10 Things Nobody Tells You About Visiting Isla Holbox Mexico (2024)

Isla Holbox Mexico

What comes to mind when you think of Isla Holbox, Mexico? Is it calm, tropical waters and hammocks lazily swaying underneath palm trees?

Holbox, Mexico markets itself as a laidback, eco-friendly destination. And it is often described as one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s dreamiest beach spots. Imagine yourself sipping fresh coconut water on virgin beaches with nothing but the sound of waves gently rolling onto shore. Sounds perfect. Right?

But what if we told you that our experience in Isla Holbox wasn’t the fairytale that others make it out to be? The uncomfortable truth is that Holbox Island is no longer a rustic paradise.

Ready To Discover 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Isla Holbox Mexico?

We didn’t know what we were getting into before arriving to Isla Holbox. And as our trip approached, we were excited to discover what this increasingly popular island was all about. So what did we find out after spending 4 nights in Isla Holbox, Mexico? Sadly, we saw the results of over-tourism and uncontrolled growth.

This may not be one of our most popular articles. But as travel writers, we feel the responsibility to call out when visitors and destinations can make better choices to support responsible tourism. Would it have been easier to just ignore all these problems and pretend we didn’t even go there? Sure! But we also think people deserve to know about negative travel experiences, so it’s easier to make more informed travel decisions.

This post describes what we believe is an example of ‘paradise lost.’

We are not just calling out the negatives. We also share ways travelers can help influence change, so that tourism can remain a positive force for both locals and visitors.

Estimated reading time: 19 minutes

Planning a trip to Mexico? Make sure to read these posts next:

The Basics About Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox is a relatively large island located just off the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The island is found within the protected natural area Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area. The regulations in place help preserve Holbox’s unique and fragile ecosystem. Well, in theory.

Map Of Isla Holbox Mexico

What we saw firsthand while visiting Holbox, Mexico is not what you would expect from a protected area. I’m not saying that Isla Holbox’s protected status does nothing to support the sustainable management of the reserve. But I am saying that Holbox Island’s protected status is confusing, because it’s pretty obvious that environmental protection is not top of mind in Holbox Island.

In full transparency, many people love visiting Holbox. And that’s fine. We are not here to shame anybody or dismiss their experiences. We are just hoping to raise awareness about a place that is potentially at the brink of irreversible damage.

How To Get To Isla Holbox?

As the name implies, Isla Holbox is an island. And getting there requires travelers to take a short ferry from the town of Chiquila. The 20 minute ferry runs frequently, and tickets can be purchased online in advance to skip the slightly confusing and chaotic line.

Note: it takes about 2 hours to get to Chiquila by bus from Valladolid, Cancun or Playa del Carmen. These places have several direct buses leaving daily.

10 Things Nobody Tells You ABOUT Isla Holbox Mexico

1. Much Of Isla Holbox Is An Open-Air Dump

trash problem in Isla Holbox Mexico

We struggle to be overly critical of places in developing countries with garbage problems. There is typically a huge gap in resources and education to help overcome this type of issue. But Isla Holbox is part of a nature reserve. And it presents itself to tourists as an eco-destination. So we can’t ignore the infrastructure problem responsible for the island being an open-air landfill.

I know. ‘Open-air dump’ sounds dramatic. But in all honesty, much of Isla Holbox is covered in trash. And we’re not talking just beverage containers and food wrappers. No, no. You will find discarded mattresses, old shoes, and basically anything else you can think of strewn around the entire island.

To share a sadly ironic example – one of the upscale “eco-hotels” had a color-coded collection site for different types of recyclable materials. But when you went to place your trash in the designated slot, there was not even any kind of bin to collect anything. The recycling was not being separated at all. It was simply a dumping place for random garbage disguised as a cute recycling center.

Holbox Island not an eco destination

This is a small example of a larger story in Holbox, Mexico. It sells itself as an eco-destination, but you only have to peek behind the curtain to find a place that’s suffering from overdevelopment.

Quoting from Yucatan Magazine (2021): “The tourism industry in Holbox generates up to 10 tons of garbage a day. Since recycling the waste is so expensive, much of it ends up in the ocean, dumped illegally or buried underneath the sand.” 

2. You Will Face An Unwelcome Arrival From The Isla Holbox’s Taxi Drivers

loud and aggressive taxis in Holbox Mexico

We realize that overcharging visitors is very common in many popular tourist destinations. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suck when it happens! In our experience, the frustration felt when being overcharged is greater than the actual impact. Even if it’s just a few dollars, knowing that you are getting taken advantage of always sucks!

The worst culprits in Holbox are the taxi drivers that whizz tourists around in their supped-up golf carts and ATVs. You are introduced to their aggressive pricing the minute you step foot on Isla Holbox. There’s a board that used to have the taxi fares on display, but it was conveniently covered. The quote we received for getting from the ferry to our hotel was $15 US. For a 5-minute ride!!! Needless to say, we walked 15 minutes to our hotel.

dragging bags through Isla Holbox's dusty streets

This is a really crappy way to arrive at any vacation destination, and it left us with a bad taste in our mouths for the rest of the day. We never took a taxi for the rest of our time on the island.

This type of short-sighted money grab feels like the rule, not the exception, in Isla Holbox. And local authorities should do more to make pricing more transparent for visitors.

3. The Car-Free Island Is An Illusion

Holbox Island Mexico car free island

You will read that no cars are allowed on Holbox Island’s sandy streets. How rustically charming does that sound?

2023 update: cars, trucks, motorcycles, gas-powered golf carts, and supped-up, John-Deere style ATVs race around the island’s dusty and/or muddy streets. Many vacationers are disappointed after encountering what other blogs call ‘golf carts.’

But these aren’t the battery powered carts that you might be familiar with. Nope. These are loud, gas-powered carts and ATVs most commonly used as taxis. And besides being noisy, they show little regard for pedestrian traffic as they kick up dust while going full speed around the island. We literally saw someone crash their ATV into the back side of a hotel on day one (see below).

golf cart crash in Holbox Island

So, no. Holbox is not a laidback, car-free island anymore. In fact, it sounds more like you are in the parking lot of a Trump rally. I’m not kidding. Those massive ATVs are working with some serious horsepower!

4. Isla Holbox Has Sewage Problems…

Isla Holbox Mexico sewage problem

Isla Holbox lacks the infrastructure to properly manage the growing number of visitors to the island. While the garbage scattered around the island is one example of what happens when a place can’t support the number of visitors it receives, the ubiquitous puddles around town are another.

You will notice a lot of standing water in Holbox’s sandy streets. The massive puddles (and sometimes completely flooded streets) are a major logistical hurdle when getting around the island after a tropical downpour. However, these stagnant pools are also around when there has not been a ton of rain. Hmmm…something smells fishy. Or is it, sh!%%y?

That’s right, friends. Holbox Island has a sewage problem. The lack of investment and planning means that the sewage system meant for a small fishing village simply can’t keep up with the swelling number of visitors.

Waaay too many tourists, trash, rubble and stench everywhere, toxic mud puddles…

Member Review From TripAdvisor

The stinky puddles are a gross nuisance for travelers. But even worse is the environmental impact that the runoff could have on the protected Yum Balam Nature Reserve. Holbox has an insufficient water treatment plant, and investment funds have disappeared. Therefore, much of the dirty water spills into the sea, negatively impacting the area’s wildlife.

Wastewater has a huge affect on delicate ecosystems. The sewage can infect and/or kill the plants and animals around the coastline. This has a domino effect on other species, and eventually, the entire ecosystem can be disrupted.

But you might wonder how Holbox got this way. When scanning the top Google results for ‘Isla Holbox Mexico’, you’ll find descriptions like, “laid back paradise”, “best-kept secret”, and “virgin tourist destination.” These romanticized words bring me to my next point…

5. Travel Writers (And Fellow Travelers) Are Not Helping Educate Others

Aimara and I didn’t major in sustainable development in college. But we did stay in a Holiday Inn Express before visiting Holbox. (Can we still use that joke in 2023?)

But seriously, search online for Isla Holbox (or any destination), and 99.9% of the time you will find travel writers focusing on all the wonderful things about it. Rarely do people take the initiative to call out when something isn’t as it should be.

We think that this is wrong. Travel writers have a responsibility to try and educate and influence better travel habits. And until that happens, Holbox will continue to get promoted as an idyllic eco-destination, missing on a great opportunity to help educate others about responsible travel.

You’ll find many other travelers disappointed by their experience on the island when reading reviews about Holbox, Mexico on Google or TripAdvisor. We hope that reading posts like this one and considering these types of comments will help people think more critically about the impact of their travel decisions.

The goal is to increase awareness so that people can make better decisions over time. We want all the beautiful places in the world to be enjoyed by future generations, too!

6. You May Never Notice Isla Holbox’s Blemishes If You Don’t Leave Your Beachfront Hotel

What Nobody Tells You About Visiting Isla Holbox Mexico
The perfect example of a photo that doesn’t tell the whole story!

Higher-end lodging options line the east side of Holbox island. These beautiful hotels are located directly on, or across from, a calm and beautiful stretch of beach.

Travelers visiting this area can enjoy the beautiful views, eat at the hotel’s restaurant, and relax on their loungers during their entire stay. All without ever having to spend any time in the downtown area where Holbox Island’s problems come to light.

It’s not hard to imagine that people can have an incredible vacation if they experience Holbox in this way. The challenge is that there is still a huge infrastructure problem. So even if you are not exposed to the same issues that you would if you were staying around Holbox’s downtown, you still contribute to the waste and sewage issues that plague the little island.

7. Holbox Island Is Over Capacity

ferry from Chiquilla to Isla Holbox

The flood of tourists to Isla Holbox has outpaced the island’s ability to expand the basic infrastructure needed to support the growing number of people staying on the island. Yet things appear to be getting worse. And the island’s growth has all the characteristics of a short-sighted money grab.

Greed and corruption are two of the main issues contributing to the unsustainable development of Isla Holbox. This is most notable in the continued construction of major hotel projects, even though the island already cannot cope with its current capacity.

Quoting from Yucatan Magazine (2018): “Its (Holbox) 1,200 or so hotel rooms are primarily in small hotels with about 30 guest rooms apiece. That is not likely to change because of the limited infrastructure and fragility of the island, said Dario Flota (Head of Quintana Roo’s Tourism Promotion Council).” 

Fast forward to 2023, and construction is happening everywhere! A new Margaritaville property recently opened on Holbox Island in March 2022. And you will notice plenty of other new properties being built as you wander around the island.

So when community leaders announced in 2018 that “The island has reached its limit,” it appears that there is no limit to the greed that continues to push the boundaries of Isla Holbox’s ability to manage the growing number of tourists.

This is the current ferry schedule to go from Chiquila to Isla Holbox: (there’s another company that leaves on the hour, so multiply the number of trips x 2).

Isla Holbox ferry schedule

8. The World’s Most Aggressive Mosquitos Live In Holbox, Mexico

Isla Holbox mosquitos

This Isla Holbox secret will literally save your life! And be literally, I mean figuratively.

For starters, mosquito repellent is essential. As dusk falls, swarms of these heat-seeking pests prey upon anyone who hasn’t applied at least two generous layers of DEET repellent. And don’t try to bring the all-natural mosquito spray. Isla Holbox’s mosquitos will just laugh at your feeble attempt to drive them away with an organic spray. We learned that from the helpless Dutch family having dinner next to us. The situation was so unbearable for them, that they had to ask for their dinners to go!

We are typically not super bothered by mosquitos. And I also don’t really think it’s a huge issue. But I think this is a useful FYI after observing how other travelers were reacting to the swarms of mosquitos. It’s also a fun thing to think about after realizing that much of the island’s standing water is sewage.

9. Isla Holbox Is Over Priced

Isla Holbox was more expensive than most places we visited in the Yucatan Peninsula during our 70-day adventures. Though not significantly more than other island destinations like Punta Allen and Cozumel. Unfortunately in Holbox the quality usually doesn’t align with the prices you’re paying.

And while many travelers complain about high prices in Holbox, we can’t confirm whether it is a matter of island pricing or if there is overcharging happening.

These are some of the prices we witnessed and got quoted:

  • Beers: $3 – $4
  • Cocktails: $10 – $13
  • Appetizers: $8 – $10
  • Entrees: $12 – $18
  • Golf Cart rentals: $18/hour – $30/2 hours – $125/24 hours
  • Taxis: based on what we were quoted, a 5 minute taxi ride is about $15.

10. Holbox Has A Great Animal Shelter Where You Can Walk Rescue Dogs!

animal shelter in Isla Holbox Mexico

There is an incredible animal rescue shelter on Holbox Island. Visitors are welcome to come in to simply play with the many dogs and cats brought in from neighboring cities to rehabilitate them from physical or emotional traumas. Or you can go a step further and take some of the friendly puppies out for a walk.

It was great to see a thriving organization like this on the island. Based on the number of people volunteering each day, it was obvious that many people visiting Isla Holbox do care about giving back to places that they visit, and they don’t just come to sit on the beach and leave. Which is part of the reason why we think people would be interested in a post like this. Many people really care.

Is Holbox Island Worth Visiting?

Even though Isla Holbox is a beautiful place, we do not think it’s worth visiting. It may once have been a secluded piece of paradise for nature and ocean lovers. But, sadly, that is no longer the case in 2023. Even though we understand and have seen that every place in the world has good and bad things. For Holbox, Mexico, the bad definitely outweighs the good ones.

Heading to the Yucatan Peninsula? Check out to our favorite destinations in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula! Just because we didn’t like visiting Holbox doesn’t mean we didn’t love the rest. And don’t forget to read about 30 Things To Know Before Visiting The Yucatan Peninsula!

What Should Be Done To Improve The Situation In Holbox Mexico?

Isla Holbox is a prime example of a destination negatively impacted by irresponsible tourism practices. But that doesn’t mean that there are not ways to reverse some of the damage. The question is whether authorities will acknowledge the existing problems and actually do something about it.

In our very humble and non-professional opinion, Holbox can do three things to start helping the situation on the island:

1. Limit capacity to the island:

There is simply too much stress on Isla Holbox’s infrastructure. The only way for the island to improve the garbage and sewage issues is by reducing the number of people allowed on the island at a given time.

2. Increase investment in utilities:

Holbox needs to upgrade its current utility infrastructure if it wants to become a sustainable tourist destination for years to come. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement.

A Canadian company is in charge of developing a sustainable future for Isla Holbox. This is potentially a good thing. I say ‘potentially’ because this a company that proposed the construction of 9,000 new hotel rooms in the island’s protected areas (come on!).

So, on the one hand, it is great that they are thinking about solutions. On the other hand, the plan being discussed supports more development. And who knows what that will bring?

3. Get locals involved:

Our feeling was that many locals were outsiders to many of the financial benefits of tourism growth and only experience the negative side impacts of over-tourism… which is unfortunately a garbage-filled island with inadequate resources.

Locals need to feel like they are part of Holbox’s future plans. If tourism doesn’t work to improve the general way of life for people in a particular destination, then how can we expect the locals to be stewards of a place and support in keeping it beautiful and friendly?

What Can Travelers Do To Help Support Sustainable Tourism?

If you were curious about visiting Holbox, Mexico, you might be surprised and let down by some the information in this post. And it’s understandably hard to change people’s habits when most resources out there only paint part of the picture about a destination.

It’s also easy to feel helpless when you see irresponsible tourism in action. But with over-tourism and unsustainable travel impacting many destinations around the world, it is time for travelers to start thinking more critically about where and how we travel.

These are some easy steps we as travelers can take to make more conscious travel decisions:

  • Be informed: research places before visiting. Read in depth Google reviews of a place. Look at how recent the reviews are and also who’s writing them! Sometimes it’s just local travel agencies bumping up the ratings.
  • Let your wallet do the talking: avoid visiting places that fail in their responsibilities to their community – like Isla Holbox. Stakeholders will be more likely to make a change when their wallets are impacted.
  • Be honest: it’s hard to admit when you make a mistake while traveling. It can be tempting to only share the beautiful things you experienced. But traveler-generated information can be an excellent tool for raising awareness about sustainability issues.
  • Demand better: speak out to local tourism boards or to broader travel communities (by leaving reviews) when you encounter irresponsible tourism. Flagging these issues gives you a voice! And over time, your voice can encourage destinations to act on concerns highlighted by the travel community.

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Final thoughts About Visiting Isla Holbox Mexico

Sorry if this feels like a hit piece on Isla Holbox, Mexico. But we believe that the people that write about these destinations (AKA, us) have a responsibility to be transparent and encourage responsible traveling. That’s the only way that things can get better in the future.

In the end, we don’t regret visiting Holbox Island. Being on the island allowed us to reflect on the destinations that we visit and how we want to promote travel in the future.

We identified that we also need to become more conscious during our travels and do our best to avoid contributing to unsustainable tourism practices. It won’t be perfect, and we still have a lot to learn as we go. But we are hopeful that together, we can make the future of tourism better for our world and more inclusive for local communities.

Thanks for reading!


Did anything on this list surprise you? Have any questions about visiting Holbox Mexico? Reach out in the comments or DM us on Instagram!

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Home » Destinations » 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Visiting Isla Holbox Mexico (2024)

92 thoughts on “10 Things Nobody Tells You About Visiting Isla Holbox Mexico (2024)”

  1. Such a great, honest article! Thanks for sharing. I’m currently travelling in Mexico and was planning to go to Holbox but now I’m looking into other options 🙂

  2. This is a great article, I myself am Mexican and I am sadden to see what happens in a Mexican nature reserve. My brother went for the first time to holbox in 2009 and fell in live with it, he came back in awe of the place that made me want to go there more than anything, last year around this time we all took a long awaited family trip to holbox and it was very underwhelming to say the least to add to all your amazing points, we Mexicans all around our country are known for out hospitality and more so to our fellow Mexican brothers and sister but we didn’t find any of that in holbox the vibe was pretty much greedy you could feel it and since we are Mexicans you could tell they though we wouldn’t be good customers( tippers) as supposed to someone europeans, and don’t even get me started on almost half of the island being filled with Argentinian, I don’t have anything against people from other countries being in our soil but seeing the state the island is in, all the foreigners living on the island made sense, I just wished there was more conscious Mexicans that would take that role of protectors of our land. Also when we went on a night tour to see the bioluminescence to the most virgin part of the island this french dude was there smoking and when he was done he just threw the cigarette on the floor still lit. One of the worst things that someone could’ve done, my family basically grew up in the sea and are avid lovers of the sea so we couldn’t believe what was happening on a nature reserve. Needles to say my dad and my brother got into a huge argument with those guys, they ended up leaving. Holbox is wild, more of a quick money grab than anything, which saddens me even more has a Mexican. People are missing out on the real beauty of the island because of shi!?$@ people.

  3. People love to say over-tourism but the actual problem is overpopulation. I believe that all the troubles in our world today boil down to overpopulation.

    1. It’s funny how you say in the article that people only write the good things, and then you only allow the positive comments to be posted on your website hahaha

      1. Like yours…???
        We have approved every single comment as long as it’s not insulting or disrespectful towards us.
        We won’t tolerate that. We never will.
        We believe in what we wrote and stand 100% behind it.
        It’s ok to disagree.
        Some people love Holbox, others don’t. That’s perfectly fine.
        Every traveler is different and has different wants/needs.

    1. Thanks for this- wish we had read it before we went. We just got back a few days ago and googled mosquitos holbox and stumbled upon your article.

      I agree with all points mentioned- especially about it being overcrowded and sadly dirty. What we struggled with most was the heat- I def don’t recommend visiting in July it was 35 degrees and felt like 40 due to humidity and the water didn’t even cool you down because it was so hot. We didn’t enjoy simple pleasures such as walking because it was so hot in the day and mosquitos attacked you at night (despite our sprays).

      We went for our honeymoon and it was the least place we enjoyed. We also didn’t appreciate the false advertising about swimming with whale sharks- we were on a speed boat (w high bumpy waves for 4 hours before they managed to locate a whale shark and then we had to wait in a cue of boats to swim with it (like another hour) and we only had a minute in the water. The entire experience was uncomfortable and disappointing and above all expensive. Not worth it for a minute in the water w a whale shark. The sea sickness- bumpy waves and dehydration and hot hot sun for 7 hours on that boat only added to our negative holbox experience. There is also a show called “Pandora” which also advertises itself as much more than what you get/ it was the most expensive meal we had on the island and the show was super average and disappointing. Sorry for my rant but reading your post helped a lot and I feel comfortable to vent it out. Thanks for your feedback and honesty.

    2. Do your homework on all Central American and South American countries.

      1. Sewage

      It is every island.

      the state and municipal government do not have urban infrastructure to attend to the fast growth of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum, and Isla Mujeres, which have more than 105,000 hotel rooms with almost 30,000 currently under construction.

      IT IS DESTROYING THE CORAL BY pumping WAISTE WATER INTO THE GROUND. Look at each map on waste treatment.

      2. Isla Holbox is extremely small. I jog at 5 every morning and they are loading the boats with garbage.

      3. It is still poor. Americans stayin waterfront hotels.

      4. Mosquitos exist.

      5. 8 or 10 good restaurants

      6. Do not use taxis by port. Small island look at map. Walk 3 blocks and get a taxi.

      7. Cancun and Isla Mujeres are extremely more expensive.

      8. Poverty is real. I love dogs. But donate money to the local Church.

      9. I have found that the other islands have more predators. From 40 years of traveling I would rather go to Isla Holbox than definitely any US Eastern Beach.

  4. It is good to see a realistic review of the isla. We first visited the Island in 2006 as people were rebuilding from hurricane Willma. Our taxi was a human powered three wheeler, there were few golf carts. We returned every year for 12 years watching the buildings get larger and taller, the prices climb drastically. The traffic became big city like, with many tourists renting carts and driving around drunk causing accidents with pedestrians being critically injured. The garbage and greed are not recent, the large dump used to be burned regularly and made the air unbreathable, at least that has become controlled. To say the locals need to be included, involved, ignores the fact that many of the offending businesses are owned by the “original” Holboxenos. Sure there are lots of businesses controlled by off island entities, but it is the group of a powerful local families that worked adamantly to oppose regulation on development. The best advice, in my opinion: If you find a paradise, keep it secret, do not write about or promote it. Keep it to yourself and enjoy, live in harmony.

  5. Hi there. Thanks for this article. We (2 middle aged people and a 14 year old boy from London) are planning a trip to the Yucatán for a 2 week tour plus a few days in Mexico City in July/August. I was literally about to book our accom on Holbox when I read this and I’m very glad I did. We will miss the island out of our itinerary now, in part because I am extremely reactive to mozzy bites, but also it sounds as though Holbox is not the idyll I thought it was. But I’m so disappointed! What would you recommend we add in to our trip to replace 2/3 nights on Holbox? Sad to miss relaxing on beautiful beaches, bioluminescent waters, kayaking in the mangroves, wildlife etc. We plan to go to Rio Lagartos, Celestun, Campeche and Bacalar – shall we just add an extra night in these places, or is there another idyllic island or beach location I’m missing? Advice very gratefully received 😀

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hi Helen – thanks for your comment! You will be in the general area of a sleepy beach town called Sisal. We haven’t been, but from what we hear from others, it’s the beach town we were looking for on the Yucatan’s north coast. The town is opposite a lagoon, and after a quick search I saw that they have kayaking in mangroves. You mention wildlife – any particular reason you are skipping places like Cozumel? There is no better place to see wildlife than underwater in Cozumel 🙂 Based on your itinerary I assume you’re renting a car… you can take a car ferry to the island – beaches on the island are stunning (not all cater to the cruise-ship crowd), they have some some crocodiles, we love it. Celestun is supposed to be amazing… sadly it’s also a place we missed. Also, did you select Rio Lagartos just to see the crocs? I would view Celestun, Rio Lagartos & Sisal/Holbox as a little redundant (just my opinion). So my final answer… Bacalar, Campeche, Celestun, Sisal, Cozumel…(we have separate blog posts on Cozumel, Campeche & Bacalar) this itinerary is perhaps a little rushed, but Campeche, Celestun & Sisal are relatively close. Are you interested in visiting cenotes? You can check some out on your drive from Campeche to Celestun, but the cavern-type cenotes aren’t particularly close to anywhere you are basing yourself. And July/August will have afternoon rains, so the mozzies will be out, especially near mangroves… we’re happy to provide more suggestions, our Instagram is easier to go back and forth with questions. Or even email. Take care!

      1. Helen Cardwell

        Oh you’re brilliant – such a detailed helpful reply thank you. Will def check out Sisal. I didn’t really think of Cozumel because we aren’t divers and not keen on snorkelling and I’d got the inpression that’s what Cozumel was all about, but will certainly look at it again 🙂👍

        1. Gordon Letschert

          You’re welcome! Cozumel is a bit more geared to snorkeling and diving, so maybe not a perfect fit. But it’s still a lovely island with many great beaches. You just have to know where to go because many are private beaches catering to cruise passengers. Anyways, let us know if you have follow-up questions 🙂

          1. UPDATE! As of this date, the Carribean coast of Mexico has been overwhelmed by Saragassum. Beaches in Playa, Pto Morelos, Akumal and Tulum are essentially unusable. I’m now in Holbox and they are suffering the same, which is uncommon here.

            1. Thank you for the extremely useful information and update on the situation. Definitely a conscious advice for travelers investing their hard-earned money hoping to get out of crowded cities to enjoy some peace and relax in places that end up being the opposite of what they were known for. It is sad but it is saddest to invest your money and limited vacation time having a nightmare vacation.

  6. Hi. Thanks for your article. It game me a lot to think about. I’ve been on Isla Holbox for a few days now, and I agree that there are issues. But aren’t there issues everywhere? Your article seemed to take a holier-than-thou angle on a place with not a lot of infrastructure or financial ability to address the issues that you bring up. This isn’t Tulum or CDMX. It’s a small island. It doesn’t surprise me that they have issues keeping up with sanitation. I have visited other small beach towns in Mexico that have the same issue. Of course things are more expensive here. Everything has be brought in. I go to a small island in Western France where friends have a house, and everything is more expensive there too. It’s normal on an island. I’m not sure why you let a few rude taxi drivers ruin your day. There are rude people all over the world, and it’s not personal. Locals are always trying to hustle and make money off of tourists. It not that unusual. Your article seems to me like a couple of privileged westerners upset that the island paradise they were promised had flaws. The reality is that if tourists stopped coming here, the economy of the island would be in trouble. It’s too late to go back to a time when no one came here. The economy is already geared to catering to tourists. The people who live here and call Holbox home would suffer if tourism stopped, so I’m not sure that is the answer. I think it’s still worth a trip. You just have to take off your rose-colored glasses and accept a place for it’s flaws (and see it’s beauty) and be mindful about your own impact. Maybe flush your toilet a bit less (if it’s yellow….) and/or pick up some trash and put it in the bin, no mater what its color code is.

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hi Sarah – thanks for your comment. I’ll try to summarize our concerns quickly. 1) Isla Holbox is part of a protected nature reserve. 2) there is evidence that the island is overcapacity, that the infrastructure can’t sustain the number of visitors, yet they keep building (this is based on the sources linked in the article from local news sources). 3) local and national governments and private businesses/investors have a responsibility to protect natural areas – this is not happening. 4) nobody is suggesting to stop tourism. The idea is to improve the conditions so that everybody benefits in the long term. The responsibility is on tourists, private investors and government agencies to want a better future for the island. 5) we weren’t too bothered that we didn’t have a nice time on Isla Holbox… we wrote this for people who have 2 – 3 weeks vacation per year and share our concerns about the places they visit.

    2. I agree with you 100% Sarah! They probably will not approve my comment but this article does come across like these people are privileged westerners complaining about issues in a 3rd world country.

      1. I (Aimara) was born and raised in Venezuela, so I am very familiar with 3rd world countries and its problems. Gordon has lived in Cuba and Guatemala as well, so none of the things we saw in Holbox are new to us. We’ve seen a lot worse too.

        The problems in Holbox are very real and the reason we shared this article is because we saw so many people being absolutely MISERABLE while in Holbox. It is our responsibility as full time travelers to share the bad about the places we visit, specially when they market themselves as an ‘eco friendly’ tourist destination, which Holbox is NOT.

        Everyone is free to pick the places they visit. This article just offers a different perspective.

  7. I found your article very useful, and in-line with several others warning about the health-threath posed by sewage (and mosquitoes !! don’t forget Dengue, Chickungunya, Zika, etc.) in Holbox. But then I wonder why don’t you edit the “holbox” page on Wikitravel at least … !! Of course, there are thousands of similar websites, but Wikis certainly are the the most popular ones, for “western” travellers, at least.

    1. Hey Marco, thanks for the comment. Yea the mosquito/sewage combo is definitely a huge concern! Do people actually read Wikitravel? It doesn’t come up as a top search result for most destinations. And it feels like it would be a constant updating ‘battle’ with stakeholders like boards of tourism that would delete any negative opinions about a place. Thanks!

  8. I love that you are thinking about these issues. Not common enough these days. With that in mind, what are your favorite places close to the US that *can* be enjoyed sustainably this time of year?

    1. Hello – thanks for the comment. The list would be pretty long, as there are a ton of places close to the US. Costa Rica comes to mind as the leader in sustainable tourism. But I suppose you are thinking more about ‘beach’ tourism… We’ve never been, but I understand that Belize also has high standards and regulations in place to promote sustainable tourism. Even places like Cozumel have much better infrastructure to handle a large number of visitors and it’s easy to support local businesses. They also are fantastic at caring for the marine national park.

      1. Interesting perspective, I am here Feb 2023 and would strongly disagree and urge people to visit (but almost don’t want to because it’s so beautiful it should be kept as untouched as possible). I have travelled to many countries and and this really is beautiful. But perspective is always different. I would encourage people to visit here, but of course if you are used to resorts and Americanised spots then this won’t be your cup of tea as it is a much more authentic experience. It is certainly a tourist destination but more Mexican tourism than foreign. Mosquito-wise, I always get eaten alive and swell – but have had one or two here and no issues. Have had way worse in Canada & Ireland would you believe!

        The muddy puddles are everywhere, but I thought this added to the island life experience. There are tourist prices in a lot of restaurants but eat at the food stalls, much nicer food and only 50peso. I think it’s great, not dirty and loving it here.

        1. Hey Sinead, thanks for your comment. Happy to read you are enjoying your time in Holbox 🙂 Clearly – based on the post I wrote – I don’t agree with your comments, haha. But that’s okay! The only thing I want to mention is that we don’t look for Americanized spots, at all. And to us Holbox had a much less authentic feel than other places in the Peninsula. To your point, perspective is always different…

  9. This article was informative. We visited the island in 2008 (which was fantastic) and we’re thinking of returning to visit in 2023. Sadly it doesn’t sound anything like our experience many years ago. Although, I would expect some growth, this is not what I imagined.

  10. I found your post as the first result for searching “am i the only one that thinks Holbox is a bit s**t”. In a weird perverse way I am glad I am not. 😬

    We’re currently on the island (arrived 24h ago) and we find it the most underwhelming place we’ve visited in the last year of full time travelling. IMO some of the beaches in the Cancun strip are nicer than the ones on the island.

    Everything you mention in your article rings true to us, especially the rubbish dump the whole island is, murky dirty sea water and poor value for money. Thanks for the validation 😬

    1. Thanks for the comment! We have been traveling full time for 1.5 yrs, and it’s the only place we really didn’t like. Glad we were able to provide a sense of validation – although we really hope things improve over there!

  11. I was travelling alone, I though I will work and relax in a beautiful place and it was so far THE WORST EXPERIENCE I have ever had . EVERYTHING IS TRUE and 100% accurate in this article, thank you !!! What a scam, I wasted so much money. Also the arrival was chaos If I could find a place to describe what is hell I would say CANCUN. Aggressive cabs companies literally to stripping you alive. 1200 pesos, for 3 miles. are you out of your F mind? DO NOT GO THERE. Its simply gross.

  12. Great Article.. I wish i had have read this article before we arrived. We were so disappointed with the so called Paradise. We booked to stay there 3 nights and if truth be told, we were very happy to leave the place. It was Like a cattle mart getting on and off the boat. Articles says no cars, we nearly got ran over many times by golf buggies. I did think the sea was beautiful but hard to get away from crowds of people, muddy roads flooded Roads(even tho there hadn’t been rain in weeks, litter everywhere. The only thing i cant agree with you was the mosquitos, i thought they pretty friendly and i usually get eaton alive

  13. I found your article after arriving on Holbox. The roads were so wet and slick that both my husband and myself took very bad falls on day one, I spraining my ankle and him cutting his knee open and opted to only venture out again from our hotel once. To explore centro. The prices were higher than in the states at many places and most don’t put prices on and quite different people different prices. Many times it felt like the price gauging of the Cancun of 25 years ago. I have been travelling to the Yucatán for almost 30 years and Holbox was the worst of the travels so far. The mosquitos are seriously the most intense and aggressive I’ve ever experienced. The cart taxis pricing was most problematic because it was all over the place from 200-400 pesos depending on who we used for the same trip. We had a taxi driver flip us off when he tried to charge double anyone else and we declined to grab another. We love the Yucatán and would recommend Valladolid and Merida for wonderful experiences outside of Cancun. Isla Mujeres has its own issues but I would go back there again and again.

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hi Mindy – sorry to hear about your experience on Isla Holbox. Crazy to think that this was the worst you’ve experienced after 30 years of exploring the Yucatan. So sad!! We skipped out on Isla Mujeres, but I think we would like it… even if it is very developed at this point. We also really liked Cozumel, Merida, Campeche and Punta Allen. Thanks for comment – Viva Mexico!

  14. Thank you so much for writing this! I was considering making the effort to meet some girlfriends (who have already made plans, so i wont share this with them, is that wrong 🤔 may to have to think that one thru) I digress, we have been in Mexico for three + months and Quintanaroo has been really disappointing, only been here 2 weeks. I am a startup blogger and like you, I would like to present the reality of longterm travel along side vacationing. There are plenty, like you said, blogs out there that hit the highlights. I want folks to know about Didi, negotiating, basic Spanish and collectivos. Needless to say, i think you helped me make my decision, #jeccadawnvagabond & http://www.masmovment.com

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Haha no I don’t think you have to share this post with your friends. If you just laze around the beach and hit up some of the good cocktails spots in town you will still have a nice time. I like the ideas for your new blog – specifically knowing how to navigate the world of colectivos can be extremely useful. Have fun & thanks so much for the comment!

      1. I leave for Holbox in about 20 days. I can cancel my hotel reservation for free if I do so within 5 days. I’m landing in Merida and staying there for 4 nights and leaving for Holbox to stay for 3 before driving back to merida to fly home. I would like to explore the other coast, so I’m not opposed to driving as I’m renting a car on my 4th day to leave Merida. Thanks!

  15. I appreciate the environmental concerns you raise. This is a significant issue that I hope gets addressed, though it is clearly a global problem and NOT one limited to just Holbox. Indeed, your travels contributed to the impact you compalin of. However, the balance of the article reeked of self entitled whining. Mosquitos? Eww! Are they supposed to eliminate them for your convenience? Price gouging? Are the locals supposed to live in poverty so you can continue to backpack around the world living off your trust fund or whatever nickels you wring from social media? Good for you that you are living your dream and traveling the world. However, other people have families and bills and limited means to make ends meet. If the price is too high don’t pay. However, the cost of a golf cart pales to air fare, hotel costs, etc., etc., that most travels from the US or Europe pay without a second thought. I don’t think it’s wrong to inject some of that income to support the communities we visit.

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Here’s the quote from the mosquito part of the article: “We are typically not super bothered by mosquitos. And I also don’t really think it’s a huge issue. But I think this is a useful FYI after observing how other travelers were reacting to the swarms of mosquitos.” Does the reek of self entitlement? We really saw people suffering from the mosquitos, and the situation is the most intense I’ve experience anywhere else in the world. So I do think it fits in a ‘what nobody tells you about’ style post. Regarding the price gouging, here’s another quote from the article “Our feeling was that many locals were outsiders to many of the financial benefits of tourism growth and only experience the negative side impacts of over-tourism… which is unfortunately a garbage-filled island with inadequate resources.” International companies and residents are often the ones benefiting from tourism in Holbox. And price gouging and the environmental situation on the island could drive tourists away, which will leave the local residents in a tough position. So your perspective is extremely short sighted. Sustainable tourism is meant to be… sustainable.

  16. Maria Hjortdal Veng Larsen

    Thank you so much for writing this article! So sad to read about all the issues! I am going to Mexico this January and have prepared a trip to Puerto Morelos, as I read the city was much quieter and calm, and then we planed to visit Holbox.. Are there any other beach cities you can recommend that are close to Cancun as we will be traveling from Cancun but are open for a 2 hours drive 🙂

    I have been looking at Bacalar, but we were looking to explore beautiful beaches as we have never been to this part of the world.

    I hope you are able to list a few places, and thank you so much in advance!

    1. Hi Maria – thanks for your comment! Giving recommendations is not that straightforward, because it really depends on what you enjoy doing at the beach. But here’s my reply: El Cuyo is on the north side of the Peninsula, relatively close to Holbox. The water on the north is beautiful, but it’s not great for snorkeling as it is very cloudy. You can also take your car on the ferry to Cozumel – an island that we love. The beaches on the east side of the island are generally rugged and impressive, and the west coast beaches are calm and great for snorkeling, diving, etc. So you have the best of both worlds. It’s also pretty easy to avoid the cruise-ship crowds in Cozumel, and the town is quiet and enjoyable after 4 pm when the cruise passengers return to the ship (we also have an entire post about Cozumel beaches (and a YouTube video)). Finally, Bacalar is a very unique place. It’s true that there are no sandy beaches, but the lagoon is spectacular. And the town of Mahahual is within driving distance of Bacalar if you really need actual beach action. Hope this helps. It’s hard for me to see when people reply to comments on the blog – so please reach out on Instagram if you have follow-up questions. Thanks!!

    2. I stayed in an eco resort in Bacalar in 2006. It was a long time ago but it was gorgeous then. You will find trash anywhere in Mexico. It is sadly just the way it is. But the town was quiet and the fresh water lagoon was gorgeous. I swam in it daily.

  17. I’m really glad I found your blog post before visiting Holbox. I came with low expectations but even so was shocked by how muddy the streets are and how noisy with the zillions of great big buggies whizzing around. These are no dinky golf carts! The amount of building work and debris is horrific.

  18. This should be a warning for Caye Caulker, Belize. This once charming island is over run with golf carts speeding up and down the streets at all hours. More and more outside and outsized development. Their slogan “go slow” seems to a thing of the past.

  19. While I don’t dispute the points made. We have travelled all over Mexico. The beaches and water are amazing. You make what you want of it. The authors points might be true, but do not affect us at any level while visiting. To each their own!

  20. Thank you for writing this, travelers need to know that there are many puddles on the roads and they need rain boots to walk across. I’m saddened of the conditions this island is in. I don’t plan to ever visit again. Also the people in green shirts in chiquilla port taking advantage of people to cross sayin that we need to pay if not we will have problems. Using green wrist band that says helping the environment is a scam!

  21. So glad I found this article. I’ve been, “trapped” in vacation spots like this before. I’ll pass on this one.

    Great article – following for future information. Thanks.

      1. My husband and I are retired teachers in our 70’s. We are interested in quiet places where we can enjoy the ocean water – we snorkel.

        What might you recommend for us!


        1. Gordon Letschert

          Hi Irene – the first thing to note is that only the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is good for snorkeling. Isla Holbox and other places on the north coast have cloudy turquoise water. Next, the combo of quiet places and good snorkeling is actually a bit tricky. If you are set on visiting the Yucatan Peninsula, then our favorite quiet place is Punta Allen (we wrote a blog post about it and made a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnCBtlAa6To&t=292s). I do have to say that Punta Allen is a pain to get to, and snorkeling from the beach is nothing special. For us the best combo of quiet(ish) and nice ocean that’s also good for snorkeling is Cozumel (again we made several blog posts that you can find and several videos.) The town of Cozumel gets relatively quiet once the cruise ships leave at 5 pm. And there are some really great snorkeling spots that the party crowd don’t typically visit. If you aren’t set on the Yucatan Peninsula, then maybe look into Roatan, Honduras. We’ve never been there, but we were close to going and it seems like a more quiet place with very very good snorkeling and diving.
          Hope this helps.
          Enjoy retirement!

  22. THANK YOU for this post-we NEED more bloggers telling the REAL story of each place, instead of only the highlight reel! I still continue to receive backlash for my post “5 Reasons Why I’ll Never Go Back to Venice, Italy,” post-but I’m still so proud to have posted it. We’re heading to Holbox for Thanksgiving and, thanks to you, we have realistic expectations. Are you on Instagram?!

    1. hey Nicole – thanks for the comment! totally agree we need more transparency from bloggers. I honestly was expecting more backlash from this post (I also didn’t expect it to rank in Google), but thankfully most feedback has been positive. And you should be proud of writing an honest post about Venice!! You can find our IG through the blog, otherwise it’s @waysoftheworld_
      The point about mosquitos in Holbox was not an overstatement haha – so make sure to pack repellant (it’s very expensive on the island).

  23. Thank you for the post. I wish I saw this before I booked the trip to Hotbox for 5 days. Now I am a panicking a little because I don’t want to be haggled and have the worst experience there.

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hey Tiva, don’t panic. You can still have a nice time there – honestly, most people probably do. The reason we wrote this was to draw awareness surrounding some of the sustainability issues on the island. Just remember to bring mosquito repellant!

      1. we didn’t spend any time in Tulum, only drove through it. it is not really somewhere we would go out of our way to visit, so we can’t give any recommendations.

    2. We were there about 5 years ago and maybe things have changed but we’re going back this January.
      There is a lot of truth in this post but a lot of it is very transferable to other parts of Mexico and Central America.
      We were on Isla Mujares 30 years ago and wouldn’t dream of going back now.
      We stayed several days in Playa del Carmen when the Main Street was dirt and before anybody had ever heard the made up marketing term “Mayan Riviera”. Again, would not return with what’s happened to it now.
      Hopefully Holbox can get things under control before it’s too late but remember the immortal words of the Eagles “The Last Resort”; “call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye!”

      1. Hey Mark – thanks for your comment. Agree that a lot of the issues can be transferable to other parts in the region. The main concern for us was that Holbox is supposed to be part of a protected nature reserve. And the ecosystem there is very sensitive… so it would be nice to see some more urgency from the part of local agencies to take action. But if they aren’t going to do it, at least it’s worth it for travelers to be informed.

      2. Hi Mark,
        Like you, I was last in Holbox 5 years ago and loved it. We are considering going back in April so I would love to hear about your recent trip. Is it as bad as I hear? I sure hope not.
        Thanks so much for any info.

  24. My wife and I were think of visiting Holbox before our flight home but will rethink it now. Appreciate the truth as it doesn’t sound like a place we would enjoy.
    Same thing happened to Isla Mujeres. First went almost 30 years ago and then again a couple years ago. Over run with people and golf carts. What are peoples addiction to golf carts on holidays? No rustic charm left anywhere.

    Thanks again for the post

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hey Arturo – yea these golf carts in Holbox are loud gas-powered ones. So it’s not even the quiet battery powered carts that race around the island.
      I’ve heard the comparison of Holbox and Isla Mujeres a few times. We’ve never been to the later, but what I think is the difference is that Isla Mujeres embraced development. So even though it lost its rustic charm, at least it has the proper infrastructure to support the huge number of people that visit.
      Thanks for the comment!

    2. As someone who has visited both in the past and recent (October) I wouldn’t change your mind about Holbox because of this persons opinion. It is one of the most beautiful places we have visited (yes it may be overpopulated with tourists but travel abit off the beaten track and you will find incomparable beauty, far moreso then Isla mujeres now). Isla mujeres was once a hidden gem but sadly unless you want to squeeze down bursting streets whilst being harassed by vendors and deafening music it is no longer. We had no flooding in Holbox for the 3 weeks we stayed (is this blog of 3 DAYS really an accurate description?!) and some building work was ongoing at the port. But the beach stretch is just beyond comparable. I hope you went and saw for yourself my Instagram is #explorenina I’m in the process of uploading Holbox content

  25. Thanks so much for the write-up. We were considering coming here to visit but will reconsider. Have you made it to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala? This is where we are currently living and it is a similar story. Would love to meet you and host you in our guest house if you come here!

    1. Hi Christina – sorry for the later reply! I (Gordon) have been to Atitlan. I actually lived in Guatemala on two separate occasions. It’s one of my favorite countries! I know there are a lot of issues with runoff pollution into lake Atitlan. Very sad 🙁
      Guatemala isn’t in our short-term plans, but we will definitely end up there at some point. Would be great to meet you!

  26. Thank you for your honest responsible review. We know what’s it’s like to visit a garbage dump island… ever been to Boca del Toro? Ugh! I pray Holbox reserves itself! 🙏

    1. Hi Jodi – we have never been to Boca del Toro. I didn’t realize it was a dirty place… I also hope Holbox gets it’s act together! Thanks for your comment!

  27. Really appreciate your honest and transparent review. This is the constant battle of tourism and the fine line between helping locals by providing employment and damaging their environment and costing them more in the long term. Content sharing is playing a huge role in this as we all look to consume this content to find the best spots, it’s a tricky balance but I’ll gratefully be giving Holbox a miss and hopefully finding somewhere more quiet where my visit can have a better impact. Thanks for your review and your work. Denise

    1. Thank you for your honest review. It’s much appreciated. My husband and I were planning to stay for 4 days later in November/22 but I was starting to have second thoughts as I was reading more and more reviews by people who shared your concerns. We love travelling and exploring out of the way places but we also very conscious how our actions can contribute to the problem. Thanks to your post we’ve canceled our trip to Isla Holbox and have decided to try Isla Mujeres instead. We do not like over touristy places but hopefully we can stay away from the crowds and still find the lost quaintness of the place. Thank you again!

      1. thanks Marianna. glad you found the post helpful. I think Isla Mujeres can be a good option. it is more developed, but i think they also have the appropriate infrastructure to handle the crowds. we actually really enjoyed Cozumel and found that you can easily get away from the crowds on that island. Enjoy Mexico!

    2. I just came back from holbox and this post sums it up perfectly. Was the last stop in ly Mexico backpack trip and quite a bummer. Really don’t recommend going there anymore. There are so many places that are prettier, cleaner and cheaper in Mexico. Especially on the Pacific side.

    3. Was just there a couple of months ago. It was a nice trip, great people at our small resort. Beautiful beach & great service. But the review is exactly spot on. Mosquitoes, flooded streets, power outages, etc. Would not be likely to return. Which is unfortunate because it could be so much better.

  28. This is so dissapointing..!!! My husband and I have a three day trip there booked before we head to the Cancun area to do some exploring there. We are quite confused now and wonder if we should just not cancel…We’ve been to Cozumel, Isla, Tulum (also sadly also ruined), Akumal….Looking for new adventures on the water….any recommendations???
    Thank you,

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hi Maureen – thanks for the comment (and sorry for the late reply). We personally loved Punta Allen, but note that it is very quiet, and adventures are pretty limited as there is only one tour to take part in. You can find the video of our experience in the Punta Allen blog post. If you are divers you can look into Xcalak – we didn’t go there, but our dive instructors in Cozumel raved about it. You can dive with manatees and schools of tarpon… As for something a little more accessible, El Cuyo and Sisal are beach towns on the north shore to look into. We also really enjoyed Bacalar, and there’s a ton to do on the lagoon, but there is no snorkeling / diving because the lagoon is fresh water. But plenty of swimming, kayaking and sailing if you are up for it!

  29. Heidi Valenzuela

    I actually enjoyed holbox. While we did find it expensive we were able to find inexpensive meals. We traveled off season and were able to negotiate with taxi drivers. We also found the islands garbage under control. The beach was clean. We sound locals to be friendly and of great help. We loved our stay. I rarely travel back to places and we are headed back to holdbox.

  30. I happened upon your blog and this page while looking for places to visit while over the upcoming Spring Break. This is a very detailed blog and I am SOOOO thankful that you all did this. I was one of those people who say Holbox on Tripadvisor and was like, yeah, I’ll go there, but after reading this, I’m passing. I don’t like too much tourism and I just want a peaceful, clean, SAFE place to relax in.
    I appreciate what you’ve done here and look forward to getting to read about your travels and knowing you all “from afar!”

  31. Yes, yes, yes and yes 🙂
    I live in Holbox and I sell activites on the islands so I should ,aybe no be that enthousicastic about your post but, I totally agreee and think people should know about the issues of the island and make an informed decision.

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hi Valerie, thanks so much for the comment. It means a lot coming from someone that lives on the island! Hopefully this post helps people make more informed decisions 🙂 And I hope Holbox can build its infrastructure so it can support all the people that want to see what still could be a special place.

  32. Hi,

    I’m writing from my hotel bed in Holbox. I commend your realistic assessment of the current state of the island. I chanced upon your article while trying to Google “where does Holbox sewer water go?” I have a sinking feeling the answer is not pretty…

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Haha yea the answer is definitely not pretty. It’s really a shame that Holbox has reached this point. Hopefully they can get their act together. Thanks for commenting on the post – I hope it can reach more people concerned about the situation there. Nevertheless, enjoy Mexico!

    2. Thanks for this! Responsible tourism is so important. Friends who were in Holbox 10 yaets ago said it was an amazing place but as I started reading about Visiting the island now in 2022,I started feeling like something had change and your blogged put the puzzel pieces together fo rme. Definitely going to choose a different, more sustainable destination!

  33. Thanks for your review. Holbox seemed like an interesting place based on the YouTube videos I’ve seen. I knew it was more expensive place but I didn’t know it was super touristy place that I want to avoid. I’ve been to Cabo San Lucas and I didn’t like the price gouging/scamming that came at me every minute. Now i know Holbox would not be my type of vacation thanks to your review. I was in Valladolid in March this year. Now that’s my type of place to visit: Clean, reasonable and fair prices, small city, authentic. I watched your YouTube videos. I just need to read your blog.

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Hi Tanya – thanks for the comment! Price gouging & scamming is a total bummer and really impacts our mood when it happens. Holbox definitely had a lot of that going on. And thanks for the heads-up on Cabo! We haven’t been to that part of MX yet.

  34. Thanks for this piece, it was refreshingly honest! I was conflicted and confused as most travel pieces bigged up Holbox but the hotel reviews say something very different!

    I’m planning a 3 week itinerary for my milestone birthday trip in January and was not sure whether to include Holbox but this may have answered it… 🙂

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Thanks Tim! It’s important to us to be honest about our experiences because people like you are planning important trips based on the info being put out there. Have fun planning your trip! Let us know if you have questions about the Yucatan – we are always happy to help.

  35. Thank you for writing this! I felt like the only person who thought Isla Holbox was overrated. When we went in 2017 I found it to be super scammy, expensive, the beach wasn’t nice (mucky water and lots of seaweed on the beach), and I just didn’t get the appeal.

    1. Gordon Letschert

      Thanks Katie – I thought that 2017 was still Isla Holbox glory days! Guess not. Unfortunately the scammy vibes are still going strong in Holbox.

      1. Thank you for mentioning Refugio Animal Holbox! They do incredible work for stray and underserved animals on the island. I appreciate your viewpoints…we’ve visited Holbox 3 times over the last 6 years and the changes from our first visit to our last were pretty unbelievable. If I may ask, do you have any recommendations for eco-tourism done right?

      2. All true in this article, unfortunately. I knew it would be a bit of a tourist trap by now, but I thought it might at least be quieter due to “no cars”. HA! Boy was I wrong…

        I honestly have no idea why raving reviews about this place are still all over the place. Guess people just don’t have the guts to disagree with others, even though everyone is bound to see the problems here, would be impossible not to.

        Just missed the window for walking the dogs at sanctuary but will be back at 5pm, when they start again. At least one good thing done then!

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