Hey friends! How’s your week going so far? Are you still in Summer mode, or moving back to a school routine? Little Miss is up early every day this week for volleyball tryouts, and even though I no longer need to drive her, I still find myself getting up. It’s hard to turn off that mom role! Plus, I love those extra minutes with her before she’s off for the day.
Mr. College moved home from the lake (he’s been living and working at The Sugar Shack this summer), so we’ve got a few weeks of all my people under one roof. I find myself already dreading the day he heads back to campus…not like the first year, but it still stings every time he leaves. I know many of you have kids headed off for the first time this year, and my heart is with you! Know that this period of anticipation is worse than the actual leaving part…and it will get better!
Let’s move on before we’re all crying in our coffee…today we’re headed to Mexico (figuratively speaking, I’m currently sweating my face off in Dallas)! Now that travel is back, we’ve finally cashed in our surplus of mileage points and headed out of town a couple of times this Summer.
Last month Mr. Sugarplum and I snuck off to Mexico for a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary… but rather than hit up our favorite stretches of beach (HERE and HERE), we checked out a completely new, and relatively unknown area… Isla Holbox!
Isla Holbox is an island north of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, and separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon, which is home to flamingos and pelicans. The 26-mile island, between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, is rich in marine life such as sea turtles and whale sharks, and houses over 150 bird species. No cars, no paved roads, only miles of flat white sand and clear, shallow water.
We had a taxi driver in Mexico tell us about it several years ago… he said it was sure to become the next Tulum, so to ‘go fast before word got out’! And while Isla Holbox still feels like a vibrant, authentic Mexican village suspended in time, it’s definitely no longer sleepy!
The cutest boutique hotels, each an Instagrammer’s dream, line the beach at full occupancy. Some have a serene, zen vibe, while others beckon the party crowd. Mr. SP and I prefer to chill and unplug, so we chose the quant 24-room Casa Las Tortugas and it was as dreamy as it sounds!
We spent our days walking and biking the miles of flat beach, savoring the surprisingly exceptional restaurants, and lounging by the pool, on beach cabanas, and even swinging beds and hammocks.
Where We Stayed in Holbox //
Casa Las Tortugas // Located directly on the beach, but set back in a thick jungle of lush palm trees and tropical plants, Casa Las Tortugas is design inspiration overload, with every nook and cranny lending itself to the aesthetic. Colorful tile, outdoor showers, and buckets of fresh water to dip your sandy toes, it’s a true oasis… and perpetually spotless! The entire property is open-air, except the rooms which are blissfully air-conditioned!
A full breakfast, served in the beachside restaurant, is included in the rate, and includes breads, pastries, yogurt, fruit, fresh juice and coffee, plus anything off the menu! No room service is available, so we’d grab coffee early to enjoy on our patio or on the beach, before sitting down for breakfast late morning.
They offer daily yoga in the dreamy spa space by the pool, and spa treatments are available. The rooms are cleaned and sanitized daily, and amenities include all-natural insect repellant, hair and body washes, and the yummiest room spray. I loved it so much I bought one to bring home. There’s also a cute straw tote for use while staying.
Beach towels and fresh water are always available, and the beach bar provides beach and pool service all day. Oh, and the cocktails are perfection! I’m still dreaming of the secret Welcome Drink! I would recommend bringing your own refillable bottle.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: Not all rooms at Casa Las Tortugas are created equal, so don’t hesitate to ask for another, or confirm specifics before arrival. The rooms on the top (second) floor are much brighter and more private. Beachfront rooms are less private and a little louder given their proximity to the bar and restaurant. After the first night, we moved from a tiny, dark ground level room to a much larger, airy room on the second floor, which was oddly the same rate.
What We Did in Holbox //
- Isla Holbox is 26 miles of flat, white sand, with calm, shallow water, perfect for littles and long beach walks. Sandbars appear throughout the day, and we spent every afternoon wading out to look for treasures.
- Bicycles are available for rent up and down the beach, and perfect for exploring the flat, sandy roads.
- The Holbox ‘town’ is a few blocks of sandy streets with large crater-sized potholes, often flooded by the tropical rains. It’s dotted with small shops, bars, and restaurants.
- Beachside tents are set up everywhere, offering Mayan massage for incredible prices. My one hour, open-air massage was next level, and only $30!
- Swimming with whale sharks is what drew me to Holbox in the first place, but after discovering it’s a 7-8 hour round-trip via boat… we opted to pass.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: Slip money or a credit card in your swimsuit when you head out for beach walks… it’s so fun to stop in the different hotels and bars for a drink or snack.
My favorite part of each day was sunset… seemingly the entire island would gather on the beach to watch, giving the island a communal feel.
Where We Ate in Holbox //
Casa las Tortugas has two restaurants on-property, and one next door… and all were incredibly chic and delicious! We ate breakfast and dinner there each day.
Mandarina // Seaside restaurant at Casa las Tortugas, serving fresh, local ingredients.
Luuma // The dreamiest outdoor beach garden, it’s across the street from Casa las Tortugas and serves incredible tapas and cocktails.
Ama // A Japanese bar located on the second floor of Casa las Tortugas, it’s a great spot to catch the sunset and eat delicious sushi and noodle dishes.
Hotel Flamingo // We stopped here on a walk one day, and had the yummiest Mexican feast of fajitas, guacamole and ceviche.
Everywhere is ultra casual… I was either barefoot in a swimsuit, or had my wet hair pulled back in a bun with a breezy sundress. I also went super minimal on the makeup, and sunscreen is a must! This combo was perfect for a natural glow, with just enough coverage and color.
Getting to Holbox //
Other than the occasional party scene, the only drawback to Holbox for us was the journey to get there! Fly to Cancun International Airport, then catch either the public bus, shared shuttle, or private car for a bumpy and windy 2-3 hour drive to the port town of Chiquilá.
From there, a slightly unregulated 30-minute ferry runs every half hour to Isla Holbox, where you catch a golf cart taxi to take you the remaining distance to your hotel. Maybe I’m old and fussy, but I was so hot, disheveled, and a little car/sea sick when I arrived, it took me a day to relax and sink in to the serenity of the hotel. I think knowing the travel experience going in is super helpful… in fact, the return journey was fine!
Charter flights directly from Cancun to Holbox are sometimes available, and would be my first choice, but have been suspended indefinitely.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: Arrange a private transfer via Casa las Tortugas for easy and seamless transport at each stop. We chose the luxury SUV, and it included water and snacks, ferry tickets, and taxi pick-up.
Getting away and going literally anywhere with this guy is my favorite thing… and I feel so lucky to have him as my travel and life partner. We had a fabulous time celebrating 24 years of marriage, and I’m already scheming where to go for our 25th! Any suggestions?!
I love discovering and experiencing new spots, and hope this Trip Report on Isla Holbox has been helpful! Have you been? Is it on your list now?
[MORE SUMMER VACATION POSTS]
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Trip Report | Exuma, Bahamas
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