Isla Holbox: The Best Kept Secret in Mexico and the Caribbean

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beach on holbox

I first heard whispers of Isla Holbox (pronounced ‘ol bosh’) when I was in the ultra chill town of El Remate on the lake Petén Itzá in northern Guatemala. It was supposed to be a small island in Mexico where there wasn’t so much tourism yet, very relaxed vibes, no motor vehicles, beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise water, and a place to go see whale sharks. I was sold.

isal holbox beach
Tranquil Isla Holbox

I was in the super Americanized city of Playa Del Carmen and I found out that Isla Holbox was primarily marketed as  a ‘day trip’ destination for the all-inclusive resort folk. After spending a long last night night partying (50USD for open bar and cover for the DJ, why not?) I decided to get the hell outta there. I’d been to the Playa Del Carmen area four times in my life already and that was more than enough.

boat to holbox
On the boat to Holbox

To get to Holbox I had to take a bus to the small coastal town of Chiquilá, then a ferry or boat for 30 minutes to get to the island itself.  At the time I was traveling with a Swedish friend of mine and we raced to our hostel to beat the other backpackers we saw on the bus and luckily were able to get the very last room. It was totally sold out and I could see why. Tribu Hostel was easily one of the best hostels I have ever stayed at.

golf cart wash on holbox
Everybody drives golf carts on Isla Holbox, hence the “car wash”

Tribu hostel itself was kind of a destination. It looked like a purple castle in the sand. The rooms were excellent and the beds comfortable. Every night they had live music in the main bar, which was where most people on the island came for some entertainment. Also, every evening on the rooftop, they had sunset yoga overlooking the ocean.  The atmosphere was always great with chill and friendly vibes. I met a lot of cool people.

holbox direction signpost
All you need is a signpost to tell you where to go on the island…

Unfortunately, we had arrived to Isla Holbox one week before whale shark season, so if we took a boat out to the ocean we wouldn’t see any of those majestic creatures. Instead we occupied ourselves exploring the gorgeous island. The beaches were huge and the crystal blue water was shallow, so you could walk out pretty far.

people walking on sand
Walking out to the sand bar

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a sandbar with people
Nothing but sand and water


view of holbox island from water
View of the beach way off


calm clear island water
The calm

At some points there were sand bars built up so you could walk out to your own little mini island. One of the most fun days I had there was renting a golf cart, ripping around the island, driving on the beaches, blasting music and drinking beers.

golf cart on the island
Golf cart fun


view of golf cart from water
Taking a break from driving around

I could really notice the lack of tourists compared to other spots in Mexico; there were barely any compared to any other place in the Yucatan. Holbox is also a kite-boarding spot, but I didn’t partake in lessons because I was being cheap.

two guys two girls
Golf cart cruisers


a beach on holbox
Where are the tourists?

I loved the fact that Holbox was also covered in street art. It was all over the island. A lot of the pieces were surreal and comprised of vibrant colors.

streetart on holbox
Van Gogh trippin balls


streetart on holbox
Turtle power


street art on holbox
Jazzing up the sea life


pink storefront on holbox
The owner of this restaurant likes pink

Easily some of the best days I had traveling through Mexico and Latin America were in Isla Holbox. The whole combination of Hostel Tribu with the tranquil and beautiful island was  bliss.  I could have spent longer there, but I made an impulsive decision to fly to Medellin, Colombia, a place I would get stuck for a long time.

street on holbox
Hasta luego Isla Holbox




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