WRITTEN BY PLENTY OF SAGE
A couple of years ago I read a travel piece about this small remote Caribbean Island with a boho hippy-chic vibe, off the beaten path, pristine ocean waters, amazing marine life and an eco-tourism feel and I just knew that someday I would have to go there and recently, that is exactly what I did and it lived up to everything I had read, heard and imagined it to be and so much more.
Let me start by saying, if you are looking for or like package tours, big resorts with lots of people, waking up early to make your dinner reservations, fighting for a lawn chair by the pool or beach, endless buffet tables and drinks with umbrella’s in them then this little piece a paradise may not be the place for you.
However, if you are looking for a low-key place, gorgeous weather, hammocks, warm sea breezes amazing marine life, friendly people, delicious food and beautiful atmosphere and it has no resemblance to busy city life and love ecotourism then HOLBOX is the place for you (and me).
Holbox or Isla Holbox (pronounced Holbosh) means “Black Hole” in Mayan, it is located on the Northwest coast of Cancun (population around 2200) and is separated from the mainland. Holbox is only 42 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide, there are no cars, only bicycles, golf carts and mopeds and there is no paving on the streets and walkways, it’s all sand, and a beautiful soft white sand I may add, and it is these things that make up the uniqueness and charm of this Island.
Holbox has so many interesting things to offer and see, it is home to the “whale sharks – the 2nd largest fish in the world!” as this is where they come to migrate and is one of the few places in the world where you can see and experience them – I heard there are tours and programs from June to September – now that would be something but also a little scary. Holbox is also a known for its flamingo’s, pelicans and many exotic birds.
We flew into Cancun and then drove for about 2 hours to the town of Chiquila where we boarded a ferry that took us over to Holbox Island (ride was about 30 minutes) – this might sound like a lot of time and work to get to this Island but not only was it worth it, it added to the excitement of going to somewhere different and special.
When we got to the Island our taxi (aka golf cart) was waiting for us to take us to the hotel as we trekked the bumpy sandy roads it was amazing – nothing like I had experienced before and kept thinking to myself, “Toto we are not in Kansas anymore”. We pulled up to a thatch-roofed entrance (aka the lobby) that was wide-open and you could see straight through to all the palapas and villas, we stayed at the brand new Villas HM Palapas Del Mar and although not your traditional resort with a grand entrance with all the bells and whistles it was even better, simple but charming and inviting.
Our villa was amazing, we had wooden steps (that even included a large wooden basin filled with water to wash the sand off our feet) up to the door and when we entered it was bright, spacious and clean and not your traditional type of room with typical hotel furniture and a mini bar. It was all white concrete (floor to ceiling) but had this enormous bed with crisp white sheets and the décor was very reminiscent to the island and the bathroom had this beautiful open shower with a giant rain head and large windows to let the natural light in and the best part, we had our own private pool of the porch of our villa (and we did not even ask for it – they kindly upgraded us!)
We spent our days walking along the ocean coastline, laying in a hammock, swimming in the ocean which I need to add was incredible, it was this gorgeous blue/green colour with crystal clear waters that you could just keep walking and walking before it became deeper and the ocean floor had a beautiful bed of sand (no seaweed or weird things), meeting lovely people and eating some of the best and freshest food. We also walked into town many times a day which was about a 10 minute walk up the sandy road that bordered the ocean coastline or what may be referred to as the “highway” and I use this term loosely but it was the main road that was used for walking, bicycles, golf carts, mopeds, backpackers and resembled nothing to a highway but a road where people would walk by each other and always smile and wave – they really should name this place “Happy Island”.
The town is… I do not even know how to describe it as it is one of those places that you have to see it and be there to truly experience all it offers however, I will do my best, it is small, quaint and cozy and has a somewhat European vibe to it with a growing art scene. The streets are lined with shops, vendors, cool coffee shops that are all so inviting and make you feel like you are at home and restaurants that have some of the most amazing aroma’s coming from them there was even a gelato & ice cream shop.
We had dinner one night at La Miranda de Rulo, we sat outside on the sandy road (quite literally roadside) at a wooden table with the locals and never once felt out of place, everyone was talking (in Spanish of course), laughing and eating and really did not seem to have a care in the world or just didn’t care. After we tried to translate the menu we decided not to bother and proceeded to watch the food coming out to the patrons and for a foodie like me I think I went into a full on trance – the sights and the smells were unbelievable, Black Mushroom Stuffed Peppers in a Pepper Cream Sauce, Lobster Pizza and so many other beautiful dishes but the smell coming from the wood oven lured us in and we devoured the BEST Margherita Pizza in the WORLD
Every time we walked into town we passed this enchanting Hotel called, Casa Las Tortugas and it lured us in with its inviting entrance and architecture so we decided to take a look around and the décor and was stunning and eclectic but very reminiscent of the Island (we have already decided to stay here next time). We had heard about their highly acclaimed Mediterranean restaurant called “Mandarina Beach Club” so decided to dine there and all I can say is DELICIOUS, homemade breads and pasta’s, fresh organic food’s with unique tastes and flavor made for one memorable dinner – Oh, the smoked provolone with Basil Pesto was unbelievable and dining under the lanterns by the Ocean at sunset was not so bad either!!
Holbox is warm, friendly and inviting, the people are great and it is so laid back, no judgement, no fancy clothes and shoes are optional and that folks is what makes this place even that more special. There is so much more I could share about this Island and although I share this wonderful place with some hesitation, as anyone who has ever been here can attest, it is just so special you want to keep it all to yourself however, on the flipside, it is just to special not to share.
After spending a week on this amazing unspoiled island, I honestly hope that Holbox never loses its unique vibe and charm to the likes of commercialism.
Hasta que nos reunamos de nuevo Holbox (until we meet again)