ad·ven·ture adˈvenCHər,əd-/ isla holbox
1. An unusual and exciting, typcially hazardous, experience or activity
2. Engage in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory
I thought we would be jetting off to Mexico, The Carribbean and other romatntic places all the time when we arrived in NYC, but sadly, life in NY takes over. Many holiday budgets are spent on the high brow NY lifestyle and visits to the Motherland. Many many visits.
When planning a trip to Mexico, we were recommended a tiny island a little more off the beaten track than the ususal tourist haunts. Something my husband and I both really strive to acheive – adventure; even with a little one in tow.
Isa Holbox, (pronounced Holbosh) is in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico, about 2.5 hours North East of Cancun, including a thirty minute ferry ride. There are no vehicles on the island, apart from golf buggies, and it’s not an overly popular destination with American and European tourists at the time of year we went.. July. So if peace is what you are looking for, Holbox is spot on.
Speeding to the airport in our usual ‘by the skin of our teeth’ fashion, always adds a layer of travel excitement. We made it and hopped aboard the leisurely three hour flight to Cancun. For many, the travelling stops here. Or for the slightly more adventerous and party hungry, a hop to Isla Mujeres. Not us. We stepped outside into the sweltering Mexican heat, and searched for a minivan that would take us on the two and a half hour journey throught the national park to the ferry. The journey was a breeze for my sleeping daughter and husband. I like to travel awake. I love to take in the sights of a new country. The journey to Chiquila through the national park takes you through several tiny towns and villages. There are roadside shacks offering freezing cold cervezas out of a makeshift ice box, and empanadas out of a crumbling hole in a wall, or someone’s back door. I expected to see lots of amazing Mexican colours.. but I felt that the landsape was laced with a little more poverty than I had envisaged, which saddended me.
Once we got the ferry terminal, with only minutes until departure (always our style) in the sweltering midday heat we rushed over to board. We chose to sit in the air conditioning, not another gringo in sight. As the boat slowly hummed away from the shore, we noticed a sturdy little man at the front, with a guitar, slicked back hair and a pair of loafers any man would envy. He was like Del Boy meets Carlos Santana. I also noticed I’d left my favourite fedora and my baby changing mat on the van. Oh the hellish fear of first world problems, how would I cope?! Del Boy Santana sang my worries away whilst my little bundle bounced along all the way.
After twenty minutes or so, the ferry began to drift into the turquoise waters and palm lined shores of Holbox and I knew we’d picked the right island. Famous for its swimming with whale sharks, magical sunsets and seafood I couldn’t wait to settle in to island life.
We had booked into Las Nubes, what I understand to be one of the most exclusive hotels on the island. Right at the very west tip. With steps right into the azure ocean, and 3 swimming pools I had wanted a clean, secure and easy place for my micro family. I’ve slummed it all over South East Asia.. but now I’m a Mum. I need clean and secure. Service, staff and location were definitely all they cracked up to be. Unfortunately it really lacked that romantic careless island feel which my husband and I both strive for. It lacked a little ‘vibe’. A highlight on the other hand for Hotel Mawimbi, one of the highest rated on the island by tourists, perhaps more no frills. But the most excellent taste in textile and furniture and fabulous budget friendly food.
We divided our time between the two… swam, lazed in the sun.. got sand in our knickers and nappies.. and generally soaked up as much as we could in the far too short five days. One of the islands specialities is lobster pizza.. weird.. but good. I highly recommend Pizza Edelyn, in the centre of the small town. For a beautiful beachfront meal, with great service and a bit of pizazz.. Casa Las Tortugas won us over. It’s right on the beach, is also a wonderful boutique hotel with an eclecticly designed restaurant and a sunset view not to miss.
The icing on the cake on this trip was two of my nearest and dearest from London holidaying on the very same island. We shared sunshine, seafood and created some unforgettable memories. Holbox carved a little place in all of our hearts. As I sit huddling into this cold November evening in Boston, I can almost hear the waves licking at the shore, and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.. and so I plan my next adventure….