Comparison Holbox vs Cozumel – 2 of Quintana Roo’s most sought destinations out of its 11 municipalities are Holbox and Cozumel. If you’re looking to spend your vacation in Mexico’s Quintana Roo area, Holbox vs Cozumel are two of the best islands you could visit. Click here to book online Cancun activities and day tours
Holbox and Cozumel are both reachable by plane and from the airport, you usually will take a ferry to get to either Holbox or Cozumel.
Comparing Holbox and Cozumel
While both are stunning beach trips, Holbox is more a tranquil paradise while Cozumel is better for underwater-filled activ
Cozumel has its own international airport, the Cozumel Airport, and the island of Cozumel is about a 40-minute ferry ride from Cozumel Airport.
Mexico is popular for its blue beaches, white sand, and tons of activities you can do for that perfect tropical holiday. While both Holbox and Cozumel are part of the popular beach areas in Quintana Roo Mexico’s popular tropical destinations, only Cozumel is part of the long stretch of Riviera Maya, between these two.
Holbox is known for its peaceful ambiance and relatively undeveloped state, offering visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life or crowded tourist destinations. The island is renowned for its natural beauty, including its sandy streets, bird life, and serene beaches.
Cozumel, on the other hand, is a popular destination known for its lively atmosphere. The island is especially famous among scuba diving enthusiasts due to its stunning coral reefs. Cozumel also offers a variety of dining, shopping, and accommodation options, and is more developed and tourist-oriented compared to Holbox.
Let’s compare Holbox vs Cozumel and help you decide which island should you visit.
Holbox vs Cozumel: How to Get There
How to Get to Holbox
Arriving to Holbox
To arrive in Holbox, you’ll be flying into Cancun International Airport, and then travel to the municipality of Chiquila. Ferry to Holbox Island is located in Chiquila, about 1 hour and 48 minutes from Cancun airport. Read here how to get from Cancun airport to Holbox
The boat runs daily from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm every half an hour. Ferry from Chiquila to Holbox costs around $7 dollars and crossing to the island takes 20 minutes.
How to get to Cozumel
To arrive in Cozumel, you’ll have the option to fly in from 2 airports, either the Cancun International Airport or the Cozumel Airport. Read here how to get from Cancun airport to Cozumel and and Tulum to Cozumel
Arriving at Cozumel from Cancun International Airport
Cancun will be one of the most popular airports to arrive by, seeing as it is one of Mexico’s largest international airports. From Cancun, you’ll have to go to Playa del Carmen via the ADO bus or taxi, or a private transfer, this takes about an hour. And from Playa del Carmen, you’ll take a 40-minute ferry to Cozumel.
Public ADO bus is very accessible and available from 9:00 to 24:00. Fare is about $10. The bus departs from Terminal 3. Another option is to take a taxi to Playa del Carmen, and of course to book a private transfer in advance. Taxis can easily cost $50 or more, so be prepared to haggle or to accept this pricing.
Arriving at Cozumel directly from Cozumel Airport
To arrive directly to Cozumel, for example from the United States or Europe, you’ll fly in internationally to one of Mexico’s major international airports, and then from there have a connecting flight to Cozumel.
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Things to Do – Holbox vs Cozumel
Difference of Activities in Holbox vs Cozumel
If you’re looking for a relaxed stay on the beach with beautiful views and serene surroundings, Holbox might be the perfect vacation for you. And if you are more up to for an equally gorgeous vacation, but with more activities like diving and snorkeling, Cozumel might be right up your alley.
Things to do in Holbox
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 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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
Things to do in Cozumel
There is so much to do in Cozumel! From diving and snorkeling to jeep tours and beach lounging, it’s really easy to make each day in Cozumel a special experience. Here are just some of the activities you can enjoy on the island!
1. Visit The Wild East Side – Holbox vs Cozumel
The “wild” east side of the island is absolutely worth a visit. While the west side is primarily hotels and beach clubs, the east side of Cozumel is a paradise of remote beaches interspersed with fantastic local beach bars.
There are also a few great places to grab a lounger, eat some fresh fish tacos and take a dip in the water such as Chen Rio and Punta Morena, but the real highlight of the east side is the wonderful natural emptiness of it all. Be sure to stop for a fresh handmade beach cocktail at Rastas, Welcome to Miami or Mezcalitos (or all three!) and let the sea breeze wash over you. Hammocks included.
Note: Since 2008, Sargassum (seaweed) has regularly arrived on east coast beaches from May to August. It can pile up on the sand and be a little smelly. If the east coast has too much seaweed when you arrive, we recommend visiting Punta Sur (see below) or one of the excellent west coast Beach Clubs instead.
2. Go Diving
Cozumel is world-renowned for its scuba diving and proximity to numerous top dive sites. The Mesoamerican reef system is the second-largest reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef), and there is extensive coral and sea life with incredible visibility.
From beginner’s discovery dives to advanced drift dives, there’s something for everyone around Cozumel.
3. Spend the Day at a Beach Club
The west side of Cozumel has incredible sparkling, turquoise waters and numerous beautiful beaches. When visiting the island, there are several fantastic beach clubs where visitors have access to sandy beaches, swimming pools, oceanfront restaurants, beach bars, sun loungers, water activities and more.
They typically range in cost from $10 USD to $65 USD per person with the pricier options being all-inclusive with drinks and food.
4. Take A Tour With A Local
Take your vacation in Cozumel to the next level by taking a tour with a local! There is nothing quite like getting an insider experience with people who live here and love all that the island has to offer. Curious about Cozumel’s green interior?
Take a jeep tour to Cozumel’s original capital town, Cedral, a quaint community surrounded by forest on all sides. While there, take a jungle off-road visit to caves, trails and even a cenote where you can take a swim. If you are more interested in a water experience, head out from the local’s marina (not the tour boat marina) for some fishing, snorkeling and exploring on the way up to Passion Island.
Once there, swim in the clear waters and enjoy a bbq on the beach, local family style! It doesn’t get much better than that. For arranging tours with a local, we recommend contacting Arturo at Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge, and start planning your unique private experience.
Smiggie’s Excursion Concierge is now offering an exclusive tour that has you visiting a private hacienda with caves to explore, a plunge pool and a delicious asadero (open fire bbq). By the end of the day, you will have enjoyed an authentic piece of Cozumel, just like a local.
5. Experience Buccanos
Hidden away on a quiet sandy cove, Buccanos is a complete island retreat. With a stunning beach club, spa and renowned gourmet restaurant, one can easily spend a full day and night at Buccanos Beach Club & Buccanos At Night Restaurant.
Guests are greeted at the beach club amidst beautifully manicured grounds for relaxing breakfasts or lunch by the sea. A large swimming pool, palapas and an idyllic sandy beach allow guests to fully engage in the plentiful amenities throughout the day.
Explore the underwater wonderland by snorkeling and indulge in a relaxing treatment at the seaside spa. Throughout your day, the attentive wait staff serve a fresh menu of food and drinks by the pool, in the open-air restaurant or on the beach.
After a day of tropical bliss, be sure to book your reservation for the highly acclaimed Buccanos At Night gourmet restaurant, renowned for the chefs’ creative seafood and Caribbean-inspired plates. Incredible ocean and sunset views, tantalizing culinary concoctions, excellent beach access, the Buccanos experience will have you returning time and time again.
6. Go Snorkeling – Holbox vs Cozumel
The water off the coasts of Cozumel is world-famous, so jump in! There are numerous snorkeling locations where you can simply enter from the shore, or you could take a boat tour out to the incredible reefs. If time is short, a shallow reef snorkel tour may be the perfect way for you to experience the underwater world.
Feel like a full-day snorkel excursion? Check out some of the many longer tours to the deeper sections of the reefs to try and spot some of the larger species that call this water home. Whatever you choose, you will be smiling the whole time.
7. Book An Island Photo Shoot
Cozumel is a stunning island with endless activities, adventures and ways to simply unwind. Like any visitor to such a beautiful locale, you will be snapping images on your phone all day every day. However, who is taking your picture? Nobody should survive on selfies alone!
Let us recommend a new activity here on the island, Salty Studio photography sessions. Book a personal, group, family or wedding session with this talented team and take home a memory that will last a lifetime. Their experienced photography crew can capture you on the beach, in the jungle, underwater or even from the sky with their fantastic drone photographer.
Looking for a full-day adventure? After your personalized session the team can arrange to take you snorkeling, swimming, sightseeing or simply to a beautiful beach to relax.
8. Try Sport Fishing
Deep sea and bottom fishing are fast becoming very popular activities here in Cozumel. Stunningly clear water and excellent weather create an enticing environment for this thrilling sport. If you are one of the many visitors to the island who are passionate about fishing, we recommend booking a private boat for the adventure of a lifetime.
The waters around Cozumel are famous for a reason, they are teeming with gorgeous fish. Sailfish, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, Barracuda and so many more swim through these waters daily. Whether you are an experienced mariner or have never been sea fishing before, don’t worry, the award-winning team at Aquadventures will guide you through every troll and reel.
Bring some friends, bring your family, and come enjoy a day on either the beautiful Grand Slam or Why Not boat stocked with everything you need to have a fun and exciting day on the water.
9. Go Shopping
No vacation to Mexico would be complete without at least a little shopping, and Cozumel is the perfect place to do just that. With dozens of shops ranging from high-end silver jewelry to beach bag vendors, whatever your heart desires can be easily found.
Although most people naturally flock to the town center or the Royal Village Mall by the cruise ship port, we recommend taking the time to explore a little further afield to find some true treasures. You may just end up buying your hammock from a local who has just finished stitching it on his front stoop!
Also, whether you have one day for shopping or many days, you must be sure to visit Los Cinco Soles. Located at the north end of the waterfront, this is an exceptionally well-appointed shop. Filled to the brim with stunning art, souvenirs, jewelry, clothing, traditional handicrafts and more, Los Cinco Soles has something for everyone. It even has a tequila-tasting bar! All were created by Mexican artisans, farmers and families. You will be so happy you visited.
10. Visit Punta Sur Ecological Park
The entire southern point of Cozumel island is a sprawling nature preserve known as Punta Sur. It one of the best places to see the island’s vast natural habitat. With some of the most beautiful beaches on the island (bring your swimsuit!) and incredible mangrove marshlands (a free boat ride to see wild crocodiles and birds is included), Punta Sur is a nature lovers dream.
Be sure to stop at the lighthouse and climb to the top for epic 360-degree views. There is so much to explore at Punta Sur, be sure to get there early!
WHERE TO STAY IN COZUMEL
A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Cozumel. There are hotels mid-budget $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Islands – Holbox vs Cozumel
The Best Time to Visit Holbox and Cozumel
Since both these islands are in the Yucatan Peninsula, they have the same tropical weather year round.
Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F), it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.
Check here for the weather in Holbox vs Cozumel, Quintana Roo
January – April: Weather in Holbox vs Cozumel
Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.
May – October
The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine and fantastic warm water for snorkeling & diving. Also, the hurricane season peaks in September and October so keep an eye on the forecasts and definitely get travel insurance just in case. Fewer tourists mean you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.
November – December
The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Holbox. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.
Final Thoughts on Holbox vs Cozumel, Which is Better?
When comparing Holbox vs Cozumel, each island emerges with distinct appeal.
Our personal favorite is Cozumel. While Holbox is a quiet and laid back beach scene, Cozumel gives you a little more fun with lots of underwater scenery.
Holbox, for instance, is your go-to for tranquillity. This unspoiled paradise offers a relaxed vibe, sandy streets, and unique bird-watching opportunities.
Cozumel, in contrast, is a diver’s paradise. Known for its stunning coral reefs, the island also boasts vibrant nightlife, diverse dining, and a range of accommodation options.
Holbox vs Cozumel, then, becomes a matter of personal travel preference.
If an idyllic escape from typical tourist spots excites you, Holbox stands out as the ideal choice.
On the other hand, if world-class diving and a bustling town are on your checklist, Cozumel is a standout choice.
Holbox vs Cozumel is not about better or worse. Each island offers a unique Mexican island adventure.
The ultimate choice depends on your specific travel desires.
Hope you got all the information you needed for a visit to Isla Holbox vs Cozumel! Stay tuned to more of our Mexico series and find out which places you can visit when in Mexico.
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About the Author: Ruben, co-founder of Gamintraveler.com since 2014, is a seasoned traveler from Spain who has explored over 100 countries since 2009. Known for his extensive travel adventures across South America, Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa, Ruben combines his passion for adventurous yet sustainable living with his love for cycling, highlighted by his remarkable 5-month bicycle journey from Spain to Norway. He currently resides in Spain, where he continues to share his travel experiences alongside his partner, Rachel, and their son, Han.