A must-read guide on getting from Chiquila to Holbox

Holbox island’s laid-back atmosphere and crowd-free beaches await travelers who put the time into getting there. The island isn’t around the corner from Cancun, which has helped it maintain a more natural setting. The good news is that once you arrive in Chiquila, taking the ferry to Holbox is easier than downing an al pastor taco. I’ll let you in on some Holbox ferry must-knows so that you can breeze through the port with the confidence of a local.

The low-down on Chiquila

Boats on pier Chiquila Mexico

If you hadn’t heard of Chiquila before researching how to get to Holbox from Cancun (or wherever else in Mexico you’re traveling from), you’re in good company. Chiquila has a population of about 2,300, and the town’s main attraction is the small port that runs ferries to Holbox.

Needless to say, there’s little need to allow extra time for exploring Chiquila. However, if you have time before your ferry departs, there’s a small boardwalk you can meander along. You’ll also have access to a few convenience stores, restrooms, and restaurants that are perfect for hole-in-the-wall foodie seekers.

Weighing your ferry choices

9 Hermanos ferry Chiquila Mexico

Making your way from Chiquila to Holbox is straightforward because taking a ferry is the only method to get to the island. When planning your trip, you’ll notice that two ferry companies run this route—9 Hermanos and Holbox Express.

Despite the word “Express” in Holbox Express’ name, both ferry companies make their way through the Yucatan’s northern Caribbean waters at the same (very slow) pace. Even still, the ferry from Chiquila to Holbox is only about a 20-minute ride. When you factor in time to board and disembark, you’re looking at around 30 minutes of quality time on your ferry. 

Fast Ferry Holbox Island Ferry

Both Holbox Express and 9 Hermanos offer near-equal ferry experiences. Their amenities include:

  • Air-conditioned first-floor deck
  • Open-air outdoor deck on the second floor
  • Restrooms

Price-wise, Holbox Express is a tiny bit more economical, by $1. So, if you purchase your ticket in advance, I recommend buying it from the company that offers the best departure time to Holbox based on your estimated arrival in Chiquila.

As a little tip, since waves can cause rocking and the ferry ride is so quick, consider using the land-based restroom in Chiquila before boarding your ferry. Both ferry companies offer bathrooms on the dock for their paying customers. You can then catch some shade in their respective outdoor waiting areas before boarding your ride.

Seating area under a palapa

Taking advantage of a flexible ticket

Whether you can’t resist stopping at a cenote on your way to Chiquila or the weather puts a kink in your plans, 9 Hermanos and Holbox Express offer a flexible ticket policy. Provided that you travel with the same company that you originally purchased your ticket with, you’re welcome to hop on an earlier or later ferry than the time you booked.

There aren’t assigned seats. You can choose where to sit on a first-come, first-served basis. Based on my conversation with locals, availability is rarely an issue. So, you can expect plenty of first and second-floor seating options.

Ferry interior seating

Chiquila ferry schedule

Not only will you get to enjoy a stress-free ride to the Chiquila port knowing that your Holbox ferry tickets are flexible, but both ferry companies offer frequent departures. Holbox Express and 9 Hermanos operate on alternating schedules. Holbox Express runs on the half-hour, and 9 Hermanos departs on the hour. For example, the first departure with 9 Hermanos is at 6:00 am, and the first one with Holbox Express isn’t until 6:30 am.

Watching out for the weather and seasickness

Pier in Holbox Mexico

I’ll be keeping my fingers and toes crossed that sunny skies greet you in Chiquila. But the reality is that you’re visiting the tropics, so thunderstorms—and hurricanes—happen. 

For safety reasons, the Chiquila ferry to Holbox won’t run if the water conditions are too hazardous. So, if you spot grey skies as you’re approaching the port, prepare yourself for the possibility of spending extra time in Chiquila until the water is safe enough to cross.

That said, even when the ocean is calm enough, it’s common to feel the waves on a choppy day. Luckily, you’ll only be out on the water for 20 minutes, and the first portion of your ride won’t be as rocky since Chiquila sits in a small bay. So, if you’re prone to getting seasick, you may want to consider taking some motion sickness medicine before hopping on the ferry.

What to expect at the Holbox port

Turquoise waters of Holbox Mexico

As your ferry approaches Holbox island, it’ll cruise beside a desolate part of the island. This is a great opportunity to look for wildlife, so I recommend heading over to the driver’s side of the boat for the best views.

Knowing how to get to Holbox from Chiquila is the biggest step for kickstarting your island adventure. But if you’re traveling with luggage or staying outside of town, you should know that Holbox is a vehicle-free island. So, instead of cars, golf carts will be waiting for you when your Chiquila ferry arrives.

The golf cart drivers are welcoming and eager to lend advice about what to do in Holbox. That said, the Holbox port sits just a few blocks from downtown and the beach. So, if you’re traveling lightly and staying nearby, you can walk from the ferry to your accommodation.


When is the best time to go to Holbox?

December through March has the best weather.

Are the ATMs on Holbox?

Yes, but they aren’t always working. Credit cards are accepted in some places, but not all. So it’s best to bring cash.

Want to travel across the land and sea?

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