Looking for the best things to do in Holbox, Mexico? You’ve come to the right spot!
Isla Holbox (located on the Yucatan Peninsula) is known as one of Mexico’s best-kept secret beach towns. If you’re looking for a spot to getaway and detox from all things digital, Holbox is the perfect answer. Literally, my cell phone barely worked and WiFi was spotty and slow. If you’ve been to Tulum, you’re going to love the laid-back vibe of Holbox which is a beach paradise without the hoards of tourists. I’ve put together some of the most amazing things to do in Holbox, Mexico.
Holbox is part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon. The island is care-free (which makes it so nicely quiet) where you can find beautiful pink flamingos in the wild, sea turtles, and take a boat ride to swim whale sharks. Most of the locals in Holbox make their living by fishing, so it’s not unusual to see fisherman or boats on the horizon while walking along the beach.
The island boasts some of the most pristine beaches from Punta Coco to the west and Punta Mosquito to the east, both beaches with sections protected by wildlife reserves. It’s a perfect escape for anyone looking for a mix of off-the-grid solace, authentic hippie vibes, and a bit of adventure.
Since it’s not super easy to get to the island, the island is not overcrowded compared to neighboring areas like Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Holbox is quite small and has one main center square with a few streets that house hotels, restaurants, and local shops. Keep in mind that the island has just a few ATMs (and sometimes they don’t work), so be sure to stock up on pesos before you get to Holbox.
After my trip to Holbox, I compiled some of my favorite tips on where to stay, where to eat, and how to get to the island (it’s a 2-3 hour car/bus ride from Cancun airport or a pricey private plane ride). Below are my recommendations for the best things to do in Holbox, Mexico.
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Best Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico #1 – Ride a Bike Across the Island
Holbox boasts that it’s a car-free island. There are plenty of golf-cart style taxis to hop aboard, but you won’t find many gas-guzzling automobiles. One of the best things to do in Holbox, Mexico is to rent a super cheap bike and take in the sights, sounds, and smells on two wheels.
Best Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico #2 – Visit Punta Coco
Punta Coco is located at the western tip of the island and most known for watching the island’s breathtaking sunsets. The best way to get to Punta Coco is to rent a bike or hop on a golf cart and head west past the main downtown and hotel zone. You’ll pass plenty of beach clubs and ritzy-looking houses along the way.
Once you get to Punta Coco, there’s a nice little beach club where you rent a beach chair, grab a cerveza, hop in the water, and well…just relax!
Best Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico #3 – Find the Flamingos at Punta Mosquito
To the very far east of Holbox is Punta Mosquito, a bit more difficult to get to than Punta Coco (but definitely worth the trek!). The best way to get to Punta Mosquito is to the take the main road east (again grab a bike or hop on a golf cart) until the road ends. You will then need to park your bike/cart and walk the rest of the way to Punta Mosquito by foot.
Be aware that there are no amenities once you start on foot, so bring plenty of water, hats, sunscreen, beach towels, and snacks. The whole trek takes around 2-3 hours to walk out to the sand bar and back.
Once you head on foot awhile, you can wade through the shallow ocean water out to an amazing sandbar and try to catch a glimpse of the famous pink flamingos. At a certain point, you won’t be able to walk any farther as the nature reserve has areas marked off. Grab your camera and take some wide-open water shots!
4 Hop on the Swings at Carolinda Beach Club
On the way to Punta Coco, you can find Carolinda Beach Club, a popular bar and restaurant spot right on the beach. Carolinda has a private designated beach where you can grab some sun, work on your tan, and take a dip in the water.
One of the most picture-worthy things to do on the whole island of Holbox is to hop on one of the swings hovering over the water and relax. Carolinda is a perfect spot for swinging with a beer and for snapping a few Instagram shots. Head out to Carolinda as early as it can get quite busy by early afternoon.
5 Sit on Holbox Beach to Watch a Sunset
#5 on the list of Best Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico is to simply watch the sunset. It’s no secret that Holbox has amazing sunsets. There’s no better place to watch a sunset than sitting on Holbox Beach, which stretches the main length of the town. There are plenty of cool local bars right on the beach where you can grab a beer and have your breath taken away as the sun starts to fade.
I’ve never seen the sun change colors quite so dramatically. The pictures below were taken within 60 seconds of each other from a bright orange to deep purple.
6 Beach Club Hop Around the Island
Don’t worry if you decide to stay at a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb that isn’t directly on the beach. Holbox has plenty of excellent beach clubs on the island that you can visit, each with their own vibe. For most of these beach clubs, you show up, park your bike or golf cart, and drink/eat a small minimum so that you can hang out on their beach. Some of them will also charge you a small fee to rent a bed or lounge chair with shade, but it’s worth it for the views and access to the water.
My favorite beach club is on the east end near Punta Mosquito called Las Nubes. It is a bit quieter than the other beach bars and right on the water. Las Nubes is also a hotel and restaurant, so head back around dinner with an appetite if you’re looking for some tasty food.
Carolinda is another one of my favorite beach clubs mentioned as the #4 thing to do in Holbox on my list.
Finally, Ñaña Beach Club has a nice laid-back vibe with plenty of chairs and lounge areas. The food tastes like an abuela is cooking it up authentically in the kitchen and the beers are super cheap. You can’t get any better than that! It’s also close to the well-known Raices Restaurant, so you can enjoy a drink at Ñaña and then walk down the beach to Raices for lunch or dinner.
7 Cruise the Lagoon on a Three Islands Tour
One of the most popular excursions on the island hopping on the Three Islands Tour. We booked this tour through our Airbnb hosts, but many companies offer the excursion around the main square.
The Three Islands Tour takes you around the beautiful Yalahau Lagoon surrounded by mangroves. First, you will stop at Morena Island (almost known as Isla Parajos) home to around 140 bird species. It’s common to find white ibis, frigate birds, white egrets, white pelicans, pink spoonbills, herons, and pink flamingos on the island.
The next island stop is to a small cenote, which is a deep, water-filled sinkhole in limestone that’s created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. There are hundreds of cenotes across the Yucatan Peninsula. They’re usually very cold and refreshing when you jump into the crystal-clear water.
The land stop on the Three Islands Tour is to Isla Pasion which is a tiny deserted beach with bright pink seashells. The water around the small island is beautiful, and I had a chance to see pink flamingos along the way. There’s an observation deck on the island where you can climb to get a better bird’s eye view (pun intended) of the lagoon.
8 Swim with Whale Sharks
One of the most exciting things to do during your visit to Holbox is booking a trip out to swim with the whale sharks. These amazing creatures are completely harmless to humans and safe to swim alongside.
There are plenty of tour companies around the main square offering the trip which is about 2 hours off the island by boat toward Isla Contoy. Unfortunately, I get extremely motion sick on boats, so I did everyone a favor and opted out of this tour. However, if you visit Holbox and have a chance to swim with these whale sharks, please let me know about your adventure in the comments below!
9 Eat Lobster Pizza
If you’re a food lover and visiting Holbox, then trying out the famous lobster pizza at Roots is an absolute must. I’ve never thought of putting lobster on a pizza, but I said to myself, “When in Rome!?”
Roots Restaurant has some of the highest ratings on Trip Advisor and for good reason. People rave about the lobster pizza which has a perfectly thin crust and a small amount of tomato sauce, garlic, and lobster, along with three sauces. The darkest sauce is a smoky habanero which pairs perfectly with the pizza.
Photo Holbox Guide
10 Snap a Picture of the Famous Hammocks
Holbox is known for their over-water hammocks which are found all across the island. It’s a perfect spot to grab a beer, hop in the water, watch the sunset, and relax.
Some of the hammocks belong to beach clubs, but if you buy a drink, nobody is going to blame you for taking a swing. This is Holbox after all with nothing but laid-back beach vibes.
11 Eat Vegan Food at Arte Sano
Holbox has plenty of excellent food choices, including vegetarian and vegan restaurants. If you’re looking for a healthy vegetarian option, Arte Sano provides delicious vegetarian and vegan Mexican food.
I ordered this smoothie bowl which was literally a smoothie in a bowl! I watched the guy in the kitchen blend up papaya and (maybe yogurt?) into a bowl, beautifully lined with granola and an array of local fruits. It took a while to make, but we’re on “island time” right?
The coffee was even served in this cute little cup.
12 Drink a Caipirinha at Marbella
I was so happy to find many restaurants and bars served caipirinhas on the menu! This is my favorite cocktail and not easy for me to find back in the states. The caipirinha is a simple cocktail made with Brazilian Cachaça rum, sugar, and lime, but when it’s made right, it’s so delicious!
Marbella has a fantastic restaurant and beach club on the first floor. Walk up the stairs to the second floor, and you’ll find another bar and seating area offering sushi and Japanese food. Order a drink (hopefully a caipirinha) just before sunset and enjoy an incredible view.
13 Eat Authentic Mexican Food at Abuelo Tom’s
Abuelo Tom’s was recommended to us by our Airbnb host, and it didn’t disappoint. When we walked it, it was packed and had to wait for a table (good sign!). It was also full of locals eating, drinking and laughing, which is another good sign.
The simple menu was found on a chalk board on the wall. We ordered enough tacos and sopas to feed four people (there was just two of us), and it all only cost $8 USD! An added bonus was the couple next to us who stood up to serenade everyone by guitar for about fifteen minutes while we ate (we tipped them, of course).
Best Things to Do in Holbox, Mexico. Are You Ready to Visit?
If you’re looking for an off-the-grid island experience, Holbox is the perfect destination for you. Holbox is far enough away from Cancun by car (or short private flight) that it keeps a large majority of tourists away. However, there’s still plenty of access to restaurants, beautiful beaches, and hotels for all budgets.
Have you been to Holbox? What was your favorite thing to do while on the island? Drop your answer in the comments below!