Worth getting out of bed for
Holbox is the best place in the world to glimpse the planet’s biggest fish, whale sharks. Between June and September, the gentle sharks – which can weigh more than 50 tonnes – swim in the waters off Riviera Maya, and the hotel can arrange boating trips to see them. Casa Sandra will also arrange visits to local islands, including Isla Pasion, Yalahua and the bird-watching hub of Isla Pajaros, where crocodiles lurk. On the mainland, take tours of the colonial city of Valladolid or the ruins at Ek Balam.
Isla Holbox has good conditions for wind surfing; there is also deep-sea fishing, horseback riding and wildlife walks. Casa Sandra can arrange tours, and bring golf carts around for guests who explore the island on their own (there are no cars here).
Dining on the small island is quite casual, and many restaurants are open throughout the day for late lunches or early dinners. Overlooking Plaza Principal, Los Peleones (+52 984 120 9685) serves ultra-fresh seafood and traditional Mexican dishes, including smoky mole. The daily catch in champagne sauce is a house specialty. The Italian chef at Restaurante La Guaya (+52 984 875 2026) on Plaza El Pueblito creates light carpaccio from each day’s haul of fresh fish. The chef also makes some of the island’s best pasta, including lobster ravioli. Off the square, Pura Vida (+52 331 411 9538) serves sushi with a Caribbean twist, using local fish and lobster in spicy or fruit-paired combinations.
Several nameless open-air bars line the beach, a short walk from the main square. Most serve frozen cocktails, and all pour crisp Mexican beer. After dinner, many locals gather here to listen to reggae.
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Smith extra at Casa Sandra
Bottle of sparkling wine and a fruit plate on arrival