Holbox is an island paradise growing in popularity with domestic and international travellers alike. But unfortunately, getting from Cancún to Holbox Mexico is not simple.
Because, unless you take a private propeller plane, there’s no direct route and you probably need at least two forms of transportation!
But, Isla Holbox is worth it. Without a doubt, this was my favourite place in the Yucatan Peninsula!
So to make sure you can visit this island more easily, this Cancún-Holbox travel guide explains ALL your transport options and the costs. From cheap shared minivans to private flights and everything in between, this is how to get to Holbox Mexico…
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How to get to Holbox from Cancún
Holbox – a small island on the northern Quintana Roo coast – can be reached either by air or by land then sea.
Flying to Holbox is the only direct option. There isn’t a ferry to Holbox from Cancun directly.
All land routes from Cancun to Isla Holbox pass through the port town of Chiquilá. And, from there, you cross the narrow channel to Holbox by boat.
|From 800 USD per plane
|Bus + Ferry
|544 pesos (370 + 220 pesos)
|Shared shuttle + Ferry
|Colectivo + Ferry
|486 pesos (250 + 220 pesos)
|Rental Car + Ferry
|Dependent on length of hire and company + 220 pesos
|Private transfer + Ferry
|220 USD for up to 7 people + 220 pesos each
|Taxi + Ferry
|From 2160 pesos (1940 pesos [100 USD] taxi + 220 pesos each)
|Hitchhiking + Ferry
|Possibly all day
|Tours to Holbox Island
|Around 100 USD (full-day trip with lunch and activities)
How far is Holbox from Cancún?
From the centre of Cancún, Isla Holbox is 150 km away by the road route. The hotel zone is a further 10 km further away, so 160 km in total. But, in a straight line, Cancún and Holbox are just 70 km apart.
Flying to Holbox
If it’s in your budget, the easiest way to get to Holbox is by plane. The 9-seater flights certainly make for a unique and memorable trip, with beautiful views over the blue seas below.
Can you fly to Holbox?
Yes! Holbox Mexico has an airstrip that’s only big enough for small aircraft to land. In fact, it’s one of an impressive 1714 airports in the country (there are more Mexico facts where that came from!)
Private charters are available from Cancún International Airport (CUN) all year round. Unfortunately, there’s no shared service, meaning you’ll have to book the whole 9-seater plane.
Time & Cost of Flying to Isla Holbox from Cancún
The Cancun Airport to Isla Holbox flight time is just 35 minutes, making it the quickest way to complete the journey. With the town centre just a couple of minutes drive away.
Prices start at 800 USD each way (excluding tax) for groups of up to 5 people with carry-on. For bigger groups or those with more luggage, it costs 2900 USD return (excluding tax). Prices are for the plane and split between all passengers.
Getting from Cancún to Chiquilá
Unless you fly to Holbox, any other route overland is going to take you via Chiquilá. This small port town is the gateway to Isla Holbox. And, since no vehicles are allowed onto the island, you’ll have to travel here first before getting the ferry over.
Bus from Cancún to Chiquilá (For Holbox)
ADO run the buses from Cancún to Chiquilá. From the bus station, you can walk to the ferry terminal as it’s only a couple of minutes.
- 6 bus departures each day between 8.15 am and 3.15 pm
- The journey takes 2 hours and 35 minutes
- Costs 362 pesos (when booked direct)
- The buses are 44-seater coaches with a storage area underneath for large bags and suitcases
I’d recommend booking the bus at least a day or two in advance as the services can fill up quickly. Tickets can be booked easily online or at the bus station.
For online, book either through the temperamental ADO website, which does offer advance booking discounts (so do stick with it!).
Or Cancun to Holbox bus and ferry tickets can also be booked online in one simple transaction (with 24-hour support from a Central America-based company and a stress-free experience).
Cancún to Holbox Shuttle (Shared Options)
Shuttles are typically a more convenient option for getting from A to B. And should be booked a day or two in advance, at least.
In the case of getting a shuttle, they’re great when the bus times don’t work for you. Particularly for those arriving in Cancún late afternoon.
A shared Cancún to Chiquilá shuttle will cost from as little as 23 USD per person. This price usually includes one full-size, checked-in style piece of luggage and one item you carry on you. However, this is exactly the same as a colectivo except for not stopping as much.
A second option is to book an all-in-one Cancún to Holbox shuttle plus ferry ticket online. This costs 44 USD for a shared shuttle from Cancun to Chiquila and then a ticket for the public Holbox ferry.
Booking your shuttle in this way means you just need to make one purchase. And you go straight from the shuttle to the dock without having to stop and buy tickets from the ferry vendors.
For a private Cancún-Holbox transfer (dropping you off in Chiquilá), prices are around 200 USD for 4-seater and 7-seater vehicles. This comes with the added benefit of hotel or airport pick up in Cancún and drop off at the ferry terminal.
Advance booking is required for Cancún to Chiquilá shuttles. Also, don’t forget to book your return or onward journey before getting to Holbox as the WiFi and internet are notoriously bad there.
Taxi from Cancún to Chiquilá
How much is a taxi from Cancún to Holbox Mexico?
Expect to pay between 120 and 200 USD one-way. This of course depends on your negotiation skills, the time of year and the time of day.
The taxi can only take you as far as Chiquilá, then you’ll need to get a ferry over to the island. To get to your hotel from there, you’ll need to hire another taxi (golf cart) on the island or walk.
Colectivo from Cancún to Chiquilá
Unlike colectivos across many other routes in Mexico, the colectivo from Cancún to Chiquilá only runs 4 times a day.
- Colectivos to Chiquila leave from outside the Soriana Supermarket (other side of the roundabout to the ADO bus station in Cancun).
- Costs 250 pesos
- Takes 2.5 hours (although more like 3)
Do expect that your luggage may need to go on the roof rack. So make sure any valuables or items that shouldn’t get wet are with you!
Colectivos are generally more cramped than the coach-type buses that are the norm in Mexico. But, given that you’re saving 100 pesos or so, the choice is yours to make.
Car Hire & Driving
Driving to Chiquilá from Cancún is pretty straightforward, but there’s no direct route. Head west on Highway 108D in the direction of Valladolid and Merida and then take Highway 5 all the way to Chiquilá.
Can you drive to Holbox?
Yes and no. You can only drive as far as Chiquilá and the route includes toll roads.
Cars aren’t allowed on Isla Holbox. So you’ll need to find suitable and secure parking for your time on the island (expect to pay around 100 pesos per day).
Since you can’t drive to Holbox itself. Having a rental car is only worthwhile if you’re also visiting other places around the Yucatan Peninsula. You definitely don’t need to hire a car just to drive to Chiquilá.
How long is the Drive from Cancún to Holbox Island (Chiquila)?
It takes roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes to drive the 150 km or so to Chiquila from Cancun Centro.
If you’re really desperate to get to Holbox Mexico straight away, then take a taxi. But, it’s not going to be cheap. If you can wait for a bus, colectivo or shuttle, then I’d highly recommend this over a taxi.
Personally, I only hitchhike when there are no other transport options available. So, I’d definitely recommend all the Cancun to Holbox transportation options above before thinking about hitchhiking.
Especially considering hitchhiking to the island is made more difficult by the fact that Chiquilá is in the middle of nowhere. As such, the number of people (and vehicles) heading there each day is relatively small.
But, it’s not impossible to hitchhike to Chiquilá (you’ll still have to pay for the ferry). Start early and have a Plan B if you don’t find a ride in a timeframe that suits you.
TOP TIP: Don’t let a lack of Spanish put you off hitchhiking. The first time I did it, I’d only been in Mexico for 3 weeks and couldn’t speak any Spanish. We communicated only through Google Translate and had no problems.
Getting to Isla Holbox from Chiquilá (Sea Crossing)
From Chiquilá, Isla Holbox Mexico is just across the water. And you have two options for getting to Holbox.
- Take the ferry that runs every half hour (fixed ticket price)
- Negotiate with a boat owner for a private trip across to Holbox
Isla Holbox Ferry
Two companies operate the Chiquilá to Holbox ferry route: 9 Hermanos and Holbox Express.
The 9 Hermanos ferries leave on the hour (first: 6 am, last: 9 pm) and Holbox Express ferries leave on the half-hour (first: 6.30 am, last: 9.30 pm).
Larger luggage is stored at the back of the boat and seating is available inside and on the top deck. The journey takes around 30 minutes and isn’t normally too choppy or windy.
Tickets for both companies cost 220 pesos each way (180 pesos for children). Buy your ticket at the kiosks near the roundabout in Chiquilá.
You can also buy Holbox ferry tickets on the ADO buses. Although there’s no price difference, tickets aren’t transferrable between the companies so make sure you definitely have one for the next departure. Otherwise, you could be waiting up to an hour!
If you prefer to book your ferry tickets in advance, buy your tickets for your travel day and time online here.
Getting to Isla Holbox by Private Boat Transfer
Alternatively, negotiate with a local boat owner around the Chiquilá port for a private Holbox transfer. I’d only recommend this for larger groups as otherwise, it’ll cost more.
Expect the journey to be bumpier as you’ll be travelling in a small, motor-powered boat. Not recommended if you’re easily travel-sick or seasick – stick to the ferry!
Tours to Isla Holbox from Cancún
If you only have a day to visit, a tour to Isla Holbox from Cancún and the Riviera Maya is a perfect way to not miss out on this island paradise. The slow pace of life, chilled vibe, rustic buildings and white sand beaches make it seem a world away from the hustle and bustle of the more popular towns.
The tours are full days, you’ll likely be picked up just after dawn and return as the sun’s going down. But, in that time, you’ll have a full day of activities making the long drive worth it.
To see a bit of everything in Holbox, this full-day tour from Cancun or Playa del Carmen is perfect. You’ll be picked up from your hotel, take a boat tour, have lunch on the island along with free time and finally visit the beautiful sandbanks to spot wildlife!
Tours to Holbox are available from all across Quintana Roo, including Cancún, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Options include…
How to get from Cancún Airport to Holbox
Generally speaking, getting from Cancun Airport to Isla Holbox is pretty straightforward. In fact, it’s not too different than travelling from Central Cancún to Isla Holbox.
However, Cancun International Airport is the busiest it’s ever been. The number of flights arriving has skyrocketed bringing more passengers and luggage.
At peak times, it’s common to encounter long waits at baggage reclaim and immigration. Be sure to leave plenty of time between when you land and your transport connection.
- BUS: There’s no direct bus from Cancún Airport to Chiquila, meaning you’ll need to travel to Downtown Cancún first (ADO bus, 120 pesos). The last bus leaves Cancún for Chiquilá at 3.15 pm. So, if you haven’t landed by 1:30 pm (absolute latest), you’ll probably need to stay in Cancún for the night (or get a shuttle).
You can now book a bundle of all three tickets that you’ll need to get to Holbox in one booking (Airport to Cancun, Cancun to Chiquila and the ferry from Chiquila to Holbox)! Check out prices and availability for your travel dates and book online.
- COLECTIVO: These also only run from Downtown Cancún. And they can’t enter the airport, so take the ADO bus downtown to get a colectivo from Cancun to Chiquila.
- CAR HIRE: If you’re hiring a car for your entire trip, then collecting it from the airport makes sense. There are lots of car rental companies around the airport so you’ll be sure to find something for your taste, size requirements and budget.
- SHUTTLE: You can book a shuttle directly from Cancún Airport to Holbox (with your ferry ticket included). The last shuttle is at 6 pm, so perfect for those arriving after the last bus. The cost is the same as booking from Central Cancún.
> > > RELATED POST: Thinking about heading to Belize? Check out this guide on getting to Caye Caulker from Cancun by bus, flight or water taxi.
Is Holbox Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Holbox has much more of an authentic feel and rustic charm compared with the resorts of the Quintana Roo coast. The sunsets are magical, the island vibe is chilled and the weather is beautiful.
You can lay in a hammock or sunbathe on the beach. Or you could take a walk along the sandbanks to Punta Mosquito – Holbox’s lesser-known beach.
And if your next stop is a trip to Mexico’s Modern World Wonder, Chichén Itzá, check out this complete guide on how to get there from Holbox – including the cheapest and fastest routes.
HOLBOX TOP TIPS:
1. Prevention is great and all, but you WILL get bitten a lot. Make sure you bring something to treat those mosquito and insect bites before you scratch your skin off!
2. The island’s WiFi is terrible, just accept it. It’s the price for being in paradise. Download Netflix shows in advance, plan your onward/return journey before you arrive and disconnect.
3. Holbox is overpopulated, the population has boomed in recent years and its resources are stretched. Reduce water usage, reuse and recycle where possible and minimise waste.
4. Bring cash with you (more than you expect to need). There are a couple of ATMs on the island but they can run out quickly and have high fees. Places that do take card payments typically add a 5% fee. Pay in cash where possible to save money.
If you have any questions or want any more information, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Information is correct as of January 2024 but is subject to change in future.
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