Far from the pumping music and high energy of Cancun and Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, but still only about 2 hours from the Cancun airport, lies the low-key and uber family-friendly Isla Holbox (pronounced hol-bosh).
Despite massive development in recent years of the Riviera Maya, the stretch of beach between Cancun and Tulum, this island remains completely free of all-inclusive resorts and high-rise buildings. At least for now.
I love this island for families, as it is perfectly sleepy, safe and intriguing for the whole family. There are no cars on the island, only golf carts which is very exciting for kids, and the “roads” are all made of sand.
If you are thinking about a family beach vacation to Mexico and the Riviera Maya – be sure to consider this hidden gem! Here is a bit more about the area, my favorite place to stay and the best things to do on Holbox Island Mexico with kids!
CasaSandra is the Best Hotel on Isla Holbox
CasaSandra is a lovely, family-friendly boutique property and the best place to stay on Holbox Island with kids. While the island is still undeveloped and rustic, this resort is chic, stylish and has all the creature comforts you could ask for. It’s this combination of rustic and luxurious that makes CasaSandra so special.
This is the kind of place where you can expect big smiles and warm, kind service from everyone, but be sure to pack a little patience. Things tend to run on Mexico time around the island.
The hotel consists of just 17 rooms and one fabulous family villa. Every space is unique, decorated with a sophisticated pallets and plenty of natural Mexican touches. Rates range from about $400 to $500 per night, including breakfast. There are a few different room types, but most have beautiful ocean views and all decorates in the same soft colors and clean white linens. Each night, the staff lights candles and incense in your room, pulls the shades, and even places a poem and some sweet treats on the bed.
Kids love exploring the meandering pool area almost as much as the beach! You’ll find bar and food service both on the beach and around the pool area, and during the day most guests take their meals outside under the shade of a palm tree with toes in the sand.
Glorious Beaches? Isla Holbox Has Them!
From your room at CasaSandra, you can literally walk out onto the beach and have your toes in the Caribbean Sea in a matter of seconds.
The beach is wide and long, with clean, soft white sand and perfect for lazy days relaxing and walking along the shore. CasaSandra has the best beach area of any of the hotels on the island.
Eating and Drinking on Isla Holbox
Both the on-site restaurant and it’s Cuba-born chef Dana Fernandez have received accolades from the New York Times and a host of other travel publications.
All day long, you can enjoy dishes brought directly from the sea including Dana’s famous fish ceviche. You can’t leave without stopping by the bar to enjoy a signature cocktail “The Cuban Mojito” – refreshing and sweet!
There are also plenty of small, locally owned restaurants on the island, just a few minutes walking from the property, including some delicious taco stands that serve ups mean Al Pastor street taco!
Here are some of the best things to do on Holbox Island Mexico with Kids!
Boat Excursion to Punta Mosquito: On the East side of the island just short distance from the downtown area is Punta Mosquito. Don’t be fooled by the name, this beach is actually a lovely spot where you can check out wild flamingos and relax on a wide sandbar. This is a private, lovely spot to spend the morning. Pack a cooler and some snacks and enjoy!
CasaSandra Signature Tour: This can be booked directly with the hotel and includes a boat visit to 3 unique islands for fishing and snorkeling. Then, enjoy your catch as it’s made into fresh ceviche right before your eyes. The hotel will also serve up your grilled catch of the day for dinner that evening! This fun day is certainly one of the best things to do on Holbox Island with kids!
Mayan Ruins Exploration: Because Isla Holbox is located further north, it’s easier to visit some unique archeological sites here than if you were staying further south on the Riviera Maya. Ek Balam is a special archaeological ruin to visit, and includes a boat ride along Ria Lagartos and a visit the colonial city of Valladolid. A fun day trip!
AND – a bucket list adventure for many travelers, snorkeling with the whale sharks!
Holbox is best known for the whale sharks that visit the waters off the coast in the summer months (June – September). You can easily take a boat trip from Isla Holbox, which can be a long boat ride depending on the location of the whale sharks. Jump in the water and swim next to the massive (and perfectly harmless) creatures! This excursion is best for older kids who are confident swimmers.