how to get to holbox island

How to get to Holbox Island

How to get to Holbox Island ? In short, there are 2 main methods of transportation to Holbox Island: plane and road. Located off the north coast of the Yucatan, Holbox Island is one of the lesser-known treasures of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.  

As the crow flies, Holbox is 60.9 km north-west of Cancun. This peaceful island does have a small air strip. However, if you are travelling by road, the only means of getting to Holbox Island is by ferry from the mainland.

To catch the ferry to Holbox, you need to head to a small fishing village called Chiquila. This is the only location operating a ferry service to Holbox and is a 2-3 hour drive from Cancun.

How to Get to Holbox Island By Plane

The most expensive option is to take a private flight to Holbox island. There are no commercial or scheduled flights to Holbox. The runway on Holbox island has no lights, so flights only operate during the day. There are also luggage restrictions owing to the small size of planes (often Cessnas) flying into Holbox.Several companies offer flights to Holbox from Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Merida. Approximate flight durations to Holbox island are:
• Cancun – 25 minutes
• Playa del Carmen – 40 minutes
• Cozumel – 45 minutes
• Merida – 1 hour 25 minutes
Prices for a one-way flight from Cancun to Holbox island start at about $500 USD for a 5-seater plane. You rent the plane rather than pay per person. There are no fixed schedules, so you can choose when to fly.
As an example, Aerosaab’s flight costs per 5-seater plane are as follows:

From:Cost:Airport Taxes:
Cancun or Playa del Carmen$700 USD$10 USD (Cancun)
$3 USD (Playa del Carmen)
Cozumel$803 USD$15 USD

How to Get to Isla Holbox By Road

To reach Holbox island by road, you need to head to the small fishing port of Chiquila in the north of the Yucatan peninsula. From here, you are obliged to take the ferry to Holbox.
If you decide to travel by road there are 3 options: public transport, self-drive or private shuttle.


The fishing port of Chiquila is found in the northern end of the state of Quintana Roo.  You will arrive here by bus or by car. If you have a car, you need to park it in Chiquila as no cars are allowed on Holbox Island.  In Chiquila, you will find a gas station, grocery store and a restaurant. The main reason to go to Chiquila is to catch the ferry to Holbox Island.  However , if you arrive between June and August, you can take a whale shark tour.

How Much is the Car Park in Chiquila ?

The cost of parking your car in a secure car park in Chiquila is approximately US$6 per day. In Chiquila, you will find plenty of car parks, just follow the signs of the locals along the road to the harbour.

How to Get to Holbox Island By Bus

The Yucatan peninsula has a very efficient public transport network of different classes of buses. Taking the bus to Chiquila is an economical means of transport but it does take a bit more time. Not only is it the cheapest way to travel, it is a unique experience. The hassle is taken out of driving and you can meet some interesting people along the way. Different bus companies operate services to Chiquila from many of the Yucatan peninsula’s main tourist towns. ADO is the premium bus service with allocated seats, air-conditioning, Wi-fi and Spanish TV. Mayab, Oriente and Noreste are cheaper second-class services. However, these are still comfortable and efficient. Second-class buses tend to stop more often but can be at least 10% cheaper and less crowded.

ADO buses
ADO buses

Unless you are a Mexican citizen, bus tickets cannot be bought online and need to be purchased at bus terminals. However, ADO bus schedules can be accessed online at ADO Website and you can download the ADO app. Timetables for the second-class bus companies are not easily accessible. Kiosk attendants at the bus terminals can advise you of all the bus travel options for the day.

How to Get to Holbox From Cancun (3.5 hours)

First, you need to take the ADO bus from the airport terminal to the downtown central bus station in Cancun (on the corner of Avenidas Tulum and Uxmal). Theses buses depart every 30 minutes from 08:15 to 23:45. The cost of a ticket is $78 Pesos (approximately £3) and the journey will last about 20 minutes.Flights to Cancun often arrive too late to make the early bus connections to Chiquila, so you may need to consider staying at a hotel close to the bus station in downtown Cancun.If you have arrived early enough, you can then catch the 08:30 ADO bus to Chiquila. The next bus is at 10:30. Tickets to Chiquila currently cost $244 pesos (approximately £10).

Time:From / ToPrice:
6:45Merida to Chiquila$418 Mxn

Other classes of buses will also depart from this terminal. Local ticket attendants are best placed to give you up-to-date information about the day’s second-class bus departures to Chiquila. From our research, these could include an 07:30 MAYAB line bus, 12:30 MAYAB line and 13:45 NORESTE bus.

How to Get to Holbox From Playa del Carmen (up to 3 hours)

There are two bus stations in Playa del Carmen: ADO Terminal Turistica (Calle Quinta Avenida) and Playa del Carmen Alterna (Centro). Both offer ADO services to Chiquila for $260 Pesos (approximately £11). Departures from Playa del Carmen Turistica are at 08:30, 09:25 and 10:00. Alternatively, departures from Playa del Carmen Alterna are at 08:40 and 10:10.

Time:From / ToPrice:
6:45Merida to Chiquila$418 Mxn

How to Get to Holbox From Tulum (3.5 hours)

Further along the Riviera Maya, you can also take the 08:10 ADO bus from Tulum to Chiquila. Useful if you have been visiting the Mayan ruins. From here, the ticket will cost $334 Pesos (approximately £14).

Time:From / ToPrice:
6:45Merida to Chiquila$418 Mxn

How to Get to Holbox From Valladolid (2.5 hours)

Valladolid is a town which is inland from the Mayan Riveria and about 40 minutes from Chichen Itza. If you have been travelling in this area, there is a bus which departs at 09:55 from Valladolid for Chiquila which costs $182 Pesos (approximately £8).

Time:From / ToPrice:
6:45Merida to Chiquila$418 Mxn

How to Get to Holbox From Merida (up to 5.5 hours)

Merida is the capital of the Yucatan. From here, you can also take an ADO bus to Chiquila at 06:45 or 07:15. The journey from Merida to Chiquila costs around $394 Pesos (approximately £16).

Time:From / ToPrice:
6:45Merida to Chiquila$418 Mxn

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Please note that these bus times and prices are given as guidance only. They were correct at the time of writing this article. Check the ADO website for up-to-date information on times and prices for the days you want to travel at: ADO Website

‘Off the Tourist Treadmill’ Top Tip: When you arrive at Chiquila, check out the bus departures noticeboard at the small ADO desk. Take a photo for your return bus information. You can buy return/onwards tickets when you arrive at Chiquila or on the day of departure.  If you want to buy food for the bus, it is best to purchase snacks from the many small street vendors before departure.  If you’re not an expert on the different types of Mexican food, our useful to guide Mexican street food will be very helpful.

To make your bus journey more pleasant, we advise you to carry a refillable water bottle.  We found this Cool Water Bottle on Amazon and we were surprised at how sturdy it was and it never leaked during our travels.

buses timetable
buses timetable

How to get to Holbox By Car

If you have a rental car and decide to drive, please check the route before you travel as some roads are toll roads. Also, make sure you put enough petrol in your tank and only drive in daylight.
Remember that Holbox island is a no-car zone. You will need to leave your car at the small fishing port of Chiquila in a secure parking lot and pay a daily parking rate.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, many companies offer private shuttle transfers to Chiquila.


How to Drive from Cancun to Holbox (approximately 2 hours)

There are two Highway 180 routes. The autopista (toll road or cuota) and the libre (free road). The latter will take you through many traditional pueblos (villages) and small towns.
Drive west from Cancun. Either look out for the town of El Ideal on the free road or the Holbox exit on the toll road. Then turn north to Chiquila on Highway 5.

How to Drive from Merida (approximately 3.5 hours)/Valladolid (approximately 2 hours) to Holbox

Drive east on Highway 180 past Valladolid until you reach the Holbox exit (on the toll road) or El Ideal (on the free road). Follow the signs north for Chiquila on Highway 5.

valladolia chiquila map
valladolia chiquila map

Ferry Holbox

holbox ferry
holbox ferry

Once you reach Chiquila, there are two ferry providers which operate a regular service between the small fishing village of Chiquila and Holbox: the ‘Holbox Express’ and ‘9 Hermanos’.  There is no difference between the two companies which run the Chiquila-Holbox route.  The Holbox ferry timetable starts at 6am and the last service to Holbox is 9pm. On the way back, the ferry starts at 5am and the last one is at 8pm.

How to Take the Ferry Holbox from Chiquila

On arrival at Chiquila, make your way to one of the ticket kiosks near the sea and they will advise you to purchase a ticket for whichever catamaran is departing first.  Every half an hour, one of the ferries departs from the small quay. 

Along, the jetty is a small waiting area with seats for the ferry Chiquila-Holbox.  Some seats are in the open and some are covered which is handy if the weather is hot and you want some shade or if it rains!  Once the catamaran arrives, they will announce the departure and you will be shown where to leave your larger luggage items.  These will be loaded onto the ferry for you by the crew and you will then be directed to embark the ferry.  You can choose to either sit in the open air seats on top of the ferry or those below deck.  There are toilets on board for your comfort.  We were entertained by some local musicians on our crossing.  The ferry journey lasts about 20-30 minutes and the crossing costs about 100 pesos (about £4) per person.

There aren’t any hotels at Chiquila port but you can find overnight accommodating in the village of Chiquila. is always a reliable place to find a good deal for the dates you are travelling.

How to Take a Taxi From Holbox Dock

When you arrive at Holbox dock, collect your luggage and follow everyone else along the landing jetty. There will be a line of yellow Holcar taxi golf-carts waiting to transport you to your accommodation. The taxi fares are not expensive. The only other alternative is to walk! 

Of course, whether you are travelling by plane or by road, you need to keep your belongings safe.  For for the latest information on how to choose and protect your backpack check our article about the Best Backpack for Travelers.

If you are still planning your trip and want to know how safe Mexico is, please read this article we wrote when we were wondering exactly the same thing: Mexico Safety.

What to Do and See on Holbox Island

We spent 4 days relaxing and exploring Holbox Island on foot and by bike.  Our article about Holbox Island gives you plenty of useful tips about what to see and do during your visit as well as a short film about our stay.  We’ve also put together a selection of photographs to show you what you can expect from this tranquil island and other interesting places on the Yucatan peninsula.

We have written a full guide about this area of Mexico which covers must-see landmarks like the incredible Mayan ruins in the jungle of Coba.

For more information about Holbox check our video

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holbox pimterest
holbox pimterest

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