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Over There - Holbox Island - Land of the "Dominoes"
For those adventurous travelers looking for a glimpse of one of Mexico's protected natural habitats, getting to Isla Holbox for a few days will be well worth the effort. The Island of Holbox sits inside the upper northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and essentially marks the division between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The island is no more than a long sandbar covered with mangroves and swamp areas. Holbox is also part of the Yum Balaam National Protected Area because of its rich, natural biodiversity. The Yum Balaam Preserve supervises the development and protection of the island's natural resources as well as the entire region’s flora and fauna.

Less than 10 years ago (around 2000), there were no hotels at all on Holbox and the few hundred island residents were not accustomed to seeing tourists on a regular basis. Families earned a living by fishing and weaving hammocks and few spoke English. The fishermen earned extra money with their boats taking what few visitors there were on tours around the island to view the colorful flamingos and the rest of the island's wealth of natural life.

As if Holbox weren't blessed enough with its array of exotic and migratory birds, the island also happens to sit right about where 2 tectonic plates of the earth converge deep under the sea. This convergance contributes to an enormous quantity of free floating nutrients continually rising to the ocean's surface in the area around Holbox. These nutrients attract small free swiming sea life such as krill and crustaceans as well as microscopic sea life called plankton. As a result of this abundance of food, plankton feeders such as giant mantas and whalesharks have been visiting Holbox for years. The fishermen call the slow moving whalesharks "dominoes" because of their markings. But now that it has been determined that Holbox is a critical spot on these creature's migratory path, visitors are flocking to the island. Scientists and researchers from all over the world as well as ocean lovers and whaleshark enthusiasts make a pilgramage to Holbox each year in June - August.
Whale SharkWhale SharkWhale Shark

With the onslaught of this tourism, Holbox has developed a nice selection of lodging and restaurants these past few years although a vast majority are open air and/or do not have A/C. Even though there is more movement on the island, the roads are all still sand and the primary mode of transport is by golf cart. There are a few autos on the island but these are generally discouraged for ecology reasons. Visitors can rent golf carts by the hour to tour the small island and then walk the rest of the time to/from hotels and restaurants to get around.

Sierra Club
On the whole, Holbox remains a very laid back, quiet little island with lots of charm. What it offers travelers is a stark contrast to the high energy, fast paced tourism of Cancun. Cozumel visitors will also find that Holbox Island makes a great day trip or overnight excursion during whaleshark season.

MAKE A NOTE:
While visiting, please keep the environment clean by following posted rules and regulations.
Do your part to help protect this unique place!



Getting to Holbox from Cozumel

Take a Day Trip Excursion to Holbox

Cozumel Vacationers can set aside one day of their vacation during June - August to go and enjoy a once in a lifetime experience with the whalesharks by reserving A Whaleshark Adventure Tour Let us at INSIDER put it all together and organize it ~ you just go and enjoy!

"Do It Yourself" Holbox Trips

These "Do It Yourself" trips to Holbox are not for everyone and due to travel times and general inexperience, it is not recommended to try to get to Holbox and back in one single day. It's best to leave early one morning and plan to be back in Cozumel or Playa del Carmen late the following day ~ in essence using 2 full vacation days.

Also, if lack of road signage and Spanish fluency are huge frustrators, then DO NOT attempt the Do It Yourself Trips. Simply sign up for an excursion the first time and then perhaps after one journey there, confidence and an adventursome spirit will rise up to tackle a D.I.Y. Trip next time.


Do It Yourself - Rent a Car and Drive

Cozumel visitors will take the 40 minute ferry to Playa Del Carmen.
Arrange for rental car pickup/dropoff in Playa del Carmen.
Please support our site and reserve now with one of our rental car partners!



It Yourself - Ferry to Playa & Then Bus to Chiquila

Cozumel visitors will take the 40 minute ferry to Playa Del Carmen.

From the ferry pier in Playa walk the short distance across the plaza to the bus terminal and taxi stand.
From here travelers will take a bus or taxi (depending on budget) to the Cancun bus terminal.
Buses to Cancun leave about every 15 minutes.
Once at the Cancun bus station, travelers will take a bus to Chiquila.


Getting to Chiquila

or Taxi Driving Drivers will take the toll-free Merida-Cancun highway.
DO NOT take the toll road.
At the town of “El Ideal” there will be signs indicating where to take the road to Chiquila.

NOTE SHORT CUT: If driving from Cancun, after 55 km (or 35 miles) travelers will pass 2 small towns and then a speed bump. At the end of road turn right. This will save about 25 miles and a lot of time driving!

New roads have been built and old roads are getting better but lots of speed bumps make the journey tiresome on some roads. We counted 113 (one way) speed bumps on the last adventure over there!

SERVICE

Bus service to Chiquila is offered daily from Cancun, Merida and Valladolid bus stations.
As of this writing, cost was less than 150 pesos (US$12) per person one way.

Cancun-Chiquila Mayab Daily 7:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Chiquila- Cancun Daily 5:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Merida-Chiquila Oriente Daily 11:30 p.m
Valladolid-Chiquila Oriente Daily 2:30 a.m


NOTE:
Schedules and pricing subject to change without notice.
Please check with provider for most recent pricing and departure schedules.


Getting to Holbox Island from Chiquila

In order to get to Holbox Island, travelers must make their way to the nearest mainland town which is Chiquila.
In Chiquila there are parking lots for rental cars at very reasonable rates and there is a pier.
The ferry service at the pier offers service daily from 6am every 2 hours until 7pm.
For those not wanting to wait until the next ferry departure, there are many private boats standing ready to transport 5-8 passengers at reasonable rates.



It is best to make hotel reservations in advance, especially during whaleshark season as accomodation options are limited.


There are no banks or ATM machines on the island so remember to bring suficient cash. Most hotels and restaurants do take credit cards.

Things to Do at Isla Holbox
Flyfishing
Isla Pajaros
Whaleshark ( seasonal May – September)
Isla Pasion
Horseback riding
Punta Mosquito
Kayak
Holbox Restaurants
Conchys
Edelyn
Viva Zapata
Buena Vista grill
La parilla de juan
Majache
Empanadas la conquista
Antojitos El Chivo

Accomodations in Holbox
Use INSIDER'S Search & Reservation Tool for the best Holbox hotel prices available!

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Support Our Site ~ Book an Excursion to See the Whale Sharks
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 Cancun - Whale Shark Adventure
Enjoy an adventure tour getting to observe and swim or snorkel besides the biggest fish in the world: the impressive whale shark! USD$ 195.00 Adult /US$ 136.50 Child
 Riviera Maya - Hidden Worlds Extreme Adventure
Incredible package tour for extreme and safe adventures. US$ 69.00 Adults / US$ 55.00 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Hidden Worlds Ultimate Adventure
Incredible package tour for extreme and safe adventures. US$ 89.00 Adults / US$ 69.00 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Whale Shark Adventure
Enjoy an adventure tour getting to observe and swim or snorkel besides the biggest fish in the world: the impressive whale shark! US$ 205.00 Adults / $143.50 Kids
 Whale Shark Snorkel Adventure from Cancun
Boat leaves from Cancun - shorter trip ~ Unforgettable - spectacular whale shark snorkel experience! US$ 179 per person
 Cozumel Whale Shark Snorkel from Holbox
Spectacular day trip whale shark snorkel experience at Isla Holbox! Personal service from a professional guide who escorts guests the entire way from Cozumel to Holbox! US$ 210 per person

Riviera Maya - Whale Shark Adventure
Personal Experiences
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I just wanted to let you know we really enjoyed our experience with the turtle salvation program this week. It was an amazing evening I will never forget. I will be sure to share the info with my local dive shops and SCUBA club when I return. I know that many others would love to participate and support the turtles. Thanks again and if you could pass along our appreciation to the biologists and other volunteers, we know it is all of your dedication that helps the turtles. J & D Lamb ~ Tucson, AZ

Sherri ~ WOW!!! We just returned from our cruise! What a wonderful time we had!! Your COZUMELINSIDER.com bookings for our Dolphin snorkel adventure and Sea Trek were the highlight of the cruise. They were easy and saved us about half the cost of booking through the cruise line. We simply hopped into a cab and spent the day at the Park (we could have spent a week there.) They were even able to work us into the Sea Trek early. All the people were friendly, helpful and overall just treated us great. While we were standing around waiting a short little man came up and ask if we wanted a snorkel tour. I instantly remembered what you had said and looked at his name tag. It was Mario! His tour was fantastic! If you see him ask him if he remembers Señor Ed and his family (he never caught that my name was Ted, but that’s okay!) I had a waterproof digital camera and he snapped lots of pictures of us. We had a wonderful time and much of it was thanks to you, your website and staff!

I know you probably get lots of pictures but I had to send you three. Look at the smiles on my boy’s faces. That says it all! Thank you so much for all your help and advice. We can’t wait to return. Your website is the first place we will stop! I wish we could have met in person. We will next time! T. Mahler Family ~ Howe ,TX

Just returned from Cozumel where we participated in the FP&M Turtle Salvation program and it was the highlight of our trip. Our guides picked us up at our hotel right on time. They were very nice and one spoke fantastic English. Being able to participate in the extraction of newly hatched baby sea turtles from their nests and then watching them scurry into the ocean was so amazing. There were 4 nests hatching that evening so we were interacting with baby turtles for several hours. Those little turtles are SO adorable and so VERY determined to get to the water. This activity exceeded our expectations. I would recommend it to anyone who loves nature and wants to help this endangered species. It is awesome that cozumelinsider.com donates its resources to handle the bookings for this activity to help raise funds for this great cause. Thanks for an awesome experience! T. Daily ~ Arizona

What a great Experience!!! We booked our excursions through this website with a slight bit of apprehension. We figured it would be safer to book through our cruise ship since this was our first time going to Cozumel. Boy am I so thankful we didn't. Our cruise ship (which we thoroughly enjoyed) had many excursions organized with tons of people in each excursion. By booking through INSIDER we were definitely given smaller groups to be with. We did the Atlantis Submarine excursion and we saved almost 100 dollars right there!!! We also booked a Resort Scuba with Eagle Ray Divers. We had 1-on-1 attention with Antonio (the owner), our own boat to go out on, and got personalized attention with the lesson/dive. I know if we had booked on the cruise ship there probably would've been many other people ...
Also, we originally booked a car rental for that Saturday morning. Jacqueline @ Cozumel Insider, called us at home prior to our cruise to inform us of some minor scheduling changes. She then suggested that the rental car may not be neccessary due to our number of excursions and our limited time. Due to her advice we cancelled our car rental which was the wise thing to do. This shows that this company has a lot of integrity and is not out there just to make a buck on the unsuspecting tourist. Next year we will definitely book through Cozumel Insider, we will recommend this company to all our friends, and we plan on booking with Antonio for more scuba next time!!!! M Carson ~ Tullahoma, Tennesseee

Hey ~ I just wanted to follow up and say what a great time we had swimming with the whale sharks. I also wanted to commend our tour guide Cesar. He was very knowledgeable of the people, the land, the culture, and the history. I would highly recommend him to anybody wanting to tour Mexico.
Thanks again for all of your help, Matt Brosh ~ Austin, Texas


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