If you are looking for a place that offers great flat water kitesurfing but with lots to do for kids and non-kiters and scenery that is equally enjoyable to truly chill out and enjoy on the no-wind days, then Holbox is a great destination.
Holbox (hol-bush) is a small gem of an island north of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, about a 2 hour drive from Cancun. With crystal blue warm water, pristine fine white sandy beaches and hammocks strategically placed everywhere, it is the ultimate laid-back island experience. In fact, I think the locals would like it to be kept that way. No high rises. No paved streets, no named streets for that matter, just golf carts, a few motor cycles and the odd truck . So, nothing happens fast, which is just the pace I was looking for.
I chose it for 2 reasons. Firstly, it is an island, which means that as long as there is wind from any direction, you can kitesurf. And according to my trusted trip planner for windy locations by month, Global Kitespots, my early December travel dates corresponded nicely with the east coast of Mexico being in their mid-wind season.
I also chose it for being a relatively unknown paradise.
It is stunning. The sea offers rich marine life (but nothing to fear by the shore like jelly fish or otherwise). The waters are so clear and flat that you can literally see everything and there is a beautiful sandbank just slightly off-shore that you can walk for miles. Kids can play safely in the water as there are no waves or current and it remains shallow quite far out. The temperatures are in the high 20’s, but offset by a beautiful ocean breeze. Perfect, if you ask me.
It is very safe and the people are incredibly friendly. Even my minimum knowledge of Spanish was not a problem.
You can walk virtually everywhere you need to get to, but there are plenty of bike or even golf cart rentals if you want to go further, faster.
I did this trip on my own, but find it is one of the best places to consider when travelling with young kids or non-kiters.
Here Are a Few of My Favourite Things
I came here to kite and I loved every minute of it. The winter months typically provide a nice cross wind (‘el norte’) to the main beach slightly upwind of the hotels, but the south easterlies also bring a warm steady breeze. For experienced kiters, about $12.50 USD secures you a spot in the boat with one of the local kite schools, which will take you to the windy side of the island for about 4-5 hours of flat water, big air riding. The warm shallow water leaves you no need for a wetsuit** and the nearly perfect conditions let you ride for hours. This is a great place to learn with friendly and knowledgeable instructors. Contact Holbox Kiteboarding for more info on lessons and where kiting is permitted.
I booked most of this trip on Alaska Airline points and had 1 stop over between Vancouver, BC and Cancun. When travelling with kids, I personally like stop-overs as they break up the trip. Between the 4 terminals at the Dallas Fort Worth airport there was plenty to do, infact just travelling between the terminals on the the Skylink train is an activity within itself. Once in Cancun, I would highly recommend a private shuttle to Chiquila, (where you catch the ferry to Holbox). Although more expensive, they are much faster and more comfortable than the bus and can be arranged by your hotel in advance. Safe and easy, it’s worth the expense. You can also arrive by plane from Cancun.
I stayed at Villa Los Mangles and loved it. It was an immaculately kept boutique apartment removed from the village. Very quiet and relaxing. The owner, a local kitesurfer, was extremely helpful and quick to return email message before I came and was very accommodating when I arrived.
Other beachfront accommodations recommended for families that include a Pool: Casa Las Tortugas, Casa Iguana, Hotel Casa Barbara and Hotel Holbox Dream. In addition Casa Tom Tom has a small studio beachhouse for rent and Cielito Lindo Hotel is one block back from the beach. Airbnb are also available. Average price range (depending on the season): $60-$200/nightUSD.
Things to Do:
- Bike rentals
- Paddle board
- 3 Island Tour (Isla Pajaros,Isla Pasion, Yalahau)
- Fishing Tour
- Whale Shark Tour (summer)
- Horseback Riding
You can eat good food for about $5-10/meal, plus whatever drinks you choose to consume. Everything from local cuisine, to French, Italian and even Sushi. My personal favourites:
Breakfast: El Cafecito. Endearing little café with great banana Nutella crepes and cute patio.
Lunch: Angeles Y Diablitos has the best smoothies and (turkey) sandwiches in town handsdown! Situated on a busy street right across from the main square, you can take in all the action.
Snack: Hotel Las Nubes has a small shack on the beach with amazing fresh pico de gallo and hand made chip. So worth the walk to the end of the beach. Full array of drinks offered as well.
Dinner: Los Peleones had the best fish I have ever eaten with a side of stuffed zucchini.
Easy to do work from here as wifi is quite quick and dependable is included in most hotels.
Several cute little cafes like Tierra Mia create delicious lattes and iced beverages. A few shops even offer ‘kids’ areas with books and toys to occupy the young ones. Sit down, sip up and relax at Le Jardin
Small shops with local products like Azul Casi Cielo, who makes their own local jewelry or Hecho Con Amor with creative clothes and accessories (as well as many more) give you plenty to do when the sun goes down.
Things You May Not Know That You Should Know Before Coming
Do not plan your trip based on the weather chanel’s forecast. Having eagerly looked at the forecast in the weeks and days before I left home, it was predicted to rain daily. The reality was that in the week I spent here, it only rained twice for less than an hour each time. Not to say that it won’t rain, but don’t get too hung up on it. It may just pass over Holbox.
Bring a flashlight. It makes it easy to walk at night, particularly if your hotel is slightly out of the village as there are few lights on the road.
Exchange your money before you get to the Island. There is a bank machine and money exchange locations but be prepared to spend an additional 10% or more commission on changing money here.
Other places to consider kitesurfing in the area are Isla Blanco, El Cuyo and Tulum. More information on these sites can be found at Kitesurfvacation.com. It is one of the best all-round sources of information for a kiteboarding trip to Mexico.
*I have since learned that it was featured in the New York Time 52 Places to Go in 2016.
**Temperatures do vary and a wetsuit may be needed in January and February.
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