Holbox Island Mexico

The beautiful Holbox (pronounced hol-bosh) Island is considered a virgin tourist destination because very few outsiders have yet to discover this idyllic place. Located northwest of Cancun near the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, its 26 miles of white-sand beach is separated from the mainland by the Yalahao Lagoon, which is home to thousands of flamingos, pelicans and other exotic birds and creatures.

Holbox Island has only one small village, also called Holbox, and is a typical Caribbean island, with its sandy streets lined with restaurants and quaint wooden shops selling local art and jewelry. Holbox is a pedestrian environment - in this town of less than 1500 residents, people get around on foot or on golf carts. Tourists can rent golf carts for a reasonable price.

Along with golf carts, you will most likely see fisherman strolling through town with their latest catch in tow. Fishing is the main source of income for the people who live on the island. Seafood served in Holbox Island restaurants is some of the freshest in the world, serving daily catches of fresh lobster, crab, shrimp, octopus, and every kind of fish that can be caught in their Caribbean waters.

Top 3 Reasons to See Holbox Island

Besides the serenity of spending lazy days alongside pristine beaches, there are many compelling reasons to make this your next tropical vacation.

Worlds Largest Whale Shark Watching Experience
The whale shark is the biggest fish on the planet and for four months of the year - June thru September - the waters surrounding Holbox Island are home to the world’s largest known gathering of whale sharks. This huge fish has a white-spotted body, measures between 15 and 50 feet in length, and can weigh as much as 10 tons.

Visitors can view this spectacular converging of whale sharks by boat tour, which includes lunch, snorkeling equipment and drinks. Whale sharks are gentle, docile animals, and snorkelers can safely swim with this giant fish. The boat tour runs about 5 hours long, and because of the heat, the best option would be to catch an early boat. Visitors also have the pricier option of viewing the whale sharks by air.

Yalahao Lagoon
Yalahao is the name given to both the lagoon between Holbox Island and the mainland, and the spring fed pool on the island's edge. The spring, Holbox Island, and the Yalahao Lagoon are all part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve, an ecological reserve that protects their natural environment.

The fresh water spring’s history is steeped in folklore that includes greedy kings and pirates claiming it for themselves, killing and robbing anyone hapless enough to swim in or drink its water. Today visitors can enjoy swimming in the spring without worry of reprisal.

Yalahao translates to “Black Hole” in Mayan, suggesting that they named the lagoon for the dark, deep, and rocky features that are found outside the spring. The lagoon is home to over 500 bird species, and many dolphins, turtles, and sharks.

Isla Pajaros - Bird Island
Thirty-minutes by boat takes you to the exotic Isla Pajaros. The 200 foot long island, covered by cacti, mangrove and brush, is commonly called Bird Island, and aptly so. It is home to 520 known bird species, many of which are in danger of extinction. To protect the island’s fragile ecosystem, humans are not allowed to walk on the island. Visitors can enjoy seeing many exotic birds in their natural environment by viewing them from terraces and walkways. An excellent viewing time is at sunset, when the birds gather back at the island to roost.

Getting to Holbox Island

Holbox Island has had so few visitors because of its inaccessibility; however, getting there is becoming easier. You can visit the island for a day or plan a longer stay by flying into Cancun, or other Mexican travel destination and transferring to Chiquila where you will then take a 10-minute ferry to Holbox Island.

Driving to Holbox Island from Cancun or other location is tricky, so travelers should check locally for directions. However, you will leave your car behind in Chiquila because cars are not allowed on the island. Buses and private transfer services to Holbox Island are your best bet. Either will take you directly to Chiquila in about 3 hours, where at the ferry, you will begin to enjoy the beauty of Holbox Island.

Spanish version of this page: Holbox Island

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