Welcome to my ongoing series on solo travel for the Fly 40+ Black woman in Mexico! Throughout this series, I will share some of my favorite solo travel destinations in Mexico, as well as places I visited. You will get my honest opinion about safety, affordability, and enjoyment.
Some of you may know that I moved to Mexico in May 2021. Jumping off the hamster wheel to live a slower, more peaceful life just made sense to me. I don’t just live in Mexico, I also enjoy solo travel around Mexico. If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you may have picked up my digital guide about discovering 9 Mexican cities while deciding where to live.
One of the best things I did was visit Isla Holbox
There is a magical island in Mexico with a laid-back vibe off the coast of the state of Quintana Roo. Isla Holbox pronounced “Whole-Bosch” or “Holbox Island” is a beautiful island on the North of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, in Quintana Roo State. It is home to multiple sandbanks, mangroves inhabited by flamingos and pelicans. The island is only accessible by ferry. It is a destination growing in popularity.
As soon as I stepped onto Isla Holbox’s white sands, I knew it was the right choice!
I visited this truly secluded paradise on the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula during a six-day trip in July 2022. There are sandy roads, relaxed vibes, the Caribbean sea, beautiful beaches, and plenty of happy travelers. Make sure to include Isla Holbox on your itinerary. This is not just because you can swim with whale sharks see Flamingos and witness but you will also witness some of the most amazing and spectacular sunsets, enjoy white sand beaches and amazing food.
Where is Isla Holbox, Mexico?
This stunning island is located on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, in the state of Quintana Roo. The word Holbox is a Mayan word meaning black hole. Separated from the mainland, it is a protected area for its endangered species and natural flora. Thus, it’s part of an ecosystem where there is minimal impact. This means there are automobiles on the island. The streets are enchanting white sand that you can only traverse on foot, or via golf carts, bicycles, or ATV taxis. Who doesn’t love the experience of traveling around in a golf cart?
How to get to Isla Holbox, Mexico
From Cancun to Holbox
Holbox is about 30 minutes from Cancun. There are multiple ways to get to Chiquila, including by car and bus. At Chiquilá, you will embark on a ferry to the mainland.. The crossing takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a private boat.
- Buses from Cancun bus station take 2.5 hours with stops, and private cars around 1 hour forty-five minutes.
- It takes roughly 5.5 hours by bus from Merida, and between 3-4.5 hours by private car, depending on the route.
The ferry ride is every 20 minutes between 6:00 am and 9:40 pm, and tickets can be purchased in advance in Cancun or Chiquila to Isla Holbox. From Chiquila Tickets are 160 pesos ($8) one way, as of a few months ago.
By car, you can only drive as far as Chiquila since no vehicles are allowed on the island. Despite its unassuming appearance, you should still park safely but don’t leave anything valuable in your car.
Traveling by bus throughout Mexico is my favorite mode of transportation. BusBud and Omio are two excellent options if you are seeking information about bus transportation options around Mexico or any other part of the world.
Things to Do and Places to Eat
The best thing to do in Isla Holbox is to enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and the ambiance of this magical slow-paced island. Here are some things to do:
- Taking in the sunset at the Whaleshark Pier
- 3 Islands Tour- 3-hour boat tour. You will visit Bird Island, Passion Island, and the Yalahau Cenote
- Cabo Catoche Tour – a 6-hour tour where you can enjoy snorkeling and wildlife
- Swing in Sea Hammocks
- Visit Mosquito Point
- Street Art
- Bioluminescent plankton
Holbox also has amazing food options, here are some of my favorites:
- Lobster Pizza at The Roots
- Guacamole K’u’ at K’u’ restaurant
- Some of the best shrimp ceviche I’ve ever had at Restaurant Raices
- Authentic tacos at Barba Negra
- Vegan Options. Find delicious smoothie bowls at Painapol.
- Authentic Mexican food at La Tapatia.
The Best Safety Tips For Solo Female Travelers
As with any other destination Mexico has crime in certain areas of the country. Most of these places are not areas or states frequented by tourist. While there have been some issues in Cancun, overall Mexico is safe as long as you stay out of areas known for cartel related violence. Review US State Department advisories for specifics.As with any other destination, observing situational awareness and common sense, and having a travel safety protocol in place will go a long way to keeping you save on solo travel in Mexico as well as anywhere you visit. Do not let your guard down, because you are in a tropical oasis. Here are some precautions to keep you safe, especially if you are a solo traveler or solo female traveler:
- Choose hotels over hostels. Avoid sharing a room with strangers and worrying about your belongings
- Blend in. Try not to look like a rich tourist, here for the first time
- Do not walk the beach alone at night
- Avoid walking in deserted areas alone, especially if you have been drinking.
- Do not drink excessively so as to keep you mind clear especially at night
- Never leave any drink unattended for even a few seconds
- Be aware of your surroundings. Just as if you were back home
- Avoid using ATMs at night. Plan to get any cash needed during the day in locations with lots of people
- Use Uber or registered Taxis for transit. Every time you take an Uber, there is an option to share your plans on the app.
- Share your travel plans with family and friends.
- Have a check-in buddy and ensure they have your itinerary and know where you are. Talk to them multiple times a day and check in at the end of each day when you return to your hotel or short-term rental
- Observe situational awareness and trust your instincts. If it feels wrong do not do it’
Despite the overall safety of the Isla Holbox, it is still important to exercise situational awareness and common sense as a female solo traveler. Grab the BaldGirlWillTravel: A Guide to Travel Safety and Security for Solo Female Travelers and ensure you follow the safety tips to ensure a safe solo travel experience.
Sunscreen & Mosquito Game Must be on Point!
Especially during the rainy season of summer, the climate in Holbox is hot with high humidity. The streets have lots of potholes that fill with standing water after heavy rainfall an instant breeding ground for mosquitos. As a result, especially if you visit during rainy season, be prepared for mosquitos. Lots of mosquitos. I will honestly say I experienced more mosquito bites in Holbox than anywhere else in Mexico or on a trip in recent memory. You will not survive or enjoy Holbox without STRONG mosquito repellent AND strong sunscreen, especially during the rainy season. You will need a repellant with Deet, Citronella oil alone will not help.
Here are my top favorite repellent and sunscreen that keep me covered:
- For my arms, back, and legs: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion, Broad Spectrum SPF 55
- Insect repellent. I recommend a combination of wipes and a spray. My favorites are:
- OFF! FamilyCare Insect & Mosquito Repellent Spritz, Unscented Bug spray with Aloe-Vera, 7% Deet, 9 oz and Cutter All Family Mosquito Repellent Wipes, 15 Wipes.
Where I Stayed
I had a very unfortunate experience my first night in Holbox at the hotel I originally booked. There was a power outage and no support or customer service from the hotel to address it. I spent a hot and miserable night filled with mosquito bites and was thrilled to find and transfer to Hotel Para Ti the next day. The staff at Hotel Para Ti provided top notch customer service. In terms of comfort and sustainability, Hotel Para Ti checks all boxes, as it develops practices that reduce its impact on culture, the environment, and the economy. Located in the center of Holbox, Para Ti is designed with wood and materials found locally to blend with its natural environment. They diligently aim to conserve natural resources and prevent child exploitation. Conscious and environmentally responsible, here are some other features you will enjoy:
- Personalized attention
- Beds equipped with mosquito nets
- Stylish rooms with a distinct design, equipped with large beds, AC, fan, hammocks, and balconies with picturesque views
- Delicious Yucatecan cuisine, organic, and natural amenities.
- Pool, and jacuzzi, amidst palm trees and flowers
You can find this paradise here on Booking.com. As with all of Mexico, Spanish is the primary language spoken in Holbox, though many locals speak English. If you are not fluent, I recommend downloading Google Translate and purchasing a language guide ¿Como se Dice? Practical Spanish Phrases & Words for Travelers to help you communicate throughout your visit.
Overall I recommend a visit to Isla Holbox but I do not recommend visiting during rainy season on the island. The mosquitos were relentless and they did impact my enjoyment of my overall time on the island. I would visit again but not during the summer. Instead I recommend a visit between October and April.
Thank You For Reading!
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