You’ve set your sights on the beautiful and tranquil island of Isla Holbox, great! Now how do you actually get there from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, or beyond? Many people are often confused about how to get to Isla Holbox, but no matter where your starting location is, this guide will help you find your way there with ease.
Whether you’re traveling from Cancun to Isla Holbox directly, or from elsewhere in Mexico, use this post to find out how to get to Isla Holbox by ferry, plane, car, or bus. So without further ado, let’s get into it!
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WHERE IS ISLA HOLBOX?
Isla Holbox is located north of Cancun in Quintana Roo, at the very top of the Yucatan Peninsula. Upon arriving, the first thing you’re going to notice is the stark contrast of the atmosphere compared to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. You won’t find the area saturated with hotels and tourists because Isla Holbox has not been overrun with tourists yet (let’s keep it that way).
Instead, you’re going to find a small fishing town, a few amenities, and a whole lot of charm. Holbox is still a fairly remote island and getting there takes a little bit of planning.
HOW TO GET TO ISLA HOLBOX
There are several viable ways to reach Holbox. Because Isla Holbox is an island, so you can’t drive all the way there. You could travel by car or bus for a portion, in combination with the Holbox ferry. Alternatively, you could opt for a short plane ride over to the island.
Your mode of transportation will depend on where you’re coming from and what your budget is for transportation costs.
The most common method of getting there: get yourself to the town of Chiquila and catch a ferry to Isla Holbox.
GETTING TO ISLA HOLBOX BY PLANE
Isla Holbox can be reached by plane. There is a tiny airport on Isla Holbox, so you’ll find mostly private planes flying in and out.
Most flights to Isla Holbox leave from Cancun Internation Airport, but you can also make arrangements to fly from Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel, and Merida. The flight time is around 40 minutes from Cancun, making it the quickest way to reach Holbox.
Do note that you aren’t going to find cheap commercial flights to Holbox. When you choose to fly, you’re going to be renting a private hire plane essentially. Prices are per plane, NOT per person. I’ve seen prices reaching $750 one-way! So not worth it, unless you have that kind of money to blow! You can request a private plane booking here.
GETTING TO ISLA HOLBOX BY FERRY
Unless you are flying, you will need to get yourself to the small town of Chiquila and take the Holbox Ferry from there. From Chiquila, Isla Holbox is literally just minutes away!
The ferry to Isla Holbox only takes 15 minutes. There are two ferry companies that run from Chiquila to Holbox and back, 9 Hermanos Holbox Ferry and Holbox Express. Feel free to book with whichever one is most convenient for your trip’s timing as there is no real difference in quality between the two companies (same price, same service, both depart every 30 minutes). The only difference is that they operate on different schedules–one departs on the hour and the other departs on the half-hour. Check for the latest times and other info here.
The ferry rides are convenient and fast. You’ll be on a catamaran with modern bathrooms, video screens, air conditioning, and comfortable seating.
Do note that you cannot book your ticket online in advance. Once you get there, you can buy your ticket for the next available ferry. The ferry runs from Chiquila to Holbox starting at 6am, with the last boat departing around 9:30pm.
In terms of ferry costs:
- Adults and children over 4 feet: $220 pesos one-way ($11 USD)
- Children under 4 feet: $160 pesos one-way ($8 USD)
- Infants and children under 2: Free
There are several ways to get to Chiquila. The method you choose will depend on your budget.
GETTING TO CHIQUILA FROM CANCUN AIRPORT OR HOTEL
GETTING TO CHIQUILA BY PRIVATE TRANSFER
If you are looking for how to get to Chiquila from the Cancun Airport or from your hotel in Cancun, the easiest & fastest way is by arranged private transfer. Arranged transfer options include shared shuttles, shared vans, private cars/vans, and even luxury options. With all of these options, your driver will pick you up at the airport or hotel and bring you to the Chiquila Ferry where you’ll hop on board and cross over to Isla Holbox.
For the best prices/rates, you’ll need to book online in advance to arrange your trip date and time. Whenever we travel in Mexico, we always book our private transfer as soon as we know our final travel plans. They’re so much cheaper than taxis in Cancun. Choose what works best for you, depending on your budget and how fast you want to get to the ferry.
Tip: Transfer companies are all cheaper than taxis. I would recommend you set up a transfer ahead of time on Booking.com (what I used to book all my Cancun transportation ahead of time), as I’ve found that they’re 40-50% cheaper than what you’d pay through a taxi cab, even after negotiating down the price.
GETTING TO CHIQUILA BY BUS
The cheapest way to get to Holbox is by public bus. The ADO coach bus provides locals and tourists with transportation all over the Yucatan. The bus from Cancun to Chiquila takes around three and a half hours and bus tickets cost around $10-15 USD per person, depending on when you travel. Check for the latest fares, schedules, and other info on the ADO website.
The bus will drop you off at the ferry port in Chiquila, where you can buy tickets for the ferry to the island.
If you’re attempting to get to Chiquila from other parts of Mexico nearby, the ADO bus can be a great option for you as there are buses departing for Chiquila from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, Merida, and Valladolid.
GETTING TO CHIQUILA BY CAR
Similar to the private transfer or the bus option, the furthest you can get to Isla Holbox by car is to the Chiquila ferry port. From Cancun, it’s only a two-hour drive by car to Chiquila. Once you get there, you will need to park your car and take the ferry to Isla Holbox.
There will be various small parking lots dotted around the area charging $100 MXN/day (or $5 USD/day). You’ll pay upon returning once you pick up your car.
As with overnight parking anywhere else, be sure to take all your belongings with you and leave nothing valuable in the car.
HOW TO GET AROUND ISLA HOLBOX
When you step off the ferry you’ll be greeted by some fresh air as well as a row of already-manned golf carts, ready to take you to your Holbox hotel/accommodation. The ride to the city center only takes a few minutes and is really cheap. If you don’t have much luggage, you can even walk to the main square (takes less than ten minutes).
The beauty of Isla Holbox is that there are no cars. Holbox is a relatively car-free island with the exception of a few trucks and some construction vehicles that are used to move seaweed when necessary. I’ll tell you right now, you definitely don’t need to worry about not having an actual car while on the island.
Isla Holbox is easy to navigate on foot, by bicycle, or by golf cart. As I stated, when you get on the island, you’ll notice that golf cart taxis are readily available to pick you up and take you wherever you need to go. It’s also super easy and affordable to rent a golf cart for yourself.
Once you drop off your bags, you can start exploring on foot, on bike, or by golf cart. There is very little traffic in the streets so it’s safe to walk around and bike in the roads. Since Isla Holbox is so small, bikes are an ideal mode of transport. You can rent one for around $20 MXN/hour ($1 USD/hour) at one of the various shops around town.
WHERE TO STAY ON ISLA HOLBOX
Isla Holbox is one of the most picturesque, natural, and laidback places we’ve ever visited. You’ll want to pair your experience with an unforgettable place to lay your head at night. There are so many great hotel options on Isla Holbox, from beachfront resorts to oceanfront boutique hotels, not to mention everything is so affordable!
Here are a few options we recommend:
Mystique Holbox by Royalton – If you’re looking for some luxury, this is it! Mystique Holbox by Royalton is a 5-star Autograph Collection hotel that features a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, spa, sun terrace, and bar in Holbox.
Soho Hotel Boutique & Spa – Soho Hotel Boutique & Spa is gorgeous and has a super eco-vibe about it. The hotel has a restaurant, terrace, outdoor swimming pool, a bar and garden. All rooms have a balcony and air-conditioning!
Casa HX (Adults Only) – Another gorgeous hotel that offers an amazing breakfast to help you start your day off right! Featuring a garden, outdoor pool, bar, sun terrace, and lounge, this 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms that are immaculately decorated in a minimalist style. Guests at Casa HX can enjoy free continental breakfast as well.
Of course, there are many other hotel options should the above be fully booked or not suit your style. Check for hotel availability and pricing here.
If you’re going to Isla Holbox with a larger group, I recommend renting a villa. Yes, you heard that right, a whole villa! Often, you can find entire villa rentals that fit anywhere from 2 to 16 people for the same price as hotel rooms. Check out VRBO for some really amazing and affordable beach rentals.
ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST FOR ISLA HOLBOX, MEXICO
- Lightweight Packable Day Bag | Inside my larger travel backpack, I always bring a lightweight, packable backpack to use for day-to-day exploration. The Fjallraven Kanken Mini is perfect for carrying a few snacks, a lightweight jacket, cameras, phones, a water bottle, and whatever else I need for the day.
- Packing Cubes | Start packing the smart way. The key to smart packing is going to be compartmentalization, aka your packing cubes. This set comes with a bunch of different sizes, so you can create a separate compartment for undies and socks, one for clothing, one for toiletries, and one for anything else you may want to organize. By using packing cubes, it’s so much easier to pull out only what you need, rather than dig through all of your luggage to find that one thing you’re looking for.
- Laundry Bag | Summer = lots of sweaty, smelly worn clothes. Don’t soil your entire bag by mixing worn clothes with your unworn clothes! Definitely bring a laundry bag to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes to maintain the utmost freshness.
- Clothing | Pack your usual summer clothes, as well as a few layers for unexpected cooler temperatures. This includes tanks, shorts, swimsuits, and swim coverups!
- Light Rain Jacket | Traveling to tropical areas does not necessarily mean there won’t be rain or wind. Packing a light rain jacket will definitely come in handy in unpredictable tropical climates. This one for men and this one for women are some of the best jackets for any kind of travel. They’re ultralight, wind and water-repellent, and take up virtually no space so they’re easy to carry wherever you go.
- Adventure Sandals | Tevas and Chacos are my go-to brands for multipurpose summer sandals. If you’re planning on having an adventurous day or two, you should definitely consider getting adventure sandals — comfortable for long-distance walking, safe for submerging in water, and super durable.
- Walking Shoes | One pair of closed-toed shoes (walking shoes or running shoes) is always crucial for any trip. These ones that I’ve been traveling around with are super light and breathable. I can even walk 15+ miles in them before getting sore feet.
- Cooling Facial Mist | When you’re faced with mid-day humidity, it can be very hard to deal with. Keeping a small bottle of facial mist in your purse or backpack on a hot day will save your life. This mist takes all the cooling, soothing ingredients you can think of—aloe, cucumber, and green tea—and combines them into one refreshing spritzer for your face.
- Dry Shampoo | Bring some dry shampoo to use in between washes to instantly revitalize and freshen your semi-dirty hair.
- Leave-In Conditioner | I recommend bringing a leave-in conditioner to help nurture your hair after spending time in pools and the salty ocean. As someone with naturally frizzy hair, my hair tends to get tangled, coarse, and even more frizzy after it’s submerged in water. This leave-in conditioner is a cult favorite – just put it in your damp hair after your shower and comb it through.
- SPF 30+ Sunscreen (For Face) | COOLA sunscreen is my new go-to facial sunscreen. My face doesn’t feel sticky or goopy, which is so important for feeling comfortable when you’re out and about in humid areas. If you’re going anywhere in the tropics, you’ll be close to the equator so you really want to use a high SPF – I don’t go below SPF 30 in hot and sunny climates. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s reef-friendly!
- Sunscreen (For Body) | Applying sunscreen to your body is absolutely necessary for tropical destinations. Even if it’s overcast and cloudy, the UV index can be very high, so be sure to apply whenever you’re outdoors. If you plan on snorkeling near the reefs, choose a coral reef-safe brand like Coola or Sun Bum, as traditional sunscreen contains chemicals that damage and even kill the precious reefs.
- After Sun Cooling Spray| Let’s be real– you’re probably going to be spending the majority of your vacation outdoors under the sun. Chances are, you’re going to get a nice tan, and maybe even a sunburn or two! Even if you don’t get sunburned, you should still treat your exposed skin to some much-needed hydration with an after-sun cooling spray or after-sun lotion.
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Oil Blotting Sheets | On a typical day in a hot and tropical place, your makeup will slide/sweat off your face in exactly three seconds after stepping outside. Rather than layering on more makeup, first, focus on tackling your shiny, sweaty glow. The solution? Use blotting sheets whenever your face starts getting sweaty.
- Cooling Face Mask | After a long day of exploring, nothing will feel better than propping your feet up and slapping on a cooling face mask for 10-20 minutes. Lay back and relax!
- Insect Repellent Lotion | Mosquitos love hot climates, so I would definitely recommend packing insect repellent with a high DEET percentage, no matter the season you’re traveling. Sawyer makes some really great bug repellent products, and they’re travel-friendly too!
- Permethrin Insect Repellent Spray for Clothing | This clothing insect repellent spray is a game-changer. If you’re going to be outdoors in areas where mosquitos are prevalent, I’d highly recommend preparing your clothes with this fabric spray!
- How does it work? This is a treatment spray for clothes that adheres only to fabrics, leaving no smell or residue on clothes and doesn’t harm human skin. Permethrin spray lasts for up to 6 machine washes, which is more than enough for most tropical trips. Real life story– I hiked Machu Picchu after treating my hiking clothes with this, and I only got a total of 2 mosquito bites after the 4-day trip, whereas some of my friends got 20+ bites. Worth it.
- Pro Tip: Buy and use before you leave for your trip. A few days before departure, spray all of your clothes, plus anything else made of fabric that you’d like treated.
- Insect Repelling Lightweight Pullover | Too lazy to treat your clothes with insect repellent? I know, it’s a process. The ExOfficio BugsAway pullover is the next best thing– it’s super lightweight too.
- Hat, Bandana, or Buff | Keep the sun off your skin with a fancy sunhat, bandana, or a Buff. All three can be used to shield your neck or forehead from the sun. As a bonus, bandanas and Buffs can be used as headbands to keep hair and sweat off of your face. Soak your bandana or Buff then put it on your head, face, or neck for a quick cool down.
- Cooling Towel | Perfect for working out, a day at the beach, or simply sitting there baking in the sun—you’ll feel Chill Pal‘s cooling effect as soon as you take it out of the package. To activate the cooling towel, just soak it in water and wring it out, then wear it as a bandana or use it as a towel. Another hot weather game-changing travel essential.
- Travel Towel | These are light and quick-drying, which is exactly what you need in hot, humid climates. Super useful if you plan on having beach days or staying in hostels. This one is a great option.
- Travel Clothesline | This is a small and portable clothesline that allows you to hang up your wet clothes almost anywhere. I’ve found that it’s really handy whenever I have wet bathing suits or towels that need to be air-dried. I love it for its multi-purpose functionality!
- Dry Bag | Another multi-purpose item on the list! Dry bags are completely necessary for keeping your dry belongings (clothes, electronics, money, etc)… dry. Don’t set foot on a kayak, boat or canoe without putting your stuff in a dry bag. Trust me, it’s better than ending up with a phone or camera submerged in water in the case where the boat tips or something. It’s also super handy for carrying around wet bathing suits and towels. Or even doubling as your laundry bag!
- Underwater Smartphone Housing | Don’t want to invest in an underwater camera? That’s fine, just stick your phone in the AxisGo’s underwater housing! It’s designed to protect your phone from the harshest weather conditions while offering the freedom to safely capture those special moments underwater.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures, GPSing to all the great food spots… the last thing you want is to be stranded with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated in the warm weather with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Snorkel Set | If you plan on snorkeling a lot, bring your own set to save on rental costs.
- Medicine | If you get motion sickness, consider bringing a motion sickness reliever like Dramamine for the ferry ride over to Isla Holbox. If you need other meds, don’t forget your pain killers, antacids, etc.