Holbox in the Maya language means ‘black hole’, named after the tiny lagoon in the southern area of the island. The bottom of this lagoon is dark, giving the impression of being black. Different rivers cross the jungle mangroves dividing the island into three separate sections. Before the Spanish conquest, Mayans inhabited the island, prospering from its coconut plantations and fishing. The adjacent mainland was frequently attacked by Maya rebels during the Caste War of Yucatan. It was a revolt against the European-descended population. During the lengthy war of nearly fifty years many villages were damaged so people sought refuge on this island. Hurricanes in 1886 completely destroyed the island, but it was rebuilt.
Today the trendy thing is to explore the island by driving a golf cart along the main street Calle Tiburon Ballena (Whale Shark Street), which leads to the main square and the main beach on the opposite side of the island from the ferry port. Playa de Holbox beach is lined with small boutique hotels. A developing art scene is another draw. The International Public Arts Festival is an annual event in April. There is as yet no gallery but there are plenty of interesting murals about that the artists leave behind.
Holbox has also several alternative ways of enjoying nature. You can take a snorkeling trip to Cabo Catoche or opt to swim with the whale sharks (between June and September only). If you are a bird-watcher, go to Isla Pasión, a small island 15 minutes away by boat, or Isla Pajaros (Bird Island), a bird sanctuary 30 minutes away by boat. You can also take fly fishing, spearfishing and deep-fishing trips. The Yalahao Lagoon is a cenote with crystal-clear waters for swimming, 30 minutes by boat from Holbox Island. Furthermore, Holbox has one of the safest beaches for learning how to kiteboard.
If you are after a romantic night, go to the secluded beach by the mangroves at the east end of the main beach, away from the city lights, and gaze at the stars. The new moon time in the summer and the fall provide an amazing glittering phenomenon, when the water turns into a soft glow of pale blue or green. This is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton. The top spot for swimming in bioluminescent waters is at the south-eastern tip of the island at a beach called Punta Cocos.
You can also surrender to doing nothing. Just enjoy sun, sand and stars and reboot your soul on this beautiful island.
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