Apologies for the length of this report, but please bear with me since the conditions on Holbox need to be contrasted with conditions elsewhere in the Yucatan. So here goes:
My wife and I left for Holbox from Isla Mujeres on Nov. 2. The previous day was a complete write-off as far as the weather was concerned - dark cloudy skies and the fiercest rain storms one could imagine. However, the skies had now cleared, the sun was out and the waters off Isla were a pure joy - clear, warm and brilliantly blue - and the beaches were as pristine as ever - everything we remembered and have come to expect from our previous trips to Isla.
This was our first trip to Holbox - the taxi to Chiquila was a little longer than expected due to fact that the road conditions out of Cancun were bad due to the storms - massive potholes and lots of diversions everywhere (out of Cancun the roads were fine).
On the ferry from Chiquila to Holbox we noticed the waters were distinctly different to what we'd seen in and around Isla and Cancun - dark, brown and murky as far as the eye could see - definitely not as advertised - but not a deal breaker as our hotel was on the other side of the island. The roads in Holbox are still quite flooded, but this was to be expected. For first-timers to Holbox, the reports about aggressive mosquitos are not exaggerated - I counted over fifteen massive bites on just one leg just from the taxi trip to our hotel.
Once at our hotel (Paraiso Del Mar) our hearts completely sank. The waters off the beach were just as brown and murky as we'd seen on the ferry ride. Even worse, the beaches were completely covered in rotting seaweed as far as the eye could see - literally mounds and mounds of it. It was putrifying and the smell was horrible. The dead fish from the marea roja had been cleared, but there were still dead crabs, shells and all sorts of marine life (death?) on the beaches. No one was in the water or on the beach - it just wasn't possible. (see attached pictures). Maybe even more telling was that our hotel didn't serve any seafood that night - only pork, chicken and beef (there was a shrimp dish, but it's my understanding that shrimp are sourced outside of Quintana Roo).
The next morning, the waters off Holbox had cleared up somewhat - there were hints of blue seas, but the water closest to the shore was still a dull murky brown. More importantly, there was no one cleaning the beaches - the same mounds of rotting seaweed were everywhere. According to newspaper reports, the people of Holbox are desperately appealing for aid to help clear the beaches, but none has of yet materialised - and it doesn't look to come any time soon. From the looks of things, it will take weeks to get Holbox back to normal.
Unfortunately we decided to head back to Isla that day. There were hints of what Holbox has been and no doubt will be again - that chilled out island paradise far from the madness of Cancun - but for us the beach is the biggest priority and we weren't prepared to wait for what may or may not come in the two weeks of vacation that we planned.
So for those of you planning to go to Holbox in November, please be forewarned and, if necessary, have alternate plans in place before you go.