Isla Holbox is a true paradise island just a ferry ride away from the mainland of Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. This beautiful island with no paved roads really gives you the relaxing tropical vibes you’re looking for during your vacation. Amazing street art, stunning white sand beaches, the possibility to swim with whale sharks, see bioluminescent plankton at night, or just relax with a coconut in a hammock. Isla Holbox Mexico has it all! Read in this blog post all the best things to do on Isla Holbox!
BEST THINGS TO DO ISLA HOLBOX
Swim with Whale sharks
If you’re in the whale shark season between June and mid-September, then swimming with whale sharks from Holbox is a must do! It is one of the few places in the world where you can swim with them in the open sea. Another place in Mexico where you can swim with whale sharks as well is Isla Mujeres, but from Holbox it’s a much better experience!
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!
We choose to go with this Whale shark Tour which was 7 hours of unforgettable experience! The tour is including lunch, water, life jacket and snorkel gear and we also visited another island along the coast of Holbox and spotted flamingos!
Watch the video we made during our experience swimming with whale sharks!
Admire the 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.
Watch the stars at Punta Cocos
Punta Cocos is located on the most south western tip of the island and is some of the less visited beaches of Holbox. It is a bit of effort to get here, you will need a bicycle or golf cart. But you will be rewarded with a beautiful and quiet beach. During the day you can relax here, but when it gets dark, Punta Cocos is some of the best spots on Holbox island to watch the stars and see bioluminescent plankton! More about that hereafter. When we went to Punta Cocos to watch the bioluminescent plankton, we were impressed by the clear view on the stars. And while shooting a long exposure of the night sky , we even saw a shooting star! Of course we made a wish Make it a romantic evening and take a rug, some snacks and drinks and enjoy being away from it all.
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.
Explore Punta Mosquito sandbank
Punta Mosquito is a sandbank on the northern tip of Holbox island where you’ll have the chance to see flamingos! It will give you the feeling as if you’re in the Maldives, with unending views of crystal clear water. The turquoise water is so nicely calm that it is the perfect place to swim. If you want to capture the flamingos you’ll definitely need a zoom lens as they are far away.
Read everything about Punta Mosquito in this complete guide
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.
Photo tip: Don’t forget your ND filters! If you have a drone you’ll capture some beautiful shots too!
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.
Chill in the Isla Holbox sea 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 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, access to the beach is free.
Have a drink at one of the coolest rooftop bars on Holbox island
Alma Bar is one of the coolest rooftop bars on Holbox island with an incredible view on the beautiful turquoise sea. With hammocks and relax spots this bar has it all. It is a great spot to watch the sunset and have a cocktail. The bar is located in hotel Villas Tiburon, you can walk via the stairs of the hotel to the bar where you will be greeted by the happy staff. Family hour in the bar is from 11 AM until 3 PM, but after 3 PM only adults are welcome.
Do the three islands tour
If you’re in for a boat tour then one of the best things to do on Isla Holbox is doing the three island tour. During this tour You will see the beautiful Yalahau Lagoon which is surrounded by mangroves. A true natural paradise. On the shore of the lagoon you will visit the natural pool Ojo de Agua which has unbelievable crystal clear water. The next visit is Morena Island, also called Isla Pájaros, which is the home of more than 140 species of birds. You can’t walk on this island as its highly protected natural area. Your last stop is Isla Pasión, a tiny little deserted beach with an abundance of bright pink seashells. From this beach you’ll have a great view of the lagoon and Isla Holbox.
Watch the sunset on Holbox island
One of the best things to do is watching the sunset on the beach. It’s free, it’s beautiful and it’s relaxing. Take a moment for yourself or with your loved one, evaluate the day, reflect on life and just enjoy the moment. Any beach facing west on Holbox island is a great spot to watch the sunset. And how relaxing is it to bring a blanket, some drinks and eventually take away food, and enjoy the sunset. We love these simple but beautiful moments during traveling. On this picture we took on the beach of Holbox, we had take away sushi and some drinks from the supermarket. It was some of the most memorable evenings on Holbox island. Relaxing, in the moment and one with nature.
How to get to Holbox island
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 island
Isla Holbox has a tropical climate with hot temperatures throughout the year. So theoretically you can visit Holbox Island year round. But January through March are the best months for visiting Isla Holbox as the temperature are 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 in Isla Holbox
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.
Tours to explore Holbox island
If you want to explore Isla Holbox then there are some great options to do this. All of the tours mentioned below include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides, lunch and the entrance fees. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Full day tour around Isla Holbox including lunch. During this day tour you will explore the quiet beaches of Holbox with the amazing crystal clear water. You will be picked up from your hotel, wander the picturesque streets of the island and visit the Yalahau cenote.
- Whale shark swimming tour from Isla Holbox. Swim amongst these gentle giants and experience an unforgettable 7 hour day tour from Isla Holbox.
- Holbox Island Full-Day Trip with Lunch from Tulum. Explore Holbox island, its neighbouring islands of Isla Pájaros and Isla Pasión on this full-day tour from Tulum.
- Kayak sunrise tour at the mangrove forest. Watch the sunrise from a kayak and discover the beauty and wildlife of the Holbox mangrove reserve. Spot flamingos, ospreys and pelicans while enjoying the silence of paddling through the mangrove. Hotel pick up and drop off is included as well the nature reserve entry.
- Bioluminescence kayak tour. Paddle along the coast of Isla Holbox by kayak under a sky full of stars and see the neon blue bioluminescence from up close.
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!
More Mexico travel inspiration
We hope you enjoyed reading our tips about Holbox Island. If you’re looking for more things to do in Yucatan, read these blog posts: