In Between Meals on Holbox

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It would be easy to spend most of your day lounging in a beach hammock on Holbox. But then you miss smobbin’ around in a golf cart to find the perfect popsicle.

Here are some things to do and snack on in between meals:
Sunset at El Chiringuito
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To make friends on the island look no further than El Chiringuito. It’s on the corner of the beach where the hotels end and the locals gather on a washed up log to watch the sunset. The drinks are big, frozen, made one at a time in a blender and with almost too much care for a place with swings and hammocks for seats. Order whatever they have on the chalkboard, it usually involves mango or mint.

Find Saborines (or bolis)
There’s this fantastic frozen snack I’ve mentioned before on my blog only under the name of bolis, but in holbox they seem to be called saborines. I think boli also means blow job, but I’m not sure which came first. They are essentially paletas in free-form, in plastic bags. You will see signs for them. In all the tropical flavors of coco, guanabana, mamey, nance and more. I saw a handwritten sign for some a few blocks from the plaza but no one was at the front of the house, so I wandered into their patio and a mother and daughter pulled out a few from the freezer.

Take a Boat Trip
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There are a few boat trips you can take from the island. The typical (and most affordable) has three stops: a bird reserve, a cenote and isla de la passion, where you can walk in shallow turquoise waters for a mile and take lots of selfies. Others will take you to see the whale sharks (usually June to September) and there’s another that will take you to the point where the Gulf and the Caribbean meet, called Cabo Catoche. That one is more pricey, but includes a meal made right on the beach and takes up most of the day. We went with the Cooperativa Turistica “Pulperos del Caribe”. When you book your tour be sure to talk to the owner Karateka, he’s got a wealth of knowledge about the island and as his side hustle does animal rescue. As I was interviewing him he got a call about a baby alligator stuck at the pier, so we hopped on bikes to go find him and help him out of the area. Note: baby alligators are scarier than I imagined.

Sip on that Paleta and Juice

“I know, let’s get some mango and coconut paletas and some passion fruit juice, and dump them all in a cup with that havana club you bought.” A good friend says yes to that. And then after buzzing around on our golf cart gathering all the supplies, plus wandering into a creepy convenience store that has two fridges of nothing but coca cola (of course, Mexico) comes up with the brilliant plan of celebrating a well-made mush of frozen drink by riding around in circles, or as we call it in the Bay, doing donuts. We found Paleteria Ancona, where they make everything right there in the morning.

Drink Cocos
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All you boozers bearing your souls to your bartenders, I just found one better. His name is Jorge and he has a coconut cart. During my second Jorge encounter I found him surrounded by older women as he hacked their coconuts with his machete (that sounds way more violent than I intended it to). A young hot guy passed by, arms full of produce. “The best coconut vendor in all of Holbox!” he said, and then asked Jorge if he needed limes, and insisted on dropping off a big bag. Jorge, embarrassed that he didn’t have cash, asked if he could settle up with him later. “Me and you were born settled!” said the hot lime man. With that Jorge and the women started discussing karma. They did not leave for a while, even after drinking their coconuts. I stayed to talk, but also because I was hoping the hot lime man would come back.

Jorge comes walking down the beach usually around 1 p.m. yelling “cocooooos.” His cocos are always cold (and fresh, he gets them himself every morning) and if you bring your coco back to him he’ll chop up the meat for you with a sprinkle of lime and chile.

Chase the Murals
Just before we arrived there was an international public art festival and people from all over descended on the island to paint murals. Which means that a new piece of artwork surprises you around every corner— covering houses, empty buildings and storefronts.

Dance at Tribu
If you haven’t been to an island jam session, you haven’t had the full island experience. This hostel has a balcony bar with live music almost every night, often performed with audience participation. If you’re lucky, you might catch a rendition of “hit the road yack.”

Rent a Golf Cart (go crazy)
You can grab a golf cart almost anywhere for about $50 for four hours. It’s entirely worth it to see the various sides the island. We liked the beach near the hotel Los Nubes and the beach at Punta Coco. If you haven’t been to a Mexican cemetery, pay a (quiet and respectful) visit to this one. Graves are painted in pastel colors and tropical flowers lean over the walls. Just make sure there’s a number to call on your cart in case it breaks down.
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Do Yoga with Juli
Every day at sunset that I wasn’t drinking or going out to eat (so, most days) I did yoga with Juli on the balcony of my hotel. The classes were challenging and refreshing. When I was there she was offering classes at Hotel Amaité and Casa Las Tortugas.

Talk to People
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People are friendly on Holbox, don’t waste that. Plus, there are people working here who come from all over Mexico, so you’ll learn a lot about the rest of the country, as far away as it seems.

On my last day I was looking for someone who would have pity on a gringa and take me out fishing with them. Someone told me to go find an older man at the third house from the pizzeria on the right of the plaza. The house, as a lot of houses are in Yucatan, was open, with two men swinging in hammocks in the living room. The family, including a grandma, mother, brothers, and a toddler were eating ceviche and before I even stated my purpose, they invited me in. Turns out, they were a third generation holbox family. No one was going fishing that day, but they did sit with me for an hour and answer all my questions about life on holbox.

2 thoughts on “In Between Meals on Holbox

  1. Thank you for this lovely column! Holbox is heaven on earth. I met Juan Karateka in 1999. I am looking to revisit Holbox this fall and would like to contact Juan Karateka (Rico Santana). Do you have a number or email where I can reach him? Thank you.
    Light and Love
    Laurie Marinelli

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