Located off the north coast of the Yucatán in the Gulf of Mexico, the island of Holbox is a magical spot, a haven for nature lovers, fishermen and visitors who simply want to discover a different side of Mexico. Thomas More Travel has a day trip that will enable you to do just that.

The adventure starts in the Gulf coast port of Chiquila where you board the ferry or a water taxi to cross the Yalahau Lagoon separating Holbox from the mainland. Look out for dolphins swimming alongside the boat, cormorants and osprey diving for fish.

Holbox is part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve, an area of mangroves, marshes and tropical forest rich in wildlife. Flamingos, herons and egrets feed in the lagoon, manatees have been sighted and jaguars still roam the jungle further inland.

Fishermen from Holbox and Chiquila offer bird watching trips in the area, crocodile spotting, fishing, and whale shark watching in the summer.

Cool off with a Cenote Swim

First stop on the Thomas More Travel Holbox trip is the Ojo de Agua, an open cenote or pool in the mangroves that is also a natural spring with fresh water bubbling up from an underground river. Then it’s on to Isla de los Pajaros, a feeding ground for flamingos, different species of herons, reddish egrets, white and brown pelicans and cormorants.

The boats tie up on the Holbox waterfront where lunch is served at a restaurant overlooking the beach. With its sandy streets, wooden houses and hand-painted signs depicting whale sharks, sea turtles, manta rays and flamingoes, the rustic fishing village on Holbox has its own brand of Caribbean charm. Life has a slower pace and a stroll along the shell-strewn white beach to watch the fishermen unloading their catch, with a trail of pelicans and gulls waiting expectantly for scraps is not to be missed.

After lunch it’s time to board a golf cart to explore the island. The first 30 minutes are guided and then you have 90 minutes to yourself. Start in the picturesque fishing village itself then drive along the island for breathtaking views of white-sand beaches, the Gulf of Mexico and the wetlands in the distance.

After you have returned the golf cart, stroll along the beach where boats rock gently at their moorings and enjoy a drink at one of the thatched bars, the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico in a glorious blaze of pink, gold, orange and red.

If you decide to rent a car and explore at your own pace or arrange a private tour with Thomas More Travel in order to spend longer on the island, Holbox is a two-hour drive from Cancún (via the toll highway at El Tintal and Kantunilkin) and a 30-minute ferry ride from Chiquila. Take time to call in at the villages en route: San Angel and Solferino, both members of the Puerta Verde community ecotourism network.

In San Angel you can visit traditional medicine and embroidery workshops, go mountain biking in the jungle, kayaking and bird watching in a nearby lagoon.

Solferino has an orchid nursery in the shade of a towering ceiba tree that is reputed to be over 700 years old. A local legend tells that the immense tree is the home of the feared Xtabay, the beautiful serpent woman that appears to men in the jungle and bewitches them so that they lose their way and their minds.

A group of villagers also offer eco tours to a jungle camp where you can go zip lining and enjoy the view of the forest from a watchtower and a kayaking trip to El Corchal, a mysterious flooded forest in the middle of a lagoon in the savanna.

For information about the Holbox day trip and private tours visit the Thomas More Travel tour desk during your stay or email tourdesk@royalresorts.com