Holbox (hol-bosh) is an island located near the northeastern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. It is part of the Yum Balam ecological reserve, separated from land by the Yalahua Lagoon. Holbox is 26 miles long and beautiful seashells are constantly washing up onto its fine white sand beaches. The jade green Gulf of Mexico waters that bathe these beaches are beautiful and swimmer-friendly. The water is usually calm and shallow at the beaches, making it a great place for swimming with children.
On this island there is only one small village, also called Holbox, where less than 1,500 people make their home. The streets are sand lined with brightly painted wooden houses. The majority of the people are fishermen. They catch large red snapper, bonitos and grouper. These fishermen also go after lobster and octopus in season. As you can imagine, the seafood sold in the local restaurants is fresh and delicious. Treat yourself here to some of the world’s best ceviche, a cold dish with fish, shrimp or other shellfish marinated with tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and cilantro.
The Yalahua Lagoon separates Holbox from the mainland. Find a local driver to take you on his boat, and explore the wonders of this mangrove lagoon.
One place to visit is Isla Pájaros, an island where the birds come to sleep at night. Approximately 140 species of birds live in the Yucatán and visit this island at different times of the year.
Many are permanent residents. Humans are not allowed on the island…only on the observation towers…and it can only be reached by boat. Because these rules have been respected by man, the birds are not afraid, so it is possible to actually get pretty close to them.
There are several hotels, from small hostels to boutique hotels on the beach. You will find restaurants with delicious typical cuisine along with national and international dishes. Try some lobster pizza.
To get around Holbox there are golf carts that can be rented by the hour or the day.
For several years now, whale sharks have been coming to the northern tip of the Yucatán peninsula to feed and mate during the months of June through September. Tourism based on whale shark watching has increased dramatically in the last few years and government agencies have taken steps to protect these magnificent animals so that the species will not be harmed and so they will continue to return to this area. For that reason, here are strict rules against scuba equipment being used to view them in the area. Local guides have been trained to give tours that are as safe for the whale sharks as they are for their human visitors.
How to get to Holbox
From Mérida, you can take a bus “Oriente” that leaves and gets you to Chiquila, where you catch a ferry to the island.
The other option is with “Noreste,” departing Merida and arriving Chiquila from their station at Calle 67 x 50.
If you go by car, you can take the libre (free) or toll road Mérida to Cancún road to kilometer 80 to the Customs building at El Ideal, where you turn to the left until you reach Chiquila.
Parking your car in Chquililá costs approximately $200 pesos per day.
There are many companies that will cross you from 6 am to 9 pm
The cost for adults is $280 pesos and $140 pesos for kids
If you don’t want to wait, you can hire a “lancha” from one of the men waiting around the dock. That will cost you about $600 pesos from 1 to 6 persons, but you might be able to share it with someone else who is waiting.
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