I Like Piña Coladas, But Not Getting Caught in the Rain

That song’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? You’re welcome! We heard it a few times over the course of our trip, along with some other island gems, like Margaritaville.

Anyways, it turns out I do like Piña Coladas, I tried my first one on the beach at Mawimbi.

Our week on Holbox was all about relaxing, which was a first for me.  My vacations usually involve me spending 3-4 very jam packed days in various cities trying to see ALL THE THINGS.   I did that twice in Europe in 2016 and will be doing it again in August, so a week with zero things on my agenda was a much needed change.  Shawn was a little worried I might go crazy, but you guys, I loved it!  I had no idea doing nothing can be so satisfying.  I don’t think I could handle two weeks of it, but 7 days of total relaxation? Yes! Yes! Yes!

So what did a day in the lives of Carly and Shawn look like?

Get up, have breakfast, lounge on beach, read, swim, read, swim, talk about where to have lunch, go for lunch, lounge on beach, swim, nap, watch sunset, walk around town and discuss dinner options, have dinner, have drinks, night time swim, bed.

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The food on Holbox is amazing.  We did not have a bad meal.  The seafood is so fresh, like caught that day fresh.  There were so many different options, mexican, seafood, italian, american, fancy, budget, vegan, sushi… you can find something to satisfy even the pickiest eater.  Which we are not.  There were almost too many options 😉

Las Panchas

Las Panchas was the first restaurant we ate at on Holbox while we waited for our hotel room to be ready.   It was Shawn’s favourite of the trip.  We ate there twice and wanted to go back a third time but they’re not open on Mondays.
We highly recommend the mixed ceviche, fish and shrimp tacos and guacamole.  Oh and the potions are massive.  When they say large, they mean it! The food was so cheap too, the large ceviche was $180 pesos, shrimp tacos $130 and fish tacos $100.  Beers were very reasonable at around $25 pesos I believe.

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Raices Beach Club

Raices was just down the beach from our hotel and responsible for all the terrible island music that got stuck in my head.  They have a stage and a band that sets up around 2 p.m. that plays until the sunsets.  If you don’t like live music this is not the place for you.

Also if you’re super fancy you will hate this place.  The tables are in the sand, with a few waiters who don’t speak much English and service can be slow and I’ve heard the food can be a little hit and miss, but we didn’t experience that.

We ate there twice and ordered their guacamole and whole grilled fish both times.  The fish, oh lord the fish.  I hated fish as a kid.  Over the last 10 years I’ve grown to like it, but this was the first time I had ever ordered or eaten a whole fish and I was pretty freaking nervous about what I was getting myself into.   It was perfect.  Garlic and buttery, caught that day, melt in your mouth.  God I miss that fish.  And eating grilled on the beach fish with your feet in the sand was a dope experience.  Prices were pretty reasonable, the grilled fish for two was around $270 pesos.

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La Isla del Colibri

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One of the few restaurants open on a Monday afternoon, Colbri was a delightful find right on the main square of Holbox.  The decor is very eclectic and bright, filled with art.  The service was friendly, a little slow, but that’s island time.  I think I had the largest margarita ever made.

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Seriously, that thing is like a chalice for kings.  It should be called “The King of Margaritas”.

I had the coconut shrimps and Shawn had fish with mango

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Some other restaurants we ate at that I would recommend are Taco Querto and Taco Gordo for cheap no frills tacos and really fantastic Horchata.

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Miriam

Miriam was the first restaurant we ate at on Holbox.   They didn’t seem to serve any alcohol, so that’s something to consider if you want a drink with dinner, but they have pop.  Its a small place, a few tables outside, a few in.  Salsa that came with dinner was very tasty and very spicy.  Shawn splurged and got the lobster and I had the octopus. And the food was so amazing we both dug in before I took any photos.  Whoops 😉 The lobster was quite spendy, but the octopus seemed reasonable.  Another tourist who was just leaving the restaurant told me I had made a great decision eating there as it was the best restaurant on the island.  I think he was right.  We wanted to eat their more than once, but it was also closed on Monday…

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Getting Your Booze On

There’s really no shortage of places to drink on Holbox.  Most of the hotels on the beach close to town have bars, and in the centre of Holbox there’s so many places within walking distance to get your drink on.  Our favourite was El Mesh

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Connected to the eco-hostel, El-Mesh was a few buildings down from our hotel, so we passed it a lot.

Only a few stools at a very lovely wooden bar, they make solid cocktails.  We found the drinks very reasonably priced, the service friendly and the music not the typical “island fare” or club noise.

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Hot Corner

We stopped at Hot Corner to pass the time waiting for Las Panchas to open.  It was a cute little set up with swings to sit in.  Very loud music.  Shawn really enjoyed his Mojito.  My margarita was solid as well.

Isla Holbox

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Isla Holbox (pronounced Ol-bosh) or the Black Hole as it was once known in Mayan, is a tiny island in the Gulf of Mexico that you’ve probably never heard of.  Or you found this blog because you just discovered Holbox and are now trying to find out everything you can about this sliver of paradise.

Shawn and I spent 7 days on the island and I’m already trying to plan our next trip back. It was a perfect week.    Beautiful water, delicious food, amazing cocktails, friendly people.  If you’re looking for a lower key beach vacation in Mexico, I would highly suggest Holbox.   So with that said, here’s some handy info to get you to Holbox.  If you’re looking for stuff to do when there, where to eat, I’m saving that for another post, so stay tuned!

Getting There

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You’ll most likely be arriving via Cancun, the closest international airport.  You could drop some serious cash and take a pre-arranged taxi or shuttle straight from the airport to the ferry to the island, but where’s the fun and adventure in that?  And, if like us, your flight got in too late you’re going to have to stay in Cancun overnight.  ADO buses run every half an hour from the Cancun airport into downtown Cancun, they’ll cost you $72 pesos for a one way ticket.

There are cheap hotels around the Cancun bus station.  We can recommend Hotel Kin Mayab, it was clean, less than 5 minutes away from good restaurants and the bus station, plus a swimming pool and air conditioning.

To get to Holbox from downtown Cancun you can either take another bus, like ADO/Mayab/Oriente or a private or shared shuttle.  The town you’ll be arriving in is called Chiquila, and from there you catch the ferry.

We took the bus to Holbox and the shuttle back and we can easily recommend either.   We took the 9am first class ADO bus that has a bathroom and only makes 2 very brief stops along the way.  The bus is nice because it has a toilet and air conditioning.  Make sure you book the first class ADO bus, Mayab/Oriente do not have toilets or aircon and take a lot longer to arrive.

The downside to the bus is it goes slower and they show very loud movies.  The cost for one way tickets on the first class bus was around $270 pesos.  We bought our tickets the night before, but its probably safe to buy them day of as well.  The bus was not even half full.

Once you get to Chiquila there are two ferry companies that run ferries every half an hour.  The cost is the same for either company, $140 pesos one way.  Its about a 20 minute ride to Holbox and it can get pretty bumpy and rocky on the boat.

33349383493_52f236a23b_oWhew, I’m exhausted just recounting all that.  But you guys, all that travel is so worth it to get to paradise.

If you decide to use a shuttle service we can recommend Cancun Shuttle.  They depart twice daily from Chiquila and twice from Cancun.  Its $200 pesos each.  You don’t need to reserve ahead, you just look for them at the Commercial Mexicana across from the ADO bus station in Cancun or once you get off the ferry in Chiquila.  They leave Cancun at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and leave Chiqulia at 7:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.  The shuttle has room for around 10-12 people and has air conditioning.  Taking the shuttle saves you about half an hour of travel time.

A great resource for information on getting to and from Holbox is: https://the.holboxeno.com/getting-to-holbox-transfers-ferries-buses-and-flights#–chiquila-cancun

Where to Stay

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There are so many hotel/hostel options on Holbox which means you have a lot of control over how much you want to spend on accommodations.

Shawn and I decided that this was an area we were willing to spend more money on since we saved on airfare and local transportation.

We stayed at Posada Mawimbi and if you can you should too.
http://www.mawimbi.com/

Its the number one related hotel on Trip Advisor, but not the fanciest or most expensive.  Its a boutique hotel with only 11 rooms.  Its right on the beach! We stayed in the basic room and it was perfect.  Large bed and air conditioning is really all I need.  No we didn’t face the ocean, but whatever, we could go sit on the beach if we wanted to see the ocean.

Mawimbi has a restaurant and bar that serves delicious drinks and well made food.  Your stay includes a continental breakfast of fresh fruit, toast and jam as well as juice and coffee.

They have a large beach area with many different chairs, bed and hammocks to choose from.  The beach itself was clean, pretty much devoid of seaweed and great for swimming.

The staff at Mawimbi were lovely, they learned our names and were happy to book day trips for us.

I don’t think I could stay anywhere else now that I’ve experienced Mawimbi.

Oh and if you pay in cash you get a discount! Who doesn’t love that??

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