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The Ultimate Isla Holbox Itinerary: 13 Best Ideas For What To Do In Holbox

The Ultimate Isla Holbox Itinerary: 13 Best Ideas For What To Do In Holbox

Photo by Michiel Ton on Unsplash
January 21, 2023

For families looking for a fun beach getaway, head to Isla Holbox and enjoy the ultimate Isla Holbox itinerary with your kids. We’ve compiled a great list of what do in Holbox with your family that’s guaranteed to make your vacation memorable.

Isla Holbox (pronounced “hol bosh” and not “hol box”) is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets (though certainly not for long!). This gorgeous little island off the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula deserves to have its name simultaneously hidden forever and shouted from the rooftops. 

If you do go, please treat this magical island with respect and don’t expect an extension of the Riviera Maya. Holbox is a tiny island where roads remain unpaved and the islanders face daily issues around maintaining the viability and sustainability of tourism while preserving the integrity of such a special ecosystem. 

This post was written by Cassie Pearse of Mexico Cassie Goes International


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A dirt road with palm trees and stores lined on either side. A bike is in the foreground.
Photo by The Free Birds on Unsplash

Table of Contents

Things to know for your Isla Holbox itinerary

Since Holbox is a tropical island, you will undoubtedly be hit with plenty of sunshine during the day and mosquitos at night. Be sure to take mosquito repellant and reef-safe sunblock with you. 

Also, be sure to pack all the cash you think you’ll need for your Holbox itinerary. There are no ATMs on the island. 

If you’re looking for a Mexico travel guide book that covers Isla Holbox, check out this one from Fodor’s travel guides:

Fodor's Cancún & The Riviera Maya: With Tulum, Cozumel, and the Best of the Yucatán

To get your kids excited about visiting Holbox and Mexico (and to get to know Mexican culture too), take some time to read a few kids books about Mexico as a family. Here are a few other useful things to know for your Isla Holbox itinerary.

The best time to visit Holbox Island

On average, temperatures in Isla Holbox sees lows of 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius) and highs of 82-94 degrees Fahrenheit (28-34 degrees Celsius). The hottest months of the year are between July to August, while the coolest months are December and January.

The rainiest months of the year are between September to October. However, June and November also get a lot of rain. The driest months of the year are between February to April. 

While Holbox July weather can be hot, it does experience some rain to cool you off. So it’s a relatively good time of year to do an Isla Holbox itinerary. If you’re planning many outdoor activities for your Isla Holbox itinerary, make sure to take the rain into consideration.

Located in a protected biosphere and nature reserve, Holbox is famous for its wildlife. Around the island you can see flamingos (generally April - October), pelicans, herons, dolphins, and rays and even whale sharks (May - September). 

Traveling to the Yucatan?

Get this must-have guide, Yucatan With Kids by Cassie Pearse, to plan your trip to the Yucatan.

Is Holbox safe?

If you’re asking yourself, “is Holbox safe?”, the answer is “Yes.” Isla Holbox is a small island of roughly 3,000 residents and like many parts of Mexico, it’s a safe place to visit. 

Since Holbox is a small community, it doesn’t experience much crime. However, if you plan to visit for an Isla Holbox itinerary, do take the usual safety precautions as you would in any vacation destination. Avoid flashing valuables and practice common sense. 

Check out our list of safest cities in Mexico to visit.

Getting to Holbox

Isla Holbox is an island off the northern coast of the Yucatán peninsula, northwest of Cancun. To get started on your Isla Holbox itinerary you’ll first need to get to the port town of Chiquila. From there, you can take a ferry to Holbox.

ADO buses are the most affordable option for getting to Chiquila. From Cancun, the two hour bus ride costs 240-300 pesos (roughly $12-15 USD) per person. From Merida, the six hour bus ride costs between 450-600 pesos (roughly $22.50-30 USD) per person. And from towns like Tulum and Playa del Carmen, the bus ride takes around three hours.

Alternative ways to get to Chiquila are to hire a private driver or rent a car. You can rent a car from the Cancun airport for a base price of as little as $6 per day from a budget rental car company. However, more recognized car rental companies like Alamo and Enterprise will cost closer to $40 per day. 

If you want to pay a bit extra on transportation to Holbox, you can take a private plane from Cancun to the island itself.

How long is the ferry to Holbox?

From the port town of Chiquila, you can take one of these ferries to Isla Holbox: 

These ferries depart on an alternating schedule every thirty minutes. Be sure to get on the right ferry so you don’t mess up your Isla Holbox itinerary! For those wondering, “how long is the ferry to Holbox?”, the ride is roughly 25 minutes long. At the time of this publication, ferry tickets cost 220 pesos (roughly $11 USD) per person. 

Getting around Isla Holbox

Once in Holbox, you can get around to most of the Isla Holbox things to do by walking. Additionally, there are golf cart taxis you can hire if you have luggage. 

You can also rent golf carts of your own to ride around the island. And an alternative option is to rent bikes during your Isla Holbox itinerary.

Explore other great destinations in the Yucatán peninsula

Where to stay in Holbox

The main hotel area in Isla Holbox is located on the western part of the island. Here, you can find a range of hotels to suit your preference. They can range from as high as $600 USD a night to as little as $60 USD a night. 

Here are a few highly rated places to consider for your family:

Villas HM Paraiso Del Mar

Golden Paradise Town

Hotel Boutique Naj Casa Holbox

Use this map to find the perfect lodging for your Isla Holbox itinerary.

Top picks of what to do in Holbox for an Isla Holbox itinerary

Despite being a small island, there are plenty of fun things to do in Isla Holbox for families. We’ve compiled a list of amazing ideas of what to do in Holbox with your kids during your Isla Holbox itinerary.

1. Indulge at a beach club

Obviously, if you’re considering a trip to Holbox then you’re looking for some family beach time. Isla Holbox beaches are perfect for families. The gorgeous white sand remains cool underfoot on even the hottest days and the ocean is shallow and calm. That means the littlest adventurers will have a blast playing safely in the water. 

One perfect way to enjoy the beach during your Isla Holbox itinerary is by heading to a beach club for an afternoon. At the beach clubs and in the beach bar restaurants, the kids can enjoy feeling grown up with non-alcoholic cocktails, plates of super fresh seafood, pizzas and of course, barside swings. 

Raices Beach Club and Marina, on Playa Holbox remains a firm favorite with visitors for good reason. It began as a small hut where local fishermen would prepare their daily catch. Over the years, it has become an absolutely integral part of island life. 

2. Visit Playa Holbox 

Playa Holbox is one of the beaches in Isla Holbox that’s close to town. It’s a stretch of three kilometers where you’ll find beach clubs, restaurants, and one set of Holbox letters for all of your Instagram needs. 

If you or your kids enjoy water based activities, then Playa Holbox offers great fun since here you can rent paddle boards, kayaks or even go kitesurfing as the shallow waters are perfect for older kids hoping to learn this, frankly terrifying, sport. 

Book one of these mangrove kayaking tours to experience Playa Holbox for your Isla Holbox itinerary:

Kayaking Tour Through the Mangroves in Isla Holbox

Kayak Mangroves Sunrise Experience

Tour the Mangroves in Kayak by Isla Holbox

Travelers relaxing at a beach club in Holbox, Mexico during an Isla Holbox itinerary
Photo by Ahtziri Lagarde on Unsplash

3. Go off the beaten path at Playa Punta Cocos 

Playa Punta Cocos is a thirty minute or so walk from town. But you’ll be rewarded by an even more peaceful beach experience during your Isla Holbox itinerary. There are mangroves reaching almost to the water, loungers, swings and Holbox hammocks available. If the kids don’t want to walk you can find an island taxi to take you, this is an adventure in itself since the taxis are souped-up golf carts.

If you’re coming to Holbox from Cancun for a day trip, take this tour to experience Playa Punta Cocos and other beaches in Isla Holbox:

Discover Beautiful Beaches Holbox Punta Mosquito & Punta Cocos

4. See flamingos at Punta Mosquitos 

For intrepid families looking for more off the beaten beaches for your Isla Holbox itinerary, why not try walking along the pristine sandbanks to Punta Mosquitos? If you are going to do this, be sure to check the tides with locals before setting off. 

Located in the western most point of the island, Punta Mosquitos is where you’ll be treated to views of noisy flamingos (in season). Be careful not to get too close. 

Book this private tour to visit Punta Mosquito with a travel guide during your Isla Holbox itinerary: 

Private boat tour (3 islands tour)

A boat in shallow water on the beach, tied to a short post.
Photo by Maria Perez on Unsplash

5. Enjoy a bioluminescence experience 

If you’re in Holbox between July and January ask where to find the incredible bioluminesce. This is one of the best things to do in Holbox if your kids are fascinated with natural science. Tours are offered but you can just as easily head to the beach on your own if you know where to look. 

This nightly natural light show in the ocean and on the beach occurs thanks to light producing and emitting phytoplankton. The kids will be amazed as they see water and sand light up all around them. 

If you’re not sure of where to see the bioluminescent plankton, book one of these bioluminescence tours for your Isla Holbox itinerary:

Magic Night of Stargazing and Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence Experience in Holbox

Bioluminescence Tour in Kayak in Holbox Island

6. Yum Balum Three Island Tour

For families interested in more nature related Isla Holbox things to do, be sure to book a tour around Yum Balum biosphere that includes the three islands for the best chance of spotting dolphins. This tour includes Isla Pajaros (Bird Island), Passion Island and Yalahau and is best taken in the morning before it gets too hot. 

The highlight of this tour for many is the viewpoint for Isla Pajaros where you leave your boat and walk up a bridge-like structure in the water to stand and watch the birds on this tiny island that is a refuge for birds. Humans are not permitted on the island.

Depending on the time of year, there are different birds on the island. You may see frigate birds, white ibis, egrets, cormorants, pelicans, herons and, of course, flamingos.

Book one of this nature tour during your Isla Holbox itinerary to truly enjoy Yum Balum:

Excursion to Cenote Yalahau, Isla Pasión and Isla Pajaros in Holbox

Birds flying above boats on a beach.
Copyright arkakijschell

7. Take a Whale Shark Tour

If you time your Isla Holbox itinerary right, you might be able to have one of the most amazing experiences of a lifetime: swimming with whale sharks! The whale shark tours only run during official whale shark season, which is set by the local authorities. 

The whale shark season can vary slightly every year so be sure to confirm the dates if this is why you’re traveling to Holbox. Unlike the season for whale sharks in La Paz, Baja Sur (which typically runs from October to April) whale shark season in Holbox usually runs from June to September.

Tours can also be weather dependent. Obviously a rough sea makes it both less fun and harder to spot anything. 

Be aware that while tours do run from Holbox, the whale sharks have a large area of ocean in which to move around. It’s rare to not find the magnificent creatures but since they are wild it can take time to locate them. 

Swimming with whale sharks is an experience no one will ever forget. Most tours take children over six years old. Book this tour to get the once in a lifetime experience of swimming with whale sharks:

Snorkeling tour with Whale Shark in Holbox Island

H3 - 8. Take a picture with the Holbox Letters

One of the best ways to commemorate your trip is to take pictures! And what better way to do that during your Isla Holbox itinerary than by taking a picture with the Holbox letters? 

There are three sets of letters on Holbox. The first you’ll meet when disembarking from the ferry, while the second are on Playa Holbox. The third set of Holbox letters is further down Playa Holbox and is wonderfully strung with hammocks between the letters. 

Colorful letters spelling out Holbox on a ledge with the ocean in the background.
Copyright arkadijschell

9. Take a bicycle tour of the island

If you need to burn off more energy during your Isla Holbox itinerary, consider renting bikes and cycling around the island. Sandy roads and a near total lack of cars makes biking a great option with kids. 

If you’re coming to Holbox for a day trip from Cancun, you can book this tour that includes a one hour bike rental:

Amazing HOLBOX Full day tour and Cenote swim experience from Cancun!

Whether you explore on foot or by bike, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for street art. Mexico is known for its wonderful street artists and Holbox is no exception. 

10. Take kitesurfing lessons

Kite surfing is another fun thing you can do with kids while you’re in Isla Holbox. If you’ve never done kitesurfing, there are a few kitesurf schools on the island to take lessons during your Isla Holbox itinerary.

Many of the kitesurfing schools are located one or two blocks away from the beach. They offer lessons for all levels, both private and group lessons. Even though the kitesurfing schools allow all ages, we personally don’t recommend this activity for families with very young children. However, if your kids are older, this is definitely a great active sport for them to try.

Book this kitesurfing lesson for you and your family while you’re in Isla Holbox:

Kitesurfing lessons in Isla Holbox


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    11. Go fishing

    Being an island, Isla Holbox is a great place to enjoy fishing, if that’s something you like to do with your family. In fact, Holbox’s main industry is fishing. And some fish species common in the area include sea trout, mahi-mahi, and barracuda.

    If you plan to do day trips from Holbox to go fishing, it’s best to go with a guide who is familiar with the area. Book this fishing and snorkeling tour for your Isla Holbox itinerary.

    Full Day Tour with Fishing and Snorkeling from Holbox

    12. Watch the sunset

    Sunsets on the island are unmissable so be sure to set yourself up in your choice location: with a sundowner on a rooftop bar like Hotel Arena Lounge. This is the island’s tallest building! Other sunset ideas for your Isla Holbox itinerary include enjoying cocktails on the beach, or cavorting in the water with the kids.

    If you’re in the mood for a more adventurous sunset experience during your Isla Holbox itinerary, book this sunset paddling tour: 

    Sunset paddling at Holbox Island

    Two hammock chairs on the beach, the hammock on the right has a little boy sitting in it.
    Photo by Adam Le Sommer on Unsplash

    13. Enjoy Holbox street food and Holbox nightlife

    Even after the sun sets, there are still plenty of fun Holbox Mexico things to do with your family. Take the children to the plaza to play with local kids, eat marquesitas (a Yucatecan street food specialty consisting of a cone-crepe stuffed with cheese and other toppings) and generally relax, safe in the knowledge that you’ve had a wonderful day doing very little. 

    For dining options during your Isla Holbox itinerary, there are plenty of restaurants around the plaza to enjoy a dinner. In the evenings, some of the bars and restaurants will also play live music.

    Bonus: Day tours of Holbox

    If you only have time for a Holbox day trip, or just a weekend itinerary, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit Isla Holbox. Even a 1 day Holbox itinerary is worth it!

    Take a look at these day trip tours you can book to Holbox. These tours are packed with all sorts of ideas for what to do in Holbox:

    Mission Isla Holbox Funday!

    Holbox Island Tour

    Live Holbox Now

    Man and two girls riding in a golf cart on a beach
    Copyright travnikovstudio

    A Holbox guide for a perfect Isla Holbox itinerary

    Our hope is that this Holbox guide will help give you ideas for what to do in Holbox for your Isla Holbox itinerary. The island of Holbox is truly a gem, and a great option for a beach getaway with kids.

    So take the ideas from this post and get ready to do all the best things to do in Isla Holbox!

    Looking for another island getaway after your Isla Holbox itinerary? Check out this post:

    7 Unforgettable Activities in Cozumel for Kids And Families

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