isla holbox mexico travel

Isla Holbox: The Mexican island where time stands still

Just two and a half hours from Cancun, one can escape the big city crowds by ferry to the peaceful, undiscovered Mexican island of Isla Holbox (pronounced oll-bosh). 

This serene, nirvana-like island with a population of under 2,000, on the Yucatan Peninsula’s north coast, offers a look at a Mexico that most of us thought was long gone. 

In recent years, LGBTQ rights in Mexico have expanded, aligning with worldwide trends. 

In fact, Mexico City became the 14th metropolitan city worldwide to recognise same-sex marriage.

The island is in the state of Quintana Roo, and gay weddings are legal in this region. 

Isla Holbox is gay-friendly, with several boutiques catering to LGBTQ travellers.

Most travellers know of Tijuana, Puerto Vallarta, and Playa del Carmen, but ask them about Isla Holbox, and you’ll receive puzzled looks, and they may ask you to pronounce the name again. 

Well under the tourist-trap radar, Isla Holbox has no high-rise hotels, luxurious concierge services, or chain restaurants – perfect for anyone wanting to escape the grind of city life. 

The average daily rates for boutique hotels range from $80 to $220. 

Between October and April, Isla Holbox is a quiet, peaceful island town where one can stay in an oceanfront room, enjoy freshly caught seafood, and relax on a beach hammock. 

Thorny green iguanas hang out at the poolside, long-legged pink flamingos strut along the beaches, and sneaky, over-sized raccoons meander through dusty or muddy paths, not caring if they disturb somebody’s bike ride. 

Isla Holbox is a melting pot of European expats and South American adventurers. 

Many Spanish dialects are spoken here, and one can hear Portuguese, Sicilian, Italian, and British accents in the downtown restaurants, markets, and bars. 

European restaurateurs and entrepreneurs have marked their spot in this tiny island, with notable eateries including Viva ZaptaCasa Nostra Roof Restaurant, and Basico.

Colourful, vibrant, bohemian murals are everywhere on the island, on dilapidated buildings, beach stands, and even the newest cafes.

Whale sharks have put this tropical Mexican island on the map.

From May to September, migrating 40-foot whale sharks bring aqua enthusiasts, marine biologists, and animal lovers to Isla Holbox, with crowds of scuba divers and travellers trying to catch a glimpse of these large mammals.

Hiking is the best way to explore the island, and squeaky, manual golf carts and creaky, rusted bikes are also available for rent. 

Add Isla Holbox to your list of gay-friendly Mexican destinations to get off the grid, detox from electronics, and ease into the peaceful sway of the palm trees.

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