(Weeks 5 and 6) Holbox and Bacalar
Fresh off of seeing one of the wonders of the world in Chichen Itza, my bags were packed again. It was time to go to Holbox! After nearly two weeks inland, I was excited to get back to the sea and the island vibes…
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Holbox is literal paradise. The island is a sandbank off the northern shore of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula. As a result, the roads are made of sand and the main form of transport is all-terrain vehicles. The sea is shallow for a long way from the shore and the sea is beautifully warm even with the blistering temperatures of Mexico summer.
We spent a week on Holbox in total and it was utter bliss! The first four nights we stayed in Tribu Hostel, which had been recommended to us by so many people. The hostel is 30 seconds from the beach and has activities running each day. We’d wake up late every day, go to the beach for an hour or two, have lunch and relax during the heat of the day and then watch the sunset on the beach.
Unlike all of the beach towns in Quintana Roo that are on the east coast, Holbox’s location on the northern shore meant that we could see the sunset over the sea. And, it’s such a popular activity on the island. Which, isn’t surprising given how beautiful it was every evening, even when it was slightly cloudy!
This remote beach is the place to visit on Holbox. And, the only way to reach it is by walking on shallow sandbanks through the sea… For about 60 to 90 minutes! The walk is more difficult at high tide when the water reached the tops of my legs. But at low tide, the water was barely above my ankles.
Punta Mosquito Beach is paradise. We spent a couple of hours there just relaxing in the shallow water, having our own photoshoot and enjoying being away from the world. But, the walk there and back is also incredible. Not only are you walking through the sea, but there’s so much wildlife around. We saw 7 stingrays and so many different types of fish, big and small. Adam helpfully chipped in ‘stingrays killed Steve Irwin’ after I pointed out the first one, so stingray anxiety ensued. Especially, as they are often covered in a thin layer of sand that is left from the water when they are still on the seabed.
If you ever go, however, please wear sun cream and reapply constantly! Although I had put it on before we left and then when we got to the beach, as we were in the water for so long walking there I got so burnt! The worst was the backs of my hands where they’d been in the water so much. Plus, my water shoes had given me blisters walking through the sea, so the next day there was a lot of laying around (and moisturising, a lot).
DETAILED POST > > > Punta Mosquito, Holbox
After a week on Holbox, it was time to move on yet again. The week had just flown by. We had realised it was time to start making our way down to the Pacific coast states of Mexico, such as Chiapas and Oaxaca. Knowing we wanted to head south fairly quickly, we made the easy decision to skip Tulum. Firstly, as it is so expensive and, secondly, as seaweed still covered the beach. Our next stop would be Bacalar, just a stone’s throw from the Belize border…
The journey from Holbox to Bacalar took 12 hours in total (walk-ferry-bus-bus-taxi). And, included us sheltering under a corrugated iron bus shelter roof during one of the most intense storms I’ve seen. Streaks of lightning constantly illuminated the sky as water poured off the rooftops like a waterfall! But, we finally arrived at our new hostel at 9.30pm ready to see what Bacalar had to offer (after a good night’s sleep first).
Our first surprise was when we woke up in the Yak Lake House Hostel to find our room was right on the waterfront – we had a stunning view of the lagoon from in our bed! We also later realised this was perfect for storm watching as the rainy season was in full swing in the Caribbean.
Sailing Tour of Lake Bacalar
The one thing I knew I had to do in Bacalar was a boat trip on the lagoon. It is after all, what Bacalar is famous for. Despite having a hostel on the lagoon shore with its own jetty and tour company, we found a much better deal by wandering into the town and talking to vendors on the street! The typical boat tour lasts 2 to 3 hours, on a motor-powered boat, with at least 10 people on each tour, for a total of 650 pesos each (approx £23.50).
However, we found an absolute bargain of a tour! A sailboat trip, expected to last 3 to 4 hours (but we were actually on the water for 5 hours), included juice, fruit and beer all for 500 pesos (£18) each. Plus, it was just us and one other couple! And, what a day it was!
For 5 hours, we sailed across the lagoon watching the water change to vibrant blue. We swam in the shallow, warm, clear water and basked in the sunshine. Even a couple of sudden but quick downpours didn’t dampen our spirits, especially when a rainbow emerged over the lagoon shortly afterwards. And, to top it all off, we were able to watch the sunset behind the town of Bacalar. Just perfect!
We spent the rest of our time in Bacalar exploring the town, relaxing and watching the storms over the lagoon. On our final day, we headed to the nearby border town of Chetumal. Usually, this is where 1000s of tourists would cross into Belize each day. But, with the restrictions in Belize at the time, the town was shockingly quiet. It was from Chetumal that we were to get our first night bus – a 7-hour trip to Palenque in the Mexican jungle! Stay tuned…