Isla Holbox, Mexico

[June 2019]

We arrived in Holbox by ferry from Chiquila after a direct bus from Tulum. I want to say the ferry cost about 200 pesos, but I don’t recall exactly. I chose for us to visit Isla Holbox because I wanted the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks and late June is when that season begins. Perfect timing!

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We stayed at Hotel Para Ti, another winner! The rooms were beautiful and bright, there was a great rooftop lounging area, there were hammocks everywhere, the hotel kinda had a treehouse, eco-friendly vibe going on, and while the pool was on the small side, it was never crowded… And they served the best strawberry lemon smoothie I think I have ever tasted.

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Holbox is as laid back and colorful as they come. Instead of cars, there are golf carts for taxis. Our hotel was just a short walk from the pier. The town center is so small that you can walk just about everywhere. To get to the far points of the island, you may want to rent a bike.

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My time was pretty much evenly divided between hanging by the pool, walking along and swimming at the perfect, soft white sand beach, and eating all the things.

Since it was the rainy season, there were some epic clouds and water colors in the early afternoon.

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And of course, this leads to beautiful sunsets.

At night, pop into the main square for your selection of taco, quesadilla, and sweet carts. Some other great options we tried were Viva Zapata and Roots Pizza for lunch/dinner, and Limoncito and Le Jardin for breakfast.

The highlight of my time in Isla Holbox was, obviously, snorkeling with whale sharks. I booked my adventure with a company right in the main square. It was just a table set up with a tent. I almost didn’t do it because of the price, about 130 USD, but it’s what I went there for so Kara told me to shut my face and pay. I am here to tell you it was worth every penny.

I was a little nervous because it’s about a two hour boat ride each way (leaving quite early in the morning) and I have gotten sick on two whale watching tours. Luckily the ride is along the coast most of the way. As long as I can see land, I’m fine. Just when I started to feel a little iffy I started to spot the other boats and not long after the first of many whale sharks. What a feeling to be surrounded, so closely, by those gentle giants…

On our way back we stopped for some shallow snorkeling while our guides prepared a delicious, fresh ceviche lunch. I saw two manta rays! We passed swarms of flamingos, spotted a crocodile, and quietly boated through a peaceful protected wildlife area.

My only regret (other than not staying FOREVER) was that I didn’t rent a bike to go to Ponta Coco to see the bioluminescence. This is a naturally occurring phenomenon due to the large number of krill in the water this time of year. I tried walking down to the beach later at night, but there was still too much light pollution in that area.

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The next stop on our holiday was Oaxaca via one night in Cancun then flying through Mexico City. I booked us a night in Cancun because I wasn’t sure we could get to the airport in time for our flight. After getting on the ferry that morning and seeing an advertisement for airport transfers, I think we could have gone without the night in Cancun, but that’s okay.

The taxis outside the bus station had fixed rates, so we jumped in and made our way to Beachscape Kin Ha Villa and Suites. As we left the station I felt like we were in Miami, not Mexico and I missed Isla Holbox already. The hotel certainly didn’t have the character that we loved about our other two hotels so far, but it was right on the beach, it had a huge pool, and a large breakfast. While everything seemed just okay to me, we still had a great night laughing and playing in the water. It’s amazing that we can still find such joy in volleying a beach ball at our age. This holiday continued to be everything we needed.

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