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Isla Holbox is a sleepy little island just two hours north of Cancun in the Yucatan peninsula. It’s one of my favorite islands in Mexico and makes the perfect alternative to other popular destinations such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen, or Cancun.
You’ve probably never heard about it but you should. It’s a little slice of paradise. If you’re fortunate to find yourself in this beautiful destination, here’s what to pack for Isla Holbox!
What to Pack for Isla Holbox
In complete contrast to the development and large tourism numbers from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Isla Holbox has a unique charm. It’s like going back in time to what tourist destinations used to be before they got over popular and overpopulated.
It’s known for it’s white sand beaches, inexpensive seafood, and for the thrilling experience of snorkeling with whale sharks.
Between the months of June-August the Yucatan is home to an awe-inspiring migration of these gentle giants. Snorkeling trips are extremely popular and you can bet that I’ll be there when they are!
So what to pack for Isla Holbox? Let me tell you. It’s not what you might think!
Bring cash! There is only one ATM machine and sometimes it doesn’t work.
The first thing you should consider when planning what to pack for Isla Holbox is your suitcase. Avoid wheels if possible!
There aren’t any paved roads on the island so this means it can get muddy with even the slightest amount of rain. Unless you want to carry your wheeled suitcase I’d suggest a duffle bag or backpack to avoid muddy tracks.
Find out how to choose the best travel backpack!
You can also take a golf cart taxi ride from the ferry port to your hotel. It seems like you can get to most places for $1-$3. However, you might find that your hotel is just a five minute walk away and prefer to make your own way there.
It’s a small island and the short distances make it easy to explore on foot. The mud, however, can make it slightly challenging, which brings me to my next point: shoes.
TFG recommends the Osprey Farpoint 40L, find out why!
All you really need for this island are flip flops and perhaps some casual but nice sandals. It’s a casual and unpretentious town. However, because of the possibility for the roads to get muddy if it rains, you may want to consider an alternate pairs of shoes.
If you wouldn’t feel comfortable walking in a light layer of mud with your flip flops alone, then also bring along a pair with thread such as water shoes or outdoor sandals to keep you from slipping.
Find out how to choose the best travel shoes!
CASUAL CHIC CLIENTELE
While the island is casual it seems visitors adopt to two ways of dressing: hippie chic or refined casual.
One of the favorite outfits I saw on the island: a one piece romper in black silk-like or polyester fabric with Havaianas, light makeup, and neat hair style. The pairing was elegant all while being comfortable for the environment and appropriate for the oppressive heat.
If you visit in January or February, don’t be surprised if the sun hides behind the clouds paired with wind to make it cold. So cold that only a pair of fleece tights with two summer tops underneath a light hoodie could make me feel comfortable when I got caught in an unexpected winter storm.
It was a sickening surprise that the weather was in the sixties but the wind made it feel like the fifties (Fahrenheit). Do yourself a favor and check the weather. You may need a warm sweater and leggings or jeans depending on the time of year you visit. (Most likely January and February.)
Otherwise, a combination of the above items would work well year round.
If you’re planning to snorkel with the whale sharks or anywhere else and want to make the most of your experience, I always recommend to bring your own gear.
You don’t have to pack fins but at least buy your own quality mask and snorkel. It can really make the difference between having a great experience or never wanting to do it again.
The main things to consider is a snorkel (or scuba diving) mask that has tempered glass and a snorkel with a quality spit valve. You don’t want water flooding into your mouth and eyes the entire time. That’s not fun for anyon and it can really ruin your experience.
Test the mask before your trip to make sure it fits your face. The way you do this is by placing the mask on your face (unstrapped) on your face. Breathe in, look down, then look up and inspect the fit in a mirror. If it stays on and doesn’t fall off it’s a good fit.
I recommend Cressi, which has quality products and reasonable prices. That’s the brand I use for my scuba diving masks!
What are your tips on what to pack for Isla Holbox? Share in the comments!
For more Mexico packing tips, please read:
- What to Pack for Mexico- Cities to Beaches
- 10 Piece Packing List for Vacations in the Riviera Maya Mexico
- Beach Vacation Packing List for Mexico: Inspiration to Reality!
- What to Wear in Puerto Vallarta
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