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Isla Holbox is located at ten kilometers off the North coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. In Mayan language Holbox means “Black hole”; a name given due to the fact that the water in the south part of the lagoon has a darker color. This is an island that with the passage of the years has been transformed into a tourist place, with natural attractions and beautiful landscapes that invite to rest and fun.

This island community was founded 1873; the inhabitants lived from fishing or from agriculture (at the present time this last activity does not exist.) The island has approximately 1.500 inhabitants. Life here has changed very little from one generation to another. Crime is almost unknown. Although it is a small place, the island offers all the basic services to visitors, providing for a relaxing vacation.

The island is 40 km long and two km wide, there is 34 km of beach, and you find islets in which the mangrove predominates. It is possible to enjoy of an excellent tropical climate, take in the sea breeze, dine at good restaurants with varieties of seafood, but most importantly, to experience the hospitality and friendliness of the locals.

Separated from the mainland by the Laguna Yalaháu, Holbox is a place to escape from everything and it is also an excellent place to observe some fascinating species of aquatic birds. The local inhabitants are fishermen, who will be enchanted to show the environs from their boats, as long as they are not busy cleaning the catch of the day.

Among the varieties of fish species in this area are the pompano, tarpon, grouper, barracudas and sharks. If what you are looking for is tranquility and good seafood, come to Holbox.

The Island of Holbox is the best kept secret in Mexico. The island is a little separated from the civilization, primitive and without development in some areas. This is a world of exquisite white sand.

In this rustic and colorful paradise there are not discotheques, cars, banks, stores, and the portable phones do not work. It is an island of good and amiable fishermen, where you can rent a golf cart, a bicycle, a kayak or a boat to explore kilometers of white beach and shells with the only company of the birds, the blowing of the breeze and the enchantment of the turquoise sea. Within the Natural Reserve of the Biosphere “Yum Balam” and between the green mangrove tropical iguanas, pink flamingos, pelicans, frigates, cormorants and sea swallows can be seen and in the green crystalline waters, the magnificent creatures of the sea: dolphins, barracudas, manta rays and hawksbill turtles (Carey) and even whale sharks.

The Holboxeños always have worked in teams in order to improve the conditions and infrastructure of their small community. An example of this has been that for years they had a single telephone number, that they shared having different extensions. After a coordinated effort now almost everybody has a telephone number. Recently the islanders cooperated so that together they bought a satellite dish that allows them to enjoy different television channels. All the daily necessities are available including a pharmacy and a medical center. Despite all, Holbox is a simple place. There are no homeless or beggars on the streets and there are only two policemen that have the reputation to spend their days taking siestas (naps,) due to the few felonies that they have to solve. 65 per cent of the population of Holbox is young. For the necessities of the young people there is a kinder garden, a primary school and a secondary vocational school specializing in fishing. Also for the children of the island there is a factory of mandolins where they learn to make their own instruments and to play them. Here they learn to play stringed instruments like guitars, mandolins, violins and also learn to interpret music from the diverse states of Mexico, music such as the Jaranas Huastecas and Veracruzanas.

The hotels in Holbox are constructed with thatched roofs on beams, using local materials and alternative techniques. The hotels with their impressive sea views are the perfect site for unforgettable stays, honeymoons and of course all of them have an extensive and impressive beach for long walks on the sand. Conjugated with the beautiful beaches of this place, Holbox is the ideal place to rest and to forget the polluting noise of the big cities.

The hotels keep an ecological standard where in addition to the comfort; the guests find peace and the relaxing pleasure by resting in the traditional Yucatecan hammocks, observing the natural beauty of the green emerald of the sea. The island invites to enjoy this fantastic natural paradise. Here you can enjoy the most delicious dishes in the pleasant ambiance of the port. For group events, there are hotels that have conferences facilities with incredible views of the sea that surround the island.

The lagoon of Yalaháu separates Holbox from the mainland. Yalaháu is surrounded by mangroves and the wonderful water hole, right in the mainland on the edge of the lagoon. The flamingos feed in the lagoon from April to October and can be admired during the whole summer. Also you can quite often see banks of up to 30 dolphins (not only in the lagoon, but also in waters surrounding the island) and in the crystalline waters there is the possibility to see infinity of fish. Those who enjoy bird watching and lovers of nature would enjoy the excursion to Birds’ Island (Isla Pajaros,) where there are around 150 different species of aquatic birds, plus the possibility to observe crabs that have change little since pre-historic times, iguanas and other wild creatures.

In the mornings you can go for long walks on the beach, admiring the pelicans and seagulls, also you can fish on the jetties that shelter several types of small fish and the famous mojarritas (Gerreidaes.) At the Cuca River you can admire many species of birds, the iguanas and the natural cenote (water hole) of crystalline waters located between the mangroves on the west side of the island.

Also you can rent a golf cart to make your way through the island, the streets are not paved in the town and this is the reason why the common transportation is with bicycles and golf carts. Or, if you prefer you can take boat trips in the Yalaháu Lagoon, to the Birds’ Island, to Cabo Catoche and en route admire the fauna and flora of the island like the dolphins and the pink flamingos; besides of going fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, etc. Local inhabitants act as tour guides.

If what you are looking for is some time to rest and read a good book, do it in a hammock by the beach, drinking coconut water and sunbathing.

The Holboxeños are fishermen and they have been since the times of their ancestors. Most of the families in the island live from fishing and capturing lobsters, squids and/or sea snails. They fish in the Gulf for their income and in the lagoon for sport or entertainment of the visitors and themselves. The Holboxeños share with pleasure their fishing histories with you. The locals fish sharks with a commercial purpose, previously only the liver oil was commercialized, but now also the meat, the teeth and other parts are sold. Small boats are always available in the wharf to take visitors to a day of sport fishing.

Divers and snorkelers will be able to see a mixture of marine life of the Gulf and the Caribbean Sea due to the singular location of the island in the middle of both waters. Divers can generally fish lobster the whole year, except during the season of breeding, the months of March and June (varies.)

The most popular activities are:
Fly Fishing:
Holbox Island is one of the world's most populated tarpon habitats. Holbox, with its beautiful white sand beaches and magnificent turquoise sea, is a paradise for both the tourist escaping the crowds and the enthusiastic fly fishing fans. Holbox invites you to come to the Island and enjoy world class tarpon fly fishing. Here in the shallow mangrove flats you will find abundant baby tarpon and snook (robalo) during the whole year. However, it is the migratory fish that make Holbox Island a unique fly fishing destination. The migratory fish commence to feed in the clear water of the shallows as early as April, but the best months for fishing are June, July and August. Bonefish, barracuda, snapper, permit and jack crevalles are also abundant here during the spring and summer. The fishing boats are seaworthy 18 foot boats, equipped for your comfort and safety and they are easy to operate in the low waters. The fishing spots are between 20 minutes and one hour away from the dock and are anywhere from five to 15 feet deep.

Swimming with Whale Sharks:
Each year the whale sharks come to the Yum Balam Ecological Reserve near Holbox Island to feed and mate in the months of May through October. The whale shark is the largest fish existing in the ocean today; they can grow to be up to 50 feet (15m) in length. The whale shark prefers waters of warm surface temperature, in areas where there are flows of nutrient rich colder water - these conditions favor the blooming of plankton on which the sharks feed. These precise conditions are found every summer in the waters of Holbox Island. This protein-rich habitat is equally ideal for schools of Jacks, manta rays and dolphins. The whale shark is a shark, not a whale. Its name refers to the whale shark's impressive size and unique feeding habits. It normally feeds on or just below the surface by filtering small plankton organisms out of the water through its baleen (a built-in hair-like structure replacing teeth). Whale sharks are viviparous animals and babies are often seen with their mothers. Whale sharks are very docile creatures and when approached by snorkelers or divers hardly notice the visit. To swim among the whale sharks is an unforgettable experience.

For the bird lovers the best destination is the Birds’ Island. A small barren island located in the shallow waters of the Yalaháu Lagoon. Birds’ Island measures 500 meters in diameter and it is covered by mangroves and cactus which give shelter to a great variety of marine birds. One of few small barren islands of the bay that have its grounds made up of sand and guano. Birds’ Island is a protected zone being that is considered a sanctuary for birds and only can be accessed by boat and it is not permitted to walk on the island, this way they can protect it more.

From the 520 species of birds that are known in the Yucatan Peninsula, at least 155 eat and nest in Holbox at some time of the year. The birds have learned not to fear the humans, which makes possible to approach the birds, a fact that excites nature lovers. Some birds live throughout the year in the island, while others only come for the winter season. At any time of the year it is possible to admire the well built nests and the young birds being feed by their parents.

Among the most popular bird species we find: Frigates, white Ibis, white and red gacelas, double-crested cormorants, roseate spoonbills, white and gray pelicans, herons, and of course the famous pink flamingos. Many of these birds nest in the island and it is common to see the nests between the trees and even in the cactus.

Around 40.000 pink flamingos visit Birds’ Island from April to October to feed themselves. With the fresh winds of October, they migrate to Brazil where they spend the winter. The flamingos eat small red shrimps, which in turn give the pink color to their plumage. Their nests are constructed in the Ecological Reserve of the Lagartos River. The females build their tall nests out of mud, so they can keep the eggs warm while standing on their long legs, contrary to sitting on them as other birds do.

Birds’ Island is also home to iguanas, boas and other serpents, also to a variety of insects, marine cockroaches and other diverse creatures. The visitors also will see a great variety of plants including mangroves, ziricotes, cactus and orchids growing wild. Birds’ Island is located close by the wharf in Holbox Island. All you have to do is to ask any fisherman in the wharf and they will tell you which boat is next to leave. The birds can be seen all day, but the most exciting moment is at dusk when all the species that live in the island return to spend the night.

Yalaháu is the name given to the lagoon between Holbox and the mainland and to the water eye found in the lagoon on the border with the mainland and among the mangroves. The impressive fresh spring is part of an ecological reserve. The Water Eye Yalaháu is considered as a magical place by the locals in Holbox due to its folklore and history. The spring was originally very important for travelers and Maya fishermen who used the water eye like a source to collect the vital drinking element. This was also a place for fun and entertainment used by the Mayas. This was until one day a Maya King closed the place for the use of the public. The legend says that the King turned Yalaháu into a place of rest, where his spouses could swim. The king commanded to built gardens and precious fountains around the source and built a pool decorated with jade at the water eye.

This crystalline water eye, with as much freshness as beauty, has direct opening to the sea and it is located a 30 minutes from the Holbox Island; and it is only possible to arrive by boat. It was an important merchant port for the State of Quintana Roo. Now it is only history, because all the indications of the community and the port have disappeared.

According to the story of Diego de Alba, when the Spaniards arrived at this area they were surprised at the beauty and wealth of the place; and the fact that the Mayas no longer visited this place by then, nor they lived in Holbox (another legend says that they moved to another planet.) The pool remained intact with its beauty. The royal center was destroyed by the Spanish conquerors. They removed all jade and they took the precious stones with them, the rest of stones that were in the gardens were used to construct the first convent in the area a few kilometers from the water eye.

The pirate Francisco de Molas later used the source of Yalaháu as his refuge. He lived there for more than 40 years and robbed each galleon that came close looking for fresh water. One legend says that Molas had a slave help him to hide his pirate treasure in Holbox Island, and then Molas cut the slave’s head off and buried it along with the booty. Some time later the pirate Mola’s skeleton was found. Legend has it that he was bitten by a poisonous snake and died. The pirate Molas was referred to as “Yellow Beard,” and it is been said that he had not problem killing in order to obtain what he wanted. He died without saying where he had hidden the treasure, and many Holboxeños say that in the dark nights, when the wind blows from the west they can see the head of the slave trying to communicate where the treasure is.

The waters of Yalaháu are clear, fresh and sweet and wonderful to refresh yourself in on a hot day. According to local legends, Yalaháu is a source of youth, and the magical powers of the water give the feeling of being ten years younger to those that swim in it.

Mayan name that means “Water Entrance” and it is characterized by its diversity of attractions, since it counts with a lagoon, a natural sink hole (cenote) and an ecological footpath. In this town the Maya culture still predominates, the people of the village are dressed in huipils (the Mayan typical dress) and the houses are built from the great majority of materials of the region like the huano, guano and wood, the language that predominates is the Maya. The mainland community features several natural areas equipped for the rest of its visitors such as rustic palapas of wood and huano with free access, in which the locals have placed several hammocks for the comfort of all. Here one can do tours in kayak through the Lagoon and there are some designated areas to swim and dive. In the natural well, one of the most popular activities is to slide down in a tirolesa (zip line,) another form to descend is by rappel and for those that really appreciate nature it is recommended to walk down through an ecological path until reaching the bottom of the well. In order to arrive at Cap-Chen you have to take the Federal Highway Cancun - Merida until arriving at the community X'can, there take the route of the State Highway Coba - Tulum, crossing about 20 km to enter a path of approximately five km.

This mainland community has great tourist attractions and it is an exclusive place for nature lovers since it offers the opportunity to visit beautiful caverns and natural wells. Due to the depth of grottos the use of the tirolesa or the rappel is necessary to reach the bottom and to explore the magnificent caverns. Here the flora is of a beauty without equal. The place also has some archaeological ruins that show the vestiges of a Mayan civilization that has disappeared. The people of Tres Reyes live from hunting, agriculture, and increasingly tourism. The first settlers were very devotee Catholics and to the Three Magic Kings of the East, reason why its name. To arrive at Three Kings it is necessary to take the Federal Highway 180 until New X'can, and from there continue for about 18 kilometers approximately on the highway New X'can - Coba.

The mainland community of the Cedral is a very interesting due its diversity of flora and fauna. This community has ecological paths and three lagoons. Nature lovers can participate in the preservation of species in danger of extinction danger, visiting the farms of deer, pacas and wild boars. This is the right place to practice scuba diving in the extraordinary cenotes and to swim and do kayaking in the lagoons. To arrive at the Cedral, take the Federal Highway Cancun - Merida and after the km 80 take the deviation to the community El Ideal for approximately another10 km.

Kantunil Kin is on the mainland, and is the capital of the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas and has approximately 15.000 inhabitants, its people are known for their hospitality and they live from agriculture, cattle and commerce. This village grew from being a farm pertaining to the parish of Labcah of the department of Valladolid, according to the records for towns, farms and rancherías elaborated in 1845 by Juan Pio Perez, a civil servant working with the department of promotion in Yucatan. During the War of the Castes the Mayans joined their forces with the rebels; and approximately around 1850, the inhabitants left the place to settle more towards the west. The new village was called Nueva Santa Cruz-Kantunil, and it was probably under the influence of the tribe Cruzoob (rebel Mayas.) Kantunil Kin is rich in its great diversity of flora and fauna and has natural wells. As part of great cultural traditions, the locals observe important celebrations such as 8th of December in which they honor their Saint, the Immaculate Virgin of the Conception. Elaborate baskets and wood carvings represent local crafts. Kantunil Kin is located to the north of the State of Quintana Roo.

The community El Naranjal has archaeological ruins spread over two squared kilometers and there are a total of 50 ruins of which eight are in an advanced process of reconstruction. The community also has great ecological attractions and footpaths leading to the archeological ruins, allowing the visitor to observe a great variety of flora and wild fauna.

At three km of distance on the eastern part of the town, there are some caverns where visitors have to descend 12 to 15 meters of stairs in order to be able to admire the natural water accumulations with capricious forms that have a depth of 3 meters, also during the descend of the diverse grottos it is possible to observe the stalactite formations. Some of these water accumulations and grottos are still in their natural states, being this way the ideal place for people who love exploration and adventure. In some of these places it is necessary to have the adequate equipment of lamps, torches, ropes and all the gear necessary to descend. In the community there is a Rustic Museum which counts approximately 120 archaeological pieces. The predominant economic activities are cattle, agriculture and hunting. To arrive at El Naranjal it is necessary to take the Federal Highway km 180 Cancun – Merida and the km 80 in the town of Ignacio Saragossa take the deviation until arriving at the community of San Francisco, from there go four more kilometers until reaching El Naranjal.

The deserted white beaches add to the attraction of the Island, a paradise for sunbathing and swimming in calm waters. Collectors of shells would be astonished at the amounts that can be in the beach. The locals collect these shells to make some crafts for decorations of their houses or for sale to the tourists.

The House of the Hammocks is the oldest house in Holbox. The women get together there to make beautiful hammocks of multiple colors. All the women of the island know how to make hammocks, and most of residents of the island sleep in a hammock in order to sleep fresh and out of the reach of any insect. After work the people of Holbox relax playing baseball, soccer, volleyball and basketball.

Some afternoons you can share with the locals listening to some serenades given by the students of Víctor Vázquez. These serenades are given with mandolins made by the youngsters under the direction of Víctor, who is a teacher specialized in fabricating and playing any stringed instrument; made of hard woods from the region. Víctor learned to make instruments from his father who again learned from his, making this a family tradition. Vázquez is not a native of Holbox, but he has lived for more than 15 years in the island, reason why the Holboxeños consider him like one of them, a strange complement to the island but that enriches it with culture. The factory of Víctor is open for visits as is the House of the Hammocks, where visitors can watch the craftsmen working and have the opportunity to get to know the people of this calm island.

There are small restaurants where they serve fish of the day, snails, lobsters, squids, empanadas of manta ray among other Mexican specialties.

Holbox Island is located at only ten kilometers of the North coast of the Yucatan Peninsula and at 150 km to the northwest of Cancun. In order to get to Holbox Island, follow the Federal Highway 180 towards the west and around the km 150 take the direction to New X’can, then head towards the north another 100 km to Chiquilá. From Chiquilá you need to take a boat to cross the Laguna Yalaháu (10 km). The nearest village to Isla Holbox is Chiquilá.

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Akumal Cancun
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Isla Holbox Isla Mujeres
Playa del Carmen Puerto Morelos
Riviera Maya Tulum
Xcaret Xel-Ha
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Aerial view - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Aerial view
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Streets, Typical House, Door - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Streets, Typical House, Door
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Pier - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Pier
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Hotel Villas Paraiso del Mar, Rooms - Photo by Villas Paraiso del Mar
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Hotel Villas Paraiso del Mar, Rooms
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Pier, Sunset - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Pier, Sunset
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Yalahau Lagoon, Water eye - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Yalahau Lagoon, Water eye
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Whale Shark, Swimming - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Whale Shark, Swimming
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Isla Pajaros, Pier - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Isla Pajaros, Pier
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Isla Pajaros, Birds - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Isla Pajaros, Birds
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Yalahau Lagoon, Spirng - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Yalahau Lagoon, Spring
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Beach, Kite surfing - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Beach, Kite surfing
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Cuca River - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Cuca River
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Beach, Fishermen - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Beach, Fishermen
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Streets, Typical House - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Streets, Typical House
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Pink Flamingos - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Pink Flamingos
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Passion Island - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Passion Island
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Store - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Store
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Hotel Villas Paraiso del Mar, Restaurant, Cooking at your table - Photo by Villas Paraiso del Mar
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Hotel Villas Paraiso del Mar, Restaurant
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Hotel Villas Paraiso del Mar, Beach Palapa - Photo by Villas Paraiso del Mar
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Hotel Villas Paraiso del Mar,
Beach Palapa
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Yalahau Lagoon, Spirng 1 - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Yalahau Lagoon, Spring
Ç Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Whale Shark, Snorkeling - Photo by Fideicomiso de Holbox
  Quintana Roo, Holbox Island, Whale Shark, Snorkeling