For me Isla Holbox is paradise and is everything that Tulum is not. For my English friends; Tulum is like Ibiza whereas I would say Isla Holbox is more like Corsica or Sardinia. Both undeniably beautiful but one tarnished and one still; relatively pristine
Isla Holbox is an island (duh) 2 hours north of Valladolid and Cancun. It is the last section of the Yucatan Peninsula before opening up to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The island is 2km in width and over 25km in length but only a small section has been domesticated. The island has no tarmac roads and very few cars (main for construction) so the streets are littered with golf carts; quads and dirt bikes.
The island epitomises Island Vibes and we arrived in the midst of Carnival. A waiter one night told us that Carnival is the number 1 holiday for the people of Holbox. It is celebrated more that Easter; than Cinco de Mayo or Mexican Independence and more even so than Christmas. Carnival is a celebration of culture and life and the locals here threw one hell of a party.
Despite this the island was also at peace. The beach did not have the swarms of beach clubs charging a days wage to site on a lounger… (and I thought Italy was overpriced) but its length of beach (relative to the population of locals / visitors alike) meant that they were mainly quiet and not too busy. And the water; the water was turquoise green and oh so beautiful.
We didn’t do much on the island bar the trip I mention below. I would definitely like to come back in between June – September. To swim with Whale-Sharks; to see flamingoes (which literally bombard the island) and; if my timing allows to swim with bio-luminescent plankton which remains one of my favourite activities when I did it in 2013 at Maya Bay – Phi Phi Ley in Thailand.
After driving the two hours from Valladolid (losing an hour through the time change) we arrived for the 1pm ferry ($150MXN per person each way). After a pleasant 25-minute catamaran ride we got a quad taxi ($50MXN) to our hotel. Para Ti.
Para Ti was our splurge hotel under a relatively strict budget and it was beautiful. The whole ambience; the pool; the rooftop cabanas and the facilities were top notch. This is quite easily the best hotel I have been to (I do prefer AirBnB) in a long time.
3 Island Trip
The 3 Island Tour is a staple of the island when Whale Shark swimming / flamingos are out of season. The 3 locations are:
Laguna Yalahau: A natural spring / cenote in the Mangrove Swamps on the mainland
Isla Pajores (Bird Island): Home to over 140 species of birds. NO HUMANS ALLOWED, so we observed from the cool huts. The water around the island is so nutrient rich (hence the birds) that it turns the water green.
Passion Island: This tiny island and large spit allows us to dip our toes in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Starting early before the sun gets too hot we zipped up and down the coast visiting the sites. We even saw a pod of dolphins on the trip accross the straight between Holbox and the mainland.
Oh, and to finish the post off. Check out this little guy.