Isla Holbox is an island paradise in Mexico. It’s a great place to relax on the beach, but there is more to do! These are the best things to do on Isla Holbox.
About Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox is a small island in the Gulf of Mexico, located off the coast of Yucatán, Mexico. The elongated island is known for its white sandy beaches, clear blue waters, and relaxed atmosphere. The name “Holbox” is derived from the Mayan word “Holbox,” meaning “black hole.” This is a reference to the dark waters in Yalahau’s lagoon.
In the Middle Ages, the island was mainly an island where pirates hid, but in the nineteenth century, the Spaniards came and built a village there. It became a place for farmers and fishermen, who for many years traded with mainland Mexico.
Since 1990 there has been a ferry sailing from Chiquila to Holbox, and since then tourism has boomed here. Don’t expect huge resort hotels, but more pleasant relaxed guesthouses and boutique hotels. The streets do not have asphalt but sand, there are almost no cars on the island and people drive around in golf carts. Isla Holbox is an idyllic destination for travelers seeking an escape from stressful everyday life.
The best things to do on Isla Holbox
Would you like to escape from this hectic world for a while? I can totally relate, I almost booked a trip to visit Isla Holbox again while writing this article! After three months of hiking and road-tripping in America, I was in dire need of rest. And I found exactly that on Isla Holbox. I liked it there so much that I kept extending my stay. I ended up staying there for over a week!
And although I thoroughly enjoyed relaxing on the white sandy beaches, I also got to see a lot of the island and I’ll tell you more about that in this article. What to do on Isla Holbox? These are 15 fun things to do and the most beautiful Isla Holbox sights.
Relax on the white sandy beaches
The white sand beaches on Isla Holbox are really special. The sand is super soft and powdery. When you walk on it, it feels wonderful on your feet. The beaches stretch along the coast and merge seamlessly into the clear Caribbean Sea.
It is the perfect place to just relax and listen to the soothing sound of the waves. A nice place to forget everything for a while and enjoy the feeling of paradise.
Hammocks in the water
In many places, hammocks hang above the shallow, crystal-clear waters. Often they belong to a hotel or restaurant, but usually, you can just use them. A wonderful place to completely relax while feeling the cooling breeze of the sea, with your feet in the water and the sun on your skin.
Admire the Bioluminescence
You don’t have to just relax and unwind on Isla Holbox, you can also go and do something active! Isla Holbox is also known for its bioluminescence, a natural phenomenon in which the water is illuminated at night by microscopic organisms.
The most fun way to see this is to join a kayak tour in the evening. As you paddle your kayak through the dark water, you see every movement of your paddle and the water around you light up in a bright blue glow caused by countless microscopic organisms living in the water.
It is almost like paddling through a starry sky on the water, and each movement creates a sparkling trail of light. Kayaking with bioluminescence on Isla Holbox is an enchanting adventure!
Go in search of flamingos
Bird lovers will be delighted with the diversity of bird species on Isla Holbox. What I personally really enjoyed was seeing the flamingos in their natural habitat. You can often see the pink flamingos on Isla Holbox in the shallow lagoons and mangrove areas around the island.
Some of the best places to spot them are the lagoons on either the east or the west side of the island, including Punta Mosquito and Punta Coco. These areas provide ideal habitats for flamingos because of the shallow waters and abundant food.
You can seek them out on your own, or join a bird-watching tour, often organized by local guides, which will help you learn even more about these beautiful birds.
Taste the local food
Indulge your taste buds with the delicious local dishes of Isla Holbox. On the island, you can sample delicious local dishes infused with the flavors of Caribbean cuisine and traditional Mexican dishes.
An absolute must-try is “ceviche,” a refreshing dish of fresh fish marinated in lemon juice, mixed with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and sometimes a touch of hot pepper for a spicy kick. You can also enjoy “tacos de pescado” (fish tacos), where fresh fish is grilled and served in corn tortillas with toppings such as coleslaw and spicy sauces.
Read more: Where to eat in Isla Holbox (Mexico)
Snorkeling with whale sharks
Isla Holbox is one of the best places in the world to spot whale sharks. These animals can reach 12 meters in length and are considered the largest fish in the world. Each year they migrate along the island’s coast between May and September.
To see the whale sharks, join a tour. You will meet early in the morning at breakfast and then sail for 1 to 2 hours to find the whale sharks. Along the way, you have a chance to see dolphins, sea turtles, and maybe even giant manta rays!
When you arrive at the whale sharks, you will enter the water and be able to see the animals up close. You will be accompanied by experienced guides and captains who approach the whale sharks respectfully and ensure that both you and the animals are in safe hands. An experience never to be forgotten!
Explore the island by golf cart
To explore the island of Isla Holbox in a fun and relaxing way, you can rent a golf cart. This is a popular and convenient mode of transportation on the island, as cars are limited and golf carts are the main means of transportation. With your own golf cart, you can explore the island at your own pace, stopping at picturesque spots and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
Drive along white-sand beaches, visit charming villages, explore secluded beaches like Punta Coco on the east side of the island, and make stops at local eateries to sample the flavors of Caribbean cuisine. Renting a golf cart gives you the freedom to go wherever you want, and you’ll find that Isla Holbox’s laid-back atmosphere goes perfectly with this form of transportation.
You can rent golf carts at several places on the island. Ask your accommodation for more information.
Explore Punta Coco
Punta Coco, located on the western side of Isla Holbox, is a secluded beach and an oasis of tranquility. It is about 2 kilometers from the village. You can walk there in about 30 minutes, but of course, you can also go by bike or golf cart.
This peaceful paradise offers soft sand, clear waters, and a calm atmosphere, perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. Chances are you will see flamingos here! In addition, Punta Coco is known for its beautiful sunsets. The sky turns to warm hues as the sun sets, and this makes the beach the ideal place to end the day with a spectacular view of the horizon.
Admire the sunset
The sunset is beautiful to see from Punta Coco, but actually from the entire beach beautiful to admire. I always made it a thing to sit down at one of the beach bars with a cocktail during sunset. It was so fulfilling to see the day close in front of you with all sorts of colors. And then the soothing sound of the rippling water added to it. Mmmmm…
Punta Mosquito is a beautiful location on the east side of Isla Holbox with shallow lagoons, lush mangroves, and white sand beaches. What makes Punta Mosquito truly special is the elongated sandbar that emerges at low tide. This sandbar seems to go on endlessly, inviting walks toward the open sea. The shallow water around the sandbar is clear and warm, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
When visiting Punta Mosquito, you must take into account the tide, as the sandbar is visible only at low tide. Therefore, it is smart to check the tide information before seeking out this special location on Isla Holbox. It is a unique and beautiful destination that shows the natural splendor of the island at its best.
Discover the best places in the village
The island village of Isla Holbox of the same name is centrally located on the island of the same name. It is fun to spend some time exploring here, there are several charming places to explore. There is always something to see or do in the central square (Parque Central de Holbox) and in the streets around it you will find many restaurants where you can taste local dishes and stores to buy souvenirs. Sometimes there is live music in the evening and you can dance.
For those who like to cast a rod, Isla Holbox offers excellent fishing opportunities. Join a fishing excursion and try your luck at catching different species of fish. Local guides with experience know the best fishing spots and provide you with everything you need, including equipment and bait.
A fun way to enjoy the calm waters and try to bring in a big catch. In between, you get delicious ceviche.
Book a private fishing excursion here (maximum of 6 people).
Find the most beautiful street art
Isla Holbox is not only a paradise of white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and azure seas, but it also has a hidden treasure: colorful murals that bring the island to life. What makes this street art on Isla Holbox even more beautiful is how it reflects the soul and culture of the local community.
These vibrant works of art take you on a journey through the history, traditions and lifestyle of the islanders. You’ll feast your eyes on colorful depictions of Mayan mythology, fishing scenes and the lush flora and fauna that make this island and its surroundings so unique.
So go explore and find the most enchanting street art that makes this island even more colorful!
Rent a bike
One of the most fun things I personally did on Isla Holbox was to rent a bike and go explore the island at my own pace. There are several places to get one, so just walk in and ask about options and prices.
Renting a bike will get you just a little further than walking and allow you to discover the most beautiful places without too much effort. I myself mostly biked around the village and went to Punta Coca to relax.
Embrace the leisurely pace
One of Isla Holbox’s greatest charms is the relaxed pace of island life. Leave the rush of everyday life behind and immerse yourself in the relaxing atmosphere of this island paradise. Here everything is about enjoying the moment, with your feet in the sand, the sun on your skin, and the sound of the gentle waves in the background.
Take time to stroll along the white sandy beaches, bike through the village’s quaint streets, and listen to the songs of tropical birds. Taste the local cuisine, admire the street art, and lose yourself in the mesmerizing sunsets. On Isla Holbox, you can truly embrace the leisurely pace of island life and surrender yourself to the beauty and serenity of this tropical oasis.
Best places to stay on Isla Holbox
Now you know how to relax and what to do on Isla Holbox! Would you like to spend a few nights on this lovely island as well? These are some great places to stay:
- Casa Frida – I had a wonderful stay here for a few nights. It is a pretty basic accommodation but nice and spacious. The hammocks in the garden were a great addition! The small-scale complex is in a quiet location and in a good location for exploring the island.
- AURORA – this is a nicely decorated small hotel in a great location in the center of the island. There are many restaurants just around the corner where you can eat delicious food.
- Hotel Para Ti – Adults Only (4⭐) – In the mood for a little more luxury? Then this hotel one with outdoor pool is a good option. The rooms have a hammock and are tastefully decorated. Breakfast is included in the price.
Check Booking.com for more options, prices, and availability.
Isla Holbox packing list
What do you take with you to Isla Holbox? A few suggestions:
- Beach towel or a pareo
- Snorkeling mask
- Flip flops or sandals
- Insect repellant (if you go to the mangroves)
Book your trip to Mexico now!
Want to visit Isla Holbox and other beautiful places in Mexico? Then book your trip now!
✈️ Plane tickets – The closest international airport to visit Isla Holbox is Cancun. Check WayAway to find the best deals on plane tickets.
💊 Travel Insurance – Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance that covers medical expenses, repatriation, and theft or loss of property. Depending on the length of your trip, it may be more economical to purchase long-term or short-term travel insurance. Check Insubuy for options and pricing.
Read more about Mexico
These were all my Isla Holbox tips! Do you like visiting Isla Holbox and other beautiful places in Mexico? These travel guides are full of useful tips:
You can also read more about Mexico (especially Isla Holbox) on this website. Check out these articles:
- Isla Holbox travel tips: everything you need to know before you go
- Where to eat in Isla Holbox (Mexico)
- Review Casa Tucan, Playa del Carmen (Mexico)
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