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How to get to Isla Holbox from Cancun, Tulum and other popular cities

If you’re wondering how do you get to Holbox Mexico, then I’ve got all the answers for you!

On our recent trip to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, we travelled to the beautiful, peaceful island of Isla Holbox from Tulum Mexico.

I’d heard it’s supposed to be “the new Tulum” and so I was keen to see the difference (spoiler alert: we both much preferred it to Tulum).

I’ve also heard it’s quieter and prettier than Isla Mujeres if you’re looking to compare Mexico islands.

We spent 3 days relaxing by the beach, swimming in a hammock on our hotel balcony, eating tacos and chilling out. It’s rare that we have a holiday where we plan to do nothing, but for the first time in as long as I can remember I relished doing nothing.

If you’re after something similar then I highly recommend a trip to Isla Holbox for that! Since returning to Vancouver, friends have asked about how to get to Isla Holbox, particularly travelling from Cancun to Isla Holbox, or to or from Tulum.

If you’re planning to travel to Holbox, Mexico, and are wondering how to get from Cancun to Holbox, or Tulum to Holbox, use this (hopefully) helpful guide to help you plan your trip to Isla Holbox.

Quick Answer: How to get to Holbox Mexico

  • Get a transfer, drive, or take a bus from the nearest airport (Cancun), or your previous destination in Mexico to Chiquila which is the ferry terminal for Isla Holbox.
  • Holbox is car-free so you will need to get tickets as passengers to the island.
  • You can walk to most places on Holbox, or pick up a taxi when your ferry arrives.
  • I use Busbud to book buses in Mexico.
how to get to isla holbox mexico

How to get to Isla Holbox Mexico

how to get to isla holbox mexico

There are a few options you can choose from when it comes to travelling to Isla Holbox.

If you’re travelling on a budget, the cheapest option for getting to Holbox is going to be to take a public bus from whichever city you’re in, to the ferry port of Chiquila.

Below I’ve outlined the main ways to get to Isla Holbox, so whether you’re wondering how to get from Cancun to Isla Holbox, or from Tulum, I’ve got you covered!

TOP TIP FOR HOLBOX: Make sure you take plenty of cash for your trip to Isla Holbox. While there are a growing number of Holbox ATMs (we saw at least 3), they’re not very predictable. A lot of restaurants and hotels won’t accept cards so you’ll want to make sure you take plenty of cash for your trip.

Flights to Isla Holbox Airport

While it’s not very common, and very expensive, it is possible to fly to Holbox and there’s a small Isla Holbox airport.

If you’re planning a very special trip to Mexico and don’t want to get a bus or drive from Cancun, you can hire a small plane to take you from Cancun airport to Isla Holbox.

Flying to Isla Holbox from Cancun takes only 35 minutes but it’ll cost you! Cancun to Holbox flights on a 5-person plane cost over $500USD and there’s $11 each in airport tax added to flights to Holbox. You can find out more about flights to Isla Holbox here.

The most common route when it comes to flying to Holbox Island is to fly to Cancun and then take ground transport from there.

Flights to Cancun are usually pretty cheap from major North American cities, we flew from Vancouver, BC to Cancun for around $200 each.

Skyscanner is what I use to find cheap flights.

Cancun is the closest airport to Isla Holbox and the one most people will fly into. And, you’ll be happy to hear, that getting from Cancun to Holbox Island is super easy! Check out the next section below to find out how to get to Holbox from Cancun airport.

How to get to Holbox by bus – Buses to Isla Holbox

The way we travelled to Isla Holbox from Tulum and then the bus from Chiquila to Cancun airport at the end of our trip was by bus too.

We used ADO buses in Mexico simply because it was easy to book online in advance with them.

This meant we didn’t need to worry about the bus being full, and missing our flight. It was especially useful when going from Tulum to Isla Holbox as there’s only one bus a day doing that route!

When booking your route online, you’ll want to set your destination as Chiquilá, which is where the ferries to Isla Holbox go from. You needn’t worry about syncing the bus times with the ferries as the ferries set sail every 30 minutes.

ADO buses are all pretty new, have comfortable, reclining seats and seatbelts, a washroom on board and some have televisions too. It’s by far the cheapest way to travel around this area of Mexico.

Buses to Holbox: Tulum to Holbox, Cancun to Holbox & others

Below are some approximate costs of buses to Isla Holbox from cities in Yucatan. You can see the full schedule, fares and book tickets on the Busbud website. Prices start at around US$25 (as of November 2023).

  • Tulum to Isla Holbox: Tulum to Holbox takes about 3.5 hours, as it picks up more passengers in Playa del Carmen. It costs about $580 MXN (roughly US$33). The return, Holbox to Tulum is the same price.
  • Cancun to Isla Holbox: The Cancun to Holbox bus takes about 2 hours on the Ado bus from Cancun to Chiquila. You can book to either get the bus from Cancun to Chiquila from the airport or the hotel zone. It cost us $440 MXN (around US$25) to go from Isla Holbox to Cancun Airport. I’ve since seen prices around $400 MXN.
  • Playa del Carmen to HolboxTakes about 2.5 hours to go from Playa del Carmen to Isla Holbox and costs $450 MXN ($26USD). I’d recommend booking as some of these buses come from Tulum so you don’t want to risk them being full.
  • Valladolid to Holbox: Roughly 2.5 hour bus ride from Valladolid to Isla Holbox, costs $330 MXN ($19 USD).
  • Merida to Holbox: Takes about 5.5 hours from Merida to Isla Holbox and costs around $580 MXN ($33 USD).

NOTE: Be sure to double-check whether you’re booking tickets to/from the airport or Cancun town when you’re looking at how to get to Holbox from Cancun.

Book your bus tickets to Isla Holbox now

How do you get to Isla Holbox from Isla Mujeres?

For those of you doing a little island hopping and want to go from Isla Mujeres to Isla Holbox or vice-versa, you will need to get a ferry and a bus/taxi/transfer plus another ferry.

Altogether it’ll take around 4-6 hours to get to Isla Mujeres from Holbox and the other way around too.

Isla Holbox Transfers

You can also arrange for a transfer for getting to Holbox from Cancun airport. These are usually more expensive than getting an ADO bus but if your flight is leaving at a strange time, or getting the bus would mean you’d have to spend hours in the airport then they can be a great option.

It’s also worth looking into getting a Holbox shuttle if you’re travelling as a group, as it may work out cheaper than several bus tickets.

This form of transportation from Cancun to Holbox is ideal if you’re travelling with kids too.

I’d recommend a Cancun to Holbox shuttle over looking for a taxi from Cancun to Chiquila – it pretty much ends up being the same things anyway.

  • GoHolboxTransfers: Seem to be the cheapest Cancun to Holbox transfer and have been running for 13 years. Seem to only do private transfers which cost $155 / 3100MXN for a small van (up to 5 people) and $170 / 3400MXN for a large van (up to 9 people)
  • Your return trip from Holbox to Cancun can be booked in advance here.

Book return transfer from Cancun to Isla Holbox

How to get to Holbox Island by car

If you’re planning to stay in Mexico longer and Isla Holbox isn’t your only destination, it may be worth hiring a car for the duration of your stay.

While you can’t drive the car in Isla Holbox (there aren’t any roads and golf carts are the only motorised vehicle), you can drive it to Chiquila and park in one of the many multi-day car parks there.

It takes about 2 hours to drive to Chiqulia from Cancun and Tulum and the parking lots in Chiquila cost around $100-150 MXN a day.

We rented a car for a separate part of our Mexico trip through DiscoverCars.

I use comparison sites like DiscoverCars and RentalCars to book my car rentals as it’s easy to check prices and compare the best deals!

The ferry to Isla Holbox

Once you’ve arrived in Chiquila by bus or car, it’s time to get the Chiquila ferry to Isla Holbox. There are two Isla Holbox ferry companies that run the exact same service for the exact same price.

The difference is that one Chiquila to Holbox ferry runs on the hour and the other Holbox Island ferry on the half-hour.

The 9 Hermanos ferry company is the company that runs on the half-hour, and Holbox Express Ferry runs on the hour. It’s useful to know this so that you buy the right ferry ticket when coming off the bus, or from your car.

Either way, you’re not going to have to wait long for a ferry to Holbox at all!

The ferry from Chiquila to Holbox starts at 5 am and finishes at 8.30 pm. They cost $220MXN per passenger (as of November 2023), regardless of which company you end up using.

You can see the Holbox ferry schedule in both directions here. Remember to check the Holbox ferry times for your return trip, especially if you’ve got a plane to catch!

Oh, and keep your eyes open when getting to Isla Holbox on the ferry, we saw a flamingo!

Getting from the port in Isla Holbox to your Holbox accommodation

how to get to isla holbox mexico
one of the main streets in Holbox

There are no cars on Isla Holbox so you won’t find a standard taxi to take you to your hotel on Isla Holbox. Instead, there are golf carts and they’ll line up at the ferry dock waiting for the ferries to land.

It was nice that we weren’t swarmed by taxi drivers trying to convince us to go with them, instead, it worked like a taxi rank usually would, with you just taking the next in line.

Our accommodation was on the main Holbox beach on the opposite side of the island and the taxi on Holbox cost us $50MXN (2 people and 1 big bag).

Most of the Holbox resorts are on the far side of the island from the ferry but if your accommodation is closer to the ferry terminal, it’s very easy to walk as the island is very small.

However, bear in mind that the roads are sand (not tarmac), and if it’s been raining they’ll be flooded so if you have a wheely suitcase, it won’t be ideal.

isla holbox art work murals

Best things to do in Holbox

I have a more complete list of what to do in Holbox but below is my pick of the top 5 Holbox activities which should get you started if you’re looking for things to do in Isla Holbox.

  • Relax on the beach with a beer & a good book
  • Go swimming with the whale sharks in Isla Holbox (season depending)
  • Hang out in the ocean hammocks
  • Eat all the tacos at Barba Negra
  • Take yourself on a street art tour

Where is Isla Holbox?

First things first, where is Isla Holbox? Isla Holbox (pronounced like “Holbosh”) is in Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula.

This area is a popular tourist and holiday destination thanks to the warm Caribbean Sea and beautiful beaches (as well as the thriving all-inclusive scene in Cancun and Playa del Carmen).

It’s one of the best islands in Mexico and I’m hoping it manages to retain its charm as tourism to the island increases.

Isla Holbox is about 2 hours north of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and it takes about 2.5-3 hours to get to Isla Holbox from Tulum.

Since it’s an island and there are no bridges, you’ll also need to get a short, 20-minute ferry ride from the port town of Chiquila, Mexico.

Isla Holbox map

This map shows you where Isla Holbox is located in relation to Cancun, Tulum, and a few other popular destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula. As you can see, when it comes to how to get to Holbox from Tulum, it’s pretty easy since they’re both on the same peninsula.

This Holbox Island map also has some of the top things to do on the island from my “Best things to do on Isla Holbox” blog post.

map of isla holbox mexico
Map of things to do in Holbox, Tulum and how to get from Tulum to holbox.

Last Updated on November 2, 2023 by Hannah

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