Planning a trip to Holbox and not sure how to get there? In this post, I’m going to go through in detail exactly how to get to Isla Holbox Mexico from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Valladolid, and Merida. You have several different options for getting to Holbox and they are:
- Use a Holbox Transfer service option 1, option 2
- Rent a car and drive to Isla Holbox
- Take the ADO bus Holbox
- Take a Colectivo to Holbox
- Book a private flight to Isla Holbox
- Or book a private driver to take you to Isla Holbox
As I want to be as detailed as I can in this post to help you get to Isla Holbox safely and with as little stress as possible I have broken this post up into sections depending on your starting (or ending) point. So simply click on the link of your starting destination below to skip forward to the information relevant for you.
Quick Tip: I highly recommend booking all of your Mexico transportation with GuateGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and Flights on their website. What I love most about them is their customer service. I know these guys personally from my time living in Guatemala and they look after their customers.
If anything happens and you get delayed and miss your bus, you can just call them and they are always there to help. If you book through them you will pay a little more than if you book in person at the bus station. But it’s worth it for the ease and security. Click here to search for transportation in Mexico.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!
The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo, Passport Nomads, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master
Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover.
Passport Nomads provides the most comprehensive cover for Digital Nomads. If you find yourself in need of medical care you just contact them and they will pre-load your card with the funds to cover your treatment, meaning you won’t need to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim later.
Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for short trips.
Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about all 4 companies.
Where is Isla Holbox?
Isla Holbox is a small Caribbean Island in the state of Quintana Roo Mexico, 60 KM north of Cancun. The island itself is 26 miles long, although most of that is not developed. In fact, that’s the wonder of visiting Isla Holbox, it’s probably the most underdeveloped place in the Yucatan Peninsular.
This is both a blessing and a curse. I personally love visiting Holbox from Playa del Carmen when I want to go ‘off the grid’ for a few days. I have no choice, the wifi and phone signal are nonexistent (although my mobile WiFi works believe it or not). There are also no ‘proper’ roads there. This can be a lot of fun as you have to ride in a golf cart or rent a bike to get anywhere. But if/ when it rains, not so much fun! For that reason, I’d strongly recommend not traveling here with a suitcase when deciding what to pack for Mexico, haha.
Holbox really isn’t difficult to get to for all of the main towns and cities in the area. If you come by road you can drive, book a transfer, take a collectivo, or use the ADO bus and then hop on the ferry from Chiquila to Holbox. Or if you have the budget then you can also fly to Isla Holbox airport on a private plane.
QUICK TIP: Book your tours, rental cars, and transfers through my local contact
I’ve been working with Turismo Channel in Playa del Carmen for years and they are who I send all my family and friends to when they visit the Riviera Maya. I really can recommend them enough for tours, private airport transfers, and rental cars. Vanessa and Oliver are personal friends of mine and I have 100% faith that you will have a wonderful time with them.
You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes when booking online to save $$$ clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours).
You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Holbox?
Finding a great place to stay in Holbox can be tricky but I’ve listed below some of my favorite places to stay in Holbox to help you narrow down your search. Click the links to check each place out, or check out this post I wrote reviewing all my favorite places to stay in Holbox.
Isla Holbox Map
Flights to Isla Holbox
Did you know that there are now flights to Holbox? Yes, that’s right you can take a flight directly to Holbox airport and save yourself the road and sea journey.
These flights are in fact charter flights though so if you are on a backpacker budget this isn’t going to be the option for you! You will also be restricted to weight, the maximum weight is 350kg on most of private planes and that has to include passengers and luggage. So, you might be forced to leave those extra shoes at home if you choose this option.
Isla Holbox airport is right in the center of town and it’s small. But if you have a small group and not a lot of luggage it could be a nice option. You don’t pay per person, you actually pay per plane. If you are a group of 5 prices start at around $500 for a 5-person plane on the Cancun to Holbox route.
The flight times to Isla Holbox are as follows:
- Cancun to Holbox flights take 25 minutes from $500 per plane
- Isla Mujeres to Holbox flights take 30 minutes from $500 per plane
- Playa del Carmen to Holbox flights take 40 minutes from $550 per plane
- Cozumel to Holbox flights take 45 minutes from $600 per plane
- Merida to Holbox flights take 1 hour and 25 minutes from $1300 per plane
How to get to Isla Holbox Mexico From Cancun
You have 4 main options:
- Fly from Cancun to Holbox
- Rent a car and drive from Cancun to Holbox
- Take the Cancun to Holbox bus
- Book a Cancun to Holbox transfer
As I’ve already mentioned you can only travel from Cancun to Chiquilla by road and from there you will need to take a Holbox ferry or private boat over to the island.
Fly from Cancun to Holbox
Rent a car and drive from Cancun to Holbox
If you don’t want to take the bus or book a transfer then another option is to rent a car in Cancun and drive Cancun to Chiquila. From Chiquila you will need to park your car and take a ferry from Chiquila to Holbox. Car parking is around $6 USD a day.
Driving Directions from Cancun to Holbox (via Chiquila)
From Cancun, you need to take the highway and follow the signs towards Merida. You will just stay on this road (for what feels like forever) until you reach Valladolid nuevo, here you need to turn right following the sign that says Holbox. You are now on the Chiquila road and you head straight until you reach Chiquila. The whole journey should take you 3 hours max unless you take the toll road which will cut your drive time by 30-40 minutes.
There is a car ferry but there are no cars on Holbox, everyone drives golf buggies, so I would strongly recommend not trying to take a rental car over to the Island.
Take the Cancun to Holbox bus
The most popular option, especially if you are on a bit of a budget is to take the bus from Cancun to Holbox with GuateGo. You can take a nice air-conditioned bus from downtown ADO station. The overall journey takes about 3 hours.
How to get to Isla Holbox Mexico from Cancun Airport
Doing this was not so easy because you couldn’t just take a bus from Cancun airport directly to Holbox, you needed to first take a bus from the airport to the downtown ADO bus station, and then take a second bus to Chiquila. But now GuateGo has partnered with bus companies in Cancun that can take you from Cancun airport directly to the Ferry at Holbox, click here to find the schedules and prices.
Unfortunately, most people flying into Cancun arrive too late to make any of the connections making booking a Cancun to Holbox transfer the best option, unless you want to find somewhere to stay in Cancun for the night and then travel to Holbox the next morning.
Book a Cancun to Holbox transfer
For most people, especially if you are flying into Cancun airport and you want to go directly from Cancun to Isla Holbox this is going to be the best option for you. Taking a transfer to Holbox basically means there will be someone there waiting for you at the airport and then will take you in a private minivan to Chiquila and then put you on the ferry. Some companies will include the cost of the ferry and even have a Holbox Golf Cart Taxi waiting for you to take you to your hotel. Just make sure you ask what’s included in the price before booking.
If you are wondering how to get to Holbox from Cancun and you are a solo traveler then this option might not work for you, in which case I’d recommend spending the night in Cancun and then heading to Holbox first thing the next morning on the Cancun to Holbox bus.
How to get from Holbox to Cancun
The first time I went to Holbox I wasn’t so worried about getting back, which was a bit silly as it’s actually harder to get back than it is to get there in some ways.
If you are driving from Holbox to Cancun it’s easy, just take any ferry, pick up your car, and off you go. Flying from Holbox to Cancun is easy, just book a flight.
The only issue really comes if you want to take a bus as they aren’t very many of them and they can get booked up. Plus you will need to time the ferry correctly otherwise you will be waiting in Chiquila for a long time. My advice would be to book a transfer from one of the travel agents on the island or with GuateGo who have the option to go from Holbox to Cancun or from Holbox to Cancun Airport. Or if you want to take the bus go the day before to the ferry terminal and book your full journey there at the ADO counter. That way you will know you have a seat. Don’t do what I normally do and just take the ferry and then wander around begging colectivo drivers to give me a lift back, which does actually work but is far too much stress for so early in the morning!
How to get to Holbox Island From Playa del Carmen
Here are the main ones:
- Fly from Playa del Carmen to Holbox
- Rent a car and drive to Holbox (via Chiquila)
- Take the Holbox Shuttle – Good option for solo travelers
- Book a Holbox Private Transfer with my friend Vanessa (click here to send her a WhatsApp) – not a good option for solo travelers
- Take the Playa del Carmen to Holbox Bus –
- Good option for solo travelers
Again, all options apart from flying require you to take a ferry from Chiquila to Holbox.
Rent a car and drive from Playa del Carmen to Holbox
Thanks to the new toll road it now can take you under 2 hours to get to Chiquila from Playa del Carmen now. Of course, you will have to pay the fee. The first toll is 18 pesos and the second is 79 pesos. Just get on to the highway and drive.
Getting from Playa del Carmen to Isla Holbox by road is pretty similar just get on the 305D from Calle 38 north and go straight heading towards Merida and Holbox. Eventually, you will see a turn-signed Holbox. Take that and go straight until you get to Chiquila.
Playa del Carmen to Chiquila Colectivo
In my opinion, the easiest way to travel from Playa del Carmen to Holbox especially if you are a solo traveler (or just on a budget) is by using one of the Playa del Carmen to Chiquila shuttles (or colectivos).
It’s best to check the day before but the normal schedule is:
You take the colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Chiquila from Calle 2 with Avenida 20 and it is also possible to reserve in advance (recommended as space is limited) by sending a message via WhatsApp (in Spanish, just use google translate) +52 984 129 3829
To get back from Holbox to Playa del Carmen the times are:
And again, it’s best to reserve at least one day before. The price one way is 250 pesos.
Book a Holbox Transfer
A similar option is to book a transfer to Chiquila from Playa del Carmen. This is pretty much the same thing as a colectivo, but you must reserve and pay for it at least 24 hours before and the vans are slightly nicer, oh and they speak English. The only real difference is that this service will cost you 350 pesos per person.
You can book through two different companies:
These are shared transfers, if you prefer a private Holbox transfer from Playa del Carmen then complete the form below to get a quote from my trusted Playa del Carmen Partner Turismo Channel. Someone will get back to you within 24 hours.
Take the bus from Playa del Carmen to Holbox
So, the bus actually goes from Playa del Carmen to Chiquila, and from there you can take the ferry. I’ve always found it easy to get from Playa del Carmen to Isla Holbox by bus, but more difficult to get back to Playa from Holbox by bus, the times just never work out! Check out the schedules of the buses with GuateGo by clicking here.
The public bus from Playa del Carmen to Chiquila takes around 3 hours and costs from 250 pesos (it’s normally a lot more unless you book in advance) and there is only 1 per day at 9:45 for most of the week. Thursday to Sunday there is an extra service put on by Myab that departs at 9:10 am. Both buses depart from the ADO station.
How to get to Holbox Mexico From Tulum
Here are the ways you can get from Tulum to Isla Holbox.
- Fly from Tulum to Holbox (see above)
- Rent a car and drive to Chiquila
- Book a Tulum Holbox transfer
- Take a direct bus from Tulum to Chiquila (Thursday to Sunday only)
- Take the bus to Playa del Carmen and then change and get a second bus to Chiquila
- Take a colectivo to Playa del Carmen and then take a second colectivo from Playa to Chiquila
Drive from Tulum to Chiquila
Simply take the highway as if you are going to Coba Ruins. Then lookout for a sign saying Holbox (Route 109). When you get there take the turning that says Holbox. Keep going until you get to Chiquila. It’s pretty hard to go wrong!
Take The Bus from Tulum to Holbox
Getting the bus is much more difficult unless you are traveling from Thursday to Sunday. On these days the bus leaves the ADO station at the following times (please note it is not operated by ADO I think it’s MYAB, but you buy the tickets from ADO). Check out the options with GuateGo and buy your ticket in advance.
On any other day you will need to take a bus to Playa del Carmen from Tulum. But because the only bus leaves Playa at around 9 am you will need to leave Tulum pretty early. But if you want to do it then Book your bus at the ADO station in Tulum at least 1 day before if you can book it a few days before you will get a better price.
Take a colectivo from Tulum to Holbox
A better option to get from Tulum to Isla Holbox on a Monday -Wednesday is by Colectivo. It’s still not an easy journey, but you have more options, as there are far more colectivos leaving Playa. Just take a colectivo to Playa and then change there and take the Playa Chiquila colectivo from Calle 2 with Avenida 20.
Getting to Holbox From Valladolid
Wondering how to get to Isla Holbox from Valladolid? It’s pretty easy. Head to the ADO bus station and get the next bus to Chiquila. The bus between Chiquila and Valladolid is pretty regular and there are several different companies running them.
Another option is to rent a car and drive. In that case, just get on to the highway and take the road to Holbox, it’s pretty much a straight road to Chiquila. From there you can take the ferry. The bus ride is just over 2 hours, traffic dependent.
Another option would be to book a transfer or private driver to take you from Valladolid to Holbox. They will get you as far as Chiquila and from there you will need to take a boat to the island. The drive will take around 2 hours. Click here to see the times and prices with GuateGo.
How to get to Holbox Mexico from Merida
Getting to Holbox from Merida is probably the longest route out of all of them. I did this journey in reverse. I traveled from Holbox to Merida and it was pretty long. Oh, and the bus was full so I had to wait a long time in Chiquila. So book in advance, especially during high season.
Here are the recommended ways to travel from Merida to Holbox:
- Fly from Merida to Holbox
- Take the Bus from Merida to Isla Holbox (and ferry)
- Rent a car and drive to Holbox from Merida
- Book a private transfer from Merida to Holbox
If you are thinking of flying then check out the section on flying above. It actually takes 1.5 hours to fly this route and costs over $1000 USD. I also wouldn’t recommend driving unless you are planning on going somewhere else after. Gas isn’t cheap in Mexico and you will need to pay for parking. Personally, I would book a bus at least 24 hours before. Unless I was in a group, in that case, I’d contact a tour agency about a private shuttle from Merida to Chiquila.
How to drive from Merida to Holbox
To drive from Merida to Chiquila it will take you at least 4 hours. Exit Merida and head to Valladolid. From there follow the signs to Holbox. Once you reach Chiquila park the car and take the ferry. It’s an easy but boring drive!
Taking the bus from Merida to Isla Holbox
This is the way I would recommend personally. Just be sure to book at least 24 hours in advance. There are direct buses (that all stop in Valladolid). But if you can’t get one of them, don’t worry you can take a bus or colectivo first to Valladolid and then a second to Chiquila. The journey normally takes 5 or 6 hours, longer if you have to change buses. The cost is normally around 500 pesos.
Taking the Holbox Ferry From Chiquila
So no matter how to get to Chiquila, once you arrive you are going to have to take some kind of boat or the ferry to Holbox. If you are on your own, take the ferry to Holbox. If you are in a group and can speak some Spanish it’s worth having a chat with the guys with the boats and see if they can cut you a deal. The last time I went I was with 3 friends and one of the men took us for the same price we would have paid on the ferry. Without the waiting around. It was also a lot faster and more fun!
For everyone else, the Chiquila Holbox ferry is very easy to navigate. There are two companies that operate the route, they charge the same price (150 pesos each way), they just leave at different times. One company leaves at the hour, the other at half past the hour. So just check the schedule when you arrive and pick up the company leaving next.
If you are a planner type of traveler, you can book the ferry in advance with GuateGo.
The journey itself only takes 15 minutes and it’s normally an easy passage. The ferries start to run at 5 am and the last ferry leaves at 8:30 pm. People seem to stress a lot about the ferries but actually, it’s the easiest part of the journey because they run so frequently. It’s the buses and colectivos that operate on a more reduced schedule!