The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

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: maw­ 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: las­nubes­de­hol­ Rose­wood Mayakoba is the place to stay on the Riviera Maya near Tu­lum; ex­pect su­per-slick ser­vice. More: rose­wood­ho­ 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.

• vis­it­mex­


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