Last Updated on September 8, 2023 by Nellie Huang
Planning to visit Isla Holbox but don’t know how to reach there? I just got back from Holbox, and here’s my guide on how to get to Isla Holbox.
Isla Holbox is the Yucatan Peninsula’s best-kept secret, a paradise island I always dreamt of visiting but only got a chance recently. In a tourist-run region, it’s extremely refreshing to find a car free island with no tarmac roads and zero pollution.The only sound I could hear were those of waves crashing on the shores and birds chirping merrily.
Isla Holbox’s raw and untouched beauty makes it the perfect place to unwind and soak up the island vibes. For those who can’t sit still, there’s a surprising amount of things to do in Holbox! I highly recommend including this paradise island in your Yucatan itinerary. I live in Mexico, and have yet to find a place as pristine and untouched by mass tourism as Isla Holbox.
Table of Contents
- Where Is Isla Holbox?
- How To Get To Isla Holbox
- How to Get to Holbox By Air
- How To Get To Holbox By Car
- How To Get To Holbox By Bus
- How To Get To Holbox By Transfer
- Parking In Chiquila
- Ferry From Chiquila To Holbox
- How to Get around Holbox
- Things To Know Before Visiting Isla Holbox, Mexico
- Enjoy Your Holbox Trip!
Where Is Isla Holbox?
Located on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, Holbox is located at the meeting point of the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean, and that’s why there’s so much wildlife here. From whale sharks to flamingos and crocodiles, the amount of wildlife that can spotted in and around the island is staggering.
Holbox island sees only a fraction of the six million visitors that flock to nearby Cancún each year. Neighboring islands like Cozumel Island and Isla Mujeres receive triple of the visitors in Holbox. Thanks to that, Holbox has retained its sleepy, laidback island vibes and small-town feel. Read my Isla Holbox guide here.
Mexico Travel Requirements
- Mexico has no travel restrictions, and there’s no need for proof of vaccine or PCR tests on the plane. Anyone is welcomed to travel to Mexico.
- However, I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance, whether you’re traveling for a year or a week. These days, it is particularly important to have travel insurance that covers COVID-19. Read my travel insurance guide.
- Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date.
How To Get To Isla Holbox
Holbox may be a small island, but it’s surprisingly easy to get to Isla Holbox from Cancun, the biggest tourist hub in the region. If you’re planning to spend some time in Cancun, check out my recommendations on where to stay in Cancun.
Below, I will explain in details how to get to Isla Holbox via different transport modes.
How to Get to Holbox By Air
Isla Holbox has a tiny airport named Aerodromo de Holbox. The only way to get here is on a private plane. Getting to Holbox by air is the fastest and the most scenic way to reach there. You will get a panoramic view of not just Holbox but the entire Yucatan Peninsula from the private plane’s window.
This comes at a price of course. You have to book the entire plane, and the one-way price for a 30-minute flight from Cancun to Holbox is around 59700 MXN (US$3000) for a 5-seater plane. Additionally, you will have to pay 160 MXN (US$8) per passenger as an airport fee in Cancun.
Most flights to Holbox leave from Cancun airport, but you can also fly from Playa de Carmen, Cozumel, or Merida. Check schedules and book your flights here.
How To Get To Holbox By Car
Cancun is the closest airport to Isla Holbox, and I recommend flying to Cancun airport and then taking a private transfer to Holbox. You can find cheap flights to Cancun from many major cities in the US and Mexico.
From there, you need to get to Chiquila to catch a 30-minute ferry to Isla Holbox. We drove there in 2 hours from Playa del Carmen and it was super straightforward and easy!
Renting a car from Cancun airport is easy and affordable. Typically, you can rent an economical compact car in Mexico for less than 600 MXN to 800 MXN per day (US$30 to US$40 per day) with taxes and insurance if you plan well in advance. I usually use DiscoverCars.com to book car hire as they’ve consistently given me the best rates and service.
How to get from Cancun to Chiquila by car
After exiting the airport, drive south towards the 180 towards Valladolid. From Valladolid Neuvo, take a right deviation to get to QROO5 and follow the directions to Chiquila.
The journey takes around 2 hours. The drive is an easy one and the road is very smooth and well-paved. Toll fees are around 200 MXN (US$10) from Cancun.
How to get from Tulum to Chiquila by car
From Tulum, drive northwest on the 190 towards the Coba Archeological Site. Take a right from Coba to follow the 190. At the roundabout, take a right towards Cancun and the first left to join QROO5. Follow this route to Chiquila while crossing Kantunilkin on the way.
The journey takes around 2.5 hours. Toll fees are around 200 MXN (US$10) from Cancun.
Approximate driving distance and time to reach Chiquila via a rented car:
Cancun to Holbox/ Chiquila – 87 miles (140 km); 2 hours
Tulum to Holbox/ Chiquila – 115 miles (185 km); 2.5 hours
Playa del Carmen to Holbox/ Chiquila – 75 miles (120 km); 1.5 hours
Merida to Holbox/ Chiquila – 195 miles (310 km); 3.5 hours
Valladolid to Holbox/ Chiquila – 100 miles (160 km); 2 hours
How To Get To Holbox By Bus
If you are not comfortable driving in Mexico, you can easily take a bus from the major cities in Mexico to Chiquila/ Holbox. It’s easy and comfortable to travel around the Yucatan Peninsula by bus actually, so there’s no need to hire a car if you don’t feel like it.
Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to reach Isla Holbox. Mexico has a strong and affordable bus network. Grupo ADO is the most popular bus service provider that runs smart coaches. They are air-conditioned and have cushioned reclining seats with seatbelts, a tiny washroom on board, and sometimes television.
The ADO buses have several daily departures from the city centers and airports. Check the latest prices on the ADO website and book the bus tickets online. The bus drops you at the ferry dock at Chiquila, where you can buy ferry tickets to the island. Other bus operators include Noreste and Mayab.
Approximate cost and time taken by bus to reach Chiquila (one-way, per person):
Cancun to Holbox/ Chiquila – 300-400 MXN (US$15-20); 2.5 hours
Tulum to Holbox/ Chiquila – 400-500 MXN (US$20-25); 3.5 hours
Playa del Carmen to Holbox/ Chiquila – 300-400 MXN (US$15-20); 2 hours
Merida to Holbox/ Chiquila – 500-600 MXN (US$25-30); 5.5 hours
Valladolid to Holbox/ Chiquila – 200-300 MXN (US$10-15); 2.5 hours
How To Get To Holbox By Transfer
For those who prefer to leave the logistics to someone else, I recommend booking a private transfer that will bring you from Cancun airport straight to Chiquila. It’ll save you time and the trouble of navigating public transport.
A private car or van from Cancun airport may be expensive but is highly convenient. And if you are a family or group of friends, you can split the cost amongst yourselves. For example, a private transfer from Cancun to Chiquila for 5 cost around 5000 MXN (US$250), which when divided by five comes up to 1000 MXN (US$50) per person.
Parking In Chiquila
For environmental protection, vehicles are not allowed at Isla Holbox. But if you opt to travel to the island in your own car or a rented car, you will need to park your vehicle at Chiquila. Chiquila is the port village from where the ferry departs to Isla Holbox. Remember, the ferry is for passengers only; no vehicles are allowed to be loaded onto it.
There are several private and family-run parking lots in Chiquila village where you can park your car for modest allowances (100 MXN or US$5 per day). The parking lots are manned by security personnel who issue a parking ticket checked on your return.
You will see plenty of these carparks as you drive into Chiquila. Choose the one closest to the ferry pier. I suggest not leaving any valuables in your vehicle.
Ferry From Chiquila To Holbox
Two different companies (9 Hermanos and Holbox Express) operate ferries from Chiquila to Holbox. Both charge the same price for the trip, take the same time, and the boats are similar. The only difference is the schedule. 9 Hermanos sail on the hour, and Holbox Express sails on the half hour.
The cost of both the ferry operators is the same – 220 MXN (US$11) for foreigners and 180 MXN (US$9) for Quintana Roo residents. You can buy the ferry tickets to Holbox directly from the ticket counter at the Chiquila ferry dock.
The ferry ride lasts for about 20 minutes. The first ferry departs from Chiquila at 5 AM, and the last one leaves at 8:30 PM. Check the latest ferry schedules here.
If the weather is pleasant, choose the upper deck outdoor seating on the ferry to enjoy the stunning views. If not, there’s an indoor air-conditioned lower deck. Just like flights, you will have to leave your luggage to the ferry staff to be stored separately. You are allowed to carry the smaller pieces with you.
How to Get around Holbox
Only a small part of Isla Holbox is inhabited; that is an area of only 5 miles (8 km) long and 1 mile (1.5 km) wide. Yeah, the other parts of the island are largely swamps and undeveloped forests.
Everything on Isla Holbox is easily accessible. Cars are not permitted on the island at all, and roads are mostly unpaved. once you get to the Holbox ferry pier, golf carts are waiting to take visitors to their hotels for 50 MXN (US$2.5) once they arrive on Holbox. Most of the best hotels in Holbox are a 10-minute journey along the main road.
Bikes and golf carts are the main modes of transport — but the town is so small you can walk everywhere . The bicycle rental costs 50 MXN (US$2) per hour. We mostly walked everywhere, but also rented a golf cart for 4 hours (which cost us 1000 MXN or US$50) from Rentadora Golf Car El Cachorro.
Things To Know Before Visiting Isla Holbox, Mexico
- The best time to visit Holbox is during the dry season, from late November and February. Temperatures are usually around 29 degrees Celsius and there’s plenty of sunshine. If you want to snorkel with whale sharks, make sure to visit between June and mid September.
- Be sure to carry sufficient cash (only in Mexican Pesos) for your Holbox trip. Though there are a few ATMs on the island, they are pretty unpredictable and often run out of cash. Also, some restaurants and cafes don’t take debit/credit cards.
- The roads in Holbox are sand and not tarmac roads. If it rains, the roads get muddy and flooded. Hence, it’s always better to carry a backpack than a suitcase with wheels.
- The best Holbox boutique hotels are located in the western end, while budget hotels and backpackers hostels are in Centro Holbox. Read my guide on where to stay in Holbox to decide which hotel suits you best.
- The Yucatan Peninsula is divided into two different time zones. The state of Quintana Roo (where Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Holbox are located) follows Eastern Standard Time. In contrast, the states of Yucatan and Campeche (where Merida and Vallodolid are located) follow Central Time, which means that when you travel from Valladolid or Merida to Isla Holbox, you lose an hour. Remember to factor in these time differences when booking a ferry, bus, or flight.
Enjoy Your Holbox Trip!
Choosing how to get to Holbox is your personal choice and depends on your budget, where you are coming from, and how much travel time you can spare.
No matter how you get to Isla Holbox, you will end up at one of the most beautiful places in Mexico. Holbox island is one of the few places in Mexico that have escaped the clutches of mass tourism and it’s retained a wonderfully laidback feel and small-town vibes. Read my complete guide to Isla Holbox.
I hope this post helps you select your mode of transport while traveling to Holbox. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions.
For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
- Things to Do on Isla Holbox
- Where to Stay in Holbox 2022 Guide
- 10-Day Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
- 35 Fun Things to Do in the Yucatan Peninsula
- My Guide to Laguna Bacalar
- 15 Things to Do in Cozumel
- How to Get from Cancun to Isla Mujeres
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!
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