Friday, May 27, 2016

Isla Holbox – a different kind of paradise

Isla Holbox Yucatan Mexico
Isla Holbox is a little island off the coast of Mexico, similar to the island in Mexico we call home.  

Just a twenty minute ride on the passenger ferries from Chiquilá on the mainland, Isla Holbox is nestled in the mint green water of the Gulf of Mexico.  As the crow flies it’s not far from Isla Mujeres, where we are surrounded by the turquoise Caribbean Sea, but it’s a world away in atmosphere.

Golf cart taxi on Holbox
Arriving on the island a bright yellow, golf-cart taxi drove us along sand covered streets to our beachfront hotel, Holbox Dream, on the eastern side of the island.  

Okay, we could have walked the six or so blocks dragging our suitcases through the mid-day heat, but this was our first time to Isla Holbox and we didn’t yet have our bearings.  A short inexpensive taxi ride was a great solution.   


Cool, clean and good staff!
We were warmly greeted by Benjamin at the front desk, and quickly checked into our rooms.  

Nice and cool.  Simple décor.  And clean.

After freshening up it was time to look for a good dinner location.  




Viva Zapata for dinner
The local favourite is Viva Zapata, just a short walk from our hotel.  

It’s an attractive location with traditional Mexican dishes, oodles of fresh fish choices and tasty steaks.

Ambling around the town after dinner we noticed the fun artwork painted on homes, stores, and businesses.  


One of the Holbox murals - L. Lock photo
Our friends Becky and Craig McHugh were recently on Holbox, and her blog Life's a Beach, features many of the colourful murals.  Here’s the link if you would like to see her collection of photographs: http://lifewithbeck.blogspot.mx/  

By the time our bedtime rolled around our hotel was quiet, with the assorted vacationing pre-schoolers tucked up in bed and snoozing soundly.  



Another one of my favourite murals - L. Lock photo
We had a restful night, even though I must admit the two small pillows on the bed were thin, and well, darn it, just too small.  I have a thing about pillows.  

Even though we didn’t take our pooch, Sparky, with us I still woke up at the regular walk-the-dog time of 5:30 and I was impatient to get going.  

Strangely enough my three travel companions, Lawrie, John and Maia, insisted on staying in bed until the sun was properly up and the smell of brewing coffee wafting in the air.  Hmph! 

Le Jardin Bakery - dogs welcome
Once everyone was up and dressed we walked two short blocks to the Le Jardin bakery for fortifying coffees, warm flaky pastries, and other delicious breakfast items.  Hugely popular with locals and tourists the line-ups start well before opening time.  Normal low season hours are 8:30 to 12:30 Wednesday to Saturday, but be warned, they close when they run out of their freshly baked goods.  They also have a communal dog water-bowl and welcome signs for the many furry, four-legged companions on the island.  We noticed several establishments with water bowls available for any passing dog, cat or bird.  It’s a thoughtful idea.

42 kilometres - primarily nature preserve
Mid-morning we decided to rent a golf cart and explore the island.  Isla Holbox is a mostly-undeveloped, low profile, sand-bar that is about 42 kilometres (26 miles) long and 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) wide.  That’s huge compared to Isla Mujeres at 7 kilometres long.  

Centro - Isla Holbox
We located a golf cart rental company near the square in centro, renting by the hour for $150.00 Mexican pesos: cheap!   We paid for two hours and off we tootled bumping over the sand-packed dips and hollows created by rain storms and vehicles.  Unlike Isla Mujeres there are not many fast drivers on Isla Holbox.  We actually had to speed up keep the golf-cart from stalling as we crossed over the one speed-reducing tope that we did find.  Most of the islanders get around on bicycles, motos, ATV’s and of course golf carts. 

Two choices of passenger ferries - same price

And then it was time to head back to Isla Mujeres.  We checked out of our hotel, and began our four hour arrival journey in reverse.  First the golf-cart taxi ride back to the passenger ferry.  Then a twenty minute boat ride to the mainland community of Chiquilá, where we walked two blocks to Don Patricio’s parking lot, to retrieve our rental car.  


One of several parking lots for Isla Holbox visitors

We didn’t take our Mini-Cooper convertible on this road trip.  We needed something a little bit roomier for four people and two travel bags.  Lawrie found an inexpensive rental car at Car-Flex located in the La Isla Shopping centre in Cancun.  Pepe, the customer representative, was amazingly helpful.  The total cost was $100.00 USD for three days including insurance.  Great deal. 



Car-flex rental - $100.00 USD 3 days
Next we drove via Highway 5 back towards the little community of Kantunilkin, through a bit of road construction that, in typical local fashion, lets the drivers decide which side of the work zone they would like to drive on.  

It was a bit of a free-for-all, but eventually we got through it.  From there it was another hour negotiating through numerous speedbumps and topes in three tiny unmarked villages.  Pressing on towards Nuevo Valladolid my bladder was starting to make suggestions that we find a rest stop, or baños soon.  Very soon.  


John's turn to drive, with Maia navigating
We turned south once we reached Nuevo Valladolid on Highway 180 and stopped at the PeMex outside the of town of Leona Vicario.  Closed for renovations, no baños!  Okay, then.  We continued on to the outskirts of Cancun, coming in on Avenida Lopez Portillo heading towards the UltraMar ferry docks at Puerto Juarez.  My bladder is now becoming quite insistent. 

Motorcycle based transportation in small towns


Lawrie parked the rental car in the UltraMar parkade.  He, John and Maia headed towards the boarding line.  I raced for the baños, and double-timed it back to the ferry dock.  We slid on-board as the ramps were being raised.  Headed home!

We enjoyed our quick visit to the quaint little community of Isla Holbox, but also really enjoyed returning to our little slice of paradise on Isla Mujeres. 

Hasta Luego

Lynda & Lawrie


Centro - Isla Holbox

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the Seahawks shirt in the Viiva Zapata photo!

Lynda & Lawrie said...

Ha! Lawrie is a big Seahawks fan. Me, not so much. I've never figured out football.