Holbox Island
Holbox Island
4
About
This island is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets, known for its car-free roads, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Other than relaxing on the beach, you can snorkel with whale sharks, go kitesurfing, and kayak through mangroves. Stay till nightfall to experience the magical bioluminescent waters—best experienced on nights of a new moon during summer. Holbox Island is a great day trip destination from Cancun, Riviera Maya, or Playa Del Carmen—many full-day tours include boat tours on the island, on top of ferry transport and meals. Going on the Three Islands tour of Yalahua Lagoon, Isla Pajaros, and Passion Island is also great to see unique wildlife and nature. – Tripadvisor
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  • choiceweb
    Houston, Texas49 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great beaches and island life
    I’m surprised to see so many negative reviews of Holbox. We came to Holbox after an airport transfer driver recommended it over Isla Mujeres which we also went to recently. Yes, Holbox does require a longer drive and a ferry to get to compared to Mujeres or Cozumel, but it is overall less developed and touristy. It is too far for just a night or two away from Cancun. Your opinion might also depend on what time of year you go and where you stay on the island. We went in June and stayed at Holbox Dream Resort. It is right on the beach and a short walk to many restaurants, shops, ATMs. We had no need for a taxi except when we arrived and left by ferry. Our hotel was mostly full but not overly crowded. The town square at night does fill up the later it gets. The town also has some night life, but we came to Holbox with our 8 year old, so didn’t partake. There are some challenges to Holbox such as the lack of ATMs that issue pesos. My visa debit card wouldn't work at the only island bank’s ATM and the ATM on the town square was often out of money. I thankfully came with enough pesos for several days and at least some shops and restaurants take credit cards with a small markup. While many places take U.S. Dollars and there are a few ATMs that dispense dollars, the exchange rates vary and usually favor the business. The sandy streets flood after a thunderstorm and the gas small ATVs seem like the best way to navigate these roads. I saw at least one golf cart get stuck in high water when a renter tried to drive through a flooded street without gauging the depth. Wear good shoes and stay on the sidewalks whenever possible.
    Visited June 2023
    Written 1 August 2023
  • Kayapartments
    Isla Mujeres, Mexico8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH!
    My happy place! I have never visited a place and felt so at home. The moment I got off the boat, a sense of peace fell over me. The island is beautiful with something for everyone. We ate everything from street tacos to gourmet dinners. I lOVED that the kids could roam at the park or swim in the shallow waters and I was never worried. We rented bikes and road all over. Saw natural beauties, rented golf carts and explored. I will be coming back every year!
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 2 August 2023
  • Vacation309333
    Basel, Switzerland2 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Fine but not the laidback alternative island experience of the past
    We stayed in September. It was pretty muddy, and therefore hard to walk around apart from on the beach, but not dirty. We picked up some trash and disposed of it in the plentiful bins. There are reasonably priced, good quality local restaurants and cafes away from the beach eg on Calle Kuka. It did not have the laidback island vibe we had heard about but was still perfectly adequate for a few days.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 10 September 2023
  • grraffa
    London, United Kingdom38 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Mediocre but there is a beach
    Keen to add some beach time to our Mexican itinerary we visited Holbox Island in September 2023. It was somehow disappointing, especially for someone coming from Europe. Restaurant prices equal the ones in London and the cuisine is mediocre at best. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you need a break from typical Mexican towns and you want to experience all inclusive.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 22 September 2023
  • Deborah D
    79 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beware the Holbox Puddles!
    I have mixed feelings about Holbox Island. We stayed in a lovely hotel (Tierra Del Mar) and ate some delicious meals (particularly at La Barracuda). The beaches are beautiful and can be accessed from anywhere on the island. The water was warm, shallow, and gentle like a pool. We enjoyed kayaking out to the mangroves and seeing the flamingos. But I was expecting a peaceful, car-free island. Instead, there are lots of gas-powered, noisy ATVs and bars playing loud music at all times. It was also expensive for Mexico. The largest drawback is the huge pools of water that form in the road, sometimes covering the whole block. They are much larger than puddles. We rented bikes to ride to Punta Cocos, but had to walk them through the water on the roads often up to our thighs. The standing water can smell like sewage and breeds lots of mosquitoes. I am glad we visited Holbox, but I am not sure that I would return.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 31 October 2023
  • Nelly L
    15 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    An Overrated Island
    Holbox is definitely overrated. It is beautiful but so far away from being the "Maldives in the Yucatan." We stayed for 10 days and below is our honest feedback. The good -- beautiful beach, amazing sandbar/sand, blue water, bioluminescent tour was definitely worth it. The bad: 1. Price is sooo expensive. So many tourist traps for restaurants and clothes are more expensive than NYC and more generic than Amazon. You aren't getting a cheap vacation. 2. Unbelievably awful infrastructure. During the 10 days, it had daily outage of water and electricity. So definitely do NOT work there remotely. You would be so stressed out daily. And there is flooding... 3. No car? Oh no, there are soo many golf cars and gas ATVs. I even saw real sedans a couple times. Whenever rained, it would flood the entire city, and there are barely any sidewalks. You have to be careful not to be splashed by these cars. When it's sunny, you have to walk carefully on the streets too. Also when it rains, it doesn't dry for 10 days as the roads are uneven and have a lot of holes. 4. Doesn't feel authentic at all. In summary, I think this island is being destroyed by tourism. It is beautiful but didn't invest in infrastructure to support the flood of people. It is overly priced. I wouldn't go back.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 3 November 2023
  • Amber O
    9 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Just do your research and look at google maps during the rainy season
    The island itself is not as the pictures appear. It is rainy season now and all the streets are flooded and walking through them is perilous. There are potholes that make the driving dangerous much less the walking. Taxis are side by sides if that tells you anything. The nice areas are good!!! The food is great! But it is trashed up beyond belief. Do not expect to find a toilet seat in public places. They simply aren’t there. The street lights are few and far between so bring a flashlight. Their growth has over run the current infrastructure so many things Americans take for granted are difficult. Walking around is the hardest. Bring water shoes!!! Or better yet muck boots. Expect to Wade knee deep water in the roads to get where you are going. All that being said, I felt safe here. The locals are helpful and some speak English so that is helpful. Would I come here again? No. But for what it is, it has pretty areas and the offered activities were nice. There are little stores on every block, that is NICE! Prices are on the higher side but hey, it is an island. If you have mobility issues, this isn’t a good choice. Consider a resort if you come here so you aren’t needing to walk around town to get places.
    Visited November 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 17 November 2023
  • Lewis W
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing Island
    This Island is pure unspoilt magic. The beaches are long and on some days we walked without seeing anyone for hours. The wildlife is amazing, so many different species we’d never seen before, birds, fish and lizards. Roosting flamingoes were one sight we will never forget. As there are no cars it means that the walk into town is a strange one as the golf buggies go by and the independent small bars and stores are so interesting. We will definitely be back, it has renewed our faith in all that is real.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 20 November 2023
  • joseph l
    Novato, California8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Holbox is Paradise
    OMG. This was the best trip we could have imagined. Holbox is a sandbar. Yes its not modern and that's the point. The streets are dirt. No cars, but people have to get around so, yes, there are small utility vehicles and golf carts. If you go in the summer it's very hot.(Duh!) The beach beds were $50 US for two beds under a canopy and the $50 is applied to food and drink purchases. There are few tourists compared to most resort areas in Mexico. The beaches are beautiful where you can walk out 1/4 of a mile out and sit down on the sand. It might be a tad more expensive than other areas but it's well worth it. I never heard loud partying while I was there. Absolutely beautiful.
    Visited April 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 29 December 2023
  • CCanada
    Toronto, Canada38 contributions
    3.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful island if only Sargassum is properly managed
    Getting to the island- not too difficult from playa del Carmen . it’s around 2hours and a 30min ferry ride available every half hour. Taxis from the pier to the furthest hotel is around 200 pesos (350 pesos if raining). Early morning 6am price is (300 pesos, not raining ) The island - very basic and un commercialized yet, although we saw the first SUBWAY downtown. Major constructions all around, 2ft sidewalks are new and being built around downtown. walk in a single file as the dirt roads themselves are for the taxis and lots of pot holes. Beware not stepping on any wet clay as it can be slippery. NO above shoes period. You may have trouble with golf carts if it rains and floods. Better to take their jeep taxis. It’s for some people who prefer the rustic environment and vibe but not for others who prefer more modern infrastructure. There are a few chic and trendy restaurants in town namely, Luuma, Carmita raw bar etc etc. The beaches are awful. Stacked with sargassum seaweed in front of resorts. Our resort is at the end of the stretch and they cleaned up so it wasn’t as bad, most resorts have them and it smells awful. Some resorts are also separated by the main thoroughfare so you will be having jeeps back and forth while you are sunbathing or just hang on the beach lounges. Check with your resort if their beach front is by the road / separated by a road. Plan in advance. Our taxi did not arrive on-time even though we booked it for 5:50am . We almost missed our 6:30am ferry to catch our flight in Cancun.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 5 January 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.0
4.0 of 5 bubbles1,108 reviews
Excellent
642
Very good
167
Average
106
Poor
81
Terrible
112

Teresa R
7 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Friends
Terrible from start to finish, Not worth the money, everything that is advertised for this trip is false information. We was told we would see flamingos but once we got to the island was informed that you could only see them from the Caribbean side, we were advised not to walk to the bird sanctuary as we would not have time. So basically we paid to paddle in 2 lots of sea, 45 min shopping then back on the bus back for 4 hours. Don’t bother wasting your money 😡
Written 30 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

the u
1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
Roads were abysmal and were somehow always partially flooded as there seemed to be no drainage; food was pricey everywhere; the water off the beach was always cloudy and felt like it was the dust from the constant construction and clay from the island; the mosquitos were horrendous (can't be helped but was noted all the same); bioluminescence was non-existent (not sure if this could be helped or if it is just a tourist trap?), taxis (heavy duty quad bikes) cost 200 pesos to go down the road. It did not look like a place where locals come to visit, it seemed like it was purely to work.

Things that were enjoyable were the iguanas, coffee, our hostel manager at Balam Ecocamping Holbox and the ferry ride back to mainland :)
Written 16 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Shofsan
Sweden424 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Couples
Beautiful island with sand beaches, great for anyone looking to relax or take in some adventures by tours. We arrived a little after El Niño winds had hit, according to one of the guides. The winds and storms cause the seaweed to wash up on the beaches, and of course will make the roads flood since they have no draining system for the roads (its an island, after all!) We also arrived before the official season of shark whales and flamingos, but had a great time! Try the tacos gobernador at any restaurant, definitely recommend them! The island is not as hidden as I assume it once was, since most places accepted credit cards and the prices are more in the likes of Cancun rather than a small town of Mexico. My suggestion: do some research before going, so that you don't get disappointed when you don't get to see any whale sharks / do tours because of bad weather.
Written 28 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sarah E
Montreux, Switzerland4 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Family
Such a bad experience. This place should be avoided. Definitely the pictures do not reflect the reality. The streets are full of garbages, no maintenance of road and beaches- such an ecological disaster… on top everything is super expensive. The smell on the streets is horrible. I wish we would not have spend 4 days there … definitely not recommended - if you are looking for a peaceful hidden paradise, forget about it and skip!
Written 8 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Budget Build Buy
New York City, NY24 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2023 • Couples
We had an amazing time despite the water problems. We arrived first week of December. Used the Ado bus service from airport to Chiquila. Comfortable ride took some drinks and snacks. We would return probably not with kids. Enjoyed some adult time with my wife. Nice restaurants in the heart of the city and transportation was easy. We stayed on the western edge of the island at an amazing hotel Casa HX highly recommended. I don’t think it was cheap but not high end expensive either.
Written 10 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

JDan-France
15 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
Such a bad experience…
Holbox is a touristic attraction where you’ll for sure feel like an american !
Everything is soo expensive, no quality and just for the tourist you are.
Island has nothing authentic ! just fastly developped with no consideration about anythîng.
No car ? ahaha.. but plenty of quads noise ! the « taxi » that will cost you arm & legs to have a little ride :)
Wish that place could have been forgottern and left to its fishermen that don’t exist anymore…
Just a bad dream and 3 days lost on this « the place to be » destination… never again !
Written 26 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Daverblond
Toronto, Canada200 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
This February was a return trip for us. After an absence of four years, we still found it to be laid-back and relaxing, but it has changed, of course.

This year was an odd-weather year for all of us, Holbox included. A powerful low pressure front had pushed the lagoon's water across the island just a week before we arrived and the effects were obvious: plants and trees were yellowing from the salt water, and many roads (even entire blocks) were flooded. On our last visit, the roads were dry, so this year we had to navigate deep, slippery pools and find alternate ways to get to our destination. I have to disagree with other recent reviews: there was no smell of sewage in the streets. How could there be? There are no drains! The smell came from elsewhere.

There was much more sargassum on the beach than in the past. That's due to the weather and the ocean currents, but it wasn't being raked up, and there was a lot of it. The beach in front of Mawimbi and Casa Las Tortugas was only lightly affected, but further east, at Punta Caliza, it had built up in thick swathes. When the wind was blowing the wrong way, everything smelled like rutabaga that had been cooking too long. Some days, you'd wince at the smell.

I also noticed that a lot of businesses along the beach (closer to the east side) had closed due to the pandemic and tropical storm damage. The vacant lots were being used for refuse, and that was sad to see. I'm sure, that due to the ever-increasing popularity of Holbox, they won't be vacant for much longer.

It quickly became evident that the cheap places to eat on the beaches weren't cheap any longer. Even the simplest of holes in the wall were charging a lot more, but they were still busy.

Holbox is certainly more popular than it was even four years ago. I'd estimate that there were three times as many people than on our previous visit. Along with the increase in tourism, something else increased in size: the taxis. The small golf cart taxis have been replaced by humvee-looking ones that are about 50% larger and there certainly are a lot of them! Walking downtown at night is a tactical challenge with so many pedestrians, bicyclists, and giant taxis coming at you from every direction.

Here's another difference: it used to be difficult to buy a bottle of booze. The small stores had a poor selection and they were often covered in dust; beer was king. Now, alcohol stores are everywhere; many are tequila and mezcal vendors with cheesy guys in front trying to lure you in for a taste. Although, I was impressed by one guy who could speak English, French, German, and Dutch.

Everything changes and Holbox is no different. More people attract more hotels, restaurants, and those looking to make a quick buck. I hope that the fragile ecosystem of the island can handle it. I likely won't be back next year, or the year after. I like serenity on a beach vacation, and will have to look elsewhere for that.
Written 19 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Maria O
Bethesda, MD687 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Friends
I had not heard of Holbox Island before my friends told me about it. I was blown away by the beautiful beaches, nice shops, amiable locals and visitors, good food and more. Really enjoyed a horseback riding tour through the mangroves and along the beach. The lounges along the beach are fantastic, as was a beachside Mayan massage. I stayed about a 20-minute walk to town, at a pretty hotel (Villas Tiburon) with an excellent rooftop pool overlooking the beach. Enjoyed being away from the downtown and walking to and from town either along the sandy road or along the beach. The Island does not allow cars (only motorbikes, motorcycles and golf cart-like vehicles) and has some water drainage problems on the streets following rainstorms. That, however, did not decrease my enjoyment of this gorgeous, laid-back place. Feels like a throwback to the 70s, in some ways, because of its hippy vibe. Felt safe to walk alone at night. I met such wonderful people while visiting, most of whom were locals or European (and many Argentinians). I think that most travelers from the U.S. have not yet found out about this hidden gem!
Written 14 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Richard B
Edinburgh, UK5,031 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
Great place for those looking to hide for a while. Equally a great day out from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or Puerto Morelos.

A laid back island with nature, beaches, bars and restaurants. Plenty to do for a day or likewise a bit longer.
Written 9 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nycreba
Chicago, IL209 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
We spent four days and nights on Holbox at the end of January into February.

I did a lot of reading and digging into what vacation life was like on Isla Holbox after seeing overwhelmingly negative reviews from the last quarter of 2023. We had a lot of trepidation heading into our adventures, needlessly as it turns out. We had a wonderful time.

Like anywhere in the world, I don’t think Holbox is for everyone: There are certainly stretches of clean white sand but the beaches are not pristine due to issues with sargassum. Most
resorts do a great job of cleaning up their beaches but some don’t, and it’s aesthetically detracting. We honestly stopped noticing it at some point but if you’re coming in search of miles of uninterrupted and pristine sand, it’s probably not a good fit.

As mentioned repeatedly, there is a great deal of standing water in some areas and some roads in town are nearly impassable without tiptoeing around giant puddles or wading right on through. Pol at Raíces told us it’s due in part to the large construction trucks tamping down the ground and water can’t drain - there’s likely truth in that and it’s certainly a downside to gentrification without proper infrastructure. That said, we navigated on bikes and on foot around those areas and simply avoided roads that were under water.

Previous reviews note issues with the number of ATV taxis and etc. We noticed them in volume but the noise level wasn’t nearly as bothersome from them as was the club music thumping early into the morning. That was harder for us.

Finally, the town itself is rustic. There’s a Subway sandwich shop and a Rosa Mexicano now (assuming the latter is related to the national Mexican chain restaurant in the US, the former certainly is) and there are many construction projects in process but for the most part, it’s a mashup of independent restaurants and vendors, late night taco carts and beachside bodegas. There are some areas where trash is piled, yes, but it isn’t overrun with trash, as is noted in other reviews, and we found it charming.

So what did we do? A whole lot of nothing and it was amazing.

We walked the island in the morning during low tide all the way up and back on the north facing beach, wading out to the east in ankle to waist deep water to ramble along the sand bars. We saw pelicans and flamingos flying overhead. In the early mornings the water was still, and we were joined by dozens of people coming and going. It was a highlight of our day.

We walked out the opposite direction to Punta Coco and relished in how isolating it is so far away from town.

We rented bikes from Isla Holbox one afternoon but found the roads easier to navigate on foot and didn’t hang onto them long.

We enjoyed good to excellent food everywhere we ate and didn’t feel ripped off or taken advantage of at any time. All of the service in restaurants was attentive and pleasant and we had no negative experiences. We especially enjoyed the food at Raíces (we ate there several times) and Arte Sano. We ate tacos at Barba Negra, aguachile at Mandarina and late night street tacos at the Los Tacos de Barbacoa cart on the parque. We had lobster pizza at Roots and beachside guacamole at the Escape. All of it was very good, and some spots (more than expected) took credit cards. Only one spot, Tacos de Humo, added gratuity automatically.

We were blessed with exceptional weather - it did not rain in the days prior to our arrival and did not rain while we were there and we enjoyed beautiful sunny days with just the right amount of wind. As such, although armed with enough insect repellant to sink a small
fishing boat, we never used it and my partner was bit only once or twice by mosquitos; I wasn’t bothered by them at all.

We never visited in pre COVID times when the isla was less developed / off the grid, but also weren’t offput by the development that’s clearly in process now. We saw and met repeat travellers / visitors who continued to return to the island year after year and at the conclusion of our brief holiday on Holbox, I understood why. It’s easy to lose entire days in a hammock or walking along the sandbars and on the beach. I also understand that if you’re caught in a patch of bad weather or during rainy season, it’s probably not as easy to enjoy. But with some good planning and a little bit of luck, you can absolutely lean into a few wonderful days of beautiful views and adventures as we did.

Please DM me if any other questions - we really had a great time and I’m happy to elaborate on any of the above and offer (perhaps?) a different point of view from the often negative or disappointed reports posted here.
Written 4 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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