Yucatán and Campeche States: Places to Explore


Isla Holbox

Tiny Isla Holbox (25 km [16 miles] long) sits at the eastern end of the Ría Lagartos estuary and just across the Quintana Roo state line. A fishing fan's heaven because of the hordes of pampano, bass, barracuda, and sharks just offshore, the island also pleases bird-watchers and seekers of tranquility. Birds fill the mangrove estuaries on the island's leeward side, whale sharks cruise offshore June through September, and sandy beaches are strewn with seashells. Although the water is often murky—the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean come together here—it's shallow and warm, and there are some nice places to swim. Sandy streets lead to simple seafood restaurants where the fish fillets, conch, octopus, and other delicacies are always fresh.

Isla's lucky population numbers some 2,000 souls, and in summer it seems there are as many biting bugs per person. Bring plenty of mosquito repellent. Many locals use baby oil as a natural repellent against no-seeums, also known as biting midges. There is Internet at most hotels and several ATMs on the island (some smaller businesses accept cash only).

There are less-expensive lodgings for those who eschew conventional beds in favor of fresh air and a hammock. Because it's a small island, it's easy to check several lodgings and make your choice. Hotel owners can help you set up bird-watching, fishing, and whale shark–viewing expeditions. Most restaurants serve fresh fish, but salmon and tuna are not local and were probably shipped in (and previously frozen) from Cancún.


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