At 7 AM on Holbox I woke up and walked the beach, stopping to swim in the Caribbean sea with no one else in sight but two fisherman untangling the silver fish from their nets. Towards the end of the hotel strip the sand turned into tiny unbroken white sea shells. As I walked into town with the sun coming up over the turquoise fruit stand, two men crossed the street in opposite directions, smiling and nodding their heads as they passed each other. At home I regularly do silent nods to people on my way to BART, mostly because the hipster 20-something males that have moved into my neighborhood all look the same and I can’t remember if I’ve met them or not, so I feel like a morning nod in the early hours of the day when no one wants to talk is acceptable either way. But it must be nice to actually know everyone you see in the street.
Holbox is an island off the Yucatan Peninsula with 3,000 people, 26 miles long and one mile wide. It’s three hours from Cancun, and untouched by spring breakers and tall hotels. I’ve been here four times now, but the first visits were ten years ago when I lived nearby. It has changed, the kind of changes that mean the hotel that used to be $20 is now $200 (I didn’t stay at that one). But it’s still easy to find a virgin beach, there are no vehicles allowed, and people like to talk to each other. It only took a few days of bouncing around to map out exactly where to eat.
Here are a few places to start your day.
I am convinced that in small towns (or on small islands) one solid breakfast place is all you need, and perhaps all there really is. For me on Holbox that place was La Chaya. I first noticed the corner cafe on my way back from a morning beach walk, when a woman with a liter sized plastic bottle of bright carrot and orange juice stood at the counter chatting with the restaurant workers while they blended papayas, oranges and vegetables. She came every morning to get her juice, and so did we to get our eggs. Whether rancheros, montuleños (a tower of tostadas, ham, beans, eggs, and a sprinkling of green peas) or chilaquiles, the salsas were always mild and fresh which in the land of fiery habanero is welcomed. I got most of my vegetables for the trip from a green juice with pineapple, nopal, celery, chaya (a local green), and orange. Eggs are roughly $3-$4, juices are about $2.
Open all day.
As you may know, I have a thing for caffeinated and sugary, ice-cold beverages when in tropical places. I blame Mexico, where you are easily tempted to start your morning with juice, cafe de la olla, champurrado or hot cholocate. I got my iced frothy sweet cappuccino thing that I craved so badly here at Le Jardin. It’s an airy café with comfy booths surrounded by a wall of tropical greenery. It’s French-owned, if you couldn’t tell from the morning croissants and badly written English and Spanish signs. I hail from land of Tartine, so these baked good were nothing extraordinary but they were good, the croissant unexpectedly sweet and chewy.
Open until 12:30 pm.
For a morning juice head to Restaurant Mirian, where there are bottles of freshly made beet, orange, passion fruit, and green juices on the sidewalk.
We stayed at Hotel Amaite, which with some help from Expedia was an affordable hotel right on the beach. Among other things we liked, the breakfast included with your stay was a delightful first breakfast. Homemade multigrain bread, a different jam every day, and a tropical fruit plate.