The tropical paradise that no one knows about
Days get longer. Nights get later. Hair gets lighter. Skin gets darker. Water gets warmer. Drinks get colder. Life gets better.
Welcome to Holbox
First, it should be known that I take vacation planning super serious. I spend a large portion of my time, as unproductive and oddly satisfying as it may be, roaming the internet for travel deals on Groupon, Living Social, Kayak, Sky Scanner, Travel Pirates, etc (I could keep going but then it just gets embarrassing).... to the point that I've contemplated becoming a travel agent during one of my "what am I doing with my life" phases. I have a lot of those phases.
Anyway, I decided against it.
Do I physically take these vacations that I mentally prepare? Usually not. Like 99.1% of the time, NO. But every once in a while, when the stars align and all is right in the world, I turn my travel dreams into a reality. And as much as I'd love to keep my latest destination a secret, the kindness in my heart has compelled me to share.
So here it goes... looking for a tropical getaway like no other?
Pack your bags for HOLBOX!
So how did I find Holbox if it's a secret?
Pure desperation. My favorite travel companion, aka my husband, and I were on a tight budget and noticed that Virgin America offered a new direct flight to Cancun, which our points would cover. Free airfare. Sign. Me. Up.
Okay, I'm not against Cancun. I've actually never been to Cancun. I'm sure it's great. Wonderful. Exciting. Lots of nightlife. Resorts. Restaurants. Pools. Slides. Bars.
Which is perfect if you're into that kind of thing. I, on the other hand, have the temperament, social activity and bedtime of a senior citizen... especially when I'm on a beach vacation. I like to see and interact with the least amount of people as possible, aside from mingling with locals, which I do enjoy. But all in all, I prefer a cocoon of nothingness. I mean, the chances of me owning a private island with turquoise water and white sandy beaches is significantly low, so I like to pretend from time to time.
There had to be SOME other option near Cancun, I thought. I looked into popular tourist spots like Playa Del Carmen and Tulum; both seemed great but weren't exactly what I was looking for.
And somewhere, in the midst of my internet scavenger hunt, I landed on a website about a small island Northwest of Cancun, called Holbox. My heart began racing. Could this be it? Could this be my dream tropical island getaway?
I BETTER BOOK IT. WHAT IF SOMEONE ELSE IS BOOKING IT RIGHT NOW!? WHAT IF IT SELLS OUT? WHERE WILL I GO?! OMG, I'M ABOUT TO CRY!!!
(Whenever I find what I want, panic sets in and I'm fearful the rest of mankind has their eye on it too.)
YES, YES, YES. CONFIRMED. TAKE ALL MY MONEY, I DON'T CARE. I booked it.
We flew into Cancun, rented a car, drove to Chiquila and dropped the car off at a super sketchy but apparently trustworthy (and cheap) little parking area. We hopped on a 20 minute ferry and headed to Holbox! It's less expensive to rent a car and leave it at the parking lot than to hire a private transfer. You could also take the bus, but we decided to get a car.
Once we arrived to Holbox, we got a "golf cart taxi" to take us to our rental. And from that moment, I knew this was my special place.
The man who drove the golf cart taxi wasn't alone. His daughter by his side, riding along as he worked. She was watching a movie on a tablet, giggling, holding his hand, looking up to him as he looked down to her and they both smiled, laughing together, so much love and happiness between the two. I don't know why this touched me so much, but it did. Maybe it represented something missing in my life or in America as a whole. Simplicity, happiness, love, family. I wanted to snap a picture to capture this moment and the beginning of our fairytale-like vacation... but I didn't want to be creepy.
I waved bye to his little girl as I jumped off the golf cart and on our way we went. That was the beginning of what would be one week filled with sandy beaches, calm turquoise water, hammock naps, endless sandbars, warm smiles, friendly locals and delicious food.
But if that's not enough:
10 REASONS TO VISIT HOLBOX
1. No Cars
The island has no cars, but it's small enough to get around without one. Most vacationers go by foot, golf cart taxi or bicycle rental.
Need I say more? Holbox has a wide assortment of empty hammocks calling your name.
3. Street Art
Each little twist and turn is filled with colorful street art.
4. The Water
Welcome to clear, calm, turquoise water filled with sandbars, not with people. (except that fool right there)
5. This Dog
Come meet this highly intelligent and happily sun-drunk dog.
6. Whale Sharks
Want to swim with sharks and not get killed? Whale sharks are found near holbox from mid-May to mid-September. These gentle giants are harmless and non-threatening to humans. I sat that one out though. Maybe next time?
7. Untouched... but for how long?
There is an authentic charm to Holbox. It's beauty untouched (no high rises here, guys) and local flavor still in tact. We ventured to the bigger island next to little Holbox and had it completely to ourselves. But hurry. Rumor has it that Coca Cola bought this island. It's only a matter of time...
We rented an oceanfront guesthouse for a little over $100/night from the most gracious B&B hosts. Can't beat that! But again... holbox is beginning to boom and prices are rising. Hurry if you're on a budget and book far in advance.
This is where we stayed: Holbox Apartments
Casa Las Tortugas, Villas Flamingos, Las Nubes, CasaSandra. For budget accommodation, there are several rentals in town, only a minute from the beach. Remember, it's a small island!