hammocks in the water | merida to holbox mexico

How to Get From Merida to Holbox Island, Mexico [2022]


Wondering how to travel to Holbox from MERIDA?

You’re in the right place because I live in Merida and have done this trip myself. Whether you need info on the Merida to Holbox Island route or the Isla Holbox to Merida route — you have four transportation options, and you’ll learn about all of them in this article.

The Merida to Holbox private shuttle service is by far the easiest, fastest, most stress-free and hassle-free way to Holbox with door to door service! You’ll be picked up at your Merida accommodation, and driven straight to the Holbox Island dock to catch the ferry.

There’s also the option of renting a car and driving to Chilquila, Mexico, where you’ll take the ferry to Holbox Island. If this is what you want to do, jump ahead to the section on driving from Merida to Holbox. The final options are a flight from Merida to Holbox, and the ADO bus.

Ready for a thorough breakdown of all your options? Keep reading to discover all three ways for how to get to Holbox Island from Merida — and the two ways I don’t recommend! After you choose how to get to Isla Holbox, check out the Holbox Travel FAQ at the end of the article.

Merida to Holbox Transportation

How do you pronounce Holbox?

Before we get to the Merida to Holbox info you came here for, let’s make sure you’re pronouncing the word correctly! Isla Holbox is pronounced hole-bosh, not hole-box. It is a Mayan word, and in the Maya language, the letter x has a “sh” sound.

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.
Merida to Holbox Transportation

Where is Isla Holbox, Mexico?

Holbox Island is located in Quintana Roo State, one of the most visited of all Mexico states. Also in Quintana Roo, there’s Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Bacalar Lagoon, Cozumel Island, Isla Mujeres, and some of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Merida is located in Yucatan State, one state west of Quintana Roo!

As the word isla in its name, Isla Holbox, states — this is in fact an island (isla means “island” in Spanish). The closest town by land is the small pueblo of Chiquila, Mexico. You will have to get to Chiquila, where you’ll transfer onto the 30-minute ferry to Holbox Island.

🗺 Holbox Map

Merida to Holbox Transportation

How far is Merida from Holbox?

Since you have to take the Holbox Ferry to the island, the better question is — How far is Merida from Chiquila? The Merida to Chiquila distance is about 190 miles (306 km). This drive takes four hours in normal traffic. 🚙💨 Head here to get a visual with this Merida to Holbox Island map.

Holbox Island Ferry in Chiquila, Mexico

Once you make the trip from Merida to Chiquila, you’ll board the Holbox Island Ferry. The only exception to this is if you charter a Merida to Holbox flight, but everyone else must use the ferry to get to Holbox Island. 🚢 For more info on the Holbox Ferry, head here.

Is there an airport in Holbox Island?

There is a small Holbox airport on the island — Aeródromo de Holbox (code: HOL) — though it’s only open to small and private planes. ✈️ Want to fly to Holbox Island? Head here to get a price quote from Fly Cozumel!

aerial view of the small beach town of Holbox Island
Take the Air Taxi to Holbox Island: Aerial view of Isla Holbox, as you’re flying in with Fly Cozumel.
Merida to Holbox Transportation

Merida to Holbox Private Transportation

Trip Time: 4 Hours | 💸 Cost: $235 for up to 4 passengers

The fastest, easiest, most stress-free way to get from Merida to Isla Holbox is by booking a private driver. They will drive you, door to door, from Merida to the ferry dock in Chiquila, where you’ll get on the Holbox Island Ferry. 🚢 For more info on the Holbox Ferry, head here.

✔️ Fastest way to get from Merida to Holbox

Time is always the most precious commodity while on vacation — and the one nobody ever has enough of! For this reason, it makes sense to spend a bit more money so long as you save a good chunk of time, as you will with private transportation from Merida to Holbox Island.

A 5 Star, or I would say, Diamond Service. Very professional, they care about the people they drive, and you won’t get bored.

Lilita Castillo, Tripadvisor review

✔️ Best way to Social distance

Private transport from Merida to Holbox Island is the best solution for those wanting to practice social distancing. If you have health and safety concerns during these strange travel times, a private driver to Holbox is the way to go.

✔️ Leave on Your Schedule

With private transportation, you set the departure time. All you have to do when you book your transportation is let the company the address where you’ll be staying in Mérida, and the time you want to leave, and they will be there to get you for your stress-free trip to Holbox.

Book your Merida to Holbox Island private transport here!

Merida to Holbox Transportation

Merida to Holbox Drive (Merida Car Rental)

Trip Time: 4 Hours | 💸 Cost: $25+USD per day for a rental car

Besides the private transport service mentioned above, getting a Merida car rental is your next best option. The best place to rent a car is Merida Airport, which has the largest selection of rental cars in Merida. (If you happen to be coming from Cancun, get one at Cancun Airport).

Note: You’ll have to leave your rental car in Chiquila at a paid parking lot, as you can’t bring a car to Holbox Island. 🚢 For more info on the Chiquila Ferry Dock, head here.

When booking a rental car in Merida, I recommend and personally use Discover Cars. They search both local Mexican companies and large international corporations, so you’re guaranteed to get the best car rental rates. ▶︎ BOOK NOW with Discover Cars!

Find Your Rental Car

Discover Cars also has ratings for all companies, so make sure to eliminate any that don’t have a good reputation. Finally, you can buy Mexican car insurance right from Discover Cars, so you’re not surprised with an unexpected bill when you pick up the car.

Do I need Mexico Car Insurance?

Yes — At the minimum, you need Personal Liability Insurance to legally drive in Mexico. Drivers in the Yucatan aren’t known to be the safest in Mexico, so personally, I always opt for full coverage. With Discover Cars, I’ve always paid only about $10USD per day for full coverage!

Merida to Holbox Transportation

How much are Merida car rentals?

Mexico car rental rates will always vary — but figure about $25-35USD per day for an economy car with the minimum Personal Liability Insurance coverage, and about $35-45USD per day for full coverage.

If you’ve looked for a Mexico rental car online rates, you may have seen $5USD per day rentals. If that seems too good to be true, it is. This is the base price for the car — not including taxes, fees, and insurance. To be safe, assume your Merida rental car will be about $25USD per day.

driving from merida to holbox island mexico
Merida Chiquila Drive: The road approaching the ferry dock in Chiquila, Mexico. (Photo: Sharenrea via Flickr)
Merida to Holbox Transportation

Is it safe to drive from Merida to Holbox?

Yes — For the majority of travelers, the Merida Holbox drive is safe. To be extra safe, don’t drive at night, don’t speed and don’t be on your phone — which is a ticket-able offense. If you follow these rules, you should be safe and the police will have no reason to pull you over.

Merida to Holbox Map

  • Merida to Holbox Distance: 190 miles (306 km) from Merida to Chiquila, Mexico, then 8 miles (13 km) on the Chiquila to Holbox ferry.
  • Merida to Holbox Time on the Road: 4 hours in normal traffic to get to Chiquila, Mexico, then 30-minutes on the ferry boat.
  • Valladolid to Holbox: If you happen to be coming from Valladolid to Isla Holbox, you’ll basically follow the same route, it just takes about two hours less.
Merida to Holbox Transportation

Merida to Holbox Flights

Trip Time: 45 Minutes | 💸 Cost: $500+ USD for up to 5 passengers

Wondering, What’s the fastest way to get from Merida to Holbox? That would be a private flight with Fly Cozumel. The Merida to Holbox flight time is less than one hour, versus 4-5 hours over-land. However, with convenience comes a higher price tag.

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

There are no commercial flights from Merida to Holbox Airport. To take a flight to Holbox, you have to charter a private plane with Fly Cozumel. Flight prices vary, so you’ll have to contact Fly Cozumel for a quote, but plan for at least $500USD for a one-way flight.

As the charter will be only for you, you’ll set the departure time. Each charter can hold up to five passengers on a Cessna t206h plane with these luggage parameters. 🐶 Traveling with a furry friend? Fly Cozumel is a pet-friendly company. ▶︎ Book with them here!

Merida to Holbox Transportation

Merida to Holbox Bus (ADO Bus)

Trip Time: 5 Hours | 💸 Cost: $20+ USD for one-way tickets

For budget travelers, the ADO bus is the cheapest way to get to Holbox from Merida. ADO is the largest bus company in Mexico, with a fleet of luxury class buses. Note: You can’t use a U.S. credit card on the ADO website, so you’ll want to book ADO tickets with BudBud.

Travel Everywhere For Less at busbud.com!

Merida to Holbox Island bus schedule

There are two direct Mérida to Chiquilá ADO bus trips each day; one at 6:45am and one at 7:15am. ADO buses are large, with comfy reclining seats that have electric outlets to plug in your gadgets, air conditioning, a restroom and TVs playing movies (in Spanish).

When you take the ADO bus, you’ll be dropped off at the only bus station in Chiquila, Mexico, at about 1:30pm. The station is right at the Chiquila Dock, where you can buy your tickets for the Holbox Island Ferry.

ado bus from Cancun to Tulum mexico
This is the bus you can expect on the ADO Merida to Holbox route. (Photo: Ted McGrath via Flickr)

Overnight bus from Merida to Holbox

Mayab, a low-cost carrier owned by ADO, has an overnight bus from Merida to Chiquila that operates a few times per week. It leaves from the CAME Merida Bus Station in downtown at 11pm, but you will have to buy your tickets in person.

Is the ADO bus safe for solo female travelers?

Yes — For most travelers, taking the bus in Mexico is safe, and you may even meet other solo travelers headed from Merida to Chiquila. The ADO bus line is a popular, comfortable and inexpensive option for Mexico travel, beloved by tourists and locals alike.

Merida to Holbox Transportation

What NOT to Do: Taxi or Uber from Merida to Holbox

Personally, I don’t recommend using Uber or a taxi from Merida to Holbox Island — however, these options are available. I am including info on both, and will explain why I say they are the worst options to get from Merida to Holbox.

Uber from Merida to Holbox

There is Uber in Merida, but most drivers won’t accept you since it’s an eight hour trip in total for them. According to the Uber fare estimator, it will cost about $250+ USD for the trip, which is more than the cost of a private car from Merida to Holbox.

Also, if there’s any traffic on the route, the price you agree to at the start of the trip might not be what you end up paying. To avoid any “hidden fees,” just book this private driver from Merida to Holbox in advance. This way, you know exactly how much you’ll spend!

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.
Merida to Holbox Transportation

How much is a taxi from Merida to Holbox Island?

Short answer: A LOT — often about $250USD — which is more than a private car from Merida to Holbox. You’ll also have to find a driver willing to take you, as this will be an eight hour trip for them, so many won’t want to take it.

However, the main reason I don’t recommend taking a taxi from Merida to Chiquila is that taxis in Mexico don’t have meters, so you’re at the mercy of the driver. Note: Before you get in any taxi in Mexico, you and the driver must verbally agree on the fare.

While prices are determined by zones, going from Merida to Chiquila crosses state lines, so the driver can essentially set their own price as you’ll be out of their designated zones. In short, save yourself the hassle and haggle, and just book private transport to Chiquila

Merida to Holbox Transportation

Holbox Ferry in Chiquila, Mexico

Now that you know how to get from Merida to Chiquila, you’re about to discover everything you need to know about taking the ferry to Isla Holbox. Note: Besides the boat dock, bus station, a few restaurants and convenience stores, there’s little else in Chiquila.

cancun to holbox ferry boat via holbox express
The Holbox Express Ferry in Chiquila Quintana Roo Mexico. (Photo: LeeAnn Heringer via Flickr)
Merida to Holbox Transportation

Holbox Ferry Schedule, Prices & Tickets

Holbox ferry tickets cost $220 pesos ($11USD) for adults, and $160 pesos ($8USD) for children. You can buy your ferry ticket at the ticket window located right in front of the dock. The ferry ride to Holbox is about 30 minutes.

Chiquila to Isla Holbox ferry schedule

There are two Holbox ferry companies — 9 Hermanos and Holbox Express. These two have boats running from about 5am to 8:30pm, with departures about every 30 minutes. As schedules can change, double check the current Holbox ferry schedule before you travel.

Isla Holbox Taxis

Once you get off the boat in Holbox, you can walk to your accommodation or use one of the golf cart taxis. They will be right there waiting for passengers as soon as you exit the boat to Holbox. If you need a taxi, remember to have some cash (pesos) to pay them.

Merida to Holbox Transportation

Isla Holbox Travel Guide: Frequently Asked Questions

Is Holbox safe?

For the most part: Yes! Aside from sunburns, hurricanes, very rare instances of petty theft, and drinking too much (pack your Anti-Hangover Meds!), Isla Holbox Island is safe for tourists. In fact, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is one of the safest places in Mexico for visitors.

Holbox Island has a population of just 2,000 people, so this is an “everybody knows everybody” kind of place. Most businesses close by 11pm, but if you’re out late by yourself, stay aware of yourself and your surroundings because no place on Earth is 100% safe.

small town of chiquila mexico | merida to holbox island
The pueblo (small town) of Chiquila Quintana Roo Mexico. (Photo: Begoña Buchón Ferri via Flickr)
Merida to Holbox Transportation

Can I bring my car to Holbox Island?

No — Cars aren’t permitted on Holbox Island. The Holbox Ferry is for people only, so you’ll need to leave your rental car in a paid parking lot next to the boat dock. Prices for the Chihquila parking lots vary, but typically cost $100-200 MXN pesos per day ($5-10USD).

👮 Note: The lots have security guards who look after the cars, and they get locked at night, so your rental car will be safe in the Chiquila parking lots.

Merida to Holbox Transportation

Where to stay in Holbox

Holbox consists of: Playa Holbox Beach, located on the north end of the island near Punta Mosquito, Playa Punta Cocos, which is on the south end of the island, and Downtown Holbox, located in the center between the two.

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

Most of the best Holbox resorts are near Playa Holbox, an area popular with couples and families. Punta Cocos Beach is quiet, perfect for a romantic getaway or relaxing trip. Downtown is where you’ll find all the action, with hostels and hotels in Holbox at varying price ranges.

Here are 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 provides a relaxing oasis near the center of Holbox Island. (Photo: Expedia)
Merida to Holbox Transportation

How do you get around on Holbox Island?

The developed part of Isla Holbox is only about five-miles-long. If you’re going from one side of Holbox to the other, you’ll likely want to hail one of the golf cart taxis, which you’ll find all over the island. Most rides will be $50-150 pesos ($2.50-7.50 USD).

You can also rent a bike in Holbox to get around, or rent a golf cart. Bike rentals are about $15USD per day, while golf carts cost about $20USD per hour, or $200USD per day. They are a fun way to get around, and with a three hour rental, you could see the whole island.

cancun to holbox golf carts
Holbox golf carts are a popular way to get around. You can rent one, or just hail a golf cart taxi when you need to.
Merida to Holbox Transportation

What’s the best time to visit Holbox Island?

The best time to visit Isla Holbox is from November to April, during the dry season. Note: June 1 to November 1 is technically the Atlantic Hurricane Season, though there’s usually nice weather in Holbox by November.

Holbox is located in the Yucatan Peninsula, which has a tropical climate. This means it’s hot year-round, though the summers can also be very rainy and quite buggy — so don’t forget your Badger Anti-Bug Sunscreen, which protects you from both!

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 Holbox Whale Shark Season runs from about June 15 to September 15, when you can swim with the largest fish in the sea on their annual migration.

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, and you can swim with the whale sharks in Isla Holbox, Mexico.

Tours cost about $175USD per person, as this is a must do in Holbox Island! Holbox Whale Shark Tours, a locally-owned company, has a stellar reputation for ethical animal tourism in Mexico. You can book one of their whale shark tours online or in person.

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

Merida to Holbox Transportation

11 Best Things to do in Holbox Island, Mexico

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

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

🐶🐱 One of the sweetest things 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 take a dog out for a walk or play with the kitties for a while.

cancun to holbox downtown colorful buildings
Merida to Holbox Transportation

Is Holbox worth visiting?

Though admittedly a bit of a trek to get to it, Holbox Island is worth visiting for those who want to venture off the beaten path to see one of the best Mexico hidden gems. Holbox is the ideal place if you want a quieter trip, surrounded by beautiful beaches and unspoiled nature.

Is Isla Holbox open to tourists?

Yes — Though there are still measures for Covid in place, nearly everything in Holbox Island is open. Masks are required in public places (except when you’re eating, drinking or swimming), and businesses do temperature checks, but other than that, Isla Holbox is open to enjoy.

Where can I get a Holbox Rapid Covid test?

Holbox Covid-19 testing is very limited, though many luxury hotels offer it for their guests, like Casa de las Tortugasone of the best hotels in Holbox! For most, the best bet is to get your Covid test done in Merida at one of these testing centers.

Merida to Holbox Transportation

Final Thoughts: Merida to Holbox Transportation

Getting to Holbox from Merida can take a good bit of time, but is actually an easy trip. For those traveling to Holbox Island, I hope you see you have plenty of options for this trip — and once you arrive, you’ll be on one of the best beaches in Mexico and all North America.

When factoring in convenience and price, the private transfer is the best way to get from Merida to Holbox. However, renting a car in Merida and driving to Chiquila, chartering a flight to Holbox, or even the ADO bus, are also great options for how to get to Holbox from Merida.

Merida Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance? 100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Merida? No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Merida? Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Merida? Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Merida accommodation? For Mexico hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb! (Read more)

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights? For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Mexico? Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.

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