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
- Rent a car and drive to Isla Holbox
- Take the ADO bus Holbox
- Take a Collectivo to Holbox
- Book one of the flights to Isla Holbox
Now with all of these options apart from flying, you will only get as far as a town called Chiquila and then you will need to take the ferry from Chiquila to 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.
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 is nonexistent (although my mobile WiFi works believe it or now). 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 money is no object then you can also fly to Isla Holbox airport on a private plane.
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.
Sadly though flights to Isla Holbox aren’t exactly budget-friendly as you would need to book a private plane. You will also be restricted to weight, the maximum weight is 350kg on most of the 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.
Flights to Isla Holbox Mexico depart from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, and Merida.
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 Holbox From Cancun
Wondering how to get from Cancun to Holbox?
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
To fly from Cancun to Holbox will take around 30 minutes and cost from $500 for a 5 seater private plane.
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.
I would only recommend renting a car in Cancun to drive to Holbox if it is part of a Yucatan road trip, otherwise, it would be cheaper and more practical to book a Holbox transfer.
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 via Chiquila. You can take a nice air-conditioned bus from downtown ADO station. The companies that operate the buses are Mayab and Orente. The cost is from $250 pesos (if you book in advance) and it will take just over 3 hours.
How to get to Holbox from Cancun Airport
Sadly it’s not so easy to get from Cancun airport to Holbox. You can’t just take a bus from Cancun airport directly to Holbox, you would need to first take a bus from the airport to the downtown ADO bus station, and then take a second bus to Chiquila.
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 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
Getting to Isla Holbox from Playa del Carmen you have lots of options.
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
- Book a Holbox Transfer
- Take the Playa del Carmen to Holbox Bus
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
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:
- Chofer Vans +52 984 197 0790
- Vans Holbox +52 984 208 1129
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!
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
Getting to Isla Holbox from Tulum is easy by car and a little bit more difficult every other way.
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).
- Leaving Tulum at 8 am, 2:30 PM
- Leaving Chiquila at 5 pm, 2:30 PM
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.
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 have 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. 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 on the hours, the other at half past the hour. So just check the schedule when you arrive and pick the company leaving next.
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 about the journey because they run so frequently. It’s the buses and colectivos that operate on a more reduced schedule!
Book your trip now
Are you ready to book your trip? To help you get the best deals and service here are the companies that I personally use to book all of my travel online. I always shop around before booking anything, but these are my tried and tested starting places.
- Skyscanner – I’m a bit fan of Skyscanner, it is who I use to book all of my flights. I often will check other like Google Flights or Momodo, but I always go here first and it is who I book 99% of my flights with.
- Booking.com – I LOVE booking.com especially when I can book and cancel free up until a certain point, mostly because my plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections.
- Airbnb – I’m not a huge user of Airbnb, but sometimes I do like to use it, and I ALWAYS check it before I book anything else. You can get some really cool places to stay here, and it is especially good in places like Cuba. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
- Hostelworld – If you are looking for hostels then this is a great place to check first. They often have additional places that you won’t find on Bookin.com.
- Agoda – Although I don’t use it as much as booking.com, Agonda is especially good if you are traveling in Asia as they really do dominate there.
- Worldpackers – If you want to travel on the cheap and save money on accommodation then you need Worldpackers in your life. You can read more about it here. If you click this link to sign up and use the code CLAIRESITCHYFEET then you can get a 40% discount on your membership!
- Book a Way – If you are traveling in Asia and want to pre-book your transportation then bookaway.com is a fantastic site to do so. They have buses, trains, and cars.
- RentalCars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals.
- Welcome Pickups – Very occasionally getting from the airport to my accommodation is a total pain in the butt, or I’m traveling in a group and it makes sense to arrange a pickup. When I do I use Welcome pickups.
- World Nomads – If you are looking for flexible travel insurance then it’s World Nomads all the way. I wrote all about insurance here if you want a more thorough review.
- SafetyWing – AsI’m a Digital Nomad and not moving around quite so much anymore I personally use SafetyWing now for my health insurance. I wrote a full review here.
- Viatour – Sometimes it can be a little expensive, but I like Viatour for somethings, especially if you can get a discount code! It’s also great for inspiration.
- Klook – If you are traveling in Asia, then Klook is great! You can book all kinds of tours, activities, and train tickets, plus they even have sim cards and WiFi.