Isla Holbox Field Guide

Isla Holbox Field Guide

Most Isla Holbox Field Guides will tell you about beaches and flamingos. But for most travelers, that is not where the island’s real beauty lies. The beauty of Isla Holbox (Holbox Island) lies in its contradiction. There is a paradoxical balance between growth and preservation when it comes to the island’s gorgeous beaches and charming remoteness. The island is riddled with chic restaurants and boutique hotels, yet the town lacks any semblance of a basic infrastructure. Only here can one watch an ATV try to negotiate a seemingly impassible road from the comfort of a trendy restaurant serving hand-crafted cocktails. Or enjoy incredible tapas from wooden stools hastily strung around a dusty path near a makeshift restaurant. Need money? Too bad. The ATM is notoriously without cash and credit card use is scant.

It’s as if someone discovered a new paradise. Opened a bunch of fantastic restaurants. Then intentionally tried sabotaging the whole lot to stop others from joining the party. Isla Holbox exists as a destination in denial. Refusing to accept its own success. A trip to Holbox Island is well worth the effort and very rewarding. Most of the island is walkable, otherwise rent a bike or ATV.

Everything you need to know to survive your trip is right here in our Isla Holbox field guide.


Isla Holbox Field Guide - Holbox Island Field Guide

Dorm Room $12 to $18 USD
Private Room $30 to $50 USD

Budget Hotel $40 to $150 USD

Bottle of Beer
$2 to $5 USD


Currency – Mexican Peso
Current Exchange Rate (USD to MXN)

Isla Holbox Field Guide: How To Get There?

Unless you rent a private plane, all travel to Holbox Island goes through the small town of Chiquila. From there regular ferries will take you to and from the island. If you are a bit more adventurous or looking to save some cash, you can hire a local fisherman at the docks to make the crossing.

Chiquila is easily reached via bus or taxi. If you are coming from Cancún, the ride is about 2 ½ hours and drops you at the dock. A taxi will run between $50 and $75. Buses from Cancún leave the main bus terminal in the city center and only cost a few bucks. If you are coming from somewhere other than Cancún check with the local bus station for travel information.

If all of this sounds crazy to you and you would rather go somewhere a bit more accessible in Mexico then check out our Tulum Field Guide.


Get Out of The Airport :  If you fly into Cancún, the first way to save money traveling to Holbox is by getting out of the airport as quickly (and cheaply) as you can. Every taxi or shuttle from the airport will cost an obnoxious amount of money. Instead, take the local bus. It picks up in the same spot as the overpriced shuttles. For a couple dollars, it will take you to the main bus terminal in the city center. From there you can catch your next bus to Chiquila or find a reasonably priced taxi. The ride to the Cancun bus station takes about 20 minutes. This is also covered in our Tulum field guide if you were instead heading south.

Don’t Use Airport Shuttles : I hope you are starting to see a theme here. The shuttles or transfer services at the airport can cost hundreds of dollars for a transfer to Holbox Island. Even a quick ride from the airport to a nearby hotel can cost $50 to $90. Instead take the local bus to the main bus terminal and begin your journey there.

Arrange Your Own Travel : Even if you are not coming from the airport you can save a substantial amount of money making your own arrangements. Private or VIP transfers are available from other parts of the Yucatan, including Tulum. However, they are overpriced. If time is on your side, take a bus. They are inexpensive, safe, and run quite frequently. Taxis are another alternative, particularly if you have a small group. Prices are not fixed so ask a few drivers.

If you are returning from Holbox to Cancún, take the ferry back to Chiquila and grab a bus or taxi from there. Your hotel may offer a prearranged transfer package, but it generally comes with a hefty fee and isn’t really necessary.

Skip The Flamingo Tour : Many travel companies on the island offer trips to see the flamingos. However, you can walk to the same spot. Just head east out of town and keep walking until you see the birds. Even better, you can take a walk on the sand bar, which runs parallel to the main beach. This pleasant stroll will lead you to the remote point where the pink flamingos congregate.

Isla Holbox Field Guide: Best Things To Do On Isla Holbox?

Take It All In : Holbox Island is an enigma. Incredible Restaurants. Beautiful beaches. All set against a rustic Caribbean-esque backdrop. More than that, the island has a big personality. If you are willing to make the journey, a trip to Holbox Island will not disappoint.

The Hot Corner : This late night spot is a microcosm of Holbox itself: trendy, bold, and full of character.  You will be entertained by live music and a collection of colorful expats willing to share their experiences with you. No walls, a sandy floor, and strong cocktails makes this corner bar an appealing drink destination.

Swimming With Whale Sharks : Unfortunately, this popular activity has been devastating to the Whale Shark ecosystem. As a result, their presence in the area is quickly diminishing. Not only bad for the whale sharks, there also appears to be a lot of disappointed people getting off the army of tour boats.

Walk The Sand Bar : Don’t miss your chance to take an amazing walk on the nearby sandbar. It lies just off the coast of the main beach. You can literally walk from your hotel to the nearby flamingo reserve in crystal clear, ankle-high water. Don’t miss it!

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