A Bohemian-Chic Barefoot-Luxury Escape
Barefoot bohemian chic exemplifies Casa Las Tortugas, and literally so as shoes are barely encouraged. This boutique resort, acts less like a hotel and more like an idyllic remote sanctuary from the busying world around it, fully embracing the concept of unplugging to recharge. The intimate twenty four room, family run, design conscious hotel embraces guests with its charm and laid-back attitude, emulating the inherent essence of its surroundings.
Familiarity and connectivity are fostered through attentive and caring staff who make guests feel at home from check-in to check-out with their flawless and personalized service. Guests are even given the personal contact details of Carolina, the hotel’s resident specialist in all things, to contact at any time for anything or so that she can check-in with you.
In contrast to the island’s unapologetically slower pace, guests have access to a wide range of activities at the resort and within the local area including; swimming with wildlife, kiteboarding lessons, kayaking, daily yoga classes, even spiritual healing ceremonies. With a long list of possibilities, it may be unclear as to how you will waste away the days here, but the one thing you can count on is inevitably succumbing to whimsical ways of Casa Las Tortugas and Isla Holbox.
Casa Las Tortugas provides luxurious experience in a rather low-key and laid back environment. The resort itself is like a private sanctuary, guests don’t need to look beyond the property’s walls for anything as the small resort has managed to harmoniously pack so much into its small footprint including a yoga studio, spa, stylish courtyard pool, a variety of food and drink options and a boutique.
The hotel is a destination within itself when it comes to dining as the boutique property hosts three restaurants. Luuma, which is actually located across the street is the chicest place on the island and has a bit is a night scene. It serves pretty good tapas with delightful and innovation cocktails. Mandarina is the main restaurant serving breakfast (which is included for guests and to die for), lunch and dinner, with a menu you cannot go wrong with and the most adorable romantic atmosphere after dark. AMA, the sushi bar above Mandarina outs a sort of tropical flare on sushi and has a great vantage point for sunset cocktails.
Casa Las Tortugas by far has the most pristine beachfront in the island. Although a bit busy given its prime location on the edge of town, this hotel takes pride in its beachfront, keeping it clean and seaweed free unlike all the other hotels, including the other two I was considering staying at.
Each room is uniquely and effortlessly decorated with a sort of sophisticated bohemian flare using natural, airy materials, styled with carefully curated local artisanal linens and trinkets, each equipped with a handwoven hammocks and eco-friendly toiletries.
Insider Tip: try to book rooms Mandarina or Agua as they are the only two rooms located right on the hotels beachfront. Although these rooms see more foot traffic given their location, privacy can be maintained with the curtains and being this close means you can literally leave your door unlocked and go back and forth with ease all day like its your own private home.
Overall, the hotel is small and compact, so really no matter what room you book, you don’t have far to go for anything.
What to Know
Isla Holbox is not all that easy to get to, but that’s also part of its charm, effort has to be made to visit. The Holbox ferry, which runs about every 30 mins from the town of Chiquila, is an easy 2-hour drive from Cancun airport. The roads are fairly decent, however, cell phone reception isn’t so reliable on the latter half of the drive, but you will want to hire a driver or taxi (see my next point). You can also book a private flight by plane or helicopter.
The island of Holbox is carless. Transportation on the island is by foot, bike or golf cart taxis. Casa Las Tortugas is perfectly located, right on the edge of the “town” so within walking distance to mostly everything.
Holbox is not a luxury vacation destination, its more of a boho, backpacking, hedonistic refuge. There is no real fine dining on the island, and you don’t even have to wear shoes or shirt to get service, even at Mandarina. At first I was dressing up at night but then I slowly found myself eating dinner in my bathing suit not knowing where I left my shoes, its called embracing the local culture...
The beachfront Mandarina restaurant is open to the public, so non-hotel guests are continually walking up from the beach. This bothered me at first until I soon realized all the hotel beach beds are reserved for guests only and the staff are very quick to remove any violators.
Daily yoga classes are free for guests, BUT, the studio is also open to non-guests so make sure to get there early for a spot.
Be prepared to actually disconnect. Given the remote and unspoiled nature of the island, blackouts occur often, cell phone reception can be spotty, and the one source of wifi for all the hotels is often “down”, with no one in a rush to get it back up.
Swimming with Whale Sharks is the thing to do in Holbox. From May - September, these large yet peaceful creatures (they are technically fish not sharks and only eat plankton) migrate to the region as Holbox is located within the Yum Balan Nature Reserve. Spending the day chasing sightings of these majestic creatures trying to get close to jump in and swim with them is quite fun, just always remember to be respectful to nature. We booked through the hotel, last minute which I don’t suggest, and the boat was great, the staff were so fun and they made fresh ceviche on board for us!
Just like the Whale Sharks, flamingos are also known to flock to the Holbox during this time. They are easiest viewed by boat but if you go to the furthest north-east point of the Holbox area, just past Las Nubes hotel, you can walk towards them on a sandbar. Its a long walk and the perpetual sun can be daunting but it will get you closer than a boat will. Fun fact: when they arrive at the beginning of the season, they are white having lost their pink colour from flying and not feasting. Over time as they eat and rest all day they slowly redevelop their deep pink color.
Local Eats: Taco Queto is a MUST, but do not be discouraged by the constant queue or the fact they serve you on plastic covered paper plates...the tacos are amazing, especially the ‘el pastor’, not to mention dirt cheap and if you want alcohol with your meal, visit the store next door first as its BYOB. Visit Viva Zapata for lunch, super casual (think bathing suits) open air restaurant-bar in town that makes amazing margaritas, and delicious food, get the guac and chips. Also you must try a lobster pizza, it’s a Holbox delicacy - the locals will tell you Roots is the bast place for it.
Holbox is pronounced “Holbosh”, somewhat like the Ibiza vs Ibitha argument, the locals pronounce it properly, so while on the island, I would suggest doing the same.
Bring cash as come small places in town only take cash, and make sure you have small bills.
It may only technically be a 4-star hotel, but after much research, and my love of intimate hotel stays, this is hands down the BEST hotel in Holbox and the most luxurious overall stay.