From the moment we saw the idyllic photos of white sand beaches, turquoise waters and island vibes we knew we had to figure out how to get to Isla Holbox during our Yucatan adventures. Located on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Holbox is only a short distance from the mainland but, in every other respect, it is worlds away! If you are planning a trip (and, trust us, you really should!) below is all the information you need to get to Isla Holbox.
How to get to Holbox tip: we travelled to Isla Holbox in early 2020. The below information on how to get to Isla Holbox is based on the latest information available.
How to get to Isla Holbox
Depending on your mode of transport there are a few options to get to Isla Holbox. Cancun to Holbox is the most common route but most of these options will work from the major areas across the Yucatan:
- Rental Car: Drive to Chiquila + Ferry
- Private Transfer to Chiquila + Ferry
- Bus to Chiquila Ferry
- Colectivo to Chiquila Ferry
- Fly to Holbox
Where to Stay on Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox is one of the most beautiful and relaxed places we’ve ever visited and choosing where to stay isn’t easy. There are so many great hotel options on Isla Holbox (from beachfront resorts to beautiful oceanfront boutique hotels) that we took a long time to decide where to stay.
- Villa Flamingos – Where we chose to stay during our time on Island Holbox and we had ana amazing time. Villa Flamingos is beautiful beachfront hotel and located at one end of the Holbox beach. We loved it as it was away from the crowds of Holbox town and it has its own private beach areas and pools. Our room had a heated pool which overlooked the sea and we were very happy that we chose to spend out time in Holbox in Villa Flamingos. Having direct, private access to the sea was one of the highlights of our trip – check prices now!
- Las Nubes De Holbox – is 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 Mawimbi – is a small boutique hotel comprising of just 10 rooms and located right on the beach close on the edge of the centre of Holbox town. It’s perfect for those seeking a calm tranquil place to stay while being within easy walking distance of Holbox town – check prices now!
1 | DRIVING TO HOLBOX: Drive to Chiquila and Ferry to Isla Holbox
Ferries to Isla Holbox depart from Chiquila, a small fishing town on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a small town with a few amenities including a gas station and some small shops and cafes.
Most visitors drive or take a private transfer to Chiquila and arrive on Holbox Island via the ferry. These are the two most popular options for getting to Holbox.
How to get to Holbox tip: Holbox is a car free island with the exception of a few commercial trucks and some construction vehicles drafted in to move seaweed when necessary – we left our rental car in Chiquila. Holbox is easy to navigate on foot, by bicycle or by golf cart – golf cart taxis are freely available and it’s easy to rent a golf cart while on the island if you wish to explore by yourself. There is a large taxi rank of golf carts at the ferry terminal on Holbox and you can rent golf carts (like we did) from your hotel while on Holbox.
Time zones in Yucatan Peninsula: This is a point that we didn’t realise before we visited the Yucatan Peninsula and we didn’t read it online before we visited. There are actually two time zones in the Yucatan Peninsula. Quintana Roo State on the east coast (where Isla Halbox is located) is one hour ahead of the western parts (Yucatan and Campeche states) of the Yucatan Peninsula. Make sure to factor this into your drive times and travel plans as when you go from Cancun to Valladolid (for example) you will gain an hour.
1 | How to get to Isla Holbox by Rental Car
Renting a car and driving to the Holbox ferry is one of the quickest and most flexible ways to get to the ferry dock in Chiquila. We rented a car for our time in the Yucatan and highly recommend it. Driving was straightforward and the roads were good quality, other drivers were courteous and the traffic is relatively light. It was super easy to drive to Chiquila (we drove from Valladolid and then on to Cancun after Holbox) and parking is safe and secure.
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – check prices here!
How to get to Holbox tip: We spent time some amazing places including Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, Merida, Valladolid and Holbox. We drove from Valladolid and it was a relatively easy drive. Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum are all within easy driving distance of Chiquila although Merida is a bit of a longer drive.
Driving to Chilquila
Driving to Chilquil is relatively straightforward. The road to Chiquila (route 5) is located just off the main Cancun Valladolid tolled motorway (the 180D). After you leave the motorway the road is decent quality and the drive is around an hour north of this turn. The route passed through a few small towns so be careful with the regular speed bumps as some are not signposted.
Parking in Chiquila
Parking in Chiquila is in the style of small yard style parking lots where the owners live on the surrounding property. Attendants man the lots during the day and they are gated at night. You will see them marked with names and signs as you approach Chiquila. All the lots we saw had identical pricing – 50 pesos for 12 hours and 100 pesos for 24 hours. It may be possible to negotiate if you are planning a longer stay but we just paid the quoted rate of 100 pesos per 24 hours.
As you approach Chiquila, keep driving towards the ferry dock. It’s best to find a parking lot as close as possible to the dock if you want to minimize the walk to the ferry. Most of the lots are self-park so you keep your own car keys.
We parked in a small family run car park called Los Grillos and was perfect for getting to the ferry. It is a small lot right on the traffic circle/roundabout at the entrance to the pier. It was manned by an attendant and was busy. We self parked and prepaid the attendant for the number of days we would be in Holbox – the attendant issued us a ticket which was checked on our return to the car park.
How to get to Holbox tip: there are small luggage bikes around the car parks and waiting for the arriving ferries. The drivers work on a tip basis and will cycle alongside you with your luggage as you walk to the ferry. We used them when we were arrived and left Chiquila. If you need help with luggage make sure to tell the car park attendant and they will call over one of the luggage bikes.
Ferries to Isla Holbox
Two companies (Holbox Express and 9 Hermanos) run ferries out of Chiquila. Each ferry runs a service once an hour so between the two services you can catch a ferry every 30 minutes:
- Holbox Express: ferries run every hour on the half-hour. The current schedule has ferries starting at 7:30 am from Chiquila with the last ferry departing at 9:30 pm. The return ferry starts at 6.30 am from Holbox to Chiquila.
- 9 Hermanos: operates ferries to Holbox from Chiquila on the hour starting at 6.00 am. The last ferry departs at 9 pm.
- The ferry takes around 20 to 30 minutes between Holbox and Chiquila.
Tickets for the Holbox Ferry
Tickets are purchased at the ferry dock where both companies have small offices selling tickets.
- Price of Holbox Ferry tickets: For tourists, both companies charge adults 200 pesos each way. Tickets for children up to 120cm are 140 pesos and infants aged up to 2 are free. There are reduced fares for Mexican Nationals.
- It is best just to buy a one-way ticket when leaving Chiquila and another when departing Holbox. In fact, I’m not even sure they sell return tickets! Unless you have a specific preference, many visitors just hop on whichever ferry is departing next.
Boarding the ferry: Seats and Luggage
- Luggage: Larger pieces of luggage are given to staff before boarding the ferry and are stored separately. Smaller pieces of luggage can be taken to your seat.
- Seats: Both ferries have indoor seating on the lower deck and outdoor seating on the upper deck.
How to get to Holbox tip: on calm days it can be lovely to sit outdoors on the upper deck and enjoy the views and the sea breeze. Make sure to sit inside if the sea is choppy as water can spray over the top deck!
2 | How to get to Isla Holbox by Private Transfer
Cancun is the most popular point of departure with many companies offering private transfers to Chiquila from both Cancun Airport and from the Cancun hotels. The size and price of the vehicle depends on the number of passengers transferring to Chiquila – both Holbox Adventure and CancunVans are reliable options with reasonable pricing which can be booked through Viator.
3 | How to get to Isla Holbox by Bus
Regular coach style buses depart from Cancun, Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, Valladolid and Merida.
How to get to Holbox tip: typically, there are no bathrooms on board but the bus does make some stops en route to Chiquila.
Cancun: buses to Chiquila depart from the ADO Bus Station in downtown Cancun.
- If you are arriving by plane to Cancun Airport, take the ADO bus from Terminals 2, 3 or 4. The buses leave regularly (around hourly overnight and every half hour the rest of the day) and cost 94 pesos.
- Buses to Chiquila depart from Cancun’s ADO Bus Station: buses are run by ADO Primera four times per day (currently 8:30am, 10:31am, 2:15pm and 3:15pm but times vary due to demand) and cost $286. These are the premium buses and seats can be reserved online in advance (https://www.ado.com.mx/).
- Other locally operated buses include Oriente bus, Mayab and Noreste. These are cheaper options but schedule information is limited and it’s best to check at the bus terminal for current times.
Playa Del Carmen: ADO operates 4 buses per day from Tulum to Chiquila.
- Two depart from the Turistica Bus Terminal on 5th Avenue (currently 8:30am and 10:15am).
- The remaining two depart from the Alterna Bus Terminal on 20th Avenue at Calle 12 (currently 8:50am and 10:35am).
- Tickets cost 292 pesos and the journey time is between 2 hours 10 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes.
Tulum: an ADO bus currently departs at 8:10am. Tickets are 388 pesos and the journey time is 3 hours 40 minutes.
Valladolid: Ado run a daytime bus to Chiquila and Oriente operate a late night service
- The ADO bus currently departs at 9:50am. Tickets are 214 pesos and the journey time is 2 hours 25 minutes.
- Oriente usually run a late night bus around 2am but it’s best to check at the bus station – remember to also check the time of the first ferry or you might end up hanging around the ferry terminal for a few hours!
Merida: ADO operate 2 buses per day from Merida to Chiquila and Noreste and Oriente operate one each.
- One departs from Merida’s Historic Centre (currently 6:45am).
- The second departs from the newer terminal, Paeso 60, in the hotel zone on Calle 60 and 35 (currently 7:15am). Tickets cost around 450 pesos and the journey time is between 5 hours 5 hours 30 minutes.
- Noreste (from Terminal Noreste) and Oriente (from Merida Tame) also operate buses to Chiquila – they leave at 10:15am and 10:30am.
How to get to Holbox tip: there is a one hour time difference between Merida and Valladolid and Holbox. Remember to allow for the time difference when planning your trip!
4 | How to get to Isla Holbox by Colectivo
Shared minibus style buses, known as Colectivo, operate across the Yucatan and there are some services to Chiquila from both Cancun and Playa del Carmen:
- Cancun: departs from Soriana Supermarket in the center of Cancun. Current departure times are 11:30am and 6pm, the journey time is 2 hours 30 minutes and cost is 250 pesos.
- Playa Del Carmen: departs from av 20 calle 2 norte in the center of Playa Del Carmen. Current departure times are 10:30am and 6pm, the journey time is 2 hours 30 minutes and cost is 250 pesos.
5 | How to get to Isla Holbox by Plane
Holbox has a small airport which accepts daytime flights on small aircraft.
- The flight time from Cancun to Holbox is around 30 minutes.
- The flights are private and cost around USD 1000 for up to 5 people, and USD 2000 for a larger aircraft that can transfer up to 9 people.
- Sometimes it’s possible to get a last minute seat on a flight at a reduced rate or to leave from a different airport.
- Luggage allowances are limited on the Holbox route so you may need to store extra luggage at your departing airport