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The Island of Holbox

August 17, 2012 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent


Villas Flamingos
Villas Flamingos is one of several boutique hotels on the 26-mile-long island of Holbox.


At the end of this month, Mexico will host what is expected to be a widely attended Gastronomic Festival, celebrating the region’s top-notch chefs and fine dining options. Whereas a lot of the classic Mexican dishes will be familiar to most foodies attending, the destination the festival will be hosted in may not be. Allow us to introduce you to the island of Holbox

Mexico’s Culinary Festivals

The Gastronomic Festival, being held on Holbox at the end of August, isn’t the only culinary festival taking place in Mexico this year. Here are some other festivals your foodie clients will enjoy when vacationing in the country.

Perhaps one of the most unique festivals takes place in October. The Festival del Mole will take place in San Pedro Actopan, State of Mexico. During this event, thousands of mounds of mole paste of every type fill the stalls set up for the preparation, tasting and sale of this quintessentially Mexican dish. Eat your fill at the many impromptu restaurants, and by all means take some home; mole paste keeps for several months in the freezer. San Pedro Actopan is just outside the Milpa Alta section of southern Mexico City. Agents should call 011-52-55-5844-9022/5844-2893.

In November of every year, Puerto Vallarta embraces its culinary scene with the annual International Gourmet Festival. Taking place November 8-18, the 10-day festival showcases 30 star, guest masterchefs and participating restaurants offering special Chef’s Table and Winemaker dinners as well as cooking demonstrations, gourmet safaris, and cheese, wine and tequila tastings.

On December 23, Mexico will host the unique and very popular Radish Festival. Taking place in Oaxaca, huge radishes are carved into grotesque and fanciful forms, including an entire Nativity. Bunuelos are traditionally sold and eaten and the plates smashed afterward. The next night there is a parade of floats through the center of the town.


Meet the Island of Holbox

Holbox is an island in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, situated on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Just 26 miles long and separated from the mainland of Mexico by a shallow lagoon, Holbox is considered to have some of the finest restaurants along the coast with diversified culinary options from Mexican to international fare.

In fact, this tiny tropical island has more than 25 restaurants. Holbox chefs are distinguished for their unique specialty dishes, which include lobster pizza, crust pastor mushroom casserole and stuffed squid.

Part of what makes seafood on Holbox such a specialty is its freshness. Most of the people of Holbox Island make their living from fishing, and you’ll often see fishermen walking through the village carrying nets with their catch of the day. Holbox is also perfectly situated near three islands: Yalahau, Passion Island, and Bird Island (Isla Morena).

Getting and Staying There

A small airline, Aerosaab, flies tours to Holbox from Cancun and Playa del Carmen; there is even a small airstrip to accommodate Aerosaab’s five-seater Cessna aircraft.

Clients who wish to stay overnight can choose from a number of boutique properties, including Villas Flamingos and Xaloc Resort, both part of the Turquoise Reef Group, and HM Villas Paraiso del Mar.

Places to Eat on Holbox

Since the island’s restaurants are off the beaten path, a lot of them do not have official websites. But Travel Agent found some related links that give you a little extra information on each restaurant.

Viva Zapata

This is perhaps Holbox’s most popular and most vibrant dining spot. Viva Zapata serves up very traditional Mexican cuisine and it has beautiful decor. But this is where you come not just to eat, but also to dance the calories off. It has a lively ambiance with music that will remind your clients that they are on an authentic Mexican island. Visit


Another option for clients who want to eat and party at the same venue is Edelin. Like most restaurants on Holbox, its lobster pizza is one of the more popular dishes. There is also a really cool, second-floor terrace where clients do some digesting while taking in beautiful views of the village. For additional information, check out, search “Holbox Edelin.”

La Isla del Colibri

La Isla del Colibri, which means Hummingbird Island, is a smaller, quieter dining option for clients looking for a cozy setting. To further its ambiance, it is adorned with some reproductions of Frida Kahlo’s paintings and a series of antique photos. Open from early morning to late night, La Isla del Colibri serves up a variety of options like seafood cocktails, steaks, fresh fruit juice, coffee and tea. For some more information, visit, search “Holbox Colibri.”

La Parrilla de Juan

The setting of La Parrilla de Juan as well as its cuisine separates it from the rest of Holbox’s dining options. Under a shady thatched-roof ceiling, La Parrilla de Juan is one of the best places to eat on Holbox. This is the place clients should go when they perhaps need a little break from Mexican cuisine as its menu is dominated with many Italian and Mediterranean specialties. It also serves seafood, steaks, salads and wine. For some additional information, visit, search “Holbox Parrilla.”


Situated near Holbox’s main square, this charming restaurant is an excellent choice for a romantic dinner or a family gathering. It has a very relaxing ambiance topped with a selection of contemporary jazz music as well as a small bar serving not only delicious cocktails but also the best caffe espresso in all of Holbox. Check out, search “Holbox Pelicanos.”


This is one of the traditional places to eat on Holbox. It has a rustic decor and serves perhaps the best shrimp cocktail your clients will get their hands on on the island. Visit

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | August 17, 2012
Get to know this little-known paradise for foodies in Mexico.