cancun to holbox hammocks

Cancun to Holbox Mexico: How to Get to Holbox Island in 2021

What’s the easiest way to get from cancun to holbox?

You’ve landed on the right article — because I live in Mexico and I’m going to tell you the five best ways to get from Cancun to Holbox Island Mexico! With multiple options, the best way will come down to your budget, and how much travel time you can sacrifice in getting to Holbox from Cancun.

As a personal recommendation, I always suggest the private Holbox shuttle. It is by far the most stress-free, hassle-free, easiest way to get from Cancun to Holbox! Click the image below to book with Cancun Airport Transportation, the Tripadvisor-backed company I use ⤵

Cancun to Tulum private transfer service
🚐💨 Check out all the positive Cancun Airport Transportation reviews, the best airport transfer from Cancun to Holbox!

When it comes to Cancun to Holbox transportation, you have the five options listed below. If you know which way you’re leaning, click the corresponding link to be taken to info about that particular way to get to Holbox from Cancun, Mexico.

If you’re not sure which way will work best for you, there is a thorough breakdown of all your options below. Keep reading for a guide to the five best ways to get from Cancun to Holbox Island — and the two worst ways to get from Cancun to Isla Holbox!

How do you pronounce Holbox?

Before we get to any info, let’s make sure you’re pronouncing it’s name right! Isla Holbox is pronounced hole-bosh, not hole-box! The Mayan people are native to this island, and in the Mayan language, the letter x is always pronounced as an “sh” sound.

Where is Isla Holbox, Mexico?

Holbox Island is located in Quintana Roo State — home to the top Mexico travel destinations of Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carman, Lake Bacalar, and also some of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico! Quintana Roo is one of the three states in the Yucatan Peninsula, located in southeastern Mexico.

It is located on the Caribbean Sea, and is one of the so-called Mexican Caribbean islands. Some of these other islands include Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, a Mexico national park.

🗺 Isla Holbox Map

How to Get to Isla Holbox, Mexico

What’s the closest airport to holbox Island?

You’ll need to fly into Cancun International Airport (code: CUN). This is the closest Holbox airport that’s open to commercial flights. There is a small airport in Holbox called Aeródromo de Holbox (code: HOL), but it’s only open to private planes. ✈️ Want to fly to Holbox Island? Head here for info!

After Cancun, you’ll need to get to chiquila

As you can see in the Holbox map above, Holbox is an island. To get to Holbox Island, you’ll take a ferry from the small pueblo of Chiquilá, Mexico. The only exception to this is if you take the Cancun to Holbox Island flight, but everyone else must use the ferry.

► There will be more info on the Holbox Ferry to come — or you can jump ahead by clicking here.

For now, let’s look at all your Cancun to Holbox travel options. Once you know how you’re getting from Cancun to Chiquila to catch the ferry, we’ll get back to everything you need to know about actually the taking the Holbox Island ferry.

woman laying in the Caribbean Sea on a hammock in Holbox Island, Mexico
The famous Holbox Island hammocks in the water at Playa Punta Cocos Beach.

How far is Holbox from Cancun?

If you drew a straight line, the actual distance is only 30 miles (61 km). If you’re flying from Cancun to Holbox Island, this is just a short 30 minute flight! However, you now know that if you’re going by land — the real question is, How far is it from Chiquila to Cancun? — not Holbox to Cancun!

There is a lot of great street art in Holbox Island — and this is mural of the girl in Downtown Holbox is most famous piece of all. (Photo: EdG via Flickr)

How far is Cancun from Chiquila?

The road to get there is about 87 miles (140 km). Unfortunately, this is a roundabout drive, as there are no direct roads from Cancun to Chiquila, Mexico. It is, however, an easy and safe drive on just two roads, Highway 180D and Highway 5. 🚙💨 Head here if you need some Mexico driving tips for this trip.

The Cancun to Chiquila drive will take two hours in normal traffic conditions.

Once you get to Chiquila from Cancun, you’ll take the 30 minute ferry to Isla Holbox. ► There will be more info on the Holbox Ferry to come — or you can jump ahead by clicking here.

small beach town with big palm trees and sand roads
Downtown Holbox Island on Calle Tiburon Ballena, one of the main streets that go through town.

5 Best ways to get from Cancun to Holbox Island

As mentioned, the “best” way is subjective. Making a the best decision will come down to how much time you’re willing to sacrifice, and how much money you want to spend. In terms of time, the quickest way is to book private transportation from Cancun to Isla Holbox.

While there are cheaper ways, they can take triple the amount of time — because you’ll have to wait for the bus or shared shuttle, since their departure likely won’t align with your arrival. After a long day of traveling, going through the Customs line, waiting for luggage, etc., Who wants to deal with that?!

Let’s take a closer look at each option, so you can make your best decision for how you get from Cancun Airport to Holbox Island.

1. Private Transfer from Cancun to Holbox

I recommended Cancun Airport Transportation, which has an impressive 4.5 star rating and 2,500+ reviews on Tripadvisor — and is the best private transfer Cancun to Holbox service. SAVE $15 by booking round trip, and relax knowing that your Holbox to Cancun Airport shuttle is handled!

During these strange travel times, a private service makes more sense than ever. Beyond not being in a shared bus or shuttle with 5-30 other passengers, a private service is the most convenient. As always, convenience comes with a price — but it might not be as steep as you think.

cancun to holbox island private shuttle

For up to six passengers, you’re only looking at $435USD round trip — split six ways, that’s only $72.50 round trip for each person. Even those who aren’t in a group and just want private transport from Cancun to Holbox for health and safety, here are six more reasons why this is your best option:

1. Leave on Your Schedule

With the private shuttle, you set the departure time. Imagine getting to Cancun Airport after your flight, going through the Customs line, getting your luggage, and then having to wait another two hours to even get on the bus to Holbox — which will then be another two hour’s drive to get to the Chiquilá ferry 🤬

2. You’ll have a Bilingual Driver

With Cancun Airport Transportation, you’re guaranteed an English-speaking driver from Cancun to Holbox Island. For those who aren’t confident in their Spanish, having a bilingual guide waiting at the airport for you is a really nice perk — especially after a long day of traveling!

cancun to holbox private driver
Your driver will be easy to find — Just look for the orange sign with their suitcase logo. 🧡 BOOK NOW!

3. It doesn’t matter if your flight’s late

If your flight arrives late, or if you have any issues clearing Customs, or if there’s any delay or issues with your luggage (we’ve all been there!), your private shuttle will still be available for you. With a shared shuttle, you’d have to be rebooked; and with the bus, you might have to wait four hours for the next one.

4. Drive in a Nice Car, SUV or Van

Cancun Airport Transportation guarantees you’re in an insured, new, and air conditioned vehicle. While many shared shuttles from Cancun to Holbox do have AC, it’s not always a guarantee, and on a two-hour drive in the tropics after a long flight, no AC is not a good start to your Holbox vacation!

▶︎ Want a luxury car? You have options for SUV transportation in a Yukon, Suburban or Expedition.

cancun to holbox island private shuttle

5. Door to Ferry dock Service

With the private shuttle, your driver will meet you with a greeter sign just outside of the Cancun Airport. They will pack up your luggage into your private car or SUV, and drive you straight to your the ferry dock in Chiauila, Mexico.

6. Private Shuttle is the Fastest Option

As time is always the most precious commodity while on vacation — and no one seems to have enough of it — you may want to spend a bit more money, as long as you’re saving a good chunk of time!

While the shared shuttle and ADO bus from Cancun to Chiquila takes about the same amount of time on the road, that doesn’t factor in your wait time. Let’s say you arrive at 2pm, but there’s no bus until 8pm — that’s six hours wasted in Cancun Airport, and not enjoying Holbox Island!

Book your Cancun to Holbox private transport ⤵

2. Rent a Car at Cancun Airport

Besides the private transport service, getting a Cancun car rental from the airport is the second best option. Keep in mind there’s no cars allowed on Holbox Island, so you will have to leave your rental car in one of the paid parking lots near the dock in Chiquila.

The lots have security guards who look after the cars, so this is safe, and anyone who comes by rental car must do it. Prices for the Chihquila dock parking lots can vary, but typically cost about $100-200 MXN pesos per day ($5-10USD).

When booking your Mexico rental car online, I recommend and personally use Discover Cars. They are great because they search both international companies, and local Mexican companies, so you get the best price. 

Discover Cars also provides ratings for all companies, so you can eliminate ones that don’t have a good reputation. Finally, you can buy insurance right from them, so you’re not surprised with an exorbitant and unexpected bill when you get the car. (Yes, you do need Mexican driving insurance!)

On Isla Holbox, everyone gets around by bike or golf cart — but you can still rent a car in Cancun and drive to Chiquila.

How much are Cancun car rentals?

Mexico car rental rates will always vary, but figure about $25USD per day for an economy car with the minimum Personal Liability Insurance, and about $40USD per day for full coverage.

If you’ve looked online for a Mexico rental car, you might see $5-10USD rentals. If these rates seem too good to be true, that’s because they are. This is the price for just the car, with no insurance, taxes, fees, etc., factored in. To be safe, assume the car will be at least $25-40USD per day with taxes and everything.

Do I need Mexico Car Insurance?

Yes — At the minimum, you need Personal Liability Insurance to drive in Mexico. When I rent a car in Mexico, I always get the full coverage insurance with Discover Cars, which has only been about $10USD per day for full coverage!

Find Your Rental Car

Is it safe to drive from Cancun to Chiquila?

You basically only have to take two roads from Cancun to Chiquila — Highway 180D, and then Highway 5. These aren’t huge highways, but they are well-maintained, safe roads. From the airport, you’ll find lots of signs directing you to Highway 180D, as its a main road in Cancun.

Cancun to chiquila Map

3. Cancun to Holbox Shared Shuttle

For those doing solo travel in Mexico, the shared shuttle is more economical than the private shuttle, since you’re not splitting the cost. In the case of backpackers and anyone doing Mexico budget travel, the shared shuttle only costs about $90USD for round trip tickets.

canun to holbox shuttle bus

The Holbox Shuttle departs four times a day, at 10:15am, 1pm, 3:45pm and 6pm. The shuttle leaves from Terminal 2, which is a domestic terminal. If you’re coming from the U.S. or on any international flight, you’ll have to take the free Cancun Airport Shuttle from your terminal over to Terminal 2.

✈️ Head here to see which Cancun Airport terminal your flight arrives in.

Keep in mind that for groups of four or more, the private shuttle from Cancun to Holbox will be the about the same price as four individual tickets on the shared shuttle. It’s also a better option because you won’t be sharing the ride with anyone outside of your party.

aerial view of the small beach town of Holbox Island
Aerial view of Isla Holbox, as you’re flying in with a private charter on Fly Cozumel.

4. Cancun to Holbox Flights

There is a small airport on Isla Holbox called Aeródromo de Holbox (code: HOL). You can fly there, but only via charter flights on a private plane. For those looking to take the Cancun to Holbox flight, Fly Cozumel charters average about $500 per charter, for up to five people.

Chartering a private flight is by far the fastest way to get from Cancun to Holbox Island. As it’s only about 30 miles (61 km) from Cancun to Holbox Island, this is a very short flight at just 30 minutes! Fly Cozumel has two Cessna t206h planes, which each seat five passengers comfortably.

If you’re traveling with a furry companion, Fly Cozumel does allow pets in a small bag or carrier. For travelers who have a bike, those are also allowed. What you will want to keep in mind are these luggage restrictions:

  • 1 suitcase of up to 55 pounds (25 kg) per person
  • 1 piece of hand luggage of up to 22 pounds (10 kg) per person

Fly Cozumel departs from Terminal FBO in Cancun Airport. There is a free airport shuttle departing every 30 minutes between all Cancun Airport terminals, and the FBO Terminal for private planes. If you prefer, Fly Cozumel can arrange private transportation between terminals (for a fee). ▶︎ Contact them here!

Book your private charter on Fly Cozumel, and take the quick flight to Holbox Island! (Photos: Fly Cozumel via Instagram)

5. ADO Bus from Cancun to Holbox Island

There is no direct bus from Cancun Airport to Chiquila. You will have to take one bus from the airport to the Downtown Cancun ADO station (located here), then a second bus to Chiquila. The Cancun Airport to Downtown Cancun bus departs from both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

Most U.S. airlines and international flights arrive at Terminal 3 or Terminal 4, but you can click here to see which Cancun Airport terminal your flight arrives in. There is a free Cancun Airport shuttle that goes between terminal, departing every 30 minutes or so.

ado bus from Cancun to Tulum mexico
ADO Bus Cancun to Holbox: ADO is Mexico’s largest bus company, with luxury-class buses. (Photo: Ted McGrath via Flickr)

Cancun to Holbox bus schedule

From the Cancun ADO station in downtown, you’ll catch your second bus. The Cancun to Chiquila ADO bus has six daily departures, at 8:30am, 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3:30pm. For both bus tickets, plan to spend about $350-500 pesos ($17-25USD), for a one way bus trip from Cancun to Holbox.

The times you see listed above has been the Cancun to Chiquila ADO bus schedule for some time now. However, do double check the ADO website, as they can change it at any time. Note: Their website is horrible for actually booking tickets, so you’ll want to use the widget below

Is the ADO bus safe for solo female travelers?

Yes — In fact, you’ll probably meet other solo travelers and other Mexico travelers when traveling from Cancun to Chiquilá on the ADO bus. It is known to be a safe, popular, comfortable and inexpensive option. ADO is Mexico’s largest bus company, beloved by tourists and locals alike.

pink flower and palm trees with a tropical beach in the beackground

Worst Ways to Get From Cancun to Holbox Island

1. Uber from Cancun to Holbox

Wondering, Is there Uber in Cancun? The answer is technically yes, but also kind of not really. The longstanding clashes with Cancun Taxi Union and Uber drivers have made it so even some locals don’t use Uber in Cancun. Even though there is (sort of) Uber in Cancun, they won’t pick you up at the airport.

If you do want to take an Uber from Cancun to Chiquila, you’ll have to leave the airport with all your belongings and walk out to the main road. There, you can call the Uber and hope one will actually accept this trip. For this, you’ll also need to have cell service or a Mexico SIM Card so you have data to call.

According to the Uber Fare Estimator, this trip will cost $115USD — which is more than the Holbox shared shuttle that does pick up from the airport.

cancun to holbox downtown colorful buildings

2. Taxi from Cancun to Holbox

How much is a taxi from Cancun to Chiquila?

Short answer: A LOT — usually about $175USD — but there’s really no set price, so it will depend on your luck. In truth, a Cancun to Holbox taxi is actually your worst option, even worse than Uber, and you should only consider this in an emergency when you have no other options.

Why you should not take a taxi from Cancun to Chiquila

“Normal” taxis are not allowed inside Cancun Airport; only sanctioned airport taxis. Cancun Airport cabs have to pay a special tax to be able to enter — and that fee is passed down to you. Beyond this fee, sadly, scamming travelers isn’t uncommon with taxis in Mexico (or anywhere).

As you’re approaching the Cancun Airport exit, you’ll start to be bombarded by Cancun Airport taxi drivers. Depending on how they judge your appearance (ie. how well you’re dressed, if you look like it’s your first time in Mexico, etc.), they’ll give you that price.

Cancun to Tulum private transfer service

For this reason, you might get a price of up to $250USD, which is more than the cost of a private shuttle service. However, if it’s nighttime, or they think you don’t know any better, they will inflate the price in the hopes you don’t know any better — But now you do! 

Save yourself the hassle and haggle by just booking your Cancun to Holbox private shuttle. They will meet you right outside the airport, pack up your luggage into van, and drive you straight to you the ferry dock in Chiquila, Mexico, so you can be quickly on your way to Isla Holbox.

Set the Price Before You Get In

If you do want to take a cab, always negotiate and agree on the fare before getting in because many Mexico taxis don’t don’t have meters. If you don’t know this and just jump in the car, the driver may throw out an exorbitant price when you arrive in Chiquilá — so agree on a firm price before getting in the cab.

Holbox Ferry in Chiquila, Mexico

Now that you know how you’re going to get from Cancun to Chiquila, here’s everything you need to know about the ferry to Holbox. Besides the boat dock, bus station, a few restaurants and convenience stores near the dock, there’s little else in the small town of Chiquila, Quintana Roo.

Holbox Ferry Schedule, Prices & Tickets

You can buy your ferry ticket at the office located right at the dock. Tickets are $220 pesos ($11USD) for adults, and $160 pesos ($8USD) for children. The ferry ride is about 30 minutes.

There are two ferry companies to that go to Holbox — 9 Hermanos and Holbox Express. Both companies have boats running from 5am to 8:30pm, with departures every 30 minutes or so. As schedules can change, make sure to check out the Holbox ferry schedule before finalizing your travel plans.

Can I bring my car to Holbox Island?

No — Cars aren’t allowed on Holbox. The ferry that goes to Holbox is for people only, so you will have to leave your rental car in one of the paid parking lots next to the boat dock.

The lots have security guards who look after the cars, so this is safe — but of course, don’t leave anything valuable in the car. Prices for the Chihquila dock parking lots can vary, but typically cost about $100-200 pesos per day ($5-10USD).

cancun to holbox ferry boat via holbox express
The Holbox Express Ferry (Photo: LeeAnn Heringer via Flickr)

Isla Holbox Mexico: Frequently Asked Questions

Is Holbox safe?

For the most part: Yes! Aside from sunburns, very rare instances of petty crime, hurricanes and drinking too much (don’t forget your Anti-Hangover Meds!), Holbox Island is safe for tourists. In fact, all of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is considered safe for visitors.

The island only has a population of about 2,000 inhabitants, so this is an everyone knows everyone kind of town. Most places are closed by 11pm, but if you’re out late by yourself, just remain aware of your surroundings, as no place on Earth is ever 100% safe.

aerial view of the small beach town of Holbox Island
Las Nubes de Holbox Resort & Spa, located on a private beach with direct Caribbean Sea access! (Photo: Expedia)

Where to stay in Holbox

Holbox pretty much consists of Playa Holbox Beach, on the northern end of the island (near Punta Mosquito), Playa Punta Cocos on the southern end, and Downtown Holbox (Centro), located in-between the two.

Most of the best Holbox resorts are near Playa Holbox, and this area is popular with couples and families. Punta Cocos Beach is very quiet, perfect for a romantic getaway, or ideal booking a house in Holbox. Downtown is where all the action is, with hostels and hotels in Holbox at all price ranges.

Here are my picks for the best places to stay in Holbox Island, separated by type and price ⤵

aerial view of the small beach town of Holbox Island
Casa Las Tortugas Petit Beach Hotel & Spa, a quiet oasis located near the center of Holbox Island. (Photo: Expedia)

How do you get around on Holbox Island?

Isla Holbox is about 25-miles-long, though most of it is undeveloped. When only considering the developed parts of the island, it’s only about five-miles-long — so it’s walkable. However, if you’re going from one side to the other, you can hail one of the 4X4 golf cart taxis, which are all over the island.

You can rent a bike in Holbox to get around, or rent a golf cart. Bike rentals are reasonably priced at about $15USD per day. Golf carts are a bit pricey, averaging about $20USD per hour, or $200USD for the day. They are a fun way to get around, and with a three hour rental, you could explore the whole island.

cancun to holbox golf carts
Holbox golf carts are a popular way to get around the island. You can rent your own, or just use the golf cart taxis, as needed.

What’s the best time to visit Holbox Island?

The Yucatan Peninsula, where Holbox is located, has a tropical climate. This means it’s hot year-round, but the summers can also be rainy and buggy — so don’t forget your Badger anti-bug eco-sunscreen! Summer is also Hurricane Season, and located right on the Caribbean Sea, Holbox is susceptible.

Whale shark season in Holbox Mexico

The one upside to visiting Holbox in summer is that you can take a tour to swim with the whale sharks in Holbox. The whale shark season is from about June 15 to September 17, when you can observe the largest fish in the sea.

🐳 Note: Whale sharks aren’t sharks, and also aren’t aggressive to humans. They average 40-feet-long, and to swim with them in the wild is a true Mexico bucket list experience!

Tours cost about $175USD per person, as this is one of the best things to do in Holbox Island. Holbox Whale Shark Tours, a locally-owned company, has a great reputation for ethical animal tourism on their whale shark tours. You can book online on in person when you arrive to Holbox.

woman in long sleeved pink shirt swimming next to a giant spotted whale shark in holbox island, one of the most unique places to visit in mexico
The whale shark is the largest fish in the sea!

10 Best things to do in Holbox Island

If you aren’t visiting in the Holbox whale shark season, there are still plenty of great Holbox things to do and see. As as island, most must see Holbox sites involve being on, in or near the water. Check out the list below, and don’t forget to book a Holbox tour — which helps support the local economy.

One of the coolest you can do is volunteer at Refugio Holbox Animal Rescue, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to saving all animals on Holbox. They accept monetary donations, but you can also just go help for a few hours, even simply taking a dog out for a walk or ride on your golf cart.

large sculpture of a wooden man called ven a la luz, located in tulum, mexico
Rated 5 Stars! Enjoy the best tacos in Holbox on a Taco Tour with host, Lorena. (Photo: Airbnb)

Is Holbox worth visiting?

If you understand what you’re signing up for — higher price tags, rustic vibes and lots of other tourists — and you don’t mind those things, you’ll enjoy your Tulum trip. If you’re looking to lay on a beautiful Mexican Caribbean beach, sip cocktails, take photos and swim in the cenotes, then Tulum is for you.

Is Isla Holbox open to tourists?

Yes — While there are still Covid measures in place, everything in Holbox Island is pretty much open for travelers. Masks are still required in public places (except when eating, drinking or swimming), many places do temperature checks at the entrance, but other than that, Holbox is open!

Where can I get a Holbox Rapid Covid test?

You do still need a negative Covid test to return to the U.S. Testing on the island is very limited, and most hotels are only offering it for their guests, like Casa de las Tortugasone of the best hotels in Holbox! The easiest thing to do would be to get your Covid test done in Cancun.

Final Thoughts: Cancun to Holbox Transportation

As Cancun has one of the biggest airports in Mexico, with direct flights from around the world, you’ll have no issues getting to Cancun. From there, you now have all your options on how to get to Holbox from Cancun Airport so you can make the best decision for your trip to Holbox Island.

When factoring in convenience and price, booking private transportation in advance or a Cancun rental car are the two best ways to get from Cancun to Holbox. For solo travelers and budget travelers, a shared shuttle and the ADO bus and also great options.

Which of these Cancun to Holbox transfer options will you choose?

I’d love to hear from you! Please join the conversation and leave me a comment down below. If you need Cancun to Holbox travel advice, I’ll do my best to help.

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