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All about Isla Holbox in Mexico

Updated: April 6, 2024

Main Category: Day Trips


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Author: Tobias

Isla Holbox is an island in the northeast and is the meeting point of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Isla Holbox is about 315km away from Mérida. The journey by car takes about 4h from the city center of Mérida and the place is most of the time very busy.


Day Trips


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Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo, Mexiko







315km from Mérida

Travel Time:

4h from Mérida


No entry fee

Price Level:




Google Rating:

average rating is 4.5 out of 5, based on 1832 votes, Ratings

Opening Hours:


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Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox is an island in the northeast off the Yucatán Peninsula and is the meeting point of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. The 42 km long island is only 2 km wide.

The only town on the island is the fishing village of the same name, Holbox, with less than 2,000 inhabitants. The main strip, Calle Tiburón Ballena (Whale Shark Street in English), runs parallel to the beach.

There are over 100 hotels on the small island, from simple hostels to luxurious boutique hotels. Holbox is also known for its fresh seafood, which is delivered directly to the restaurants by local fishermen.

The island is best known for its 34 km long dream beach with palm trees, turquoise water and beautiful underwater world. Most of the water around Isla Holbox is only about waist deep. You will find good conditions for surfing, kitesurfing and diving.

Beach of Isla Holbox

Biosphere Reserve

Holbox means "black hole" in Mayan and refers to the dark water in the lagoon, which is colored by the macroves. Holbox is part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve with beautiful flora and fauna characterized by the mangrove forests, where you can take wonderful boat or kayak rides.

The island is separated from the mainland by the Yalahao lagoon. While the lagoon is now populated by flamingos and pelicans, it was the hideout of pirates for over 40 years in the 16th century.

Mangrove forest
Mangrove forest

Whale watching

Between May and September, whale sharks, which can grow up to 14 meters long and weigh 15 tons, can be found off Holbox. A whale watching tour is certainly one of the highlights you can experience on Holbox.

And on dark nights, bioluminescent plankton can be observed along the coastline of Holbox. The beauty of sea sparkle must be witnessed to be truly appreciated.

Whale watching
Whale watching

What you should know

Holbox is completely geared towards tourism, but it is still no comparison to the tourist hotspots such as Cancún or Tulum. The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June through November, so if a storm is approaching, you should have a plan B if possible.

The island is not a perfect paradise. As there are few asphalted roads on the island (not even cars, but mainly golf carts, mopeds and bicycles), the paths turn into large puddles, especially during the rainy season.

Unfortunately, cleanliness in the city is not always the best. And even if the beach is very beautiful, it can be affected by algae (Sargassum) washed up on the shore. The occurrence varies annually, but there is typically a peak season that runs from about April to October, with a peak occurrence often in the summer months.

If you can deal with this, the island is definitely worth a visit.

How do you get to the island?

To get to Holbox, you can take a ferry from Chiquila on the Yucatán Peninsula to Holbox. The trip takes about 20 minutes. There is also a small island airport that is served by five-seater cessnas from Playa del Carmen and Cancún airports.

Image Source (main image): ©dronepicr, wikimedia commons, CC-BY 2.0, Link

The pictures were modified (image improvements, size)


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Best Mérida Day Trips

If you would like to explore the Yucatan Peninsula and Mérida with a guided tour, there are wonderful experiences from Viator. We have selected the three best tours for you.

You save time and nerves, get all the insider tips you need from an expert tour guide and can join up with others if you wish. And it's also safer to travel in a group.

Chichen Itza, Private Cenote, Food Experience & the magic Izamal

My Top Recommendation (likely to sell out)

Chichen Itza, Private Cenote, Food Experience & the magic Izamal

The very best Chichén Itzá tour and free cancellation. It starts from US-$97

average rating is 5 out of 5
Best Mérida Day Trips

Another very special experience

Tour to Cenote of Santa Barbara and Acanceh area from Merida

This! Super beautiful cenotes! You have free cancellation. It starts from US-$114

average rating is 5 out of 5
Best Mérida Day Trips

Not either/or, but also!

Celestun Beach Mangrove Boat Ride from Merida

One more must-have. You also have free cancellation. It starts from US-$122

average rating is 4.5 out of 5
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Our partner and market leader, Viator, offers a wide range of exciting Thing to do in Mérida and on the Yucatán Peninsula.


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