how to get to holbox island

Holbox Island was one of the most memorable places we visited in the Yucatan. Before we travelled to Mexico, we researched how to get to Holbox Island but it was not easy. Once in Mexico, we gradually pieced the information together by asking local people and had an idyllic stay on Holbox Island. On our return, we wrote this article to share our knowledge.

There are two ways to get to Holbox Island. The first and most expensive method of transportation to Holbox Island is by plane. The second way of getting to Holbox Island is by road. To get to Holbox by road, you need to head to Chiquila by car, by bus or by private transfer.

Isla-Holbox-Water-Sport
Isla-Holbox-Water-Sport

As the crow flies, Holbox Island 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.

Read on to find out more about each of these options including costs and duration of journey from a range of popular locations in the Yucatan peninsula. If you have already made up your mind about your preferred method of transportation, click on the links below for detailed information about how to get to Holbox Island from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Valladolid and Merida.

Holbox-Island-Hammocks
Holbox-Island-Hammocks

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 $800 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.

holbox-Plane
holbox-Plane

As an example, Aerosaab’s flight costs per 5-seater plane are as follows:

From:Cost:
Cancun$1,108 USD plus airport tax per person
Playa del Carmen$908 USD plus airport tax per person
Cozumel$1,108 USD plus airport tax per person
Holbox Plane Transfer Price

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. Chiquila is a 2-3 hour drive from Cancun and is the only location operating a ferry service to Holbox Island.

If you decide to travel to Holbox Island by road there are 3 options: public transport, self-drive or private shuttle.

If you want to be hassle free, you can use this professional company. They offer you the best private shuttle from Cancun Airport to Holbox Island.

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 the bus the cheapest way to travel, it is also 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 buses are still comfortable and efficient. Second-class buses tend to stop more often but can be at least 10% cheaper and less crowded.

Mayab-Bus-Mexico
Mayab-Bus-Mexico

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 the ADO Website and you can download the ADO app which is useful when you are travelling.

Timetables for the second-class bus companies are not so 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 by Bus (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 approximately $5 USD and the journey will last about 20 minutes.

Cancun-Beach
Cancun-Beach

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 08:31 ADO bus to Chiquila. The last bus is at 15:30. Tickets to Chiquila currently cost $298 Mexican Pesos (approximately $14 USD).

Cancun to Chiquila Ado Buses Timetable

Time:From / ToPrice:
08:31Cancun to Chiquila$298 MXN
09:00Cancun to Chiquila$298 MXN
11:00Cancun to Chiquila$298 MXN
13:00Cancun to Chiquila$298 MXN
15:30Cancun to Chiquila$298 MXN
Cancun to Chiquila

Other classes of buses 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 by Bus (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 $304 Mexican Pesos (approximately $15 USD).

Playa-del-Carmen-Beach
Playa-del-Carmen-Beach

Departures from Playa del Carmen Turistica is at 09:20 and 10:20.

Playa del Carmen to Chiquila Ado Buses Timetable

Time:From / ToPrice:
09:20Playa del Carmen Turistica to Chiquila$304 MXN
10:20Playa del Carmen Turistica (Alterna at 10:30) to Chiquila$304 MXN
Playa del Carmen to Chiquila

How to Get to Holbox From Tulum by Bus (3.5 hours)

Further along the Riviera Maya, you can also take the 08:10 ADO bus from Tulum to Chiquila. This is a useful service if you have been visiting the Mayan ruins. From here, the ticket will cost $404 Mexican Pesos (approximately $19 USD).

Tulum-Coastline
Tulum-Coastline

Playa del Carmen to Chiquila Ado Buses Timetable

Time:From / ToPrice:
08:10Tulum to Chiquila$404 MXN
Tulum to Chiquila

How to Get to Holbox From Valladolid by Bus (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 09:50 from Valladolid for Chiquila which costs $222 Mexican Pesos (approximately $11 USD).

Valladolid-Cathedral
Valladolid-Cathedral

Valladolid to Chiquila Ado Buses Timetable Cancelled temporarily

Time:From / ToPrice:
09:50Valladolid to Chiquila$222 MXN
Valladolid to Chiquila Ado Buses Timetable

How to Get to Holbox From Merida by Bus (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 (Centro Historico) or 07:15 (Merida Terminal Paseo 60). The journey from Merida to Chiquila costs around $460 Mexican Pesos (approximately $22).

merida
merida

Merida to Chiquila Ado Buses Timetable

Time:From / ToPrice:
06:45Merida (Centro Historico) to Chiquila$460 MXN
07:15Merida (Terminal Paseo 60) to Chiquila$472 MXN
Merida to Chiquila Ado Buses Timetable

Off The Tourist Treadmill is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

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. 

Chiquila-Departure-Time-Table
Chiquila-Departure-Time-Table

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.

To make the most of your visit, we highly recommend that you read our excellent guide to Holbox Island which describes all the best places to visit and things to do.

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 car free 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.

If you want to be hassle free, you can use this professional company. They offer you the best private shuttle from Cancun airport to Holbox Island.

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.

📍 Click here for the Map

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.

📍 Click here for the Map

Chiquila

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 $100 MXN ($6 USD) per day. In Chiquila, you will find plenty of car parks, just follow the signs of the locals along the road to the harbour.

Ferry Holbox

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.

Chiquila-Harbour
Chiquila-Harbour

The Holbox ferry timetable from Chiquila to Holbox starts at 6 am and the last service to Holbox is 9.30 pm.

On the way back, the earliest ferry from Holbox is at 5 am and the last one back to Chiquila is at 8.30 pm.

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! 

Holbox-Ferry-Boat-Hermanos
Holbox-Ferry-Boat-Hermanos

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 220 Mexican Pesos (about $11 USD) per person.

Holbox-Harbour
Holbox-Harbour

There aren’t any hotels at Chiquila port but you can find overnight accommodation in the village of Chiquila. Booking.com 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! 

Holbox-Taxi
Holbox-Taxi

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 informative 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. 

Holbox-Palm-Tree
Holbox-Palm-Tree

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.

In addition, 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 Island, check out our video:

Print your handy bus timetable to help you get to Holbox Island.

Holbox Bus Timetable
Holbox Bus Timetable

Articles you May Like

Similar Posts

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Petra
Petra
8 months ago

Hello, great post, thanks! Do you know if there is a bus from Chiquila to Valladolid? I see on the picture you post from Chiquila departure time table that there should be one at 16:45 but I cant find it on ADO website. Thank you, Petra

Off The Tourist Treadmill
Admin
Reply to  Petra

Hi – We are so pleased you found our post helpful. Sadly, it looks like ADO buses from Valladolid to Chiquila have been cancelled until further notice. Perhaps routes have been restricted owing to COVID-19? Similarly, ADO Buses from Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Merida to Chiquila have also been cancelled. It looks like ADO buses are only running from Cancun to Chiquila at the present time. For peace of mind, you could take a private transfer from Cancun to Chiquila or Chiquila to Cancun (see popular link in our post). From Valladolid, you may be able to take a… Read more »