Located to the northwest of Cancun, Holbox Island is just 26 miles long, and is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon. Although smaller in size and with less tourist traffic than most of the more popular destinations spread throughout the country, the island is a hub for adventure, exciting opportunity, and is a popular spot if you are backpacking in Mexico.
However, In order to understand Holbox Island’s history, it’s necessary to go back to 1847 when the Mayan rebellion burst and spread out throughout the entire Yucatan Peninsula. As a result, the settlers from Xcan, Labcah and Yalahau subsequently abandoned their lands to seek refuge in the nearby Islands.
The first documents that recognize any settlers occupying Holbox date back to 1852. It is said that a group Mayans attacked the Village of Yalahau taking 15 men prisoner. The survivors from the attack left everything behind and moved away to Holbox Island.
When the Yucatec Army heard about the attack on Yalahau and the new settlers in Holbox Island, fear for a stronger raid on the island grew, and immediate evacuation was ordered. However, the settlers resisted and stayed, despite the difficulty of the territory.
Once the Mayans of the region had been pacified, lumber companies settled on the island and commerce prospered until 1886, when a hurricane completely devastated the island and the town was moved and rebuilt to it’s current location.
On November 24th 1902 the federal territory of Quintana Roo was created by dividing the Yucatan Peninsula into three separate and independent states. But eventually, during the Mexican Revolution, the lumber companies shut down and moved away, and only the fishermen remained.
The people of Holbox are known to have a firm character that has kept them safe throughout the centuries. And today, the island is an attraction for many Cancun excursions. Here, seemingly endless beaches lead to tranquil waters and a galaxy of shells in various shapes and colors. Lying within the Yum Balam reserve, Holbox is home to more than 150 bird species, including roseate spoonbills, pelicans, herons, ibis and flamingos – making it a popular haven for bird watching too.