Holbox Island is a charming tropical paradise located in the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether you visit for just a day or decide to spend several nights on the island, you’ll find some great things to do in Holbox Island.
Getting to Holbox is simple, especially with Fly Playa — by plane it’s a short yet spectacular twenty-minute ride across the Yucatan Peninsula and voila! You’re on the island via our Holbox charter flights!
If you do decide to go by land, expect about a 1.5 to 2-hour drive plus a 30-minute ferry ride. There are two Holbox ferry companies, Nueve Hermanos (Nine Brothers) and Holbox Express that leave every hour and has even more frequent routes during high season.
10 Things to Do in Holbox Island
Holbox is actually a fairly large island. In fact, it stretches out 26 miles to the east toward Cancun. However, the island is just about a mile long.
Moreover, the inhabited part of the island is much smaller, meaning that you can easily travel from point to point.
The growth of Holbox over the course of the last several years has been phenomenal and continues unabated.
As such, the map of the island is changing and there are continuously new restaurants, new hotels, new shops, and new people.
However, growth hasn’t taken away the island’s charm much less its white sand streets that see few cars and many more golf carts and bicycles.
#1 Rent a Bicycle or Golf Cart
Speaking of which, this is definitely one of the things to do in Holbox that is a must.
You can walk around the island easily, but you’ll have much more of an opportunity and time to explore if you’re able to move a little faster.
You’ll definitely want to check out the eastern and western extremes of the island, as least as far as you can get eastwards.
With fewer people around you’re always in for the possibility of some awesome nature sightings such as the beautiful pink flamingos.
#2 Enjoy the Spectacular Holbox Beach
Holbox Island has a long, beautiful coastline that extends out east to west along the Gulf of Mexico.
For those of you familiar with the stunning blues of the Mexican Caribbean, you’re in for a whole different treat in Holbox.
Here, where the tranquil waters of the Atlantic embrace the shoreline, the spectacular hues of this tropical seascape are turquoise green.
Because there are few constructions that reach up to the water, you can easily take a relaxing walk along the coast while taking in the sites, sounds, and aromas of the ocean.
Plus, if you’re able to witness a Holbox sunset then you’re in for something truly special. Be sure you have your camera handy because these are guaranteed to be some of the most breathtaking twilights you’ll ever experience.
#3 Experience the Incredible Cuisine of Holbox Restaurants
When people think of food and great places to eat, I’m sure that Holbox is not the first place that comes to mind.
Who, after all, besides me, would conjure up images of fresh fish, ceviche, and even lobster pizza when thinking about a tropical paradise of white sand streets and beaches?
Well, Holbox Island will surprise you.
That’s because not only is the local cuisine simple yet spectacular, but because the influx of migrants from different parts of Mexico and the world has brought in delicious flavors and new fusions such as the island’s famous lobster pizza.
There are so many great places to try that a list here would no do them justice.
We’ll do a whole article on that later.
For now, here are a few suggestions: Le Jardin bakery for breakfast, Raices in the afternoon for an awesome ceviche or fresh fish, and El Chapulim in the evening for a no-menu, strong drink farewell to a beautiful day.
#4 Swim with the Whale Sharks
Swimming with whale sharks is an activity that will take up most of your day but one that’s totally worth it if your up for the adventure of being in the water alongside the largest fish on the entire planet.
Luckily for us, the area between Cabo Catoche — which is located on Holbox Island — and the international waters off the coast of Contoy Island of the Caribbean Sea, is home to the largest whale shark migration in the world.
Each year from approximately June through mid-September, hundreds of these majestic creatures migrate to the region to feast on the large quantities of plankton, krill, and fish eggs.
Harmless to humans but a death trap to their microscopic nourishment, from Holbox you can actually swim alongside the ocean titans.
Whale shark tours depart early in the morning and, depending on the location of these filter feeders (this is nature after all), you should be back around 2:00 p.m.
And don’t worry: although the diameter of their mouths can reach up to almost ten feet, their throat is actually the size of a quarter. In other words, they couldn’t eat you even if they tried.
We do, however, have a caveat here: you can also swim with whale sharks departing from Cancun or Isla Mujeres. Visibility tends to be much better in these parts, and you’ll generally find more whale sharks than in Holbox.
Our suggestion for a whale shark tour from Holbox: VIP Holbox.
#5 Go on the Three Island or Classic Tour
This fun and inexpensive tour is a great way to get out in the water without having to go too far or spend the whole day out at sea.
Known as the Three Island or Classic Tour, this excursion starts out at the pier and heads out to various points of interest around the island.
Among the places you’ll be able to visit is Yalahua, a fresh water spring just off the coast of the mainland that was once said to be a fountain of youth.
Moreover, according to legend at least, pirates used this place as a hideout and the resting place of yet unfound buried treasures.
Other sites include Passion Island and Bird Island, two small but gorgeous isles just off the coast of Holbox.
It’s the perfect Holbox tour: fun, relaxing, tropical.
#6 Experience a Bioluminescent Beach in Holbox
This is not your everyday adventure.
Have you ever heard of bioluminescence?
They may say in Game of Thrones that “the night is dark and full of terror,” but that’s not necessarily what you’ll find on a Holbox beach come new moon.
Bioluminescence is just a least fancy term to describe noctiluca scintillans, a.k.a. sea sparkle.
Basically what happens is that the microscopic nourishment of whale sharks that is plankton produce a chemical reaction that can be witnessed on dark nights and especially during the summer months.
This blueish hue creates a sort of shine that illuminates any nearby movement and is a truly spectacular sight.
If you are able to experience this in Holbox, be sure to leave any valuables at home. Rumor has it that modern day pirates have been finding delight in their coveted bounty.
#7 Learn to Kiteboard
Holbox Island is a kiteboarding paradise.
Good winds are fairly common along the coastline year-round. Combined with tranquil waters of the island, this makes it a great destination to finally learn how to kiteboard.
If you’re already experienced, one day is enough to be able to rent some equipment and head out for some aquatic adventure.
However, if you are a newcomer to the sport, plan to spend several days (and several hundred dollars) learning the art of managing the kite, dealing with the wind and staying upright on the board.
If you like adrenaline and adventure, it’s definitely well worth it. Plus, it’s a sport that you can practice all over the world.
Our suggestion: Holbox Kiteboarding School
#8 Kayak through the Mangroves
If you love nature, bird-watching, and perhaps even the opportunity to see some large crocodile hanging out on the beach or in the water in search of food (no, not you), then this is one of the best things to do in Holbox.
Just past the last inhabited stretch of the island, around the point known as Punto Mosquito (yes, there are lots of those too so take along some biodegradable insect repellant), you’ll set out on a journey through spectacular mangrove channels.
Here, nature is king and humans are few and far between.
In other words, you’re likely to see a lot of different birds and maybe even a few reptilians.
Be sure to send us some pictures!
Our suggestion: VIP Holbox
#9 Spearfish in Holbox
Another great activity and one to include in that list of everlasting memories is spearfishing.
However, this one is not for beginners. If you’re looking for that, be sure to check out Spearfishing Today, who also offers charters in Cozumel, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
But if you’re already an experienced spearo, and would like to take up this exciting adventure in the Gulf of Mexico, then you’ll find the expert team at Spearfishing Today to be right up your alley.
Plus, in addition to being the leading spearfishing charter in the Mexican Caribbean, they also practice responsible and ethical tourism based on the concept of taking your catch from sea to table.
In other words, you eat what you catch.
Our suggestion: Spearfishing charter Holbox
#10 Do Nothing
We’ve saved the best for last.
Yes, nothing. Nada. Zilch. Nights.
Just hang out.
Take in the sites. Relax. Have a drink if you must.
Read a book, maybe.
Whatever you do while doing nothing but enjoying yourself, don’t think, don’t worry, don’t regret.
Just live. Experience the moment.
That’s the true essence and beauty of Holbox and it’s people.
That’s why Holbox Island is one of the best places you’ll ever visit.
Need a charter from Playa del Carmen to get there?
Let us know!