Mawimbi is a stylish and affordable 11-room “hotelito”. You would never know, lying beneath the palm trees on the oversized sun-loungers, that the town is just a couple of roads away. It also serves the island’s best guacamole. More: mawimbi.com. Las Nubes may be more remote than other Isla Holbox lodgings but the wildlife is abundant, and after a day spotting tropical birds and fish, this is the best place for a sundowner cocktail. More: lasnubesdeholbox.com. Rosewood Mayakoba is the place to stay on the Riviera Maya near Tulum; expect super-slick service. More: rosewoodhotels.com. up for in spotless views of the wild coast. We arrive at sunset. Holbox is one of those places where, as the sun ripens, it becomes impossible to distinguish between the sky and the sea. With that infinite haze come the mosquitoes. They are so rampant that guidebooks advise you to stay indoors at dusk. Forget that; bring tropical-grade mosquito repellent and get yourself to the nearest mezcal bar.
Which is what we do, followed by dinner at El Chapulim (“the grasshopper”), a tiny restaurant with no menu run by a much-hyped chef from Mexico City. He serves us passionfruit mezcal margaritas followed by seafood stew and habanero steak. It is, my boyfriend decrees, the best steak he has eaten.
The next day we head off for a dawn hike along the sandbar in front of the hotel, 200m out to sea. We are alone until we stumble upon a flamboyance of flamingos (what a pleasing collective noun). We creep to within a few metres of them, waking snoozing manta rays as we go, before the birds explode into the sky. I struggle to remember a wildlife experience as wild as this — just us, them and the rustle of the mangroves. This is what Holbox does best. It manages to make you feel as though you are on a Robinson Crusoe adventure while simultaneously luxuriating. Later that day we go kayaking and spot turtles, then walk along the beach at sunset.
Isla Holbox is essentially the most chic spot in Mexico. There’s jungle, wildlife, ocean, hammocks, mezcal margaritas and lobster ceviche. If you’re anything like me, nothing can make you feel cooler than being at one with island life; that moment you realise you’re tanned, chilled and sharing your lilo with a flamingo. It’s an easy state to reach on Isla Holbox — just make sure you catch it now, in its low-rise beauty.
Monique Rivalland was a guest of the Mexican Tourism Board.