Getting from Chiquila to Holbox: A traveler review

If the thought of car-free dirt roads, seafoam green water, and reconnecting with nature have you wanting to travel to Holbox, you’re not alone. But thankfully, you’re not the majority either—Holbox is off the tourist radar enough where it has kept its small-town feel.

There’s less information out there on Chiquila and Holbox than other destinations in Quintana Roo. So, based on my experience, I’ll give you insight into the most important things to consider when taking the Holbox ferry.

How far is Holbox from Chiquila?

On a clear day, you can stand at the port in Chiquila and see the treetops framing Holbox Island. The only way to travel from Chiquila to Holbox is by boat, and the most popular way to do this is via a public ferry. Once onboard, you’ll barely have time to settle into your seat before it’s time to get off—the trip is a mere 20 minutes.

That said, there are small private boats that can take you from Chiquila to Holbox. A few of these boats breezed by my ferry, which chugged along at a leisurely pace, so it’s possible to get there even quicker if you can’t wait to sink your toes into the sand.

Ferry choices, oh my!

Two ferry companies offer services to Holbox—9 Hermanos and Holbox Express. I took 9 Hermanos and, as far as I could tell, the two ferries share more similarities than differences—their color patterns being among the most notable.

The red Holbox Express and blue 9 Hermanos leave from the same area, although each company offers a separate open-air waiting room equipped with plastic chairs where you can escape from Chiquila’s strong sun. The ferries run every one or two hours and rotate their schedules with one another. So, at peak times, there are ferry options every 30 minutes.

Ferry amenities

I was impressed by how clean and spacious the 9 Hermanos ferry is. It has two decks—an indoor air-conditioned area on the first floor and a roofless second floor for extra good views as you approach Chiquila.

There isn’t assigned seating, and it isn’t likely that you’ll have to push and shove your way to a seat beside the water; between how often the ferries run and how relatively few people visit the island, it’s hard to picture them getting too crowded.

That said, be prepared to get showered with salt water if you choose a seat along the edge of the second deck and especially if you sit right at the front. There weren’t big waves when I traveled, but even so, waves still splashed up when a wind gust hit right.

You won’t find any charging ports near your seat or snack stands on the ferry to Holbox since the ride is only 20 minutes. However, if nature calls, there’s a tiny restroom available at the back of the first floor.

Port amenities

The Chiquila and Holbox ferry ports share a lot of similar qualities—they’re well located in their respective small towns, they have outdoor waiting areas, and you’ll have access to nearby restrooms and restaurants.

If you have time before your ferry in Chiquila departs, I recommend heading up to Laguna Conil, a second-story Mexican restaurant that overlooks the water. Once you arrive in Holbox, you can either walk to your hotel on foot or hail a golf cart taxi. You read that right—the only way to get around Holbox is by foot or golf cart!

Ferry times

The 9 Hermanos ferry departs every one or two hours. Below is a timetable for the roundtrip route from Chiquila to Holbox.

Departure from ChiquilaArrival in Holbox
06:0006:20
08:0008:20
10:0010:20
12:0012:20
14:0014:20
15:0015:20
16:0016:20
18:0018:20
20:0020:20

For your return, you can choose from the following ferry times.

Departure from HolboxArrival in Chiquila
05:0005:20
07:0007:20
09:0009:20
11:0011:20
13:0013:20
14:0014:20
15:0015:20
17:0017:20
19:0019:20

Managing seasickness

The water around Chiquila is pretty well protected by land, so it wasn’t until about a third of the way into the ferry ride when we hit some choppy water. And even then, the ferry only rocked a little—certainly nothing that had me clinging to my seat as some boat rides do.

That said, I traveled on a sunny day with light wind, so I imagine that the waves can get more intense when the weather is bad. Therefore, if you suffer from motion sickness easily, it might be best to take some medication out of caution.

Tips on booking your ferry tickets

You can purchase your ferry tickets in person when you arrive in both Chiquila and Holbox. However, it’s always a good idea to book in advance in case their credit card machines aren’t working so that you don’t have to dig into your precious cash (which you should stock up on before traveling since many places in Mexico only accept pesos).

The good news is that ferry tickets are flexible within a given date and with the same company. Therefore, if you book a 10:00 am ferry with 9 Hermanos to Chiquila but arrive late to the town, you can hop on the next 9 Hermanos ferry without a problem.

If you purchase an online ticket, just make sure to check-in at the ticket counter before boarding—they need to mark you down as having arrived.

Got your bags packed?

Getting to Chiquila takes some legwork since it’s in a fairly remote location. But once you’re there, taking the ferry to Holbox is a breeze. Before you know it, you’ll be basking in your own little corner of the island. Make sure to take a dip in the water—even those who don’t like to swim will be amazed by how far out the water stays shallow!

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