When the engine power of your whip is better measured in hamsters than horses, you’ve arrived at the right place. Such is life on care- and car-free Holbox, where simple golf carts — bicycles, if you’re a try-hard — are the conveyances of choice.
Here’s the lowdown.
Humble Holbox is a dozen-square-mile islita just off the northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula at the nexus of Nirvana — where the Gulf of Mexico Eskimo-kisses the Caribbean — surviving solely on two industries: fishing and frolicking. Population? Two thousand, on a crowded day.
The family-run (¡Qué onda, Muñozes!) Punta Caliza hotel is a serene and savvy needle in the hectic haystack that is Mexico.
The boutique and eco-chic property opened in 2018, with each of its 14 Western red cedar-boned, thatched-roofed palapas outfitted with private plunge pools flowing into its unique, swimmable center basin.
Throw in the towel, Sam Malone. Take a seat, Coyote Ugly squad. One of Mexico’s best barkeeps is a 23-year-old, quick-study dishwasher-turned-drink tosser named Aneth Nuñez — and she wants you to hold her beer. The Juárez-born Gen Z-er — whose preferred drink is an old-fashioned, while a triple-citrus mezcalita is her signature liver killer — holds court at the hotel’s beach bar juggling Jesus juice, “Cocktail”-style. On an island populated by nothing but thirsty trollers and tourists, the top tapmeister is queen.
The getting here of it all is a thrill unto itself. Your first mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fly into Cancún, which is way, way less frenzied now that we’re in post-spring break times. Next, it’s theoretically possible to hop on a lil puddle jumper from here to Holbox, but expensive and pants-wetting. Instead, rent a car (they skew red and sporty around these parts and can attract Hummer-driving federales, just a head’s up) and, with the help of the 180 toll road, work your way two hours west then north up highway 5 to the small village of Chiquilá. (Back when, that last bit was rivaled only by the moon in terms of potholes, so don’t immediately turn down the otherwise sus rental insurance — it’s likely that hasn’t changed.)
From Chiquilá, $12ish ferries leave for Holbox every half-hour starting early in the a.m. and piloted by the kinds of colorful shrimp-chewing characters you’d expect.
The lure of Holbox is two-fold: hanging with whale sharks — the world’s biggest fish, by the way, and gentle giants at that, always hospitable to swim-alongs with us bipeds as they are — and kitesurfing. (Glamping around the island has increasingly become a close third. Locals no likey.) The front desk can also arrange private mezcal tours and yoga classes. The hotel-owning Muñozes — Claudia, 29, along with her broski Cuauhtemoc and their farm-tending parents — are also the brains and brawn behind a design shop, Apollo, and Temoc, a taco-and-mezcaleria, on the island.
INFO: From $350 a night; PuntaCaliza.com