It's Time to Tour Holbox: A Stay at the Casa Sandra Holbox
Before heading to Holbox, Mexico, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at Holbox hotels. The truth is, there's no shortage of Holbox Island hotels, but there's only one Casa Sandra Hotel, which is also known as the CasaSandra Boutique Hotel.
In this article I want to talk about experiences around Isla Holbox (as it's known in Spanish), as well as what the Casa Sandra Boutique Hotel is all about, and how I felt my stay there was. Often, you'll see their branding as "CasaSandra" as well, so, for the sake of ease, I'll use both "Casa Sandra" and "CasaSandra" throughout the article.
The Island of Holbox, Mexico, is absolutely stunning, but it's really not one of those futile paradise islands where all you can do is melt on the beach (not that there's anything wrong with that). There's no shortage of activities to participate in, and I'll try to cover all that as well!
If you do love those paradise style locations, you might also like "How to Spend 3 Weeks in Vietnam,"
How to Get to Holbox Island
Of course, this question is going to largely depend on where you're coming from but, statistically speaking, it's most likely that you'll be making the trip from either Tulum to Holbox, or from Cancun to Holbox. These are the two most likely starting locations when people are thinking about how to get to Holbox island.
Tulum to Holbox
If you're coming from Tulum to Holbox, it makes the most sense to come by bus or private driver. More buses tend to run from Thursday through Sunday, so check at the local bus station to see what makes the most sense as far as it relates to getting from Tulum to Holbox. I will say that more of my research suggests that getting a private driver is the way to go, especially if you're with someone else who can split the cost. The drive is roughly 3 hours.
Cancun to Holbox
If you're coming from Cancun to Isla Holbox, then you're likely going to be coming straight from the airport, which is just fine. Cancun Airport happens to be connected to the ADO Bus Terminal, so it makes sense to get a bus to Chiquila (the nearest town to the coast). Once you get to Chiquila, you'll take a ferry to Holbox.
Cancun to Holbox is the most likely route, I know that's what I did.
Chiquila to Holbox
Chiquila is the farthest town at the coast and where you'll take the ferry to your final destination, Mexico's Island of Holbox. The ferry is run by two companies, 9 Hermanos and the Holbox Express. Naturally, the Holbox Express tends to be just a touch quicker, but both are fine.
The cost for the ferry should be around 150 pesos (for both companies) and it runs daily from 6am-9:30pm, and leaves every half an hour. I'd say it's a reliable service. You can find out more information about the Holbox Ferry right here, if you need it.
I'd recommend that you sit on the top deck when you're taking the ferry to Holbox. The ferry to Holbox can be lovely up top when the sun is shining, and the views are lovely, especially as you're pulling away from the island. That being said, the ferry to Holbox can also sometimes get you pretty wet, and you might want to sit inside. Personally, I'd rather be outside, but that decision is up to you!
NOTE: This post may contain some affiliate links. That means, simply, that I may get commissions from some of my recommendations. That being said, my opinions are fully my own.
The Casa Sandra Holbox
The CasaSandra Boutique Hotel is, quite simple, one of my new favourite places on the planet. I stayed their with my fianceé Briana for three days, and I couldn't imagine how they could have done anything better. I'm not even saying that as a turn of phrase, I literally can't imagine how anything could have been better.
In this post on the Casa Sandra, one of the premier hotels on the Island of Holbox (Isla Holbox), I'll talk about my accommodation, the cuisine, as well as the day trips and excursions that I took from Isla Holbox upon the recommendation of this charming Holbox hotel.
In general, the idea is that, even if you're not interested in this particular hotel, you'll get an idea of what you can do when you're thinking of how to tour Holbox. Holbox isn't one of those islands where you want to be staying put in one spot either. When you're there, it's definitely important to tour Holbox.
What's the Casa Sandra Holbox All About?
The CasaSandra came to being when Sandra Pérez came to Isla Holbox looking for solitude and a space to inspire her. Not long after, in 2003, she was opening her home to guests as a way to share what she'd found. Before she knew it, she'd created a hotel that was a living piece of art that all could relish in.
As noted on the website, "this hotel is filled with dreams and decorated with original works of art made by her and other Cuban artists such as Roberto Fabelo and Noel Morera and is appointed with handmade Mexican furniture and Cuban antiques."
There are a variety of rooms (all of which are unique and special) available at the hotel which represent a number of different price ranges, but the real joy is the unmatched beach access. The CasaSandra Boutique Hotel opens up onto a beautiful stretch of water with no shortage of beach chairs, beds, as well as a bar.
The main restaurant and lobby is classy and updated, and the back area is perfect for relaxation by the pool, with ample space for yoga and the like. Both Bri and I actually did yoga one morning and I'll tell you from personal experience that yoga outdoors in paradise is a touch better than yoga indoors at a Canadian gym.
On one morning, I had some work to do and I literally just sat on the front patio, dined on breakfast and took in the cool breeze. Even while doing work, it was still enjoyable.
The Cuisine at the CasaSandra Boutique Hotel in Holbox
What you're looking at above is a delectable display of octopus carpaccio and grouper tiradito, and this was just the tip of the iceberg. I would not be exaggerating when suggesting that Bri and I probably ate the best we ever have at a hotel throughout our 3 nights here.
We had creole shrimp and filet mignon with a tequila barbecue sauce for dinner, delectable huevo ranchero and chilaquiles for breakfast, and fresh fish with all the fix-ins for lunch. That's not even to mention the mango mousse and homemade brownies for desert.
The ultimate (at least for me) was the fact that on the last day before we left, they had learned how much I loved ceviche, and so the head chef literally taught me how to make ceviche, and I ate it before taking off. It was divine.
What I can say is that everything I ate was incredible - as good as anything I've had at quality restaurants around the world (and I can say that with confidence, I've been lucky to eat at some top places over the years).
I'm sure that the food here would match up to or surpass any of the top Holbox hotels, and Holbox island hotels are known for their food. If you can get Sayed as your server, you're in good hands. He was able to offer us a slew of recommendations that were absolutely spot-on. He's legitimately one of the most knowledgeable and kind young men I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. His wine recommendations weren't too shabby either!
Don't Forget to Tour Holbox and the Surrounding Area!
The island of Holbox is absolutely stunning, and it's important that you get off the resort to discover that for yourself, no matter how nice your Holbox hotel is.
The list of tours at the Casa Sandra Holbox was top-notch, and Bri and I have done tours aplenty. We wanted to take a few of the tours in order to be able to talk with confidence when we talk about how to tour Holbox and the surrounding area.
To me, that was the biggest perk of the hotel, they really knew how to show you around. Antonio really spearheaded this, and he bent over backwards for us on a number of occasions. At the beginning, he was just guiding us around, but by the end I would call him a good friend. He's somebody I would be happy to host at our place in Toronto just based on what a genuine soul he is.
Literally, if you need anything, he'll make it happen for you. I can rarely recall meeting hotel staff in the past that so deeply cared about us finding the true Holbox, and enjoying every minute of our stay. The staff at the CasaSandra Boutique Hotel were a huge, huge plus, and a major reason that Bri and I would stay there again, and again, and again.
Nativa Natural Park
You've got to take the Holbox ferry back across to the mainland, but not far from Chiquila (where the port is) is Solferino. We had Arturo meet us in his trusty Nativa truck and take us over to Nativa Natural Park. The park is 130 hectares in total, and the sections which are built up (only 3 or 4 percent) took 150 people 4 years to build!
Nativa Natural Park is the perfect place to dive deeper into the natural history of the land, while having a fair bit of fun along the way. It depends on the tour which you choose, but, generally speaking, it's a great opportunity to learn about the natural history of the Mayans. You go for long hikes through the forest to learn about Mayan history, as well as climbing up a tower to get a vantage point of the surrounding forests that the Mayans made such good use of!
Beyond that, the real fun part is that you get to add a little adventure to the exploration of the forests. We had a trusty off roader from Nativa Natural Park to tackle the forests.
We also took out canoes into the middle of the lake to do some bird watching, which was particularly alluring to me. All that to say, a trip to the Nativa Natural Park is going to be all kinds of enlightening and fun, especially if you've got Arturo or Isa as your guide!
Fishing and Island Hopping from Holbox!
You can see here how intently I've got my string held out there. Newsflash, I didn't catch a thing, but it wasn't for lack of trying. That being said, everyone else did indeed catch something, and it made for some incredible fresh ceviche later in the afternoon!
If you have the option, I would strongly recommend this tour. Even if you aren't staying at the Casa Sandra on Holbox, think about coming over to the hotel just to inquire about the tour.
It's a nice mixture of deep sea fishing with relaxation and exploration. We swam in a cenote (a deep nature spring or well), and visited islands which were as picturesque as any I'd seen. The last island we actually visited, known as "bird island," had this platform from which you could view the island, and I fell in love with it. You can see my post on Instagram of just that phenomenon.
Talk about paradise.
Punta Coco for the Sunset
As the sun was setting one night, Antonio pulled up in his trusty golf cart and we headed off for Punta Coco. No matter which of the Holbox hotels you're staying at, it's safe to say that you should find a way to Punta Coco.
Thanks to Casa Sandra, we sipped on champagne as the sun went down. If that isn't paradise, I don't know what is. It's about a ten minute ride on a golf cart to get there!
Reflecting on Our Stay at the CasaSandra Boutique Hotel in Holbox, Mexico
As far as hotels go, Bri and I have been lucky to stay in a number of gorgeous spaces. We're all about looking for spaces that do things differently. Take, for example, our stay at the Killarney Mountain Lodge not so long ago. We've never sought out places that couldn't provide a memorable experience, and this is exactly what the Casa Sandra Holbox did for us.
Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I would unequivocally recommend the Casa Sandra because I legitimately cannot fathom how they could have done better. Everything was on point.
Bri and I are already formulating plans to head back because those who run the hotel, like Sayed and Antonio became fast friends, and it's a place where you get treated like family.
I was received as media by the CasaSandra Boutique Hotel, whom I humbly thank. All opinions are truly my own. Have you been to Holbox before? Has this convinced you to head to this island? I'd love to hear any thoughts, ideas, or comments that this article spurs!