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Introduction

Holbox

Holbox

© JOSE_MARIA

Isla Holbox is a little island north of Yucatan and is perfect for some relaxing days. It is even more special to go here in the summermonths (June to September) because then you have the oppurtunity to go snorkelling with the immense whale shark! It is part of the 154,000 square kilometer Yum Balamecological reserve. It was largely unknown to tourists as recently as 15 years ago; however, tourism in Holbox Island has recently begun to increase at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, this has also led to a rise in obnoxiously loud golf carts now roaming the once rather quiet island. While tourism may be increasing, it still remains a relatively off the beaten path location with plenty of local charm.

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Sights and Activities

  • Whale Shark Tours, ☏ +529841356451. Tours depart daily from late May through September, with peak season in July and August. Most tours leave at 08:00, returning around 14:00. Tours require a one-hour bouncy boat ride, depending on the weather, but passes dolphins, flamingos, and maybe turtles and manta rays. Ceviche lunch included, and snorkeling at a well-used reef with potentially cloudy visibility. Small and cheap tour companies only allow visitors three times in the water with the sharks, no touching is allowed. Standard shared tour price is MXN $3000 - $3750, although cheaper deals may be found. Anyone charging less than the standard rate may not be a completely legitimate business and thus may not be following all regulations designed to protect the whale sharks.
  • Yalahau Cenote is a 30-minute boat ride south from Holbox. Cool off in the fresh water cenote. There is a palapa (gazebo), bathroom (MXN $5) and a stand selling beers, water and small snacks. the cost of admission is MXN $25 per person to enter the cenote area

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Events and Festivals

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexico where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.

  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.
  • New Year's Eve. Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. One can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers being fired. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne.

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Weather

Isla Holbox has hot and humid conditions typical for the tropical location of this part of Mexico. The temperatures are high throughout the year, with mostly between 30 °C and 34 °C and nights between 17 °C and 23 °C. December and January are coolest, May is the hottest month. June to October is the rainy season, when hot and humid conditions are even worse and there is a chance of hurricanes as well.

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Getting There

By Boat

From Chiquilá on the mainland of Yucatan, you can get there by boat in about 20 minutes and there are about 10 departures each day in both directions. There are two companies that operate from the dock, with very similar boats, similar prices, and leaving at the same time: Holbox Express and 9 Hermanos. Costs M$140 (one-way) and runs daily at 06:00, 08:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 16:00, 17:00, 19:00, and 21:30. On weekends it also runs at 15:00 and 18:00. With two or more people you can charter a fisher's boat for the same price.

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Getting Around

The island of Holbox is very small and there are no paved roads, only sandy paths. There are very few cars on the island and most people get around by walking, bicycle, or golf cart. One can also get around Holbox by taking the local taxi service, which consists exclusively of a fleet of four wheelers. The taxis can be found on the beach and in the town during peak hours of the day (10am-6pm). Taxis can be very limited in the early hours of the morning and late at night.

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Eat

  • La Serenita, or The Little Mermaid, is off the main plaza, on the northwestern corner. This is a very local place, specialized in antojitos such as panuchos, sopes, tacos and chalupes, all for MXN $20 each.
  • Las Panchas is next to the Palapa Hotel, north of the main square. Features large portions of homemade Mexican food - mostly seafood (ceviche, lobster, shrimps, etc.) but huge tacos also. Beers are MXN $25 - $30. Guacamole is MXN $40 and grilled fish is just MXN$100.
  • Los Peleones is on the central square. With a rooftop terrace overlooking the central plaza, this friendly, lucha libre-themed place serves fresh seafood, Mexican classics and home brewed beer at very decent prices. Margarita MXN $65; mains MXN $130 - 490.
  • El Hornito Argento, ☏ +52 984 208 5664. This pizza place is also located on the main town square. It serves a variety of thin-crust pizzas including Holbox's famous lobster pizza, which is a must-have for any tourist visiting the island. It also has a rooftop which overlooks the main town square.

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Sleep

  • Casa Sandra, Calle Igualdad s/n, ☏ +52 984 875 2171. One of the most swish boutique hotels around.
  • Holbox Dream, ☏ +52 984 875 24 33. A good mid-range option.
  • Hostal Y Cabanas, Calle Plutarco Elias Calles s/n, at the very end of the fifth street from the pier, ☏ +52 9848752358. Unique, fresh and cozy, the campground is 80 metres from the main beach and offers to backpackers the possibility to sleep on hammocks or beds in small wooden cabañas protected with mosquito nets, as well as within tents on the soft sand of the garden. Includes all basic comforts such as hot water, electricity, and ventilators. Additional to communal kitchen, laundry, BBQ grill and toilets; the camping also provides a fully equipped house for families and small groups who desire a bit more privacy.
  • Hotel La Palapa, Av. Morelos 231, ☏ +52-984-87-52121. It offers island-themed rooms and suites, all of which have balcony/deck, Internet connection, and private toilet and bath. Massage service, restaurant and bar, and recreational activities (whale shark viewing, sunbathing, snorkeling, and windsurfing).
  • Ida y Vuelta, Calle Plutarco Elias Calles s/n Entre Robalo y Chacchi. ☏ +52 1 984 875 23 58. Nice palapa huts with fan and hammock, sand floors, shared bath and air-con rooms. Dorm beds are also available here as well as a shared kitchen and free Wi-Fi. The owners are Italian, multilingual, and can help arrange tours and other activities.
  • Tribu Hostel, Av. Joaquin Coldwell, 3 blocks from the pier and 40 metres from the beach. ☏ +52 984 875 2507. This is a new hostel with dorm rooms, private rooms, kitchen, Wi-Fi, book exchange, cinema, bike rental, tours and laundry facilities.
  • Villas Flamingos, Calle Paseo Kuka s/n, ☏ +52 984-8752167.
  • Hotel Mawimbi ☏ +52 984 875 2003. Hotel Mawimbi is a small, intimate, boutique hotel on the beach with only 11 rooms. It has been run by a husband and wife team since 1998. It has a very stunning tropical and rustic vibe that appeals to both adventurers and individuals looking for a laid-back vacation. Mawimbi's beachfront is gorgeous and provides a great view of the sunset. Mawimbi also has its own restaurant/bar located on the beachfront called Barquito which serves all kinds of food including seafood, steak and pasta.
  • Art Maya Rooms ☏ +52 998 317 2249. Air conditioning is featured in each room and a shared kitchen along with free Wi-Fi round out the deal. Very close to the airport and about 3 minutes on foot to the sea. Owners can help arrange tours and other activities.

View our map of accommodation in Isla Holbox

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Accommodation in Isla Holbox

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This is version 5. Last edited at 13:03 on Apr 27, 20 by road to roam. 3 articles link to this page.

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