Isla Holbox, Mexico
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Searching for whale sharks in Isla Holbox, Mexico

Isla Holbox, Mexico

At Mexico’s Isla Holbox, you stand a good chance of swimming with the giant yet gentle whale shark.

 (Jonathan Bird / Getty Images)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

Octopus is on the menu at Milpa, a small restaurant in Isla Holbox, Mexico, opened in early 2016.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

There is no menu at Isla Holbox’s El Chapulim. Chef Erik Winckelmann usually serves four main dishes each night, coming to diners’ tables to collect orders.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Empanadas are a house specialty at El Hornito Argento, opened in 2016 on Isla Holbox, Mexico. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

Whale Shark Pier at Isla Holbox, Mexico.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

Isla Holbox is part of Mexico’s Yum Balam Nature Reserve, one reason why growth has been limited.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Koy Lopez and his 2-year-old nephew Jack Toledo feed a raccoon, or maybe a coatimundi, near a freshwater spring on Isla Holbox, Mexico. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Even the busiest streets in tiny Isla Holbox, Mexico, are unpaved and dominated by pedestrians, bikes, golf carts and dogs. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Yalahau, a freshwater spring with bracingly cool water, is part of many boat tours around Isla Holbox, Mexico. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

The Posada Mawimbi is one of many rustic resorts on Isla Holbox, Mexico.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

The tiny town of Isla Holbox, Mexico, includes many colorful murals, including one of a raccoon, or perhaps it’s a coatimundi.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

After swimming with whale sharks, tourists visit an undeveloped beach at Isla Holbox, Mexico.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

In the waters near Isla Holbox, Mexico, snorkelers swim alongside whale sharks, which are considered the largest fish on Earth.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

Sunrise on Isla Holbox, Mexico.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
On Isla Holbox, Mexico, vendors like this man peddle fresh coconuts for $2 each. He cuts the top off and inserts a straw so you can drink the coconut milk. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Even the busiest streets in tiny Isla Holbox, Mexico, are unpaved and dominated by pedestrians, bikes, golf carts and dogs. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Besides whale shark sightings from May through September, the turquoise waters off Isla Holbox, Mexico, offer colorful snorkeling. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

A cyclist relaxes on the beach at Holbox Island, Mexico.

 (Dallas Stribley / Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

Divers at Isla Holbox are instructed to never touch the whale sharks, which are  designated endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

 (Chicurel Arnaud / hemis.fr / Getty Images/Hemis.fr RM)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

Most cars are banned at Isla Holbox, where the streets are dominated by pedestrians, golf carts (you can rent one), scooters, bikes and dogs.

 (Dallas Stribley / Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image)
Isla Holbox, Mexico

The bohemian-chic Hotel Casa Las Tortugas is one of the most stylish lodgings on Isla Holbox, Mexico.

 (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Besides whale shark sightings from May through September, the turquoise waters off Isla Holbox, Mexico, offer colorful snorkeling. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
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