Isla Holbox, Mexico is a tiny fishing village in the state of Quintana Roo featuring sea, sun, sand, and an abundance of land and marine life. It is separated from the mainland coastline of Mexico by a shallow lagoon, which provides sanctuary to thousands of pelicans, gulls, and migrating brilliant pink flamingos.
Isle Holbox, an unspoiled paradise located 40-miles northwest of Can Cancun, is accessible by a 20-miute ferry ride from the port of Chiquila on the Mexican mainland or a short flight from the Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
No Driving For You
Maintaining an eco-friendly mindset, the tiny isle bans all automobiles. A small fleet of yellow golf carts and a couple of old jeeps provide taxi transportation on the 26-mile long isle where you will see few people, but lots of birds and an impressive showing of dolphins, turtles, and sharks. Recreational opportunities include hiking, swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, biking, and just laying back in a hammock and watching the world go by.
A convoluted web of sandy pathways connects the coast, the port, and the busy town square. When visiting Isla Holbox, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, a hat for protection from the noonday sun and sturdy hiking boots as well as sandals and beach shoes.
Wildlife is Livelihood
Wildlife tourism is the life-blood of the community. From June through September, the island’s biggest draw is the annual visitation of hundreds of rare massive whale sharks that gather to feed and breed off the Yucatan Peninsula. The Holbox Yum Balam Ecological Reserve endeavors to provide protection and sanctuary for all species that inhabit the small island, including sea swallows and four species of nesting turtles.
Tucked away in a dense mango grove on the island’s north shore, an innovative conservation project, Crocodile Quay, is currently under construction. The Quay is a popular destination for kayakers who visit the site of a view of the turtles, crocodiles and helmet crabs monitored. Development plans call for an education center, a museum, and a restaurant/gift shop to support the islands determined conservation efforts.
The majority of the tiny island’s residents make a living by fishing the azure waters. Fishermen walking through the village, carrying their catch and nets is a common sight. One of choice places to eat on the island is the food tuk-tuk El Changarrito and Cariocas for fresh lobster pizza.
Lay Back and Relax
Visitors will find the laid-back “hippy-chic” island a far cry from the lavish luxury resorts of the mainland. On Isla Holbox things move at a deliciously slow pace. There are no ATMs, traffic lights, billboards, high-rise hotels or package tours. Instead, travelers will find accommodations in private homes, quaint beachside cottages, charming boutique hotels and campsites scattered along the coastline.
Still considered a virgin tourist destination, Isla Holbox has few visitors and remains unspoiled by mass tourism. Locals want it to stay that way. In the past residents have defeated plans for large-scale resort development and continue to push for government officials to enact a management plan to preserve the island’s fragile eco-system.
Time will tell if the island people can resist the temptations of fast-paced development. However, for now, it is truly a bit of paradise: refreshingly untainted by aggressive commercialism.