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Over There - Holbox Island - Land of the "Dominoes"
For those adventurous travelers looking for a glimpse of one of Mexico's protected natural habitats, getting to Isla Holbox for a few days will be well worth the effort. The Island of Holbox sits inside the upper northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and essentially marks the division between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The island is no more than a long sandbar covered with mangroves and swamp areas. Holbox is also part of the Yum Balaam National Protected Area because of its rich, natural biodiversity. The Yum Balaam Preserve supervises the development and protection of the island's natural resources as well as the entire region’s flora and fauna.

Less than 10 years ago (around 2000), there were no hotels at all on Holbox and the few hundred island residents were not accustomed to seeing tourists on a regular basis. Families earned a living by fishing and weaving hammocks and few spoke English. The fishermen earned extra money with their boats taking what few visitors there were on tours around the island to view the colorful flamingos and the rest of the island's wealth of natural life.

As if Holbox weren't blessed enough with its array of exotic and migratory birds, the island also happens to sit right about where 2 tectonic plates of the earth converge deep under the sea. This convergance contributes to an enormous quantity of free floating nutrients continually rising to the ocean's surface in the area around Holbox. These nutrients attract small free swiming sea life such as krill and crustaceans as well as microscopic sea life called plankton. As a result of this abundance of food, plankton feeders such as giant mantas and whalesharks have been visiting Holbox for years. The fishermen call the slow moving whalesharks "dominoes" because of their markings. But now that it has been determined that Holbox is a critical spot on these creature's migratory path, visitors are flocking to the island. Scientists and researchers from all over the world as well as ocean lovers and whaleshark enthusiasts make a pilgramage to Holbox each year in June - August.
Whale SharkWhale SharkWhale Shark

With the onslaught of this tourism, Holbox has developed a nice selection of lodging and restaurants these past few years although a vast majority are open air and/or do not have A/C. Even though there is more movement on the island, the roads are all still sand and the primary mode of transport is by golf cart. There are a few autos on the island but these are generally discouraged for ecology reasons. Visitors can rent golf carts by the hour to tour the small island and then walk the rest of the time to/from hotels and restaurants to get around.

On the whole, Holbox remains a very laid back, quiet little island with lots of charm. What it offers travelers is a stark contrast to the high energy, fast paced tourism of Cancun. Cozumel visitors will also find that Holbox Island makes a great day trip or overnight excursion during whaleshark season.

MAKE A NOTE:
While visiting, please keep the environment clean by following posted rules and regulations.
Do your part to help protect this unique place!



Getting to Holbox from Cozumel

Take a Day Trip Excursion to Holbox

Cozumel Vacationers can set aside one day of their vacation during June - August to go and enjoy a once in a lifetime experience with the whalesharks by reserving A Whaleshark Adventure Tour Let us at INSIDER put it all together and organize it ~ you just go and enjoy!

"Do It Yourself" Holbox Trips

These "Do It Yourself" trips to Holbox are not for everyone and due to travel times and general inexperience, it is not recommended to try to get to Holbox and back in one single day. It's best to leave early one morning and plan to be back in Cozumel or Playa del Carmen late the following day ~ in essence using 2 full vacation days.

Also, if lack of road signage and Spanish fluency are huge frustrators, then DO NOT attempt the Do It Yourself Trips. Simply sign up for an excursion the first time and then perhaps after one journey there, confidence and an adventursome spirit will rise up to tackle a D.I.Y. Trip next time.


Do It Yourself - Rent a Car and Drive

Cozumel visitors will take the 40 minute ferry to Playa Del Carmen.
Arrange for rental car pickup/dropoff in Playa del Carmen.
Please support our site and reserve now with one of our rental car partners!



It Yourself - Ferry to Playa & Then Bus to Chiquila

Cozumel visitors will take the 40 minute ferry to Playa Del Carmen.

From the ferry pier in Playa walk the short distance across the plaza to the bus terminal and taxi stand.
From here travelers will take a bus or taxi (depending on budget) to the Cancun bus terminal.
Buses to Cancun leave about every 15 minutes.
Once at the Cancun bus station, travelers will take a bus to Chiquila.


Getting to Chiquila

or Taxi Driving Drivers will take the toll-free Merida-Cancun highway.
DO NOT take the toll road.
At the town of “El Ideal” there will be signs indicating where to take the road to Chiquila.

NOTE SHORT CUT: If driving from Cancun, after 55 km (or 35 miles) travelers will pass 2 small towns and then a speed bump. At the end of road turn right. This will save about 25 miles and a lot of time driving!

New roads have been built and old roads are getting better but lots of speed bumps make the journey tiresome on some roads. We counted 113 (one way) speed bumps on the last adventure over there!

SERVICE

Bus service to Chiquila is offered daily from Cancun, Merida and Valladolid bus stations.
As of this writing, cost was less than 150 pesos (US$12) per person one way.

Cancun-Chiquila Mayab Daily 7:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Chiquila- Cancun Daily 5:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
Merida-Chiquila Oriente Daily 11:30 p.m
Valladolid-Chiquila Oriente Daily 2:30 a.m


NOTE:
Schedules and pricing subject to change without notice.
Please check with provider for most recent pricing and departure schedules.


Getting to Holbox Island from Chiquila

In order to get to Holbox Island, travelers must make their way to the nearest mainland town which is Chiquila.
In Chiquila there are parking lots for rental cars at very reasonable rates and there is a pier.
The ferry service at the pier offers service daily from 6am every 2 hours until 7pm.
For those not wanting to wait until the next ferry departure, there are many private boats standing ready to transport 5-8 passengers at reasonable rates.



It is best to make hotel reservations in advance, especially during whaleshark season as accomodation options are limited.


There are no banks or ATM machines on the island so remember to bring suficient cash. Most hotels and restaurants do take credit cards.

Things to Do at Isla Holbox
Flyfishing
Isla Pajaros
Whaleshark ( seasonal May – September)
Isla Pasion
Horseback riding
Punta Mosquito
Kayak
Holbox Restaurants
Conchys
Edelyn
Viva Zapata
Buena Vista grill
La parilla de juan
Majache
Empanadas la conquista
Antojitos El Chivo

Accomodations in Holbox
Use INSIDER'S Search & Reservation Tool for the best Holbox hotel prices available!

Support Our Site ~ Book an Excursion to See the Whale Sharks
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 Cancun - Whale Shark Adventure
Enjoy an adventure tour getting to observe and swim or snorkel besides the biggest fish in the world: the impressive whale shark! USD$ 195.00 Adult /US$ 136.50 Child
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Incredible package tour for extreme and safe adventures. US$ 69.00 Adults / US$ 55.00 Kids
 Riviera Maya - Hidden Worlds Ultimate Adventure
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 Riviera Maya - Whale Shark Adventure
Enjoy an adventure tour getting to observe and swim or snorkel besides the biggest fish in the world: the impressive whale shark! US$ 205.00 Adults / $143.50 Kids
 Whale Shark Snorkel Adventure from Cancun
Boat leaves from Cancun - shorter trip ~ Unforgettable - spectacular whale shark snorkel experience! US$ 179 per person
 Cozumel Whale Shark Snorkel from Holbox
Spectacular day trip whale shark snorkel experience at Isla Holbox! Personal service from a professional guide who escorts guests the entire way from Cozumel to Holbox! US$ 210 per person
Whale Shark
Whale Shark Snorkel Adventure from Cancun
Personal Experiences
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i've been on your site for the last week just checking everything out i'm telling you that you have the best site for learning about cozumel to all the execursions that are offered. also the information about how to get to the hotel from the airport with the cost about the ferry to every question that a person like myself would have that is planning on travelling to your beautiful country we are planning on retiring there. our family and myself will be arriving in Cancun and then going on to Cozumel. we will be staying at the reef and then park royal but i printed out coupons and all the info about the ferry, the ado bus and all the execursions we want to do . i'm lucky because i speak the language and i love to talk to people i would love to also get the pleasure of meeting with you which i'm sure i will since we plan on doing alot of your execursions. thank you for this beautiful site i enjoyed every minute i spend on it i look forward to hearing back from you! F.J. Bennett ~ belleriver ontario canada

My husband and I lived in Cozumel for just over 6 months and completly LOVED it! We spent most of our time on the other side of the Island where it is just a completely different world. I highly recommend Cozumel to anyone travelling to the Mayan Riviera. I know so many people who go to Cancun, but have never been to Cozumel even though it is only about 40 minutes away! Take advantage of this beautiful Island!!! A. McIntosh ~ Toronto, Canada

Sherrie is a true star when it comes to being hostess. Always friendly, helpful and there to answers our questions she knows where to enjoy local cuisine, you'll get the best value for money and great food. H. Hawkins ~ Wilmington, DE

Thank you SO MUCH for all the valuable information! I know we are going to have a wonderful time. We will be in Cozumel until 12:00 midnight so I am sure we will have plenty of time to visit the places you have mentioned. I hate we will not have the pleasure of meeting you! You have been so helpful with everything! The company you work for if very fortunate to have an employee such as you! You are truly an asset to them! Thank you again for everything and I hope you have a wonderful day!
Sincerely,
Debbie Long :-) D. Long ~ Hampstead, NC

Sherri and her staff did everything under the sun to help us get on one of their shore excursions. Phone calls and emails were promptly acknowledged and answered cheerfully and professionally. These are "home" folks; no need to worry about language or accents getting in the way of success. Book with confidence, and have fun! J Meyers ~ San Antonio, Texas


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