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Holbox vs Tulum: Is Holbox Really the Better Trip?

Last updated on January 12th, 2023 at 11:22 pm

Holbox vs Tulum is often compared when planning a trip to the Riviera Maya. And while Tulum was a top choice for many because of the beaches, luxury hotels, cenotes, and parties, Holbox might be the better trip for untouched island beauty with less tourist traffic.

Comparing Holbox vs Tulum

Tulum has easily become flooded with tourists, and with this, prices have gone extremely high for accommodations and tours. Holbox is proving to be the more relaxing choice, with prices of tours, accommodation, and food more accessible to the general tourist, and more chances of actually enjoying the blue beaches paradise – what you really want to get out of a trip in Mexico’s beaches. Read here Tulum vs Playa del Carmen, Cozumel vs Cancun, Tulum vs Chichen Itza and Cozumel vs Tulum

Related Holbox and Tulum Guides

Where to Stay in Mexico

You can access a dorm that can go up to €18-30. And while a hotel that is a double room in a budget can go up to €90.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN MEXICO BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH BOOKING

Book Your Travel Insurance

You can read Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review

You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included

Best eSIM and Prepaid Cards when Traveling to Mexico

You can get the most popular eSim providers in Mexico: Airalo, Holafly, Nomad, GigSky and Ubigi depending on how much data you need in Mexico. Read here best Mexico sim card for tourist

Holafly Mexico eSim for less than $60 USD if you use our code GAMINTRAVELER you will have unlimited internet in Mexico for 30 days for just $2 USD per day.

You can buy the cheapest eSim in Mexico with Nomad eSim Mexico prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. And for $27 USD Nomad Mexico eSim with 5 GB data valid 30 days.

Airalo eSim Mexico prepaid with similar data packages for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. For $21 USD with 3 GB data and for $32 USD with 5 GB data valid for 30 days. (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%).

Let’s look at the things to do, sights to see, accommodation prices, and more and help you decide on the right Yucatan vacation for you – Holbox or Tulum?

Things to do in Holbox – Tulum vs Holbox

Holbox vs Cozumel - Which Island Should You Visit

Isla Holbox is an exquisite island of blue beaches and white sand. But in addition to this, there is a wide variety of exciting activities you can do to add to your beach lounging time. Let’s look at the top things to do while you’re in Holbox below:

1. Whale Sharks Encounter in Holbox

Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting, Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting
Try a Whale Shark encounter (by boat) in Holbox.

Holbox is very popular for its whale shark encounters. If you are visiting around mid-May to mid-September, this is the time you can book a whale shark activity.

You won’t be allowed to scuba dive with the whale sharks, but you’ll be on a boat where you’ll ride to the area where the whale sharks can be seen, before heading to Cabo Catoche.

Some of the important requirements during a whale shark activity in Holbox:

  • Only biodegradable sunscreen is allowed.
  • Flash photography is also not allowed.
  • You won’t be swimming with the whale sharks
  • You’ll be maintaining a certain distance from the sharks (around 6.5ft) and won’t be touching them
  • You’ll be doing the activity under the monitor of guides

2. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling at Cabo Catoche – Tulum vs Holbox

Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling at Cabo Catoche

Another activity you can do in Holbox, which can be included in the Whale Shark encounter is scuba diving and snorkeling in Cabo Catoche. Swim with sea turtles, stingrays, parrotfish, and more. Perfect for someone who loves to do snorkeling activities during an activity day in Holbox!

3. Experience Seeing Bioluminescent Water At Night in Punta Cocos

Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting
Visit Punta Cocos in Holbox for a bioluminescent experience

What exactly is Bioluminescent Water? In Holbox, Punta Cocos you can experience seeing bioluminescent water because of the presence of an algae bloom of plankton. With the splashing or breaking of waves at night, the bioluminescent waters glow at night.

4. Visiting Punta Mosquito for the Flamingos

Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting

Another island to visit from Holbox, which is an activity that can be done with the whale shark encounter is seeing the flamingos at Punta Mosquitos.

5. Do Kitesurfing

Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting

Holbox is Mexico’s top kitesurfing spot, with good and consistent kitesurfing winds between November and to end of May. Holbox is definitely great for kitesurfing because of its very long windy season, and with the flat waters, you can kitesurf no matter what level of kitesurfer you are.

There are plenty of schools and training centers to help you with your kitesurfing activity.

6. Do the Three Islands Tour – Things to do in Holbox

The Three Islands Tour is a very popular day trip in Holbox which allows you to visit 4 beautiful points of the island of Holbox – Punta Mosquito, Isla Pajaros, Passion Island, and Yalahau Lagoon. In Punta Mosquito, you’ll get the see island birds like flamingos. In Isla Pajaros or Bird Island, there are even more bird species to see (around 35). Passion Island (Isla Pasion) has a beautiful beach, while Yalahau Lagoon is also a natural swimming hole where you can have a dip and see the lagoon.

6. Relax on Holbox Beaches

Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting

Holbox of course has some of the bluest beaches and most serene places to relax in all of Mexico. The best beaches for relaxing are Playa Holbox (on Holbox east side), Playa Punta (on Holbox west side) and even Playa Punta Mosquito.

Playa Holbox is a shallow beach and have a few sandbars. Incredible views and just an exquisite beach experience.

7. Walk around Holbox Town Center

Holbox vs Isla Mujeres - Which One is Worth Visiting

You are probably just interested in the beach and water activities when you’re thinking about Holbox, however, taking a walk or even just an hour or two in the town center to see some art, some local creations for souvenirs and gifts or even just to look around can be an activity for you to add to your itinerary while in Holbox.

Where to Stay in Holbox

Around $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Holbox. There are hotels mid-budget $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.

Casa Los Tortugas is a beautiful property in Holbox, sustainable and Instagrammer worthy

Things to do in Tulum

Beaches in Tulum

Playa Paraiso

Playa Paraiso directly translated to Paradise Beach is one of Tulum’s most stunning beaches as it sits in the Caribbean sea. It is known as one of the world’s most popular beaches.

Here you’ll see the National Park of Tulum and the archeological zone. Playa Paraiso is also an open and public beach. It’s a good beach for lounging around and gentle for family visits as well, with swimming and activities available.

Ziggy Beach

This is the Ziggy Beach Club inside The Beach Tulum Property

Ziggy is a beach club hotel in Tulum, and one of the more luxurious and popular attractions of the area. You can have lounge areas here, and you’ll have access to their bar and restaurant. It’s one of the more expensive areas to stay in as Ziggy is considered high end compared to all the places around Tulum.

Mayan Beach / Playa Ruinas

Just from its name, the Mayan Beach in Tulum overlooks the famous Mayan Ruins. This definitely gives you a bit of a balance of having a beach area, and having a look at the ruins too, and of course you can tour the Mayan Ruins being in closer proximity to it.

Caleta Tankha Beach

The Caleta Tankah Beach

Caleta Tankah Beach is another of Tulum’s private beaches, costing around 100 Mexican pesos to enter. Beach clubs are good options if you want a little more “privacy” in that it’s not immediately open to everyone unless you pay, but still not the most expensive private beach in Tulum.

Playa Pescadores

A part of Playa Paraiso, Playa Pescadores is another open and free to the public beach of Tulum and one of the most beautiful as well. You can hire boats from this part of the beach to do tours in Tulum, but make sure that you book with reputable boat or tour companies as some are known to be unfriendly and aggressive.

Playa Santa Fe

About 10 minute walk from the ruins, Playa Santa Fe is another beach you can spend time in if you want to be close to the Mayan ruins. Another beautiful public beach as well.

Playa Boca Paila / Playa El Canto

One of the hidden gems of Tulum, Playa Boca Paila, called as Playa El Canto by locals, is located by the entrance of the National Park and Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an.

More Top Things to Do and See in Tulum

Tulum Ruins

The Tulum Ruins makes Tulum popular and historic at the same time. It’s ancient Mayan ruins that overlooks the beautiful Mexican Caribbean waters, making this part of the world not only exotic and unique, but adds to the beauty the Tulum beaches bring.

Mayan Ruins of Coba

The Ruins of Coba is one of the most important parts of the Mayan Ruins or Tulum Ruins, about 28 miles or 47 kilometers inland from the Caribbean coastline. To access this part of the ruins, you’ll take a short drive from Tulum or Valladolid. This is one of the most frequented Mayan ruins in Tulum, so if you want to explore this part of Tulum’s beauty, take time to visit the ruins.

El Centro (Tulum Pueblo)

Image via Alma de Flores Tulum, El Centro

The Central city of Tulum, El Centro is the place to visit when you want to get away from beaches for a bit, and of course see it’s local life – local restaurants and good food (Mexico is very popular for this of course), and try other activities in the town without being in the beach and the beach clubs.

Sian Ka’a Biosphere

This is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO site in Tulum

Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve is a biosphere reserve in the municipality of Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It was established in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. “Sian Ka’an” means “gate of heaven” or “a place where heaven begins

Cenotes in Tulum

Dos Ojos Cenote / Two Eyes Cenote

If you want the option to swim, free dive, and dive while being in one of Tulum’s picturesque cenotes, visit the Dos Ojos or Two Eyes Cenote.

Cenote Calavera / Skull Cenote

Another of Tulum’s Instagram worthy cenotes, it the Cenote Calavera. Be careful as guides here may not be watching you as you swim but there are a lot of people in the area because of its popularity. Prices can be high too.

Big Cenote / Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote or the Big Cenote is the most popular Cenote and very touristy in Tulum. It’s on the way to Coba, so make sure you plan properly if you want to swim and take pictures here.

Cenotes Casa Tortuga

Cenotes Casa Tortuga in Tulum is not only a place in the middle of the jungle of Tulum that you can stay in, you also have access to 4 beautiful cenotes in the property when you stay here.

Instagrammer Popular Areas in Tulum

Ven a la Luz at Ahau Tulum Beach

Ven a La Luz Artwork in Ahau Tulum

This artwork is arguably one of the top Instagrammer worthy photos in Tulum and it’s an artwork in the Ahau Tulum Beach Resort. It’s a beautiful sculpture on its own, and definitely an easy spot to recognize to mark your visit in Tulum

Cenote Suytun

Cenote Suytun is one of the most Instagrammer worthy places in Tulum
This is Cenote Suytun in Valladolid Mexico

Hard to miss the most Instagrammer worthy photo in Tulum, which is the Cenote Suytun. Okay, Instagram shows it as part of Tulum, but it’s an hour and a half drive away. If you’re staying or visiting Valladolid, it might be more reasonable to do it from there, as it’s only a 15-minute drive away. You can also do tours and cenote visits around here, as Cenote Oxman is near Cenote Suytun, an easy trip to do together.

Best Time to Visit Mexico

There are 2 seasons dry and wet season. The rainy season starts in May. The best time to visit Mexico is from the months of November to April because it is the months of the dry season. However, lots of tourists prefer to travel from January to March since it’s not peak season but it can be rainy for a few days.

Click here to know more about the weather in Mexico

Cash in Mexico

Mexico has its own currency called the Mexican Peso. A $1 USD=19 MXN. There are lots of ATMs and exchange currency in many parts of the country. And you have to know that the country’s dollars is very common and well-accepted. Click here to know more about the exchange rate of Mexico.

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Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.