You might not have even heard of an island called Holbox, located just north of the Yucatan Peninsula… it gets lost in the conversation about the Riviera Maya’s many other stunning attractions including the island’s more popular cousin, Isla Mujeres.
After visiting Isla Holbox about a week ago, I think that the fact it is relatively unknown is a key factor in what makes the island itself so special.
Holbox.. an island lost in time
It is a throwback in many ways… back to a time where life was much simpler. There are only dirt roads and very few automobiles. As a matter of fact, vehicles are not allowed on the island, only ones delivering goods can be ferried over and allowed entrance. The taxi cabs on the island are a hybrid between an ATV and a golf cart – just big enough for 4 people and some luggage.
Only a very small portion of the island is inhabited and the local population of 1500 or so people are comprised of fishermen and support staff to the island’s small tourist industry. Hotels line the beach in the small village where the ferry drops you off, but over 95% of the island is untouched and is part of the Yum-Balam Biosphere Reserve.
I found my stay there to be far too short – something about the island made me want to linger and explore the natural beauty… it’s a different feel. Peaceful and tranquil… the water is warm and the beaches are endless with very few people outside the main village.
As I ventured further out, there were fewer and fewer people and eventually, I was on a beach completely by myself. The white sand stretched endlessly in both directions and the multi-hued turquoise water met the clear blue sky somewhere far, far in the distance. A random palapa with two hammocks provided a comfortable and shaded resting place in which to contemplate the silence… broken only by the gentle sound of wave lapping at the shore.
Sometimes we need to unplug. To get away. In my case, a simple change of pace to recharge the creative batteries and get in touch with myself.
Living in Playa del Carmen is an amazing experience and one that is made much richer by a variety of different places that are very close and easy to visit. Places such as Isla Holbox, which although is only 3 hours from Playa, seems like an entire world away.