Isla Holbox, Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico By Vineel Dean

 

Isla Holbox, Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico.

Long beaches and beautiful sunsets.

In the know travel trendsetters have a new destination on their minds in the race for truly unspoilt destinations. And the new spot on everyone’s lips is the Island of Holbox, 40 miles north-west of Cancun off the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Isla Holbox is part of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Holbox (“black hole” in Yucatec Maya) is a jewel-pretty island separated from the Mexican mainland by a shallow lagoon that is home to world famous flamingos, pelicans and other rich birdlife. It’s this isolation that makes it a unique destination. The island is beautiful due to its location where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean, white sandy beaches and brilliant blue seas frame the island. Tourist development has been thankfully slow and steady, catering to avid bird watchers, nature lovers, kite boarding enthusiast’s young families and backpackers brought here via travel blogs or word of mouth. Increasingly it is being g discovered by newlyweds as a superb getaway from the glitz of Cancun and other bustling holiday spots in Mexico.

Not yet heavily tourist infested, the island’s main industry is fishing. The island is accessed by ferry from the Mexican mainland town of Chiquila, and has virtually no cars, with transport for locals and tourists via golf carts or moped in order to protect the environment. A network of sandy streets (Most without names!) connects the port, the coast and the lively town square.

Well-informed travel trendsetters have a new destination on their minds in the race for truly perfect targets. The new spot on everyone’s lips is the Island of Holbox, 40 miles northwest of Cancun off the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Isla Holbox is part of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Holbox (“black hole” in Yucatec Maya) is a jewel-pretty island separated from the Mexican mainland by a shallow lagoon that is home to world famous flamingos, pelicans, and other abundant birdlife. It’s this isolation that makes it a unique destination. The island is beautiful due to its location where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean, white sandy beaches and brilliant blue seas frame the island. Tourist development has been thankfully slow and steady, catering to avid bird watchers, nature lovers, kiteboarding enthusiast’s young families and backpackers brought here via travel blogs or word of mouth. Increasingly it is g discovered by newlyweds as a superb getaway from the glitz of Cancun and other bustling holiday spots in Mexico.

Not yet heavily tourist infested, the island’s main industry is fishing. The island is accessed by ferry from the Mexican mainland town of Chiquila, and has virtually no cars, with transport for locals and tourists via golf carts or moped to protect the environment. A network of sandy streets (Most without names!) connects the port, the Coast, and the lively town square.

Key attractions and when to go

Birdwatching, Whale watching and Kiteboarding

Holbox is home to more than 150 bird species. An incredible variety of fish is also abundant. Wildlife tourism is a major attraction, with the May-September high season coinciding with the annual congregation of rare whale sharks, The Holbox Yum Balam ecological reserve seeks to protect all species on the island, including four types of nesting turtle and a sea swallow that nests in the sand. Just off shore in the mangrove-lined north, fledgling animal conservation project Crocodile Quay is being built. Kayak trips pause here to see the crocodiles, turtles and helmet crabs already being monitored.

The annual migration of the whale shark, the largest fish in the world is an opportunity you can experience in very few parts of the world. Seasonal whale shark snorkeling tours are available, where adventurers can also see whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins, and other fish in their natural habitat.

The shores of Isla Holbox are lined with wide beaches that offer plenty of room for sunbathers, beach walkers, and kiteboarders. The main beach is roughly 2 kilometers (1¼ miles) long with more beaches to walk and discover in more remote island locations.

A developing art scene is another draw. The International Public Arts Festival happens each April and features both local and international artists. Community activities are at the center of Isla Holbox ‘things to do’ with visitors welcome to join in the weekend fun or a beach football/soccer game.

Where to stay

Alongside basic campsites, some accommodations are ranging from budget hotels to more expensive options. Small Cabañas (cabins) and bungalows are popular, and many are on the beach. Some of the most upscale places can be found east of town, out along the island’s northern shore called the Zona Hotelera. Budget and midrange hotels are located in around the central plaza. Prices range from $40 per night for basic accommodation and go to over $200 per night for high range hotels.

What to eat and drink.

Isla Holbox cuisine is a fusion of traditional Yucatecan flavors and Caribbean fair. The local sea bounty of fish, lobster, and octopus is prepared over open fires—the traditional way of cooking called “palapa” and dishes are based on the daily fishermen’s catch. Must-try are the octopus ceviche, and coctel de Pescado, a plate of marinated fish. Drinks are potent and margaritas a specialty on the island!

Getting there and local transport

The island is small enough to walk your way around. Most visitors arrive via a small ferry from Chiquila, on the Mexican mainland. There are almost no cars on the island to conserve the environment, and vehicles cannot be taken to Isla Holbox, but there is ample parking in Chiquilá that is inexpensive and secure. A small airline, Aerosaab, flies tours to Holbox from Cancún and Playa del Carmen. You can hire small golf carts and mopeds on the island or take the cart taxis to explore and get around.

Isla Holbox is one of the South America’s true jewels, laid back, clam, peaceful, a place with no cars, sandy streets, empty beaches’ and beautiful sunsets. Get there before it becomes discovered!