the captains are searching for the whale sharks. As soon as they found them, they will tell you to jump in the water in couples, 2 persons at a time. You get so much adrenaline from the moment you jump in the water and see these enormous creatures swimming underneath, or even beside you! For us it was a truly magical moment.
Are you wondering if this activity is ethical? I can’t give you a fully 100% true answer, but what I do know is that there are strict regulations regarding the number of people who can swim with the whale sharks every day. Also the rules regarding the encounters are strictly enforced, as you’re forbidden to touch them.
Getting there: You need to get to the pier where your tour company will await you. Before you board they will explain a few things, and before you know you’ll be off to the whale sharks!
Costs: We choose to go with Holbox whale shark tours The costs vary per season, but be prepared to pay around $120 for this half day tour. Ours was including lunch, water, life jacket and snorkel gear. The tour we did also visited another island along the coast of Holbox.
Watch the video we made during our experience swimming with whale sharks!
Watch the Holbox bioluminescence
The magic of mother nature or with other words; Nature’s firework! Have you ever seen bioluminescence? Let’s start with a little explanation about bioluminescence if you really have no idea what I’m talking about. Bioluminescence is light produced by a chemical reaction within a living organism, same as fireflies on land can do for example. But in the sea are a whole lot of organisms living who can produce light. There are some locations in the world where you can see bioluminescence. As far as I know, the water must be very shallow and warm. Isla Holbox has a perfect beach where you can spot bioluminescence for free. But there are also tours offered to watch the bioluminescence further away from the coast in shallow water. We did both, but our tour was sponsored by the company. And to be honest, the experience is way better if you go by yourself to Punta Cocos beach. Big chance you will be the only one at the beach so you can enjoy the sky full of stars above you and the magical sparkling bioluminescence plankton below you.
Getting there: The beach where you can watch the bioluminescence is called Punta Cocos. You can get there by bike or golf car. Just ask the driver to wait at the beach or pick you up later. There is nothing else going on at this beach, no beach club or other buildings, so it’s completely dark. The best conditions to watch the bioluminescence!
Entrance fee: You only have to pay the driver of the golf car, acces to the beach is free.
Chill in the hammocks
In Mexico you will find on almost every corner a hammock. It is one of the most relaxing things to do when you’re on vacation. Just chilling in a hammock with a cocktail or a good book. On Holbox island you will find many hammocks, there is even one build in the shallow water along the beach. The perfect spot to cool off after a beach walk. You will also find hammocks at beach clubs, or just somewhere in between two palmtrees. The best things is, they are for free! Of course you have to buy a drink when you’re at the beach club, but that’s obvious 🙂
Watch the sunset in Holbox
One of the best things to do in our opinion is watching the sunset on the beach. It’s free, it’s beautiful and it’s relaxing. Taking a moment for yourself or enjoying the time with your loved one, evaluating the day, reflecting on your life and slowly seeing the sun disappearing in the sea. During this sunset on Holbox island, Atiba and I made the promise to each other to watch more sunsets than Netflix. One year later we almost didn’t miss a sunset anymore, and our Netflix subscription is canceled as we have no time anymore to watch it. There is too much beautiful things going on outside 🙂
On Holbox Island you can watch the sunset perfectly as the island is facing west. If you are lucky to have a clear evening you will have a perfect sunset with the most amazing bright colors. Buy some drinks, or like we did, order some sushi take away, and enjoy your food in combination with a magical sunset.
Getting there: Any beach facing the west.
Tips to make sunset pictures: Close your aperture up to F9 depending the amount of light, keep your ISO as low as possible (200 for example), and your shutter speed somewhere around 1/500 sec. If you want to read more about the basic settings as aperture, shutter speed and ISO read this blog post. You can also shoot a time lapse during sunset. Read more about how to shoot a time lapse in this blog post.
We hope you enjoyed reading our tips about Holbox Island. If you’re looking for more inspiration to go in Yucatan, read these blog posts: