Bleached grey pelicans sit atop weathered wooden poles rising from the glistening turquoise waters, palms sway on the sugary white sands, a faded blue fishing boat bobs on the gentle waves of the sleepy intimate getaway that is Isla Holbox, the ultimate retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Just a two-hour drive and short ferry ride from Cancún, Isla Holbox (pronounced ‘oll-bosh’) could not be more different in character or style from Mexico’s most popular beachside resort. Located just off the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico, Isla Holbox is separated from the Mexican mainland by a shallow lagoon, full of pelicans and flamingos. Although often referred to as one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets, the quiet beauty of this stunning island is beginning to spread, and we think it’s Mexico’s premier barefoot beach destination. If you’re looking to relax under the shade of lofty palms, amid soft white sands and beautiful blue waters, it would be hard to beat this peaceful slice of paradise.
The sense of peace is enhanced as there are no cars or roads, just sandy lanes on this tiny island, which measures 40-kilometres by 2-kilometres. Transport is either in golf buggies, on dune bikes or horseback. While we feel the best thing to do on Isla Holbox is absolutely nothing, for those with itchy feet there is an emerging arts scene here and the island is covered in colourful murals produced by local artists. Boat trips to deserted islands provide a great opportunity for snorkelling and bird spotting and there’s also the chance to see dolphins, giant otters and whale sharks, who migrate to the area during the summer months to feed on the plankton-rich waters. What’s more, Isla Holbox is home to nesting turtles and it can also be possible to see these creatures nesting and hatching, which we think is one of the great natural wonders of the world.
Most of the islanders work in the fishing industry, but as word about this beautiful island spreads, tourism is becoming an increasingly important source of income and there is now a clutch of boutique hotels on Isla Holbox. To date, the development has been sensitive, something we hope will endure because for those looking to relax and revitalise in a beautiful and natural location, a stay on Isla Holbox is hard to beat. Isla Holbox is a short 30-minute flight from Cancún, or a two-hour drive north to the ferry terminal at Chiquila, followed by a 20-minute boat ride.