Playa Punta Cocos - Holbox Island

Holbox – Your Local Travel Guide to Mexico's Island Paradise

Written by Traivor Morrison
Published on
With long, white sand beaches and some of the most beautiful crystal-clear water in the world, Holbox is often described as Mexico's best kept secret and the best island in Mexico. It's definitely one of our new favorites! Read on to see if you should include this tranquil beach town in your travel plans!

DESTINATION HIGHLIGHT


We almost skipped this section of the island after making a lengthy hike out to the sandbank and Punta Mosquito the previous day, but our jaws dropped when we reached the postcard perfect beach at Punta Cocos. On arrival, you will find the most gorgeous turquoise waters, swings, hammocks, sun loungers, and cold coconuts to quench your thirst. If we could only do one thing on Holbox, this would be it!

Holbox Letters - Isla Holbox, Mexico
Holbox Letters - Isla Holbox, Mexico

Overview – Located far from the crowds in Cancun just off the north coast of the Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, Holbox is sure to impress with it's slower pace of life, bohemian vibes, and friendly locals. It's long and thin, measuring 26-miles long by just 1-mile wide, with most of the island protected as part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve. In addition to its amazing beaches, Holbox is perhaps best known for the whale sharks that arrive here each May to September to feed in these nutrient rich waters. You can organize a tour to swim with the whale sharks from a respectful distance as well! Not only is Holbox an adventurer's paradise, it's also a great place to simply relax.

Mojito Beach Club
Mojito Beach Club
Two Gay Expats Holbox Mexico Sandbank Walk
Holbox Sandbank
Sunset at the Main Pier
Sunset at the Main Pier
Two Gay Expats Holbox Mexico Bike Rental
Rent Bikes
Street Art at the Beach
Street Art at the Beach
Kite Surfing School
Kite Surfing School
Adventure Tours
Adventure Tours
Playa Punta Cocos
Playa Punta Cocos

Top 10 Things To Do in Holbox


  • Relax on the beach -
    Life slows down once you arrive on Holbox, and the beaches are the best place to relax. See below for our top picks of the best beach bars and clubs in Holbox! You'll also find beach vendors selling everything from massages to cold brews to coconuts.
  • Walk out to the sandbank -
    One of the top things to do in Holbox is to walk out to the sandbank at low tide. For a few minutes, it looks like people are walking on water from the main beach! It's another don't miss experience here.
  • Catch an amazing sunset -
    The best place to watch the sunset nightly is the main pier behind the Holbox letters. It's an extremely popular place to grab your beverage of choice, sit back and relax, and watch the sun go down.
  • Rent bikes and explore the island -
    A fun way to get to Playa Punta Cocos or closer to Punta Mosquito (you can't bike the whole way there) is to rent bikes. You'll find bike rental shops all over the island.
  • Discover street art in town -
    The abundance of beautiful street art is one of our favorite things about Mexico, and Holbox is no exception. We found some impressive examples in town, at our hotel, and even right on the beach.
  • Kayak through the mangroves -
    A great way to experience the incredible local flora and fauna in the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve is to get up early and kayak through the mangroves. You'll spot tons of birds, including flamingoes, and other amazing wildlife!
  • Learn to kite surf -
    Holbox is one of the best places to learn to kite surf as the shallow waters are perfect for beginners. If you're not game to give it a try, it's still fun to watch the kite surfers from the sandbank near Punta Mosquito.
  • See the bioluminescence -
    Join a kayak and swim tour in the evening to see this incredible natural phenomenon where tiny organisms in the water light up at night. We were blown away the first time we experienced the bioluminescence!
  • Swim with the whale sharks -
    From May to September each year, whale sharks, the largest fish (and shark) in the sea, travel near Holbox to feed on plankton and reproduce. Your hotel can book a thoughtful operator locally for you.
  • Visit Playa Punta Cocos -
    It's worth mentioning again this don't miss experience in Holbox for that iconic beach experience you've no doubt seen in photos. It's also extremely popular at sunset.

When to go – Late November through April is when the weather is at its best with lower humidity and mostly sunny skies. For the best whale shark sightings, we recommend July and August.

Holbox Express Ferry
Holbox Express Ferry

Getting here – It takes a little planning and effort to get to Holbox, but the payoff is definitely worth it! You can take the luxury ADO bus from Cancun or Playa del Carmen like we did to Chiquilá, which is the departure point for the ferries.

Playa del Carmen ADO Bus Terminal
Playa del Carmen ADO Bus Terminal
9 Hermanos Express Ferry
9 Hermanos Express Ferry
Taxis at Holbox Ferry Terminal
Taxis at Holbox Ferry Terminal
Holbox Express Ferry Ticket Window
Holbox Express Ferry Ticket Window
Holbox Airport
Holbox Airport
Parking Los Delfines Chiquilá
Parking Los Delfines Chiquilá
9 Hermanos Chiquilá Ticket Window
9 Hermanos Chiquilá Ticket Window

Alternatively, you can fly, arrange a private transfer from Cancun airport, take a taxi or shuttle, or drive yourself.

If you decide to fly, it's definitely the quickest option but please note the prices start at between $400-500 USD per person, one way from Cancun and even more from Playa del Carmen and Merida. On the plus side, the small airport is within walking distance or a quick golf cart taxi to anywhere in Holbox.

You can also drive yourself to Chiquilá and we found tons of options for around 100 pesos or $5 USD per night for secured parking. We ended up with a little extra time on our hands before our ADO bus back to Playa del Carmen, so we walked the entire main strip and found Parking Los Delfines. This is where we will park when we return as it appears the best, most secure option to us.

For ferry tickets, there are two companies making the quick 20-minute crossing. You do not need to organize these in advance of your arrival in Chiquilá. We took 9 Hermanos on the way over to Holbox and then we took Holbox Express on the way back. Both were super fast, friendly, and efficient. Tickets are 220 pesos or $11 USD each way per adult. The ticket window is also only open at the departure area for the company operating the next ferry, and they are directly across from each other. The two companies also alternate departures so there are ferries every half hour from Chiquilá to Holbox from 6:00am to 9:30pm and then departing Holbox for Chiquilá from 5am to 8:30pm at the time of this writing.

Pro tip – You will find bicycle taxis for you and your luggage from the parking or bus terminal on arrival in Chiquilá as well as at the ferry dock on return from Holbox. In Holbox, you will find a lineup of yellow golf cart taxis to assist if you prefer not to walk. Sometimes, you have to treat yourself, as it can be super hot in the sun in Mexico!

Hotel Para Ti - Holbox, Mexico
Hotel Para Ti - Holbox, Mexico

Where to stay – In terms of the best hotels in Holbox, Hotel Para Ti, which in Spanish means 'hotel for you,' came highly recommended to us by two fabulous ladies in our Spanish class in Tulum. We are so glad we listened to them and gave it a try!
Superior King Room Balcony
Superior King Room Balcony
Superior Room King Bed
Superior Room King Bed
Delicious Breakfast (Included)
Delicious Breakfast (Included)
Hotel Main Pool
Hotel Main Pool
Baby Raccoon
Baby Raccoon
Gorgeous Murals Everywhere
Gorgeous Murals Everywhere

We stayed in Room Vida, a Superior King Room, with a spacious balcony and a view of both pools at this small boutique property. Our room came equipped with a hammock, king-size bed, and an ensuite bathroom with a lovely conch shell faucet and shower head. Breakfast was also included at the restaurant and bar which also offered a daily happy hour from 4-6pm. Specials included 2-4-1 margaritas and two beers plus guac for only 180 pesos or $9 USD. We definitely took advantage!

Casa Las Tortugas
Casa Las Tortugas
Bridge to Reception
Bridge to Reception
Stress Free Zone
Stress Free Zone
Spa Entrance & Hottub
Spa Entrance & Hottub

For the most luxurious and central beachfront option, Casa Las Tortugas is our favorite hotel. The hotel hired Casona, the best interior design firm in the Riviera Maya, and it shows. The rooms are all unique and include beachfront options. Casa Las Tortugas also offers a beautiful spa, two bars, and the Mandarina Beach Club and Seaside Restaurant which we absolutely loved for our first meal on Holbox. The hotel is also very popular with the LGBT+ community.
Hotel Margaritaville St Somewhere
Hotel Margaritaville St Somewhere
Specialty Margaritas
Specialty Margaritas
Beach Club
Beach Club
The Harbour House Restaurant
The Harbour House Restaurant
Private Plunge Pool
Private Plunge Pool
Swim Up Bar
Swim Up Bar
The Sandbar
The Sandbar

For the best new hotel on Holbox, we discovered Margaritaville St Somewhere which just opened a couple of months ago. As we were walking around the point by Punta Cocos, we saw white umbrellas and thought maybe we could find a nice cocktail. We had no idea what would be in store for us when we headed up the boardwalk from the beach! The signature margaritas were the best we had on Holbox and the service was also impeccable. Rooms that impressed us included both swim up pool options or those with your very own private plunge pool.
The entire property exudes luxury, elegance, and exceptional service above all. We felt very welcome and were even offered a day pass if we wanted to enjoy the pool or beach club for 900 pesos or about $45 USD, and the entire amount is credited toward food and beverage which we love. If we had extra time, we would have spent the day for sure!

Mandarina Beach Club & Seaside Restaurant
Mandarina Beach Club & Seaside Restaurant

Where to eat and drink – We knew our first stop on Holbox had to be Mandarina Beach Club and Seaside Restaurant at Casa Las Tortugas. It’s definitely the most luxurious spot on the main beach in Holbox. Mandarina serves up delicious cocktails and food combined with cool breezes and spectacular views or the Gulf of Mexico. With this view, you would surely think you are next to the Caribbean Sea but surprisingly you are not.

Mandarina Entrance
Mandarina Entrance
Mandarina Lunch
Mandarina Lunch
Salma Cocktails
Salma Cocktails
Famous Roots Pizza
Famous Roots Pizza
Salma Dinner
Salma Dinner

For lunch at Mandarina, we ordered the mouthwatering Baja-style cauliflower tacos, hummus with eggplant, and grilled vegetables with a tasty aioli. To quench our thirst, we enjoyed a couple of margaritas as well.

Perhaps the most famous lunch or dinner spot on Holbox is Roots. It's hard to find anyone who has been to Holbox that has not enjoyed a pizza here, especially their signature lobster pizza. The pizza crust at Roots is super yummy and crunchy to boot.

Back at Casa Las Tortugas (or across the street actually), Luuma, the hotel's super popular bar and tapas venue, does not take reservations, so we recommend arriving early. It's definitely one of the best bars in Holbox.

For dinner and dancing afterwards, Salma is sexy, fun, and romantic all at the same time. At the entrance, you will find a few tables and a small bar, but for dinner, you definitely want to sit further back by the open kitchen to watch the magic. You can move to the front bar which gets busier later.

Mojito Beach Club
Mojito Beach Club
Rooftop Pool at Alma Bar
Rooftop Pool at Alma Bar
Playa Holbox (Main Beach)
Playa Holbox (Main Beach)
Mandarina Beach Club
Mandarina Beach Club
Cocktails at Alma Bar
Cocktails at Alma Bar
Margaritaville St Somewhere Beach
Margaritaville St Somewhere Beach

Where to find the best beach bars and clubs – On the main beach, Playa Holbox, we recommend Mandarina Beach Club or Mojito Beach Club for a fabulous day to relax under a palapa with full service. We're not sure why it wasn't busier, but we also had amazing drinks and service at the rooftop pool at Alma Bar. For a more rustic experience, hire loungers at Punta Cocos or walk around the point to the beach club at Margaritaville St Somewhere for the ultimate in beach, pool, restaurant, and bar indulgence.

Other Services



Banking – There is one convenient CIBanco Branch & ATM on the main road leaving the Holbox Ferry Terminal in the direction of the beach. Please note we hear its frequently out of cash during high season, so it's best to come prepared! Most places we went accepted credit cards, but of course, not the beach vendors with their handmade local goods or Roots Pizza which was 'solo effectivo' or cash only.

CIBanco Branch & ATM (Calle Tiburón Ballena)
CIBanco Branch & ATM (Calle Tiburón Ballena)
Always DECLINE to SAVE!!!!
Always DECLINE to SAVE!!!!

Pro tip – Always pay in local currency when you travel both in cash and on your credit card. If you pay in USD for example, the posted foreign exchange rate is always 15-19 pesos per USD versus 20-21 pesos at the time of this writing. You will pay for the convenience. In addition, with respect to credit cards, the local bank processing the USD payment at the restaurant for example will always give you a worse conversion than if you pay in local and let your bank process the foreign exchange. Again, always pay in local currency to save.

For ATM withdrawals at many machines in Mexico, one thing to note which we learned the hard way last year when it was implemented: there will be an option to decline the conversion on the ATM, and you're going to want to decline this because you want your bank to process the foreign exchange. We thought this would cancel the transaction, BUT it does not and it saves you anywhere from 5-12% additional fee on top of the ATM use charge. INSANE! So definitely hit decline on that conversion at the ATM, and you'll get the best exchange rate.

Lastly, if you travel a ton like we do, look into the Schwab checking account where they reimburse all foreign ATM fees! We've saved thousands in ATM fees over the years with this account.

Covid testing – Most hotels will organize for you. Alternatively, there is a Covid testing facility directly across from the Holbox Ferry Terminal.

Want to see more? For additional footage of our adventures in Holbox, check out our Holbox – Best Beaches, Things To Do & How To Get Here YouTube video and be sure to smash that like button and subscribe! And, of course, follow us on social media @twogayexpats on your preferred social for more travel inspiration!

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Hola amigos and welcome to our gay travel blog! We are Andy and Trai, a gay couple traveling the world with PRIDE 🌈  …and our rescue dog, Pattie!

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