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May 27, 2011 09:35 AM

Dining in and around Holbox Mexico

I would really love some help with any interesting restaurants or bars in and around Holbox, Mexico. I will be staying at Las Nubes de Holbox during the July 4th weekend and would like some guidance on any great/interesting food and drink options nearby. Usually we stay in Tulum but decided to try something different this year.

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  1. You are staying at the slickest place on the Island, but you know that. You will appreciate the AC in July there, very few places have it. Be sure to bring NEET, it's a mangrove island and mangrove = mosquitos. Also cash. Few if any ATM's and not many places take plastic. Interesting that for what is ordinarily low season for Mexican coastal resorts, Holbox can jack up their summer rates because of the whale shark watching season. Hope you see some!

    You will immediately find the basic restos around the square, Edelyn's, Colibri, Cariocas, be sure to have the lobster at Viva Zapata - 2 or 3 small tails grilled with garlic and butter is a highlight. Holbox is all very laid back with the sand streets and a few golf carts although it is compact and all walkable. No problem strolling with an open brewskie.

    Those more economically challenged than you will be found at the bar at the Faro Viejo for happy hour.

    The pretty rows of ponga fishing boats all tethered up early and late in the day are a nice sight. Holbox produces a lot of the fresh catch for the Cancun market. You'll probably share the ferry with a refrigerated fish truck.

    If you drive from Cancun (and there is no need to if you are staying on Holbox the whole time) remember to take the libre road. The cuota road doesn't have an exit for the turnoff to Holbox. I goofed up once and had to drive all the way to Vallodolid and turn around. You would leave your car at the ferry dock where a lady will charge a few bucks a day to park.

    The Gulf is not crystal clear along Holbox, but it is a wonderful getaway.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Hi Veggo - Appreciate your Holbox info on these threads! My hubby and I are going down there for our first time later in the month and I was trying to research some super cheap eats... any advice? Do food vendors sell on the plaza in the evenings? Is there a mercado for snacks and fruit or just little shops?


      1. re: frauleinflores

        You'll find a few general stores and fruiterias within a couple blocks of the square, and a few pizza by the slice places, and roasted chickens. For those, just follow your nose starting about11:30. Very economical. There are a few comida corrida spots in homes to the west of the square but I have not tried them. Spend part of your first afternoon just checking menus for later. You'll find fair prices for some good fish meals. If you are taking the bus from Cancun it can be a very economical trip to a lovely destination. Maybe bring a 9 quart Coleman cooler as part of your carry on luggage, with clothes, cameras, etc. in it on your way down, and then use it for its intended purpose when you get there - beer and ice.

        1. re: Veggo

          From our limited exposure to the island, the local dining scene seems to feature two main themes in restaurants: seafood and Italian. And there is what might be considered Holbox fusion dining: Italian seafood restaurants.

          Would second virtually everything Veggo mentions in his first reply plus add one treat we enjoyed more than once: Maresa ice cream. You can buy these tasty cups for $15-$20 pesos from several locations in town including a home a couple blocks south of the Main Plaza and from an ice cream “truck” on a golf cart. They have a wide variety of tropical flavors including our favorite, Pina (pineapple).

          See a few more details at

          1. re: mediakzar

            I like your review in the link! The fish in the photos is a boquinette, my absolute favorite. Somehow, the Yucatan is wildly popular with Italians - in Playa del Carmen, everything north of Avenida Constituentes is called "Little Italy".

            1. re: Veggo

              Thanks for the comment. If you're interested, I have what I like to think of as one of the better set of reviews for Cozumel restaurants (including lots of local places) at:

              1. re: mediakzar

                Good coverage of Cozumel. My 2 pesos: Give Plaza Leza a fair chance. Yes, the waiters have been flagging down passers by like carnival barkers for over 20 years, but it's a pretty good spot. Notably, the caracol al mojo de ojo (grilled conch with garlic), guac, and queso fundito with chorizo. Their 'ritas are the real deal, no mix and they actually squeeze the limes when the drink is ordered. Also, their new upholstered chairs are quite comfortable and it's a nice place to relax at an outside table and people watch on the square. A lot of divers congregate there and swap dive stories. As you indicate, La Choza is very good and authentic and does a daily comida for locals. Las Palmeras fruit plate and their huevos motulenos are excellent. La Mission opened a new location in PDC last January on 10th Ave. between 2nd Ave. and Juarez - best chili relleno in the area, excellent fresh fish, lobster and shrimp, well trained service.
                On the windward side of Cozumel for those who drive the ring road, there is the Paradise Cafe, AKA Bob's Marley bar, with excellent shrimp or conch ceviche or the mixto. That part of the island is not electrified so they haul coolers in every day. I have logged mucho hammock time there, watching the waves crash on the ironstone. Next up is Playa Bonita resto, pretty good chow and cold beer and a good view of the bay where kite surfers put on quite a show when the wind is up. Next up is Coconuts, a fun spot for snacks and beverages, and it is one of few places on the island with some elevation so the view is good.
                Sadly, Joe's Lobster did not survive it's move. For decades it was the coolest place in Cozumel for lobster, then live music and dancing.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Hey Veggo... On the Coz "wild side" don't forget Chen Rio which does serve great fresh seafood platters. Plus you can swim at that beach. Wife likes Paya Bonita better and I can taste their gorditas now in my head and for real next Monday.

                  I'll second ghutcher's praise to you and mediakzar. Both of you need to visit Especias just south of the Plaza upstairs and add it to your lists. I need a week and a half to hit all the good spots in San Miguel and maybe two for Playa.

                  And finally, a bit off topic, but I'll be stopping by to say hello to Jaime at Nohoch Kay in Mahahual next week. And I might be linking up with Sarah(?) from Ambergris Caye when in Belize. She's known Jaime for years, you probably know her too. Her neighbor is ferrying over to B.C. and we're having a beer or two late afternoon. We're just cruising here this time so sched and time is short.

                  1. re: crewsweeper

                    my bad, the woman on Ambergris Caye 's name is Stacy. Not Sarah.

                    1. re: crewsweeper

                      Lobster season on Ambergris opens a week from today, maybe she could bring you a lobster burrito from Warugumas to snack on with your Belikin at happy hour?

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Not sur eit that'll carry well on the water taxi or even the short plane flight. But certainly on my list if we venture over to there.

                    2. re: crewsweeper

                      The beach at Chen Rio is probably the safest spot on the ocean side of Cozumel for a swim and as a result, you'll get the chance to mingle with local families and kids there. Every time we have eaten there the seafood has been extremely fresh but when ordering the (market price) whole fried fish, make sure you confirm the price from your waiter before ordering. We have personally experienced and know of other occurrences when the cost for this item was excessively high on the final bill. My impression was that it was a single waiter that was trying to pad the bill and not SOP for the restaurant. I wouldn't let it stop me from ordering the whole fish as it is terrific but just a word to the wise.

                      1. re: mediakzar

                        Usually a whole fried fish there is boquinette. It's always a good idea to see the fish and agree on the price beforehand, whether boquinette or redfish. Before San Francisco beach in Cozumel became a cruise ship playpen, it was a nice quiet place and one could enjoy a redfish, baked pibil style with all the trimmings in a banana leaf on Sundays. I recall ordering a redfish big enough to feed a family, but I had to have it, worth the price. Hardy possible now, just a few years later.
                        P.S. crew - I was funnin' about the burrito, Warugumas delicious lobster packed burritos are ladled with so much glorious saucy goop you can barely carry one to your table.

      2. I wanted to thank Veggo and mediakzar for the helpful info and link. Sounds like Holbox will be just what we need for a few days in July!