Holbox Island is an alluring destination to visit in the Yucatan, in part because so many Cancun-goers don’t venture there. And it’s hard to blame them—getting to Holbox isn’t as easy as hopping on a ferry to Isla Mujeres. However, quiet beaches and wildlife await those who embark on the trip.
When you’re contemplating how to get to Holbox from Cancun, the first thing to know is that you can travel there by land or flight. I’ll help you understand the pros and cons of each so you can fast-track your way to sinking your beach umbrella into Holbox’s sand.
Option #1: Get out on the water
The best way to get to Holbox from Cancun for most travelers is by driving to Chiquila’s port and taking a ferry. If you’ve been dying to know what the inland part of the Yucatan looks like, this is a great opportunity to observe its low-lying jungle foliage. Keep your eyes peeled because you might even spot some iguanas basking in the trees.
When figuring out how to get to Holbox by land, there are three ways to travel to Chiquila. They include:
- Group or private minivan
- Private car
If you take the ADO bus, you’ll have one or two departure times to choose from, and the ride will take about 2.5 hours. This is the cheapest Holbox transportation option, starting at USD $16.
In contrast, the group minivan starts at a few dollars more per ride and will get you to Chiquila 30 minutes earlier. The group ride departs daily at 9:00 am.
However, if you want the flexibility to custom choose your departure time, you can book a private minivan or car.
Regardless of the Cancun to Holbox shuttle transportation you take, you’ll enjoy a mostly curve-free ride with trees framing the road nearly the entire time. Although the road is paved, you can expect to encounter potholes, especially as you approach Chiquila.
The Chiquila port experience
Chiquila is the antithesis of Cancun. It has a skyline free of high rises, restaurants that are in small supply, and a single main road ending at the port. In short, Chiquila is a town built for operating the ferry to Holbox, and not much else.
That said, if you have time before your ferry leaves, you can explore the small boardwalk that runs near the dock. There are also some tiendas (convenient stores) where you can pick up snacks, and the ferry companies offer restrooms for paying passengers.
So, if you’ve been contemplating whether it’s worth it to spend some time in Chiquila, I’d caution against it. The town meets a traveler’s basic needs, but it doesn’t have enough to warrant building in extra time before you take the ferry to Holbox.
Understanding your ferry choices
Although it’s natural to assume that the Holbox Express would be faster than 9 Hermanos, both ferries will get you to Holbox in 20 minutes. And it’s a leisurely 20-minute ride at that.
The ferry companies complement each other with their departure times. They run on a (mostly) thirty-minute basis throughout the day. Holbox Express operates on the half-hour and 9 Hermanos on the hour. So, you can expect to have a ferry at your fingertips within 30 minutes of arriving in Chiquila.
Your ticket will be valid for any departure time with the company you purchase it through, meaning you can rest easy if you get delayed from iguana crossings on your way there.
Regardless of which ferry from Chiquila to Holbox you take, you’ll have access to indoor air conditioning seating on the first floor. You can also head upstairs to an outdoor deck on the second floor. It’s open seating, so you’re free to sit and move around as you wish.
You’ll have great ocean views regardless of what side you sit on, but I recommend making your way to the driver’s side as you approach Holbox. The ferry follows a remote portion of the island’s shoreline, and it’s a great opportunity to spot wildlife.
Option #2: Hop on a flight
Depending on when you arrive in Chiquila compared to when your ferry departs, you can expect the journey from Cancun to Holbox to take 2.5 – 3 hours. However, if you’re short on time or simply want to arrive quicker, consider hopping on one of the daily flights from Cancun to Holbox.
All flights to Holbox operate on a private basis and hold five to seven passengers. So, if you’re traveling as a group and divide the cost amongst you, the price becomes more economical than you might expect for the 30-minute experience.
Making your way to island life is even easier if you’re just arriving in the Yucatan. To go from the Cancun airport to Holbox, you’ll depart out of FBO, located at the Cancun International Airport (CUN) premises.
Holbox is a car-free island, so there won’t be any taxis waiting when you arrive. However, friendly golf cart drivers will be more than happy to accompany you and your luggage to your hotel.
Mixing and matching transportation
Now that you know the basics figuring out how to get from Cancun to Holbox is easy since shuttles, ferries, and flights depart frequently. In fact, you can even combine these two transportation methods, taking the ferry to Holbox one way and flying the other.
Regardless of how you decide to get there, the fun begins with figuring out what to do in Holbox. To get you started, I recommend taking a bioluminescent tour and swimming with whale sharks. You just may end up needing to use your ferry ticket for a later departure time!