It’s time for another weekend getaway, this time to Sisal, in the state of Yucatan. This quaint seaside town features a beautiful coastline, a charming main street full of bright colors and incredible nature sanctuaries. Continue reading
This upcoming weekend, we’re escaping the hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen and Cancun and visiting a small island on the Gulf of Mexico. Holbox Island is located just at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, surrounded by beautiful blue waters. With a no-cars-allowed policy and offering golf carts to move around, this beautiful and magical island make for a perfect weekend getaway. Are you ready? Let’s get moving!
How to Get to Holbox
Holbox is an island located in the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, technically belonging to the state of Quintana Roo. However, due to its northern location, it is no longer the Caribbean, but rather the Gulf of Mexico. To get to Holbox is quite easy if you have a car. From Playa del Carmen you must take the new Merida highway, which will cost you $107 Mexican pesos. Follow the signs that say Chiquila – you’ll be driving straight. It will take approximately two and a half hours to reach the port of Chiquila.
Once in Chiquila, you will find many parking options. Most of them will charge a $100 Mexican pesos fee to keep your car for 24 hours. Once you’ve parked, you will need to walk towards the ferry. This will take you a couple of minutes. You can expect to pay $300 mxn for the round-trip ticket. The ferry ride takes about 20 minutes each way. Ferries run every half an hour from 6am to 9:30pm.
Where to Stay
Holbox is a very small island offering different boutique-style hotels. You can find from small one-room spaces listed on Airbnb to slightly larger, more luxurious hotels. You will not find big-brand names nor all-inclusive resorts on the island. Homeowners often rent out properties here for days, weeks or even months, for anyone wanting to go for more than a weekend getaway. The island is quite small, which means that a centrally-located accommodations are only 3 blocks from the ferry and 3 blocks from the beach on the other side. There are certain more laidback and less-populated areas in the island, also lined with more luxurious hotels.
If you’re staying at a central location, you can quickly reach other areas by renting a golf cart or taking a golf cart cab for $40 mxn. It takes minutes to get from one point to another. Staying at the central areas is better for those looking to be within walking distance to the main square and the main street with shops, restaurants and bars.
What to Do in Holbox
There are many things to do in this charming island. From visiting the endless sand banks near Mantarraya to walking by the little shops and restaurants, the options are many. During the summer season, you can take beautiful and natural tours to see the migrating whale sharks who swim by the island. These gentle giants of the ocean are a sight not to be missed, slowly gliding through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and making their way down to the Caribbean.
During the day, you can visit one of the many sand banks where you can walk for miles in shallow clear waters. You can visit the Mantarraya beach restaurant to enjoy hammocks in the ocean under letters that spell out Holbox. We highly recommend you also check out the bioluminescence tours, where microorganisms in the ocean react to movement by lighting up. This is done at night and costs approximately $250 mxn per person. Bathe in the warm waters while tiny plankton light up creating amazing starred-like shapes in the ocean.
There are also other tours you can take to snorkel in certain parts around the island. As soon as you get off the ferry, many vendors will approach you offering accommodation, taxis and tours. However, the best thing to do in Holbox is lay your towel down and sunbathe.
Shopping and Eating
Because Holbox is such a small island, there are not many options for shopping or eating. There is a main street lined with delicious little restaurants ready to serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner at very accessible prices. If you head onto the other side of the island where the sand banks are, you will find an array of beach restaurants offering fresh fish and other local delicacies.
For shopping, the main street is where you will find the most shops. There are many locally-sourced shops selling souvenirs and other cute crafts perfect to take home as a reminder of your weekend getaway. Most things in Holbox are quite affordable in comparison to big restaurants in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Although some range slightly higher. Make sure you visit Mantarraya Restaurant for a delicious fresh mixed ceviche to share.
Holbox requires driving and a ferry. So, if you’re visiting from Cancun or Playa del Carmen you should definitely head out early in order to be able to enjoy the day at the beach. We recommend you get on the road around 9 or 10am to be reaching the island around 1pm. That way you can enjoy the afternoon and the next morning there.
Bring cash with you. Not many places on the island accept credit or debit cards. Although there are some ATMs (such as Banamex) on the island, it is best to have cash with you. Bring Mexican pesos to avoid high exchange rates and prices. Plan your activities in advance – especially if you’re taking tours. That way you know how long it will take you to go from one place to the other to not miss out on anything you want to do.
To move around, rent a golf cart. You can rent one for 24 hours for $1,500 mxn. You can use this to explore places on the island you would otherwise need to pay a cab to see. Renting a golf cart will give you the freedom to move around and go wherever you wish at your own time.
Most importantly, bring an open mind and be ready to live experiences you can only imagine. Enjoy the laidback lifestyle of the island, the clear waters and the shining sun. There really isn’t another island quite like Holbox.
Living in Mexico and looking for the perfect place to escape to for the weekend? Have we got the perfect place where you could spend your weekend: Isla Mujeres! The gorgeous island off the coast of Cancun is home to over 12,000 people who can enjoy views of Cancun when the skies are clear. This small Caribbean island has much to offer to tourists who dare go on a getaway weekend to enjoy a new side of paradise.
How to Get There
Getting to Isla Mujeres is quite easy. Ferries leave from Puerto Juarez, Punta Sam or Gran Puerto, all located in the Benito Juarez municipality. Ferries depart to and from Isla Mujeres every half an hour from 5 AM to 12 AM from Gran Puerto through Ultramar, but make sure you check schedules prior to your trip so you don’t get stranded on the island for an extra night! The other two companies run at different times, usually once an hour.
You can expect to pay $70 mxn for a one-way ticket, and if you want to cross with a car, moped, bike, or van, you can do so departing from Punta Sam and at an extra cost of $82 to $256 pesos.
Where to Stay
Isla Mujeres is lined with hundreds of gorgeous beach town hotels – from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Additionally, the real estate options are gorgeous and many home owners rent their properties by the day, week or month. Because the island is so small, staying in a condo or hotel in the center is perfect as you can walk or go by golf cart to the beach. If you would rather stay by the beach, the options are endless, also depending on which side of the island you want to stay at. The north part is where the arenales (sand banks) are, creating a beautiful view of white sand and crystal clear blue waters.
What to Do
The options of what to do in Isla Mujeres are endless. Snorkeling and scuba diving are the most common activities – you can’t say you went to Isla Mujeres without dipping a toe in the ocean! Amongst the most popular things to do is swimming with the great whale sharks (although this can only be done during Whale Shark Season) and visiting the underwater museum. You can also visit the natural reef park Garrafón, take a tour to visit the best snorkeling spots, go fishing, and much more.
As soon as you step off the ferry, dozens of people will approach you selling their tours. The best thing to do is rent a golf cart to be able to move around the island and discover its amazing nature.
Shopping and Eating
There really is no tourist experience without some shopping and fine dining! Isla Mujeres has a great boulevard by the beach offering an array of shopping options. Most shops offer beautiful Mexican crafts such as sarapes, clay art, carved good, paintings, hammocks, typical dresses, shoes, and others. You will also find dive shops, restaurants and jewelry shops.
As to eating, the top recommended places are Mango Café for delicious breakfast, tea and coffee. Lunch can be had at Q’Bravo where enchiladas suizas and guacamole are recommended highly. Additionally, most (note: not all) restaurants in Isla Mujeres are affordable, as is everything in general, compared to Cancun or Playa del Carmen.
Isla Mujeres is small but has a lot to offer, so plan out your weekend getaway before getting there so you’re not trying to see it all and end up seeing nothing. Snorkeling and scuba diving tours usually take up quite some time from your day, so if you’re wanting to also explore the island, find the hidden gems, visit the parks and see the local life, you need to organize your times.
Bring money! Although it is more affordable than other places on the Riviera Maya, it is still a highly touristic destination and money will be spent. Whether you’re paying for tours, beers, meals, or just shopping, it’s always better to have money.
Most importantly, remember to be open-minded, enjoy the local laid-back lifestyle and make new friends!
Tune back for another great Weekend Getaway trip next week!
Top Mexico Real Estate is an American-owned company in Playa del Carmen catering to thousands of Americans and Canadians wanting to own property in paradise. Feel free to contact one of our Top Buyer Representatives if you’re interested in purchasing a vacation, retirement or permanent home in Mexico! If you fell in love with the area there are many Isla Mujeres real estate options to choose from.
And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…
We Make It Happen!