Photo credit: Margaritaville Resorts

Photo credit: Margaritaville Resorts

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You’ve probably spring-breaked, bachelorette partied, or even honeymooned your way through some of the hottest destinations on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula—we’re talking Cancún, Tulum, and Cozumel. But for your next trip to Mexico, you should switch it up a lil bit and head north to Isla Holbox, a super serene, almost hidden island where you’ll find white sand beaches, bluer-than-blue water, incredible sunsets, cocktails bars, boating, and more.

Isla Holbox (pronounced “Hole-bosh,” not “Hole-box,” FYI) is a lesser-known destination in Quintana Roo, so it’s still kinda an influencer hotspot. The 26-mile island is part of the Yum Balam nature reserve, and while it’s well-developed, you can tell that taking care of the environment is a priority for the people and businesses on the island. Case in point: There are no cars at all on Isla Holbox, which I loved. Instead, people get around via golf carts, bikes, boats, or just by walking.

There are plenty of hostels and boutique hotels on the island, but I was lucky enough to stay at the brand-new Margaritaville St. Somewhere Resort Punta Coco, Holbox Island. It’s a luxe hotel on the very end of the island with stunningly gorgeous views, seafood literally straight from the ocean, and plenty of places to lounge wherever you want. But to answer the first question my friends and family all asked about this trip: No, sadly Jimmy Buffet was not there during my stay.

Here’s everything else ya need to know if you’re planning a trip to the new Margaritaville St. Somewhere Resort and Isla Holbox.

P.S. The writer received free transportation/accommodations/meals/activities in order to write this story.

How you’re getting there…

Getting to Isla Holbox is a bit of a journey, but it’s completely worth it. From the Cancún International Airport, it’s roughly a two-hour drive to a town called Chiquilá. From there, it’s easy to charter a speedboat or hop on a ferry that takes you straight to the island.

I took a shuttle from the Cancún airport to Chiquilá, and I would definitely recommend this move. It was v easy to find the driver at the airport exit and I didn’t have to navigate bus schedules or car rentals, which is one of the most annoying parts of traveling when you just wanna get to your hotel room and throw on a bikini, IMO.

A small private boat to took me across the water and dropped me on the beach right in front of the hotel. It took maybe 15 minutes from Chiquilá to the hotel. If you don’t wanna book a private boat, there are ferries that run between Chiquilá and Isla Holbox roughly every half hour.

Where you’re staying…

As I arrived at the resort via boat, the very first thing I noticed was a private beachfront area with plenty of white umbrellas and lounge seating, which I was ready to hop on and take a nap. Behind it was a pathway that led to the rest of the resort, which had a natural boho-chic look to it. There was plenty of native foliage separating the beach from the rest of the resort, where all the structures are painted a soft white color or made with wood and other natural-looking materials.

Margaritaville St. Somewhere is situated at the very end of Isla Holbox, so you’re surrounded by ocean on two sides. The hotel has 39 rooms, and every! single! one! faces the ocean. Not to brag, but mine actually had two balconies that faced the ocean on adjoining sides of the room. Some of the suites even have plunge pools, which to me is the height of luxury (and of IG photo ops).

Already convinced?

Photo credit: Jamie Ballard

Photo credit: Jamie Ballard

The resort is operated by Karisma Hotels and there are a tooon of amenities onsite. In addition to the private beach area for guests, the hotel also has a pool with enormous shaded cabanas, two restaurants on-site, and a swim-up bar. Guests can also book activities like beachside massages, which I obviously was gonna test out. My massage therapist, Nancy, transported me to an alternate universe as I laid in a private cabana and listened to birds singing and gentle waves rolling in on the beach. The best!

Where you’re eating (and drinking)…

Make sure you have multiple meals at both The Sand Bar & Pan American Grill, which is where you should head for a fancier dinner, and The Harbour House Peninsular Cuisine & Wood Stove Bar, a chill breakfast/lunch spot. I ate almost all of my meals during my four-day stay at these two restaurants and never really ran out of things to try. The first night there, I sampled fresh Oaxaca-style guac (sorry but nothing compares), braised mushrooms, shredded marlin in a chipotle stew, sunflower seed hummus, and steak and octopus tacos.

The Sand Bar also had burgers and steak available on the menu, along with wood-fired pizzas. I ordered The Classic Holbox Pizza, which was basically a cheese pizza topped with roasted lobster and prawns. The local guide said it was a signature dish on the island, so, of course, I had to try it.

I confess, I ordered the grilled shrimp tacos at least three times during my stay because they were that good, and I’m not usually big on seafood, so that’s huge. But these shrimp were so fresh since they were locally sourced (they were topped with crunchy pickled coleslaw and pico de gallo and seriously, they were *chef’s kiss*).

As for the drinks, it is Margaritaville, so naturally, I had margaritas for days. But I also sipped on some excellent mezcalitas (just a slightly smokier margarita made with mezcal), tequila sodas, and the occasional beer. You can order drinks at both of the restaurants, as well as at the swim-up bar when you just don’t wanna get out of the pool to have a cocktail.

What you’re doing…

Honestly, I could have spent the entire trip between the pool and the beach, drinking margaritas and eating shrimp tacos. Throw a good book in there and I’m set. But if you want a little more activity on your vacay itinerary, Isla Holbox and Margaritaville St. Somewhere are ready to deliver.

The highlight of the trip (besides the resort, ofc) was a boat tour I went on to some surrounding islands. A boat picked a group of us up at the beach and set off on a short journey to Yalahau, a nature preserve on a nearby island where you can swim in a freshwater cenote (a naturally-occurring lagoon) surrounded by lush foliage.

We all walked down a path through the trees, before arriving at the gorgeous blue-green lagoon. The water was a bit chilly at first, but once I was in it, it was like chilling in a bathtub. Pro tip: If you go in the morning like I did, you’ll probably have the lagoon to yourself for a while. If you’re here in the afternoon, I’d def recommend grabbing a hammock at the nearby bar and restaurant and hanging out for a bit until things get less crowded.

After Yalahau, we went to Bird Island, which is exactly what it sounds like. The island itself is a refuge for birds, so people can’t actually go on the island, but there’s a long observation deck that runs alongside it where you can stand and watch the birds. Sadly, the birds weren’t especially active during my visit so there wasn’t too much to see, but I really love that the island is just for the birds and mostly free of human interference.

Photo credit: Jamie Ballard

Photo credit: Jamie Ballard

The last stop on the tour was ~Passion Island~. It’s actually not a soap opera title, but a semi-remote island with shallow turquoise waters, white sand, and plenty of greenery. I could have spent all day there just admiring the beautiful scenery. This is definitely where I got some of the best pics of the entire trip.

Back on Isla Holbox, there’s a ton to explore outside of the resort. You can have the front desk call a taxi (which is actually an all-terrain golf cart, because of the whole no cars on the island thing) to take you into the town of Holbox, which has a ton of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, smoothie bars, and shops to explore. It’s also possible to walk from the resort to town in about 30 minutes, but be warned, in case you decide to wear your cute white sundress, that the roads can be muddy. I also saw plenty of people biking around Holbox, so you could probs rent one to get around for the day or weekend.

I decided to spend the last afternoon and evening exploring the town. Once I got to the main downtown area, I wandered in and out of souvenir shops and did a little impromptu tasting at a local mezcal shop. There were tons of people walking or biking around in the streets, but it never felt too crowded. Then the lil nightcap was walking to the beach to watch the sunset and enjoy some live music, right before dinner at a restaurant called Viva Zapata, where I ordered some sizzling fajitas (and a couple of margaritas, obviously).

Photo credit: Jamie Ballard

Photo credit: Jamie Ballard

One more thing! Don’t forget to check out the bioluminescence (aka when tiny ocean creatures emit real-life glow-in-the-dark energy) at a little bay at the end of the island. It’s only about five minutes from the hotel and it’s *so* magical! You can wade in the water and watch it light up around you. I definitely experienced an out-of-body this is so cool and I’m so lucky to be here moment while I was splashing around.

The final verdict…

Margaritaville St. Somewhere Punta Coco is thoughtfully designed and has everything you need to have a relaxing, peaceful vacation. If you wanna have a super secluded, romantic honeymoon, I meeeean, you have to head to Isla Holbox, and more specifically Margaritaville St. Somewhere (those sunsets! the plunge pool!). But it’s also equally family-friendly with all the fun adventure ops if you’re traveling with kids. I would also happily come back here on a solo trip or margarita-fueled girls’ weekend, if that’s the vibe.

If you’re looking for a beachy, nature-filled escape that’s slightly off the beaten path (but still has all the amenities you want), you’ll be obsessed with Isla Holbox, trust me.

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