Holbox: Mexico’s best kept secret
When people talk about a beach holiday to Mexico, what instantly springs to mind is Tulum (which is very "cliche") or Cancun (which is notorious for spring break and string of large characterless all inclusive resorts). Well I am here to let you know about Mexico's best kept secret. Getting to Holbox from Cancun was quick and easy (as far as getting to a secluded beach goes). As it was Easter weekend when I went and I hadn’t booked coach tickets in advance, they were sold out so we got a taxi from the hotel (in cancun) to Chiquita port which cost $1500 mxn and took 1hour and 5 minutes. Then from the port you can either charter a boat or take the ferry with one of the two companies. It’s only 30 mins across to the Isle de Holbox; a bargain at $140 mxn. There is also a very affordable coach back to Cancun bus station (which we actually got back for around £8).
I can completely understand why people who visit the island end up falling in love with it and never leaving. My only hope is that not too many more people do this and the islands charm remains somehow unspoilt and un-commercialised. Sadly with any beautiful (remotely secluded part of the world) us humans flock and destroy what originally attracted us to the location in the first place. The best way to get around the island is on foot, golf buggy ($200 mxn/hour) or hire a bike from one of the shops approx $100 mxn per day. Some of the charm of Holbox is that there are no cars on the Island so we jumped in one of the taxis (golf buggy) and were at our apart-hotel in 5 mins. There is a huge mixture of accommodation on the island from luxury 4 star spa hotels to eco hostels with dorms ranging from £20 per night to £240 per night. I would recommend Papalotes for something affordable with great food, not too far from the centre or sea or for a more luxurious stay a Hotel Casa Las Tortugas, Casa del Viento or Villas HM Palapas del Mar. Holbox is a colourful chilled island where people are friendly and the beaches are idyllic and easy to access. If you are heading out to the beach for the day just make sure you take snacks and a big bottle of water for the more secluded stretches of coast as it can be a 20 min walk in 33 degree+ heat to the nearest bar of kiosk.
What to buy?
There are 6 ATMS on the island although I suggest bringing cash with you, as most dispense in US Dollars then you are charged a fee for converting to pesos. As with most places in south and central america, if you can speak Spanish all the better. I was with a Spanish speaker so getting around was very easy. Most larger hotels, bars and restaurants do have english speakers. The island completely transforms at night, dingy unattended bars become twinkly lit restaurants, bars full with crowds of people drinking mezcal and tequila and live music flows from every corner onto the streets. In the centre of town there is a night market filled with crafts from locals. I picked up this hand crafted bag for a friend for only $350, bargain. Where to eat?
Chilaquiles from Casa del Viento (great breakfast spot) - I can never get enough of this Mexican breakfast dish.
The edges of the market are lined with food trucks, tacos, quesadilla, churros you name it. You can pick up something for $20 mxn around the square there are dozens of Italian, sushi, American and Mexican restaurants. I had the best chicken quesadilla of my life for less that £2. Be warned most places on the square are incredibly expensive, with a meal for two with a bottle of wine costing £100...yes I meant £££’s. Granted this is how much you would pay at home but for Mexico it’s pricey. If you walk away from the main square there are numerous cute bars and restaurants. It is an absolute must to sample the local delicacies. This sumptuous cocktail is rimmed with ants!
What to do?
For such a small island there is plenty to keep you occupied. From swimming with whale sharks to horse riding, visiting the lagoon or taking in the stunning beaches. A must visit is Punta Coco beach. Just 15 minutes away from the centre is the vast expanse of paradise. For those of you who still need to get a workout in, there is a bootcamp that runs twice a week, which will get you sweaty.
I now understand why this island has been dubbed “the new Tulum”.