What to Do in Chiquila, Mexico

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Chiquila, Mexico, is a quiet fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico and the gateway to the popular Isla Holbox. Here is a guide to what to do in Chiquila, Mexico.

Located approximately two hours north of Cancun by car, Chiquila is a quiet fishing village on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. While there isn’t much to do in Chiquila, its port is the gateway to Isla Holbox, a popular island 15 minutes away by boat. Plan to spend an hour or two in the village before continuing to Isla Holbox or use it as a base for many water adventures.

Getting from Cancun to Chiquila

To get from Cancun to Chiquila, you have several options. If you’re on a budget, the bus makes the most sense. However, it will take you over four hours to get to Chiquila by bus, more than double what it takes by car, taxi, or shuttle.

Another option is to rent a car at Cancun International Airport and drive yourself to Chiquila. Depending on what you plan to do once you get to Chiquila, that may or may not be a good option. Since Isla Holbox doesn’t allow cars, you’ll have to leave your car in Chiquila for your stay on the island. If you plan to explore mainland Mexico from Chiquila instead, you may want to have your own transportation.

For most visitors, arranging a shuttle or taxi service to bring you to Chiquila makes the most sense. A shuttle van can cost as little as $22 per person, while a taxi starts at $175. A final option is booking one of the many Mexico tours available. This will give you a chance to explore not only Chiquila but surrounding areas as well.

Holbox, Mexico

Most people stop in Chiquila before boarding the ferry headed for the beautiful island of Holbox. Photo by Arkadij Schell via iStock by Getty Images

Exploring Chiquila

Chiquila consists of a few stores and restaurants. Until recently, it had no hotels, but visitors now have several options when staying in the village. The most popular hotel is Villas Yalahau. It has 17 rooms, which surround a circular swimming pool, and gets high marks for its clean rooms and good breakfast.

Nearby, Villas Ixchel exudes Mexican charm with its thatched roofs and potted plants. Mayan Villas Hotel offers comfortable, clean rooms, and its management can help arrange transportation to and from Cancun International Airport.

Whether you overnight in Chiquila or not, grab a bite to eat before taking the ferry to Isla Holbox. Ole Ole Ole Mexican Restaurant at the Mayan Villas Hotel serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with an emphasis on traditional favorites like enchiladas, mole, and chile verde pork. Saradina Enamorada, located near the ferry, specializes in fresh fish and ceviche.


Enjoy fresh fish and ceviche in Chiquila, Mexico. Photo by Aleisha Kalina on Unsplash

The island isn’t the only attraction in the area. Less than five miles away, Yalahao Cenote is a freshwater lagoon where you can dangle your feet in the cool water or swim. Legend has it that it was a refuge for pirate Francisco de Molas in the 16th century, and today, the cenote is considered a fountain of youth.

Exploring Isla Holbox

Most people visit Chiquila on their way to Isla Holbox, a 15-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Pronounced “Hole Bosh,” the island has no paved roads and doesn’t allow cars. Most people are happy to splash in the Caribbean waters and relax on the undeveloped beaches, but the island offers much more.

Holbox Island

Holbox Island has no paved roads and no cars. Photo by Rainer Lesniewski via iStock by Getty Images

First, you can explore the island on rented bicycles or golf carts, check out the local street murals, and view the extraordinary wildlife.

Holbox Mexico

Explore Holbox by golf cart. Photo by Arkadij Schell via iStock by Getty Images

Here are some of the most popular activities on Isla Holbox.

  • Swimming with whale sharks: From mid-May to September, massive whale sharks measuring up to 40 feet in length migrate past the island, and you can swim with them. Because they are so big, you must take a boat to deeper waters. You’ll want snorkeling equipment to see them better underwater; otherwise, swimming with whale sharks is an easy activity all ages can do.
  • Horseback riding: Several companies offer horseback rides on the beach, mostly in the morning or at sunset. Usually, rides begin inland and weave through jungle and mangroves before continuing to the water. Expect your ride to last about an hour and a half.
  • Kayaking: During the day, you can kayak through mangroves along the coast of Isla Holbox. Paddlers often see crocodiles, rays, pelicans, and flamingos during their excursion, which typically lasts at least three hours. At night, bioluminescent kayak tours provide a colorful show as plankton turn churned waters a bright turquoise color.
  • Island hopping: A boat tour is a great way to explore the islands around Isla Holbox. Generally, tours include a stop at Isla Pasión, where you can enjoy pristine beaches and beautiful Gulf waters. Isla Pajatos is another popular stop. You’ll see flamingos, pelicans, ducks, and other waterfowl there. Some boat tours even go to Yalahao Cenote on the mainland.
  • Kite surfing: Many consider Isla Holbox one of the best places to kite surf in Mexico, thanks to the consistent 15- to 25-knot winds on the island. If you’ve never tried kitesurfing, Lifestyle KB and Kukulkite on Isla Holbox offer private and semi-private lessons.
  • Walking Las Nubes: Kick off your flip-flops and stroll for miles on the Las Nubes sandbar from Isla Holbox’s beach hotels to Mosquito Point. The tide can come in quickly, so check for when the next one is scheduled, and be sure to head back to shore before the ocean partially covers the sandbar.
Holbox Island

Relaxing on the beach is one of the most popular things to do on Holbox Island, Mexico. Photo by shalamov via iStock by Getty Images

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What You Need to Know When Visiting Chiquila and Isla Holbox

Chiquila and Isla Holbox offer a laidback alternative to the all-inclusives of Cancun. While you don’t need a car to visit either, decide how you’ll get from the Cancun airport to Chiquila to avoid the stress of making plans at the airport. Then, once you arrive, kick back and enjoy the beach, sun, and sand. Be sure to check out Wander With Wonder for more things to see and do in Cancun and elsewhere in Mexico.

Chiquila, Mexico, is a quiet fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico and the gateway to the popular Isla Holbox. Here is a guide to what to do in Chiquila, Mexico.


What to Do in Chiquila, Mexico

Written by Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Wine Enthusiast, and AAA publications. She’s also the author of two guidebooks (Great Escapes Arizona and Backroads and Byways of Indian Country) and a contributor to Fodors Arizona & The Grand Canyon. While Teresa would never miss a must-see attraction, such as the Statue of Liberty in New York City, her favorite travel experiences are the unexpected ones: KoolAid with a Hopi medicine man, lobster prepared by a local on a Belizean beach, or a ride in a World War II-era bomber.


  1. Tom Simunovic

    Can you swim in Chiquilá? Any beach or at least spot to enter sea? I see only docks on your pictures.

    • Susan Lanier-Graham

      Yes, you can swim in Chiquilá. The water is shallow for quite a ways out.