Isla Holbox is the highlight of our time in Mexico! This gem is located in the north of the Yucatan peninsula and we reached it after two hours by car on a totally straight road through the ”jungle” (we heard only paved in the last 5 years). On the way we were stopped by a very dodgy mexican police officer, but more about that in another post…
We were a bit worried we wouldn’t be able to find a parkinglot in the town Chiquila, from where the ferry to Holbox departs. We needed to have our car parked there for a week, and we had heard you shouldn’t leave your car unattended too long. However, it seems like the whole of this little sleepy town evolves around the transit of tourists on their way to Holbox, so there were in principle offerings of supervised parkinglots all along the town’s main road. Finally parked, we were starting to wonder how we would be able to carry all our luggage and the 3 kids in 35 degrees heat to the ferry, but a porter came straight away and even managed to take the kids on board!
Holbox is a small island, 40 km long and only one km wide and is mostly covered of swamps and jungle. One of the reasons why we love this island is that is seems to be very well protected. Electricity only came to the island in the 80’s and we happened to overhear that they try to keep it secret from Americans, to stay in the shadow of Playa Del Carmen and Cancun! In Holbox, still 30% of the inhabitants work as fishermen.
The vibe is very low key and super relaxed with lots of backpackers and it’s boho rather than chic. Afternoons are spent on the beach with locals playing football, and everyone watching the sunset. To see people having dinner at a restaurant at 10 oclock at night in bikinis was not unusual!
It is very picturesque with pastell-coloured little houses, all with their own murals, romanic hotels and sandy streets (not a paved road on the whole island!), so you hardly need to use your shoes! No cars allowed on the island, except the local taxis, incredibly slow golfcarts and the local policemen, cycling around on sand bikes with wide tires!
We stayed at Puerto Holbox hotel, a small hotel, on an almost deserted beach (no sunbeds, no umbrellas, no people) with perfectly white sand and calm turquoise water. Our room was the furthest from recption but closest to the ocean. The view from our room was breath-takingly beautiful.
What worked really well, since we stayed right on the beach, is that Alex (our 9month old) could have his day naps indoors, so we could be on the beach with a babywatch enjoying ourselves. He sleeps much better inside and not in a hot pushchair – happy baby, happy parents! The beach was full of beautiful seashells where the kids everyday found the perfect ones to complete the sandcastle of the day.
As soon as Alex woke up from his afternoon nap we went back to the beach and the whole family swam together until sunset – magical!
Since the island is well protected the wildlife is very rich. There are a lot of fish, coati and agouti roaming the streets and birds – every morning 18 pelicans stared at us from where they were sitting at sea. The pool was surrounded by iguanas, nesting in holes under the concrete. Unfortunately, during our stay it wasn’t the right season for spotting pink flamingos that normally live at the island, nor whale sharks. Instead we booked the only family tour available this time of the year, the 3 island trip, which was quite dissapointing (better beach at the hotel and more beautiful cenotes on the mainland).3 restaurant tips: Las Planchas for incredible fish and shrimp ceviche, La Conquista for delicious empanadas and Le Jardin (a bakery with French pastries and 90’s pop music, imagine fresh croissant with ”voyage voyage” blaring in the background) for breakfast.
This is a paradise island if you can handle a very relaxed time, just hanging around incredibly beautiful and calm beaches and laying in a hammock between swaying palmtrees. Not much else to do, but we loved it! It really was the perfect way to end our time in Mexico…