Down Mexico Way
Less than 100 miles from Cancun, Isla Holbox is a million miles away in attitude. Here, there are no discos or tour buses. People spend languid days fishing, swimming, and sunning. "The beauty of this island is the ocean, the peacefulness, the way you can be yourself without any doubts or regrets," says Joseph Arreola.
"Cancun used to be like this," says Joseph Arreola. "Before it was discovered, it was a tiny town with four hotels. Now it's so commercial. Here you don't see high rises, you don't see automobiles, you don't see pavement."
La Cueva del Pirata's laid-back ambience belies its decadent Northern Italian menu. The owner's favorite pasta dish, Elio Sergio, is loaded with lobster, shrimp, avocado, and zucchini.
The hotel Villas Paraiso del Mar blends elements of Caribbean and traditional Holboxian architecture. Lushly planted with tropical vegetation, its grounds feature a restaurant bar and a pool with a waterfall. The tidy rooms are air-conditioned, a prized commodity on this island.
A sailboat sign points the way to a local pub. Oceanside bars serve up shots of tequila and some stellar guitar. "The sun goes down and people come out," says sightseer Steven Kempf. "By midnight the whole town is ready to fiesta."
Vendors at an open-air bakery sell kilos of fresh tortillas each day.
Children entertain themselves on beaches ringing the 25-mile-long island.
Locals sell juicy sun-ripened fruit―one of the island's simplest pleasures.
Lodging on Isla Holbox varies from eco-friendly palapas to more traditional hotels.