I was expecting it to take a while to get to Isla Holbox but it ended up taking 6 hours including waiting for each type of public transport, consisting of a 40 minute taxi ride to the bus terminal in Cancun to get a 3.5 hour bus journey to Chiquila ferry terminal, and a 25 minute ferry to the Island. It was worth it though and I enjoyed the golf buggy ride to the hotel (no cars at all on Isla Holbox). It was a little bigger and more developed than I had been expecting for an island just 26 miles long, that had only relatively recently got electricity (in the 1980s) but it was very cute and full of colourful streetart, pristine beaches, great restaurants, bars and cafes. It was definitely quiet compared to Cancun, which is just what I was after. And HOT!
The main attractions are the town square again where all the shops, bars, cafes and restaurants are centred, beautiful beaches, warm and shallow waters (which attract Flamingos, Pelicans, Herons and lots of other birds that I don’t know) and, in the right season, whale sharks. I imagine this is what Tulum used to be like before all the big developers got their hands on it and I worry about Isla Holbox too as it is by no means developed but is developing with construction going on all around the edges of the island. At the moment, it is all in keeping with the peace and quiet of Holbox and I really hope it will stay this way. Why have another Cancun when Cancun is just across the water for any American spring breaker who wants it?
There is not much to do on the Island other than relax and enjoy the views with good food and drink. Everything is within walking distance, just – I walked all the way to one end of the island one morning, in search of what a local had described as the “Mexican Maldives” – shallow waters mixing in with beautiful white sand – it was just the heat and humidity that was the challenge. Over an hour later, I came to what I can only describe as paradise – and it was like the “Mexican Maldives”! Well worth the sweat. A restaurant I would definitely recommend in the main town centre is a tiny one called El Chapulim, where the menu changes daily depending on the catch of the day. The chef comes round at the start to go through the three or four options available that day and you pick from there. Great food and even better enormous frozen margaritas! With fresh fish on their doorstep, you can’t go wrong with any of the fish or seafood dishes on offer round the island.
One of the only problems going in May was that it was so hot and humid, at around 31 degrees Celsius, with the temperature barely falling at night, that I just felt I had to get some kind of breeze so I decided to go for a fishing day trip. This ended up being a great choice with a few stops in the middle of nowhere to catch our fish (all line caught – and I caught the first fish of the day!) ready for a lunch stop at a quiet beach where the captain made us the freshest ceviche I had ever tasted with our catch of the day. Just fish, tomatoes, onions and an awful lot of lime juice, served with tortilla crisps – sometimes, the really simple things are the best. This was also a great place to see some pelicans as they were surrounding all the boats ready for any leftovers. The only thing to be aware of is that the journey to and from the various stops takes a lot longer than we had all anticipated with a very bumpy ride, resulting in most of us getting soaked and several people being sick! So hold on tight and take some anti-nausea tablets if needed!