Our Vacation in Isla Holbox

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It’s been a whirlwind few weeks. Two days ago, I got back from a 5-day vacation to Mexico and almost immediately hopped another flight to Chicago for work. Next week? I’m in San Diego — again, for work. (It’s safe to say I’ve memorized the seat-belt speech recited at the start of every flight.)

Last week marked my first time in Mexico, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a favorite destination. It’s remote, romantic and convenient, yet exotic. We visited Isla Holbox, and I’ll be sharing different facets of the trip over the next few days. But for now, here’s a few preview snapshots of the trip.

The pelicans are some of the sassiest members of this beach community.
The pelicans are some of the sassiest members of this beach community.

Originally, my husband and I were interested in visiting Tulum. The problem? The secret is out, and the place is packed — crawling with tourists and extremely expensive, to boot. Then I read an interview with¬†Francesca Amfitheatrof, the new design director of Tiffany. She mentioned Isla Holbox as one of her far-flung inspirations for her jewelry collections. I was SOLD.

The street art scene is incredible in Isla Holbox.
The street art scene is incredible in Isla Holbox.

It is not easy to get to Isla Holbox. First you have the a cab and the plane trip, followed by a rumbling SUV roadtrip over pothole-studded roads through remote villages. Then you take a ferry before boarding a rickety golf cart toward your final destination.

It’s worth it. This is how I imagine Richard Branson would vacation, if he didn’t already own his own island.

This little buddha is nestled right outside the spa and yoga studio.
This little buddha is nestled right outside the spa and yoga studio.

Typically, my husband and I opt for adrenaline-fueled vacations. Our first trip together was hiking through the Pacific Northwest. Our honeymoon included off-roading through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. So a tranquil beach trip was a BIG stretch for us.

Then the hotel was hit with a two-day tropical “disturbance.” And the power went out. (These photos were not taken during the monsoon — you’ll see those on another post.)

In Isla Holbox, hammocks were an intrinsic part of life -- many of the island's citizens sleep in them!
In Isla Holbox, hammocks were an intrinsic part of life — many of the island’s citizens sleep in them!

Usually before a big vacation, I like to storyboard my outfits. This trip was no different, and I packed plenty of tropical-themed gear, including beautiful leather and jewel-encrusted sandals, fine linen dresses and beaded tops. I didn’t wear any of that fancy stuff. Instead, I wound up buying a pair of plain white flip flops for the wildly inflated price of $30 and wearing the same denim cut-offs and bright yellow poncho for most of the trip. (Again, you’ll see those photos later.)

A collection of religious relics on the Holbox beach.
A collection of religious relics on the Holbox beach.

Even with the inclement weather, Mexico’s appeal is obvious — especially once you steer clear of the tequila tourist trail. (My tip? Stay away from any resort that includes the words “all-inclusive” in the description.) Because Holbox is so small (pop: 2,000), you quickly built rapport with both guests and citizens.

A bench made out of an old boat. Delightful.
A bench made out of an old boat. Delightful.

The restaurant¬†owners quickly learn who you are and what food you like — even remembering where you like to sit. The shop owners you pass daily remember you too — even the dogs who roam the beaches have a flicker of recognition when they poke around for lunch scraps. You quickly feel like you are part of a warm, close-knit community — and that’s pretty special.

More details coming soon! Let me know if you have visited Holbox — or if you have other recommendations for Mexico vacations. (I’m already plotting my return.)