When researching on where to start my trip on the Gringo Trail using indietraveller.co, I was told that a good place to begin was at Isla Mujeres (an island close to Cancun) and head south to Playa Del Carman and Tulum. However when googling this area, I read this article about a small island 3 hours north of Cancun called Holbox Island (pronounced “Holbosh” locally).
This sounded like the perfect place to chill after 7 nights of binging in Cancun, with untouched beaches, loads of wildlife, and a small community of around 2,000 locals and visitors – basically the complete opposite of what I experienced the week before.
Holbox Island is pretty easy to get to if you’re in Cancun (or if you aren’t, I believe that you’ll need to travel here first to the ADO bus station and get a bus to the port town of Chiquila). It cost me around 115 pesos at time of writing and took 3 hours to get there. You then have to take a ferry to the island, which costs around 120 pesos (around £10 in total).
Ferry ride on the 9 Hermanos from Chiquila to Holbox Island [Download image for VR]
Everything on the island centres around one square where there are sports pitches, an amphitheatre and a park. All around here you find loads of really good restaurants, bars, laundromats, fruit markets, and more:
The square [Download image for VR]
At the time of writing, there are currently no roads on Holbox Island (although there are footpaths and drain covers in preparation for when they will be built). People therefore get around the island mainly using golf carts (which was real fun to drive around in) as well with bicycles or mopeds.
On the back of the golf cart [Download image for VR]
Quick beer stop after riding around island on golf cart [Download image for VR]
Cycling along the beach [Download image for VR]
There is also only a single cash machine on the island (which I’ve heard sometimes runs out of money or doesn’t work but I never had issues with this). In the short 9 days that I was there, I saw the place get developed literally in front of my eyes, including right in front of the hostel I was staying at (Tribu). They were putting up solar-powered street lights, recycling bins and benches that weren’t there when I arrived.
Worryingly, almost everywhere on this tiny island (it is around 26 miles long and 1 mile wide) there were developments happening, be that new hotels/hostels being built or restaurants and bars. One bar at the end of our street from our hostel called “Hot Corner” was actually a really cool place to hang out and I was told wasn’t even there 3 months ago. Because these kinds of places are so small and open air, there is always a great atmosphere there and people chill on the roads with beer and tequila and every place felt like a street party.
House music at Hot Corner Bar
Tribu Hostel on Holbox Island
I stayed at Tribu Hostel on Holbox Island after researching it online through Tripadvisor and wasn’t disappointed with it. Picking the right hostel to start your travels with for me is really important to meet people to chill with, and there were loads of people here from all parts of the world that I met (weirdly enough, I met one from my home town within 4 days of starting my solo travel – you soon realise that these connections happen so often the further along you go).
Tribu Hotel Reception [Download image for VR]
The 6 bed dorm I was staying in [Download image for VR]
The hostel put on daily activities to mix with people, including live band and jam sessions, quiz and game nights, yoga and meditation sessions during the day, and much more (all free for hostel guests). There is also a great bar and chill-out area with hammocks where people can access the free Wifi, and a kitchen where you are free to cook your own meals.
Tribu Hostel shared kitchen area
The people I met, the beers I shared, the sunsets I saw…
Starting my solo journey at Tribu Hostel on a tiny island in the north of Mexico was the perfect place to remind me of why I dropped everything in my life to do this. I was here for a total of 9 days but could have stayed weeks. I met some amazing people from all over the world, sharing conversations with them that made me realise we were there for the same reasons, and ended up feeling settled in a completely new place for the first time since I left Koh Lanta in Thailand over a year ago.
Sitting on the pier [Download image for VR]
Friends on the pier (turn around!) [Download image for VR]
On the beach [Download image for VR]
Sunset on the beach [Download image for VR]
Sunset on rooftop at Tribu Hostel before meditation session [Download image for VR]
Sunsets on Holbox Island (didn’t miss a single one!)
Watching the sun rise on the rooftop of Tribu Hostel after staying up all night
The wildlife I caught on the island, including just two of the many, many dogs running around the island (both this Great Dane and tiny dog were both owned by the same shop!)
One of the many art pieces found around the island
Catching the ferry to leave Holbox Island
Arrived alone. Left together. [Download image for VR]