The island paradise of Holbox is the perfect spot to escape and is one of our favorite places to visit when we fly into the Yucatan. It’s a laid-back, car-free, and relatively off-the-grid island where you can fill your days relaxing on the beach, taking long walks on the sandbar, and enjoying the island’s low-key lifestyle – for a small island, there are lots of fun things to do in Isla Holbox. And if you feel like taking it easy, one of the best things to do in Holbox at times is absolutely nothing!
The Best Things to do in Isla Holbox
From the beaches to the hammocks and the nature reserves
1 | Chill on the beach
One of the best things to do in Holbox is hit up one of its beautiful beaches. We stayed in Villa Flamingos, a beachfront hotel with direct access to Holbox’s turquoise water and the Holbox sandbar. We spent a lot of our time in the water or enjoying the sea views. It was bliss!
The most popular and largest beach on the island is Playa Holbox and runs from the town center to the end of the hotel zone to Hotel Las Nubes. Most of the beach has private access reserved for the beach clubs, restaurants, and hotels that line the beach but there are lots of options for renting parasols and it’s fine to walk along the water. The beach is perfect for walking as it runs the whole way from the center of Holbox and joins the sandbar at Las Nubes so you can walk all the way to Punta Mosquito.
For those looking for a quieter beach make sure to check out Playa Punta Cocos located on the west side of the island. You’ll need to cycle or take a golf cart to reach it as it’s around 2.5 km from the town center – it’s a gorgeous walk but part of the route passes through the bird sanctuary which visitors are requested not to cross. The beach is super chilled with a small jetty, some local vendors selling drinks and snacks, and loungers are available to rent.
Playa Punta Cocos is one of the best spots on the island from which to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Things to do in Holbox tip: The turquoise waters are shallow and calm at Playa Punta Cocos making it perfect for families.
How to get to Isla Holbox
Holbox is an awesome addition to any Yucatan itinerary. Most visitors to Holbox take the ferry from Chiquila, a small fishing town on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. We parked our rental car at on of the many car parks in Chiquila during our time on Holbox and it worked great. It is also possible to take a private flight – flights cost around USD $200 per person but sometimes it’s possible to get a last-minute seat on a flight at a reduced rate.
For our full guide, including details on how to get to Chiquila, check out our article on How to get to Isla Holbox.
Where to Stay on Isla Holbox
There are some great hotel options on Isla Holbox from beachfront resorts to beautiful oceanfront boutique hotels.
Things to do in Holbox tip: we recommend booking accommodation in advance as it the best places tend to book up quickly and it can be hard somewhere you like.
- Villa Flamingos– we stayed here during our most recent trip. Villa Flamingos is beautiful beachfront hotel located at the far end of the Holbox beach and has direct access to its private beach. We loved being away from the crowds of Holbox center, its a real paradise – check prices now!
- Las Nubes De Holbox – located next door to Villa Flamingos and another great option for anyone looking for a hotel away from the busier Holbox town hotels. With 28 rooms its not too big and it also has one of the best restaurants on Isla Holbox on site! – check prices now!
- Hotel Para Ti – the adults only Para Ti is a great mid range budget option for Holbox with a choice of two swimming pools. Located two blocks from the beach and close to the center of Holbox, rooms are clean and spacious – check prices now!
- Blatha Tropical Rooms: excellent budget option, Blatha Tropical Rooms is an eco friendly aparthotel located close to the beach and a short walk from Holbox Center. Rooms are clean and basic and the property is adjacent to the Carolinda Beach Club where you can rent beach chairs – check prices now!
Check out our guide to the best Holbox hotels for more detail on accommodation options.
2 | Stroll the sandbar to Punta Mosquito
One of the best places to explore in Isla Holbox is the long sandbar that stretches from Hotel Las Nubes at the end of Playa Holbox towards the nature reserve at Punta Mosquito where the island’s flamingos reside. The sandbar is most exposed at low tide so it’s best to take the walk in the morning. You can cycle part of the way and leave your bike at the beach by the river before joining the sandbar.
Things to do in Holbox tip: Due to conservations efforts it may not be possible to walk the whole way to Punta Mosquito as visitors are requested not to cross the conservation area. You can join a kayaking trip to explore the mangroves and spot crocodiles and the flamingoes when they are in season – check tour prices here!
3 | Swim with the Whale Sharks
If you visit Holbox during the summer months then it is possible to swim with whale sharks, the largest and tamest fish in the sea. Mexico has the largest aggregation of whale sharks in the world. You will need to join a tour to swim with the whale sharks, this is one of the most popular on the island – check whale shark tour prices here!
If, like us, you are concerned about the sustainability and ethics of swimming with whale sharks we wanted to share what we learned during our time in Holbox. The WWF (World Wildlife Federation) worked to educate the locals and set out a series of guidelines for whale shark tours in Mexico – these include both swimmers and boats remaining a fair distance away from the sharks, not touching them, and using clothes rather than sunscreen to protect from the sun while swimming with them. The WWF also stations volunteers to educate tourists during whale shark season.
Things to do in Holbox tip: The whale shark season typically runs from June 1 to September 15 each year.
4 | Explore the island by Golf Cart or bike
If you want to explore the island fully we highly recommend renting a golf cart or a bike for a day. Golf carts are Holbox’s equivalent to a car and touring around the island on one is a lot of fun!. You can rent them golf carts or bicycles from the locals in town (for the half or full day) but most hotels will arrange a rental for you.
5 | Enjoy the Unforgettable Sunsets
The sunsets in Holbox are incredible. It might be the relaxed island vibes or the beauty of the island but the sunsets in Holbox are just different. Chilling on the beach as the golden sun drops below the horizon is one of our lasting memories of Isla Holbox and one that begs us to return.
The beaches are the best spots to watch the sunset from, with Playa Punta Coco’s and the Holbox Pier being the most popular spots.
6 | Check out the Holbox Street Art
The colorful street art is one of the most unique things about Holbox and no doubt visitors to the island will have seen some of the beautiful murals before they arrive on the island.
There are explosions of colorful street art all around Holbox, but most of the best-known pieces are located in the town center close to Playa Holbox. One of the most famous is ‘Himalaya Maya’ by Jano Jace, which depicts a Himalayan girl in Mexico. It was painted in 2014 as part of the Holbox International Public Art Festival and is located in front of Painapol Holbox, a fab little cafe that serves excellent smoothie bowls.
7 | Swing in a Holbox Hammock
The beachfront hammocks are synonymous with Isla Holbox and have featured in countless idyllic images of the island.
Note: we’ve read reports that the Holbox hammocks were due to be removed due to conservation efforts. Let us know if you come across any hammocks when you visit Holbox as there were rumors the decision might be reversed.
There are four sets of hammocks on Playa Holbox and one on Punta Cocos Beach. Some of the hammocks belong to the hotels and beach clubs so a food/drinks purchase may be required.
- Punta Cocos Beach: a beautiful beach on the western side of Holbox about 2.5km from the center.
- Carolinda Beach Club: three colorful hammocks with a set of swings on either side of them.
- Mantarraya Beach Club & Hammocks: a set of 4 hammocks with Holbox spelled out on the poles.
- Villas Tiburon: another set of hammocks with Holbox spelled out in colorful letters on the poles
- Villa Flamingos: 2 hammocks in the water in front of Villa Flamingos
8 | Pose at the Holbox Sign
If you visit Holbox you must get a photo with the famous Holbox sign – there’s no L in the Holbox so you have to make your own! The sign is located by Tiburón Ballena, the main Holbox Pier.
9 | Visit 3 Islands and Swim in a Cenote
We’ve already filled you in on the magnificent cenotes in Tulum, the Playa Del Carmen Cenotes, and the Cenotes near Cancun – now you can swim in Cenote off Isla Holbox! Cenote Yalahu, a large natural pool, is a 30-minute boat ride from Holbox and can be visited as part of the popular three-island tour.
The Holbox 3 Island tour is one of the most popular excursions on the island and the boat tour takes in Isla Pasion, Isla Pajaros, and the Yalahau Lagoon – check tour prices here!
Isla Pajaros, or Bird Island, is renowned for its 35 species of birds. Isla Pasion, or Passion Island, has resident flamingos and has an observation tower with great views.
10 | Refugio Holbox
If you want to do something a little different on Holbox then check out Refugio Holbox. One of our favorite things to do in Holbox is to stop by the center and it’s impossible not to leave a little bit of your heart with their lovely residents. The refuge rescues and cares for animals in Holbox and they welcome visitors to help out with walking or caring for the animals or making a donation.
11 | Experience the Bioluminescence Phenomenon
The illuminated waters on the southern beaches of Holbox are magical to see and it’s one of the few places in the world where you can witness millions of tiny organisms light up when they hit the waves. There are bioluminescence tours that take visitors to the best spots – check bioluminescence tour prices here!
Things to do in Holbox tip: The best times to see the bioluminescene is on Summer and Fall nights with no moonlight.