11 Best Things to do in Holbox, Mexico

Best Things to do in Holbox Mexico

Looking to spend a few days in one of the most beautiful places in Mexico? In this post, you will discover the best things to do in Holbox, a Mexican island located in the north of the Yucatan peninsula.

Get ready to enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, live in your flip flops, swim in crystal clear waters, eat lobster pizza and watch the most beautiful sunsets.

Besides, it’s one of the best spring break destinations for families!  

Don’t forget to check out my in-depth Downtown Cancun travel guide and my Tulum travel guide for more on traveling in Mexico!

How to get to Holbox Island

The island cannot be accessed by car, since motor vehicles are not allowed, and you won’t find flights to isla Holbox. But don’t worry! Getting to Holbox is very easy.

The closest airport is Cancun International Airport, which is located just 60 km from the island.

The best way to get from Cancun to Holbox is by car or bus from Cancun to the small village of Chiquila. You can also take a private transfer from Cancun Airport to Chiquila Port.

Once there, you will take a ferry to Holbox that only takes 30 minutes.

There are two different ferry companies with different schedules (Holbox Express and 9 Brothers), and there is a boat every 30 minutes. The first departure from Chiquila to Holbox is at 06:00 am

Travel tip: If you’re short on time, consider taking this full-day trip to Holbox with lunch, that will pick you on your hotel in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum, and will take you to the island. You will wander the picturesque streets, take a swim in the clear water, and visit the Yalahau Cenote.

Getting around Holbox

As I mentioned before, there are no cars in Holbox, and roads are still unpaved.

The best ways to move around the island is by bike, or by a golf cart that you can rent or call (like a taxi).

Best time to visit Holbox

The best time to visit Holbox island is between February and June.

In Summer, from July to October is hurricane season, but it’s also whale shark season  and the best time to take this Holbox bioluminescence tour.

Best Things to do in Holbox Island

Here are the most popular things to do in Holbox.

1. Explore the Holbox Island with a Bike

Riding a bike is one of the best ways to explore Holbox at your own pace.

Some people like to explore the city by walking but few places can only be reached and seen by riding bikes.

You will find a lot of places where you can rent bikes at a reasonable price. But you must reserve your bike prior because most of the tourists and travelers prefer bike riding to explore and roam around the city.

Travel tip: In case you want to roam around the Holbox area you’ve to book your bike in advance.

Most of the rental bike shops you will get in downtown Holbox. To book your rental bike all you need to do is to send a message and they will bring the bike to the hotel where you are staying.

What to do in Holbox by bike

  • One of the best places to visit by riding a rental bike is Cocos Point or Punta Cocos. This place is a few kilometers away from the main city. You can ride your bike and reach this beautiful place to see the quiet sea beaches.
Holbox island Mexico
Hammocks in the water at Punta Cocos, Isla Holbox, Mexico
  • Another place is the Punta Mosquito which is famous for the pink flamingos. If you’re lucky then you might get a glimpse of those beautiful flamingos. Just start your day early to see them.
  • Visit Chiquila by riding your rental bike. This place is famous for having an abundance of wildlife, especially birds, and marine animals.

Trijit Mallick – Dog Travel Buff

2. Holbox Street Art

Known as the ‘Island of Graffiti’, Holbox in Mexico boasts plenty of impressive art dotted around its cobbled streets.

In fact, you’ll notice murals everywhere, ranging from portraits to caricatures and cartoon characters on the sides of walls and restaurants. There are even a few sprinkled across the island’s beaches.

This wasn’t always the case, however. Holbox didn’t have much going for it in terms of street art until 2014 when the first International Public Art Festival in Mexico took place on the island, and an explosion of murals was created, cementing the area as a hub for all things graffiti.

With so many iconic pieces of Holbox street art, you’ll be tempted to hunt out them all (and you definitely should!), though keep a special eye out for the recent Frida Kahlo mural near Punta Coco and the woman with a flamingo on her head in downtown Holbox. 

things to do in holbox island

For the ultimate Instagram shot, head to the Colibrí restaurant (just around the corner from the equally-impressive acoustic shell graffiti) and you’ll find the colorful hummingbird wall.

Lauren – Destination Travel

3. Punta Mosquito,  one of the best things to do in isla Holbox

Mexico has no shortage of paradise-like beaches, drawing thousands of tourists to its shores every year. But, Punta Mosquito beach in Holbox might just be the best of them all.

As well as white sand and crystal-clear water, what makes Punta Mosquito so special is how few people visit it. This is because this paradise beach is not easy to reach.

In fact, you only have two options: stopping there on a boat trip and walking through the sea and along the sandbanks to reach Punta Mosquito.

As a result, the Punta Mosquito sand bar – located 100 meters or so from the main island – doesn’t attract the crowds of Playa Holbox or Playa Punta Cocos. But those who make the journey are rewarded with a view to rival that of the Maldives or Seychelles!

Don’t forget your camera because you’re not going to want to miss out on this beauty!

And be sure to bring everything you need including plenty of water and sun cream, as there are no facilities at all on the beach.

Zoe Schafer – Zoe Goes Places

4. Holbox bioluminescence

The bioluminescence in Holbox is, without hesitation, one of the most unique things you can see on the island.

At night, the little organisms that live within the warm, translucent waters here light up when they hit the waves. This gives the water a sparkling effect that makes the sea look as though it has been illuminated by hundreds of twinkling fairy lights.

Holbox bioluminescence

This makes for gorgeous, ethereal-looking photographs that contrast the dark, palm-tree lined beaches with the shimmering water. Various local tour companies offer excursions to specific beaches where the bioluminescence can be observed.

You can also save yourself some money by venturing to these beaches independently. It is important to note that although this is visible all year round, you can see it better during certain conditions.

The rainy season in Quintana Roo runs from May until October. During this time, the water can be murkier and it makes it harder to see the bioluminescence.

You can see this better on days when there isn’t any moonlight. If you spend a few days on Holbox (and you should!), you have ample time to revisit the beaches to see the bioluminescence at its best.

Melissa Douglas – Mexico Travel Secrets

5. Chill at a Rooftop Pool Bar

If you are looking for an amazing evening activity in Holbox, visit Sky Bar in Villas HM Palapas del Mar.

This luxurious hotel opens its rooftop bar for everyone to enjoy tasty food, great cocktails, and incredible views of Holbox.

Between 6 pm and 11 pm, you can try Japanese food like sushi and relax at the highest viewing point of the hotel. Opposite the bar, there is a swimming pool with views of Playa Holbox.

This rooftop restaurant has swing chairs, outdoor beds, unique chairs, and tables that will make you fall in love with this place. It is a mix of modern design with palapas style that blends perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Villas HM Palapas del Mar is one of the best hotels in Holbox. As a hotel guest, you can enjoy its rooftop swimming pool during the day without the crowds.

It gets really busy in the evening so make sure to come there early to find the best spots to admire some of the most beautiful sunsets in Mexico.

Paulina – ukeveryday

6. Visit the famous Holbox sign

Close to one of the best cities in Mexico is Isla Holbox.

A small, beautiful island that you can see when landing in Cancun. I was amazed to see from that eagle-eyed plane view.

Getting around the island was pretty easy even walking although most tours include a golf cart to drive around so you can get to some even further spots.

Everyone loves a good picture with the sign of a city or town, and Isla Holbox is no exception.

The “Holbox” sign is very playful in that the “L” is missing which makes it such a lovely and easy photo opportunity, proudly standing as the letter L to complete the name.

Holbox Sign

The shallow waters behind make for a breath-taking photo as the light blue of the sea reflects the sky.

Posing with the sign is a definite must on my list for things to do on Isla Holbox!

Venaugh – venaugh.com

7. Cabo Catoche Tour

Holbox Island has some of the best beaches in Mexico, and Cabo Catoche is no exception. The word cabo means “cape,” and Cabo Catoche is a cape located about 27 miles (43 km) from Isla Holbox.

The only way to visit Cabo Catoche is by boat tour. You can book tours in Downtown Holbox at the kiosks on Calle Tiburon Ballena from a number of local guides for about $125 USD per person. Cabo Catoche tours last all day, from about 9am-3pm, and operate year-round.

You’ll definitely get to spend quite a bit of time on the white sand beaches of Cabo Catoche, but there’s more to the tour than just beaches.

The day starts with a fun boat ride, and you may even see dolphins along the way. Your first stop is a natural area with shallow, clear water and mangroves, which is home to many species of birds, including flamingos.

Close up of brown pelican sitting by the sea at Mexican Holbox island

From there, you’ll venture further in the Caribbean Sea for some fishing. This is fun because it’s done the old-fashioned way, with just a fishing line, not a rod.

After fishing for a bit, you’ll head to Cuevones Reef to snorkel. This reef is very healthy, so if the visibility is good that day, you’re sure to see tropical fish, colorful coral and other marine life.

The final stop is Cabo Catoche. You’ll boat right onto the shore at this beautiful beach area, and a fresh ceviche lunch is there waiting for you. After you eat, take a stroll down the beach, go for a swim or just lay in a hammock and admire the views.

Shelley – Travel Mexico Solo

8. Cenote Yalahau

A short 30-minute boat ride from Holbox, the Cenote Yalahau delights visitors with its freshwater turquoise pool, nestled in a protected reserve.

Cenotes result from a cave collapse, leaving a sinkhole and exposed groundwater. Some of the best Cenotes are found along the Riviera Maya.

Unlike most Cenotes which are underground or in caves, this one offers an open-air experience, that’s why it’s called Yalahau lagoon.

Mind you, don’t expect a warmer Caribbean experience. The crystal-clear waters of the natural springs are pretty frigid, even for the hearty.

According to historians, the Mayans once used the Cenote Lagoon for its primary freshwater supply. Later, pirates like Pirate Molas took refuge there, utilizing the area for smuggling and stashing his secret bounty.

Today, visitors come from Holbox to bathe in the sacred waters, believing they provide the “fountain of youth.” While the cold waters can’t turn back time, the cooling effect gives almost a Nordic Spa experience on a hot day.

Cenote Yalahau is one of the most popular sinkholes near Holbox.

For a more unique underground Cenote adventure, consider Chaak Tun or Rio Secreto Natural Reserve (Amazing Secret River), two popular excursions from Cozumel.

Karen – Forever Karen

9. Three island tour

One of the best things to do when you’re visiting Isla Holbox is to take a boat tour to some of the other beautiful islands that lay close to Holbox.

The three places that are a must stop are:

  • Isla de los Pajaros,
  • Isla Pássion and
  • Yalahau Cenote.

The three beautiful islands are about 15-30 minutes away from Isla Mujeres.

At Isla de los Pajaros, you can climb an observation tower and look down upon hundreds of nesting birds, cormorants, frigates, and pelicans.

At the next stop Isla Passion, you get a chance to walk around this tiny island and take beautiful photos of an uninhabited island surrounded by mangroves and crystal clear water (if you’re visiting in the seaweed free season).

Travel tip: If you like kayaking, you can book this Guided Sunrise Kayak Tour through Mangrove Reserve. Look for wildlife like flamingos, osprey, pelicans, cormorants, and even crocodiles!

The last stop is at Yalahau Cenote, a cute natural sinkhole where you can swim in fresh and clear blue water.

The boat tours are often advertised as the three island tour and can be booked pretty much anywhere on Isla Holbox. They usually take about half a day and cost around 30$.

Lara Hartog – The Best Travel Gifts

10. Have a whole fried fish at Raices

Raices is a fun Reggae restaurant on the beach in Holbox that has made a name for itself amongst budget travelers.

One of the few ocean-front Holbox restaurants that doesn’t charge a fee or have a minimum spend to use beach chairs, Raices is a great place to go for lunch or just hang out.

Raices is also a famous spot on Holbox to get classic island-style food.

Western dishes like burgers are also served, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can order the Catch of the Day. This will usually be a giant fish (with the head still on, of course!) either deep-fried or roasted over hot coals.

With live Reggae music playing daily, Raices is the perfect spot to relax on the beach and have a great meal on Holbox.

Katie – KatieCafTravel.com

11. Take a rescue dog for a walk around Holbox

If you love animals, and who doesn’t love animals, you’ll want to make a visit to Refugio Animal Sanctuary on Holbox.

What started with a rescued raccoon named Venancio, has turned into the island’s major animal rescue and veterinary service. From 10am – 6pm every day, the doors are open to welcome anyone wanting to visit with the dogs.

Refugio is happy to receive help of all kinds, from cleaning kennels to help with bathing to just playing with the dogs!

For a memorable experience, visitors are encouraged to take one of the resident dogs for a walk on the nearby beach.

Volunteering at Refugio is always free and for anyone staying on the island longer you may want to consider stopping by more than once to see your new friends. They’ll always be happy to see you! 

Ashlea Russell – She Roams About

As you can see, there are lots of amazing things to do in Holbox for the perfect island adventure!

Whether you’re just there for a day trip or if you have wanted to stay for a few days and enjoy the island, you will fell in love with Holbox!

For more on Mexico, check out these articles:

Sara Rodríguez

A passionate traveler with a mission: Help you plan your next trip easily and enjoy it to the fullest.

In this travel blog you will find everything you need to get inspired and organize your next adventure. Read more about my story here.

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