5 Reasons why you HAVE to visit Holbox!
In April we ventured as a family to Mexico. It was not my first visit (My 4th time admittedly) and each time I had travelled to a different part of the country. Whilst we wanted a relaxing trip away to enjoy some quality time together, the inner explorer in me wanted to venture away from the crowds of people and find a hidden gem. I had heard of Holbox (pronounced Ole-Bosh) as it is quite an infamous area in Mexico for its Whale Shark season in July. So I decided to book a trip to see what the fuss with Holbox was all about.
It took a good 2 hour drive from our base in Tulum to get to Chiquila, the port that has access to all the boats to make the crossing over to Holbox Island. First bit of advice for you, DON'T do a day trip like us! Stay for 2-3 days if you can or longer! This place is definitely worth it and I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed.
So after a sleepy early morning drive, we boarded our boat to make the crossing over to Holbox Island or Isla Holbox as pronounced by the Mexicans. We stopped en route to a place called bird Island or Isla Pajaros. Bird Island is just 60 feet wide and it is home to, wait for it, birds! I mean many, many different species around 35 to be exact including Pelicans, Frigates and Flamingo, which form part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve. Travelling with a young child, you have to be super vigilant here with regards to the sun. There is absolutely no shelter when visiting the island so I would suggest venturing here during the early morning or later afternoon to escape that midday intense heat. The island honestly feels like a virgin beach. There is absolutely nothing man made located here except one small bird watching tower. The rest of the island is just an islet composed of driftwood, seashells and a stretch of pure white sandy beach.
Following a quick explore of Bird Island, we darted for the shade in our boat to continue across to Isla Holbox. We cruised alongside the island and at first glance, there was just the most whitest, pure sand, clearest blue Caribbean water and I knew I would absolutely love it here. I mean what is there not to love? Look at it!
I knew by arriving, the vibe was incredible. No cars, cute, quaint little boutique accommodations, fresh seafood, no hoards of people and street art galore. This place was like an authentic Caribbean island getaway. It was quite simply stunning. I felt quite gutted that I hadn't researched and discovered this place before booking my initial trip, as I would have just stayed here. Period.
Our guide from Cancun Bay Tours suggested to hire a beach buggy and explore at our own pace, in our own time. The buggy's were very affordable at around $20 USD for 2 hours. It gave us a chance to explore Holbox independently whilst sheltering from the sun for Ruby,as they had large canopies above. We even had a successful day nap on board, which was a result for a stubborn toddler that hates to nap! I can tell you that sun is very, very hot and you definitely need the buggy's to explore, on foot, especially with a child would be near impossible. They are so much fun to drive to! I have never driven one before and I am not the best of driver's, but these are easy, go quite fast when you want them to and even have a storage section at the back for cool drinks and your bag whilst you are cruising to find THAT perfect spot to sit back and relax to enjoy one of the most stunning beaches I have ever set foot on.
So not only is it a stunningly beautiful, boho vibe slice of heaven, it has buildings FULL of street art. Oh my god can this place get any better? Now I am not talking some scrappy piece of graffiti that you would see on a side street in London, I am talking full on art work. If there is not some amazing art mural on one wall, than it is painted bright colours to give a real Caribbean colourful and playful feel to this gem.
Many of the pieces of art work have hidden messages, meanings and local Mayan beliefs behind them so they really do have meaning to the locals that reside here. Following our stint on the buggy's, we headed to a beach front local restaurant to eat my very first Lobster Pizza! This pizza was unbelievable and incredibly affordable considering it had an entire lobster shredded on its topping. Delicious!
Unfortunately for us our time was coming to a close on the island. As much as I would have loved to have stayed in one of the many stunning accommodations on the island (Think boutique, small and personalised), we had the journey back to consider. Plus, there is the crossing back to the mainland which ceases at 4pm due to strong winds daily and it is deemed unsafe to cross after this time. So after another stroll about on the island to take pics, have a swim and pick up a local fresh coconut handmade ice-cream cone, it was time to leave behind our new found paradise.
Holbox. What a place! So here are my top 5 reasons to visit this quaint little place and why you MUST visit!
1) The beach. Need I say more! Escape the sargassum influx that is drowning the beaches of Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and the Riviera Maya for that true picturesque white sandy beach and shallow gentle Caribbean water.
2) The vibe. Holbox has a real laid back, boho and chilled vibe to it. Think the real Caribbean, not westernised Caribbean, with boutique accommodations, local restaurants and friendly laid back locals.
3) No cars! Instead you get to whizz about in electric golf buggy's! Not only are they mega fun, they're much better for the environment, easy and safer to drive! Winner!
4) Street Art. If you are like me and are quite the fan of colourful (yet tasteful) street art and can appreciate a good artist than Holbox is FULL of large wall murals and multicoloured buildings.
5) Food. We ate fresh coconut ice-cream, lobster pizza and fresh juices. Many of the local restaurants advertise fresh seafood, vegetarian and organic food or quite simply, decent traditional mexican dishes. We were very impressed by the quality, which is a huge bonus.