Ok, I’m not going to lie, re-entry after 5 days on Isla Holbox, has been very, very challenging for me. I wake up remembering that oh yeah, I actually do have to wear shoes, and, no I can’t just walk everywhere barefoot. I’m bummed that I can’t just order a delicious Casa Sandra cocktail (cucumber, lime, mint, and gin) any time of day I desire one. I find that I’m cranky because I actually have things I have to get done, pesky things called deadlines. I can’t just go jump in warm Caribbean water when I feel like it. Can you feel my pain? I think this crankiness must come over most people who venture out to this tiny island off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula; only to have to return to reality.
Do you remember that song by Madonna, La Isla Bonita? Holbox must be the island she was singing about. The roads on the island, if you could call them that, are really lanes of sand where the only traffic is golf carts, some ATVs, a few mopeds, and cruiser bikes. The color of the sky and water are so unbelievably blue and turquoise that it’s hard to believe your eyes are seeing things correctly. I’ve never met so many incredibly kind people in a week, employees, locals, and other intrepid travelers, all seemed infused with a happiness that came from just spending time in such a beautiful place. Holbox definitely embraces a zen mindset and pace. Not at all in a pretentious, obnoxious way but in what seems to be the true spirit of that kind of philosophy. Todd and I had the best yoga class of our lives given by the warmest, kindest, funniest person I’ve met in a long time, Luchi Lux. Luchi came highly recommended by Juls at Le Petis Pas de Juls travel blog. Juls has become a friend and she lives on Holbox. Everywhere we went, we were treated so kindly, warmly, and genuinely. Luis at the restaurant at Casa de las Tortugas was so kind, William our jack-of-all-things at our hotel Casa Sandra anticipated our every desire, Luchi made yoga, for two non-yogis, fun and energizing.
Serendipitously we wound up at one of the best beach boutique hotels I’ve ever stayed in, Casa Sandra. Initially I had hoped to stay at Casa de Las Tortugas, but had no such luck with availabitliy. We booked the Casa Sandra hoping that it would meet up to the expectations we had had for the Tortugas hotel. We were so happy at our little bungalow and hotel. Beautifully done in linen, grey, and sand tones, the staff was incredible and everyone knew our names. The location is amazing. Casa Sandra is so small that even when they were at capacity there were so few people that we had the beach bartender virtually to ourselves. Our routine became: Casa Sandra cocktails, lobster tacos, and guacamole for lunch under our palapa. In the afternoon, pretty much all of 3 hours later, we would go the 100 yards from the beach back to the hotel and have dessert and coffee poolside. On the beach we had our choice of relaxing on a day bed under a palapa, hammocks under a palapa, lounge chairs under a palapa, or bean bags … you guessed it under a palapa. I was almost stressed out making sure I took the opportunity to try all of these various methods of relaxation 🙂 Relaxing is pretty much the most popular sport on Holbox. There are hammocks everywhere; quite a few can be found hanging out in the water off the beach.
The water on Holbox is spectacular. You can wade out quite far and never have water higher than your shoulders (I’m 5’10” for reference.) The water starts out ankle high and then drops to shoulder / head high, and then returns to ankle deep out on a sandbar. It’s an amazing thing to look out on the horizon and see groups of people all walking parallel to the beach but 100 yards out in the water. Many people walk the length of this sandbar all the way to Punta Mosquito where the wildlife refuge and flamingos are. This is about a mile or two from Casa Sandra to the refuge.
You can also walk out to the refuge via the beach but we were told you might have to “swim” a bit going this way. We had to choose this beach route because I didn’t bring water shoes. There are a lot of rays and horseshoe crabs in the sand and I didn’t want to get a nice, big stinger in my foot. The fact that we had to “swim a bit” didn’t seem too daunting until we got to the second river crossing. The first river crossing was maybe 20 feet across and shin deep. The second river crossing definitely caught our attention. It was a significant, actual river which seemed much deeper and, with a stronger current, than the open ocean. Todd and I stood there for a while trying to decide if we should take on the challenge. A Scottish woman eventually showed up and she also seemed quite surprised and daunted by the size of this second river. My concern about the current of the river was primarily due to the fact that I had heard that there are crocs in the mangroves. The ocean flows into the river, which then flows into the mangroves. I imagined myself being swept by the river current into the mangroves and decided I was out. (I’m sure it’s fine to actually swim across this but I would want some more information on the whole process before venturing across the rio.) The next day Todd and I kayaked out to Punta Mosquito. It really is a cool place to get to, no matter how you arrive … by sand bar walking, beach walking with river crossings, kayaking, or paddle boarding.
Because the water is so shallow it is very warm and you can swim in it all day. Holbox might also be one of the best places ever to paddle board. Because the water is so shallow so far out, there is almost no surf … especially early in the morning. Some mornings the water was like glass. We did have significant wind pick up every day typically starting around 11 and ending around 3PM. I’m not sure if this is a year round occurrence or just a random weather pattern. Either way, if you get out early in the morning you’re likely to have extremely calm waters and much cooler temps for any physical activity.
One thing we didn’t get to do, because we were there at the wrong time of year, is see the whale sharks that apparently take up residence from June to November off the coast. It would be amazing to these gentle giants in such a beautiful location.
Just writing this blog makes me drift off to Holbox in my mind. It truly was four days of beach bliss on a relatively undiscovered gem of an island. So if you really like hammocks, turquoise water, beautiful sunsets, long sandbars, and you’re interested in trying something new in Mexico I highly recommend you get your Life Bus to Holbox. Here’s to cold cervezas and new adventures in Mexico!!
Adios y que te vaya bien!!