Isla Holbox

Only 25 km (16 miles) long, tiny Isla Holbox sits at the eastern end of the Ría Lagartos estuary and is just across the Quintana Roo state line. Fishing fans come for the ample supply of pampano, bass, and barracuda, while birders appreciate the many avian species that fill the mangrove estuaries on the island's leeward side. Beach bums love the sandy strands 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 conch, octopus, and other delicacies are always fresh. Lodgings here range from bare-bones to beach-luxe, and hotel owners can help set up fishing and bird-watching excursions, as well as expeditions to see the whale sharks that cruise offshore June through August.

Isla's population numbers some 2,000 lucky 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 protection against no-seeums, also known as biting midges.

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