It seems everyone is plotting an escape from City winter temps – since my recent visit, I’ve had a lot of requests for tips on visiting Holbox Island in Mexico and I’m excited to share them in an effort to get you out of your freeze in this OVERT Vacation Guide. (List + Google Map included)

Isla Holbox (pronounced hol-bosh) is a tiny island just north of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, in Quintana Roo State.

overt mexico holbox island vacation guide

It’s literally perfect for peace seeking city peeps looking to get off the grid. An island with no cars, no crowds, fresh seafood and long beaches – it’s exactly what we’re all looking for.

I first learned about Holbox Island last Summer while on a weekend away with some friends and I was planning a trip to Mexico, taking polls of what areas to visit, Oaxaca, San Miguel, Merida, Tulum…but Holbox, a new one thrown into the mix, very quickly became the winner.

We’re the sort of travelers that fit almost “too much” into the itinerary, eat at every restaurant, drink at every bar, walk every street kind of thing. But this trip, we decided to have one of those beach relaxing holidays we have only heard people talk about.

After 9 blissful days, Island life really exceeded our expectations.

Most days started with a big walk on the beach, either walking east to Punta Mosquito past all of the hotels on the beach front, or west toward Punta Coco, a more rustic and quiet track, capturing moments of the postcard-perfect scenes as we went. On our return, we would stop somewhere for breakfast, either fruit and a croissant at Jardin or a more traditional Mexican breakfast like Huevos Rancheros. Back at our hotel we’d settle in by the pool in a lounge chair and spend the next few hours reading and soaking up the sun before deciding on a spot for lunch.

(Your biggest problem is deciding between tacos or ceviche.)

We’d make our way back to the hotel to resume our reading positions, strolling through the streets, stopping in at the local stores. The sunset between 6 – 7 PM while we were there, so we’d make our way down to the beach, and at our favorite bar Zombay (a grass hut on the beach with swings instead of bar stools) we’d gather with all of the locals + other visitors to watch the sunset, making a toast to yet another day of relaxation with a margarita or cerveza. Showered, clean and hungry again we’d finish the day with a dinner of fresh seafood and a cocktail and hit the pillow before midnight, ready to wake up early and do it all again the next day.

From my favorite spots to start the day to the best place to watch the sunset – start tracking those Google flights and pack your Noho Bag, we’re off to Holbox Island!


Lay of the Land //

The Commute // Transfer from Cancun to the ferry port at Chiquila Ferries run every 30 minutes – get in the mood and grab yourself a beer from the convenience store at the port! The island is car-free and you’ll be greeted by golf buggies that form as taxi’s straight off of the ferry to get you to your hotel or other accommodations.

Dollars and Pesos // It’s also a cash preferred island, so make sure you get a decent amount of cash out before you go, there ARE ATM’s, but it’s just easier to not have to rely on those. 1000 pesos a day is pretty sufficient for 2 people, but if you’re doing activities you’ll probably need more.

Living Local // The locals are all SO friendly, as to be expected when you live in paradise, right? Many don’t speak much English, Google translate is a useful helper or if you speak Spanish, you’ll have a great opportunity to practice it here. There are a few spots you need to make reservations at, but it’s mostly walk in for restaurants.

Supplies // As expected in tropical conditions, there are a lot of mosquitos, not unpleasantly so, but you need to be prepared. They have a locally made, inexpensive, natural ingredient repellent available on the island plus loads of also normally priced sunscreen options (despite all the warnings of no/expensive sunscreen on the island in other articles, you can ignore those.)

Staying Connected // My ATT phone worked on plan but to be safe, call your provider to check your plan.

The Map // The island really is as small as it looks, the main “city center” area is made up of just a few blocks and surrounds a square where locals meet for concerts and other activities, this is where you’ll find most of the action. The beach is just 3 or 4 blocks away and runs between Punta (beach) Coco and Punta Mosquito both offering wide open sandy beach and calm glassy water. 

Style // As you’d imagine, life on the island is pretty cruisy and everyone’s style reflects that. Obviously, check the weather for when you’re visiting, but we had a light denim jacket to layer on in the evening when it cooled down a little. Think casual, floaty, beachy vibes – shoes optional. 


Where to stay //

There are quite a few hotels on Holbox Island, most of them run along the beach, and the others are dotted through the side streets. There are also some amazing looking Air BNB properties I’m excited to visit next time with friends.

 

Where we Stayed – Hotel Para Ti

overt mexico holbox island vacation guide

A small boutique hotel, with less than 20 rooms it makes the perfect haven for chill time. Its location is far enough away from the main square but is still super convenient and close to everything you need. Plus, it has a gorgeous relaxing pool – where I spent a LOT of my time reading books and contemplating life.

Los Tortugas // A favorite for the cool kids. The design is the perfect mix of modern but casual, it has it’s own restaurant and beach bar which you can also visit as a non-guest, plus yoga classes on site, and a garden pool.

Villas HM Palapas // I had a friend stay here too and loved it. We went there to take a look on one of our walks and it looks beautiful.


Eat, Eat, Eat //

It’s pretty easy to eat well in Holbox and be somewhat healthy with all of the fresh seafood, your only problem will be not having enough meals in a day! Breakfast is usually available from 9 or 10 through 12 and lunch runs till about 3, dinner starts earlier at around 6 and restaurants are open till 11 or 12 mostly. There are also a lot of all-day options, plus food carts that set up in the evening around the square.

Ceviches La Chingada // No frills, no complaints. We visited this place at least 3 times. Hands down the best ceviche on the island and the fish tacos are pretty up there too. He also does a great breakfast. If you do go, make sure to speak to the young owner… He is SO sweet.

Le Jardin // Think of this as the Montauk breakfast hotspot, but in the most non-stressful way possible. Serving up the perfect island life breakfast under a big grass hut, pastries baked in-house (the owner is French), fruit salad plates, a variety of omelettes + more. Get there early to get one of the freshly baked croissants and make a note that it closes at 12:30 PM each day. Hot Tip – Pick up one of their baked in-house baguettes for a picnic on the beach or for the transfer back to Cancun. 

Las Panchas // Las Panchas is as authentic as it is delicious. This place has a laid-back beach vibe, (so, Holbox) simple plastic tables and chairs, sand under your feet and authentic, tasty food. What to get // ceviche mixto and/or the chipotle shrimp – seriously one of the favorite things we ate.

El Chapulim // Save this one for “date night”. A little fancier than the rest of the beach shack options but still with a reasonable check and well worth it. The menu changes each day – Chef Erik Wincklemann is always working with the day’s freshest catch. It’s a first come first serve situation, with just a few sittings until the food is all sold out. Get there at 6 pm to make sure you don’t miss out.


Some others on the list //  

Rosa Mexicano (dinner) // Casa Del Agua (epic tacos) // Miriam (traditional Mexican) // El Crusáceo Kascarudo (dinner cocktails, ceviche, fajitas) // Miriam (good people watching, the ceviche is good – but not as good as Chingada! – he also has grilled fish is that is great // Taco Queto (VERY local, but also has visitors, no frills quick DELICIOUS eat, recommend any taco con queso) // Maroc Coffee & Bakery – didn’t go but looked good for pastries and coffee // Cantina La Isla Del Colibri (amazing fresh juices and smoothies, good spot to sit outside by the square, breakfast nice too) // Milpa (very sad we didn’t get to go here by they had holiday hours over x-mas/NYE. Tasting menu, came highly recommended and looked great. Definitely book in advance!) // Tierra Mia Juice & Coffee (very cute coffee and juice spot) // Surf Bar Holbox (AMAZING tacos)


Getting Boozy  //

There’s no shortage of places to grab an icy cold cerveza or margarita, if you prefer your margs without the sweetness, make sure to ask for yours “con sucre”.

Zombay // Cute beachside hut with swings – perfect for insta 😉 – and AMAZING margaritas. We honestly could have spent every night for sunset here and basically did. Lots of locals and good music. (there’s a great band that hangs out there and plays a lot)

Luuma // Craft cocktails and beer on the tap. We didn’t have the chance to go, but it looked really nice, definitely a little bit more of a Hamptons vibe here.

Pure Vida //  It turns out Mexico knows how to brew quite the craft beer, and Pura Vida is where to find them! Taste a couple, and order the awesome tuna tostada as a little snack.

The Hot Corner // Live music, locals, and dancing in the street with the whole village – definitely a must.


What To Do //

(If you choose to do anything at all that is!)

overt mexico holbox island vacation guide
Rent Bikes // Biking is an awesome way to get around Holbox Island. It’s inexpensive and very safe. You can rent a bike on your own, or sign up for a guided bike tour – totally up to you. 

 

Sunset // Every night people gather together to watch the sunsets. This awesome ritual is such a great way to immerse yourself in the tropical state of mind and meet some of the locals.

Yoga // If you’re a fan of yoga, you’re in luck: there are a couple of spots offering classes in Holbox. From hatha, to vinyasa or ashtanga, if you’re a hardcore yogi you could sign up for a yoga retreat and dedicate your getaway to the practice.

Local Farmers Market // If you have the chance, definitely stop by the farmers market. Just a block or 2 away from Le Jardin. Meet some locals, snack on delicious fruits and veg, and stop at the taco stand for some epic tacos, sopas, and snacks.

Beach walks // Punta Coco and Punta Mosquito – Punta Coco (western side) is a good one to grab a bike for, Punta Mosquito (eastern side) takes a little longer to get to and isn’t accessible by bike. You can ride up to a certain point though and lock up your bike to finish by foot. Pack some supplies and set up a picnic to enjoy the serenity of these huge wide open beaches.


Where to Shop //

Drink the kool-aid, and scoop up some locally made wares to bring a little piece of Holbox serenity back to the big smoke with you. Here are a few of my favorite things and spots to get them.

Dream Catchers // Available at most of the shops

Handwoven colorful totes for summer // I think it was on the corner of Calle and Canane and Av Pedro Joaquin Coldwell – Look for all the hanging bags outside. You can’t miss it.

Luuma, and HM Palapas Lobby Shop // Gorgeous higher end local designers and wares – very hamptons-esque.


Insert major withdrawal symptoms.  

Reach out in the comment section with any questions, and – Happy Travels!

Some other helpful Links //

My Google Map – including the above locations, just add to your own Google Maps for easy reference

Condé Nast Traveler

The Wall Street Journal

Holbox Adventure

The Holboxeno

Yoga Adventures Worldwide


Read more about OVERT Life or Meet our City Girls.