One of the things that inspires me most is traveling to new places that still seem to retain a level of simplicity or a connection to the earth. It's life's little rhythms that I appreciate the most now. I've been traveling to the Yucatan a lot with my fiancee given that it's the quickest little hop over the Gulf and more airlines are starting to open up direct flights from New Orleans. Outside of the craziness of Cancun-Rivera Maya-Tulum is a whole world of beautiful people and inspiration. It feels a world away but yet so accessible. Holbox Island is one of the places in the area that has recently become more accessible through a new road system in the Yucatan and from the introduction of electricity not too long ago. It's a place that, in this very moment, is caught between two worlds. It's fascinating to see, really. Settled by a few Mayan families and a band of Spanish and Italian Pirates, the island managed to preserve its purpose as a beautiful biosphere reserve and sleepy fishing village. I only heard about it about a year and a half ago and didn't make plans to go until it popped up on a magazine's top places to travel to in 2016. I knew it was best to go now to really experience it before droves of people started to show, but oh how I wish I went then! And by then I mean maybe 10 years ago!
I really love talking about wellness travel because I really believe that it's important to experience life from different perspectives. Wellness of course includes fitness and trendy cool things but it also means to experience something that another culture considers to be healthy for the soul. In the case of Holbox Island, it's the simple daily rhythms of life. It's families swinging in makeshift hammocks under a homemade palapa, fisherman remembering to throw the fish scraps to the pelicans who come every single morning to the same spot like clockwork, or opting to wait for the tide to get to the perfect moment between 8am and 12pm so you can walk along the island's beautiful sandbar. The subtle ripples in the sand getting washed away by the crystal water is the only reminder of time that I needed there. There are no cars on the island, only golf carts, and they navigate the sand-paved roads with no real place to go. The first night we arrived half the island lost power for a few hours and no one seemed to be bothered. Walls are adorned with street art made with the love of many international artists leaving their stamp on this quirky little slice of island.
Our daily routine included waking up and catching yoga at Casa Las Tortugas, strolling for sea shells and then devouring the freshest ceviche and guacamole we've ever tasted at Raices Beach Club. There is a cute smoothie and juice bar in town called Terra Mia, but to be honest, the healthiest thing to do is just enjoy the fresh sea-to-table fish and fresh whole fruit at the market in town. Another amazing thing to do is rent a paddle board and SUP during sunset. The island is situated with the best, most vibrant view of the sun setting and locals bring out giant conch shells and blow into them to signify the end of the day. The sound is hauntingly beautiful.
You can see how the town is trying to figure out whether or not it wants to go the way of Tulum and offer travelers bohemian wellness offerings or stay quirky and rustic. I hope it stays simple. The best things to do on the island include getting close to nature. Kayak the mangroves in search of crocodiles, jaguars and the island's famous bird population, find the flamingos on Isla Pasion, or boat out to the local cenote in search of freshwater as the pirates and Mayan kings once did. Or do nothing at all.
How to Get There:
Fly into Cancun and use a transportation service (we used Holbox Transfers, about $150 each way). It's about 2.5 hours by car to the ferry, which is 20 minutes to the island. There is an air strip on the island for Cessina planes from Cancun. It's a bit costly, though.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at this charming VRBO called Los Cocos. It has incredible reviews and is always booked up in the high season so book well in advance or check for cancellations (that's how we got in!). It's only $135 a night but do be aware that it is very rustic. We had a scorpion in the house the first night and saw a raccoon trying to climb onto the roof but honestly it's all part of the charm.
If you want something a bit less rustic but still charming, try Casa Las Tortugas. It has a beautiful little yoga studio and spa with a gorgeous marble egg shaped tub. It's the most chi-chi on the island but oh-so charming and right near all of the action in town. Las Nubes is charming as well but it's further out of town and near the gorgeous sandbar.
Raices Beach Club- Fisherman park the boat on the shore in front of the island, hand the restaurant fish and you watch them literally cut it up behind the bar. Fresh as fresh can get! Great Margaritas too ;-)
Rosa Mexicano- Delicious, modern Mexican with fresh ingredients
TacoQueto- Basically this is just a food truck with some chairs but the best burrito and queso I've had in a long time. It's not to be missed!