Fun 10 things to do in Isla Holbox

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Bienvenido in Isla Holbox! In our opinion the best destination in Mexico to visit. If you are looking for a place where you can admire sandy beaches with beautiful palm trees in the background, a cozy center where everyone still walks on their slippers, and where it seems as if time stands still, in that case, is traveling to Isla Holbox highly recommended.

We stayed in Isla Holbox for 8 nights because we liked it so much. In this article, we share the best things to do in Isla Holbox, what the best places are to stay, some personal favorite restaurants, and much more.

Tip: make sure you bring enough cash with you because there is only one official ATM above the police station and the ATM doesn’t work regularly. You can also visit CIBanco, at this bank, you must be able to show your passport to exchange money. Recommended to withdraw enough money on the mainland before you travel to Isla Holbox so that you don’t have to change money at local ATMs. At these ATMs, the exchange rates are very bad.

Isla Holbox boat

Best things to do in Isla Holbox

Although it is a small island, there are plenty of fun things to do in Isla Holbox. Read below our 10 recommended activities to do in Isla Holbox.

Tip: use the below map to see where all the best things in Isla Holbox are located. Click on the right top corner to view the map bigger. If you click on the star symbol next to the title you can save this map in your Google Maps account. On the map, you can show or hide different categories. You can then use this map to navigate when you reach your destination.

#1 Isla Holbox whale sharks: bucket list actvitity

The best thing to do in Holbox is without a doubt swimming with whale sharks. For us, this was the best activity we did when we traveled through Mexico. We even dare to say that this is the coolest thing we have ever done with wildlife. We have never experienced such a magical experience. You can only do this activity through a tour. Check prices and availability here.

This tour lasts all day because besides swimming with the whale sharks you will also go snorkeling in the middle of the ocean which is amazing! The tour starts in the morning around 09:00 am with a small group, in our case we were with 8 people.

First, you will sail for about an hour and a half to the whale sharks. Before you enter the water you receive instructions from the guide. It is important that you don’t swim in front of the whale sharks and that you don’t touch them because this damages the animals. In pairs, you go together with the guide into the water and have two attempts for swimming with the whale sharks. The guide always stays nearby so that safety is guaranteed.

You have to be lucky when it comes to swimming with the whale sharks. We were very lucky with our second attempt that we were able to swim for a total of 10 minutes with a whale shark, which is long! The best moment was that we could swim next to one of the whale sharks and look him directly in the eye.

After the two attempts, you sail back and after 45 minutes you make a stop middle in the ocean to go snorkeling. We saw rays, turtles and lots of different fish. The spot is awesome to snorkel because you are far away from land and therefore you see more animals.

All in all, this is the best whale shark tour that you can do when you are in Isla Holbox and maybe in entire Mexico.

Tip: If you suffer from your vestibular system, take a travel tablet before boarding, the moment the boat is stationary it goes up and down considerably, which can make you very nauseous. We speak from experience because unfortunately, we did not have this tip at the time!

Isla Holbox whale sariks

#2 Amazing beaches in Isla Holbox

When you are in Isla Holbox you can do two things on the beach, namely, relax on the beach or do some hiking to the north and south of Isla Holbox. The best thing about the beaches in Isla Holbox is that they are insanely beautiful and that most of the time you are all completely alone on these beaches.

When you stay a few days in Isla Holbox we recommend hiking first to the south and another day to the north because the north is the most beautiful part of the island. In the north, you see animals like flamingos and other birds which you won’t see in the south.

The hike to the south is 2 hours and at the end, you arrive at a watchtower. From this watchtower, you have a magnificent view over the sea and Isla de la Pasión. It can take 4 to 5 hours to do this hike if you take into consideration that you will relax on different deserted beaches.

When you go north you walk across the water instead of the beach to Punta Mosquito. It is a magical walk because you hardly encounter anyone. Along the way you see the most beautiful birds flying past you and if you are lucky you can also see dolphins. You will see flamingos because they are often found at El Bajo. For us, it was the first time we saw Flamingos in the wild which was great. This hike is special because you walk all day without seeing anyone and the fact that you walk all day in the sea is also special. This hike takes 5 hours.

Tip: prepare yourself by starting this hike early in the morning because the sun is not that strong yet. Don’t forget to bring sun protection, mosquito repellent and bring plenty of water and something to eat.

Isla Holbox beach

Where to stay in Isla Holbox

Option 1 for affordable with great quality: Sirenas Caribbean Rooms Holbox
We stayed 8 nights at Sirenas Caribbean Rooms Holbox which is a very affordable place to stay in comparison to most other places. The location is perfect because it is just outside the center making it quiet. Within two minutes you are on the beach which is also great.
The rooms are very clean, tidy, and equipped with air conditioning. The staff is super nice, we love dogs so we went every evening with the dogs to the beach. We also went a few evenings with the staff to have a drink in the village.
Check prices and availability here!

Option 2 location, luxury, and more: Mystique Holbox.
If you want to stay at a magnificent place that is one of the best hotels in Isla Holbox you need to stay at Mystique Holbox. This hotel is really beautiful. This hotel is located near Casa Sirenas and is about a 5-minute walk from the center. The rooms are amazing and with the restaurant of the hotel, you can enjoy daily the best dishes of Mexico. The big benefit is that you eat at the beach so during dinner you have the sunset on your side. For sure without a doubt a special place to stay!
Check prices and availability at Mystique Holbox here.

#3 Enjoy the beautiful sunsets

A fun activity where you don’t have to do anything at all and just enjoy nature is watching the setting sun.

This experience is perfect when you have some drinks and snacks with you. You can easily buy this in one of the supermarkets in the center. We have seen a lot of sunsets, only the sunset at Isla Holbox is unique because of its location your view is not blocked and you are sitting alone on the beach, which gives a more intimate feeling.

It is recommended to walk south on the beach and find a spot that you like. This area is not visited a lot, the beach in the center is busier and therefore the intimate feeling is different.

Isla Holbox sunrise

#4 Admire sea spark in the night

There are a few places in the world where you can admire sea sparkles, Isla Holbox is one of these places where you can do this. Sea sparkle is an alga that grows at high water temperatures. Due to the current of the water, the sea spark comes ashore and this gives a blue color which is truly unique to see. You can only see sea spark from Isla Holbox by following a bioluminescence tour. With the tour, you go late in the evening to the sea or mangrove to go night snorkeling. There is no other light on these areas except the moon, through which the sea spark is visible.

It is a fun activity because it is unique to see it with your own eyes. Check prices and availability here.

#5 Relax at the beach clubs

There are several beach clubs on Isla Holbox from basic to luxurious. You can enjoy a drink in a hammock in the basic beach clubs to cultural highlights with great music at the luxurious beach clubs. There are a few beach clubs to find with each its advantages.

  • Las Nubes Beach Club: when you think of a beach club, Las Nubes is probably the beach club that comes to mind. A very exclusive beach club where you can order fantastic cocktails;
  • Red Shrimp: Red Shrimp is located near the pier and is perfect for seeing the sunset while enjoying fresh cocktails and Caribbean food. The beach club is basic and therefore all the more fun;
  • Raices: simple beach club that is very cool because of the live music;
  • Luuma: a luxurious beach club where you can enjoy excellent food and drink.

We liked Red Shrimp because it’s simple but a nice place to sit. You can start the evening here while enjoying a cocktail.

Isla holbox v12

#6 Discover the delicious food

Even though Isla Holbox is not a big island, there are plenty of food options to be found. Of course, since you find yourself on an island with water all around you, eating fish here is super because of its freshness. But also people who do not like fish can eat delicious here.

The best restaurant in our opinion is Arte Sano. Here you can order delicious vegan/vegetarian dishes. You can order breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Arte Sano. It’s a nice place if you’re looking for something different to eat in Mexico.

Highly recommended are the vegetable fajitas and red Queen burger. If you’re not used to eating vegan/vegetarian dishes, you probably can’t imagine that no meat has been used in these dishes, it tastes so good. Another benefit is that it is very cheap, for $10 per person you enjoyed a meal with a drink.

#7 The three island excursion

Another fun activity to do in Isla Holbox is to follow the three islands tour Holbox. During this tour, you see more than 35 species of birds on Isla Pajaros such as frigates and pelicans. The guide will explain everything about all the birds that you see.

You will also visit Passion Island, which is the island where flamingos can be admired up close. In the end, you will visit a cenote called Yalahau. This tour is great for people who love to see birds and more of the enjoinment of Isla Holbox. Check more information here, such as prices and availability.

Isla Holbox flamingos

#8 Kayak at the mangrove swamps of Isla Holbox

Kayak through the mangrove swamps of Isla Holbox during this morning tour is awesome. Together with a kayak guide you slip into your kayak and paddle off through the shallow, calm water. During the tour, you see birds, flamingos, and alligators sunning on the banks of the channels. Check prices here.

In addition to the traditional tour, you can also kayak under the stars during the night to admire the sea spark. This is a unique experience. Read more information here.

Looking for an itinerary through Yucatan? Read more.

#9 Rent a bike

A fun activity that you can do on your own is renting a bicycle and exploring the island. You can rent a bicycle at various shops in the center for $7-$10 per 24 hours.

The best thing is to cycle around the island along the beach, during your trip you will come across several deserted places where you can make a stop. The best part is to cycle south where you have a view of Isla de la Pasión from the beach.

If you are in Isla Holbox you will also see people driving around with a golf cart, we do not recommend renting one because it is expensive. You pay $9 per hour.

#10 Go fishing at Isla Holbox

We didn’t do this activity but we saw many people follow a fishing tour in the morning. During this fishing tour, you visit the coastline of Quintana Roo, go fishing off course and get plenty of time to swim.

Fishing tours take 4 hours, you get the chance to catch small and large fish such as sea bass and Mojarra. This activity is mainly for people who love to fish, if you don’t like to go fishing it is better to skip this tour.

How many days to spend in Isla Holbox

This is of course entirely personal, but our advice is to stay at least 4 nights. Considering all the great things you can do in Isla Holbox it would be a shame if you stay here for a short time.

We found Isla Holbox so magical that we ended up staying 8 nights. We believe that during your daily routine there is always a lot that needs to be done but once you arrive on this island it is different. That is why we advise you not to visit this island in, for example, 1 or 2 days, but to take the time to enjoy it.

Where to stay in Isla Holbox

On Isla Holbox, there are many choices where you can stay. Keep in mind that the prices at Isla Holbox are significantly higher per night compared to other places in Mexico. Make sure you take enough cash with you before you travel from the mainland to the island. If you want to pay with a credit card you quickly pay 5% to 10% extra on the total price. We recommended staying at one of the two accommodations. Both recommendations have a good price-quality ratio.

Affordable with great quality:
Sirenas Caribbean Rooms Holbox

isla holbox v5

We stayed 8 nights at Sirenas Caribbean Rooms Holbox which is a very affordable place to stay in comparison to most other places. The location is perfect because it is just outside the center making it quiet. Within two minutes you are on the beach which is also great. The rooms are very clean, tidy, and equipped with air conditioning. The staff is super nice, we love dogs so we went every evening with the dogs to the beach. We also went a few evenings with the staff to have a drink in the village.

Location, luxury and more:
Mystique Holbox

isla holbox v6

If you want to stay at a magnificent place that is one of the best hotels in Isla Holbox you need to stay at Mystique Holbox. This hotel is really beautiful. This hotel is located near Casa Sirenas and is about a 5-minute walk from the center. The rooms are amazing and with the restaurant of the hotel, you can enjoy daily the best dishes of Mexico. The big benefit is that you eat at the beach so during dinner you have the sunset on your side. For sure without a doubt a special place to stay!

Where to eat in Isla Holbox

As we mentioned at activity 6 is in our opinion the best place to eat in Isla Holbox at Arte Sano. Here you can order delicious vegan/vegetarian dishes. You can order breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Arte Sano. It’s a nice place if you’re looking for something different to eat in Mexico.

Highly recommended are the vegetable fajitas and red Queen burger. If you’re not used to eating vegan/vegetarian dishes, you probably can’t imagine that no meat has been used in these dishes, it tastes so good. Another benefit is that it is very cheap, for $10 per person you enjoyed a meal with a drink.

Another great place to eat is Red Shrimp which is a beach club located near the pier and is perfect for watching the sunset while enjoying fresh cocktails and Caribbean dishes. The beach club is set up in a basic way and for this reason, it’s super fun, they don’t focus on how it looks but to give you a great experience. You certainly get this one because of the beautiful location.

If you are looking for a nice place to have breakfast, it is recommended to visit Naranjas. A great place to sit because you are eating on the sand. The best dish to start the day is boiled eggs with tortilla or scrambled eggs with tomatoes. With your breakfast, you can order fresh fruit, coffee, croissants, and fresh smoothies. Awesome place that is not expensive at all, for $10 per person you can enjoy breakfast.

Would you like to have dinner at one of the best places in Isla Holbox with an ocean view? If so, Mandarina is the best place to visit. The dishes that include seafood are highly recommended, as this is a local specialty. You can also order homemade cocktails here. Try the Hoja Santa cocktail, which is pepper leaf, chili, tonic, and mezcal.

All in all, although Isla Holbox is not a big island, there are plenty of places to find to eat.

How do you get to Isla Holbox

First, you have to travel to Chiquilá, this is the village on the mainland from where the boat departs to Isla Holbox. Every 30 minutes a boat leaves from Chiquilá to Isla Holbox. The boat trip takes approximately 20 minutes.

Once you arrive at Isla Holbox you can choose to use a golf cart to bring you to the accommodation. Given the fact that it is a small island, you can also just walk from the harbor to the accommodation.

It is recommended that you buy bus tickets to Chiquilá in advance to ensure you have a seat. This also applies to the ferry ticket because only 1 boat leaves every 30 minutes which is used by travelers and locals. The boat may be full and you have to wait. If you want to be sure to have a seat buy your ticket in advance.

If you travel to Mexico by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.

Isla Holbox viewpoint

What is the best period to visit Isla Holbox

At Isla Holbox, you can enjoy high temperatures all year round because of the tropical climate. Isla Holbox has a dry and rainy season.

The best period to travel to Isla Holbox is between December and March (dry season) when the weather is most stable.

May is the hottest month, on average it gets a maximum of 36℃ and only drops to 23℃. December is the coolest month with an average of up to 28℃ and dropping to 20℃.

We were in Isla Holbox in September and enjoyed the weather. As said, you can visit Isla Holbox all year round because the temperatures are always excellent.

Tip: be aware that during the school holidays of the US and Europe in July and August it is busier than normal, causing prices to rise.

Isla Holbox FAQ

1. What are the best beaches in Holbox?

When you are going to travel to Isla Holbox you probably would like to know what the best beaches of Holbox are. The beaches of Holbox are without a doubt one of the most beautiful beaches you will see anywhere in the world.

The beaches in Holbox can be roughly divided into three areas, namely the central beach (Playa Holbox), the southern part (up to the point Playa Punta Cocos), and the north (up to Punto Mosquito).

The central beach (Playa Holbox) is perfect if you stay in the center and want to have everything close by, such as a beach club, supermarkets, your accommodation, and restaurants. This is the coziest beach where most travelers of Isla Holbox stay during the day.

The beaches in the south from the center to Punto Mosquito are always small bays where you sit alone. Great to have some quality time for yourself.

The best beach of Isla Holbox can be found in the north that runs from the center to Punto Mosquito. This is a long beach where you see miles away without seeing anyone else. Walk to the end of Kuka street to walk onto the beach. After this, you can walk for about 15 minutes and take a seat at the beach.

2. How is Holbox at Night?

In the evening on Isla Holbox, you can especially enjoy a cozy village at one of the small restaurants. You can also have a nice party at one of the clubs. It’s also recommended to walk a little bit away from the center at the beach to enjoy watching the stars. If you want to see sea spark, you can follow a bioluminescence tour as indicated at activity 4 on this list.

3. Where to find the ATM in Isla Holbox?

The ATM in Isla Holbox can be found above the police station. Problem is that this ATM doesn’t work always.

If the ATM above the police station does not work, you can visit CIBanco. You can exchange money at this bank, you must be able to show your passport for this, otherwise, they will not help you. The exchange rates are good at CIBanco.

If the ATM above the police station doesn’t work or the CIBanco can not help you it is better to be sure to withdraw enough money on the mainland before you travel to Isla Holbox. It is possible to withdraw money at local ATMs only the exchange rates are really bad.

As a guideline, we recommend withdrawing the amount for the accommodation + $40 per day per person.

4. What is the best period to swim with whale sharks?

The best chance to swim with whale sharks is from late March to late July. They usually stay in the waters of Mexico until the end of September and early October but the chance that you can swim with the whale sharks is smaller.

Want to see more of Mexico

We hope this article has helped you to get a clear understanding of what to do in Isla Holbox, where to stay, and more.

If you have visited Isla Holbox, there are still many places in Mexico to visit. If you, like us, want to see more of Yucatan, you can use our Yucatan itinerary for inspiration. If you follow our itinerary, Cancun is your next destination. Read the 15 best things to do in Cancun here.

If you are not following our itinerary but are still curious about which places to travel to from Isla Holbox, the best places to travel to are Valladolid, Tulum, or Bacalar. At Valladolid, you can discover a beautiful historic center. In Tulum, you can visit a Maya complex and in Bacalar, there is a huge lake that has something similar to the Maldives.

What do you think of Isla Holbox? Share your thought in the comments below!

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