||Holbox Island - Rich in Natural Biodiversity - 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.
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.
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!
Do 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.
Automobile 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!
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
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|
Whaleshark ( seasonal May – September)
Buena Vista grill
La parilla de juan
Empanadas la conquista
Antojitos El Chivo
Use INSIDER'S Search & Reservation Tool for the best Holbox hotel prices available!
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