Show Info

Story: There’s a rich, inland world behind the five-star hotels and photo-op beaches.

If Tulum is Coachella then Isla Holbox is Mexico’s Glastonbury. You can still find the beautiful white-sand beaches, palm trees and blue sea, but it is a little rougher around the edges. For me, it is this untouched charm that makes the island a joy to photograph.

We arrive by ferry in the middle of the night and are met by a man in a golf buggy, the most common mode of transport on the island. He takes us up the dirt track roads, past the bars and taquerias on the main strip, to our hotel. It is very dark, streets are lit by a few scattered orange lamps, but I am already scoping out photo locations.

I’m drawn to colour and realism – I want people to see the places I visit as they really are, not how Instagram would lead you to believe. For me, this set of photos represents the Holbox we experienced, which is quite different to the photos we found researching online.

You only need to walk a block inland from the beach behind all the five-star hotels and you’re in a completely different environment. Parents taking their children to school, friends meeting for tlayudas and endless construction sites; it would seem this island is set for great change in the future.

I have 20 rolls of film but after only a few hours I’m Googling photo labs on the mainland to find out where I can pick up more. Even though it’s off season, the continual blue sky, beautiful tropical plants and colourful houses make for a photographer’s dream.  

This island is undeniably a tropical paradise but scratch the surface and you find a small, tight-knit community, going about their everyday lives among the pastel-coloured palette they call home.

@joewhoward
jwhowardphoto.squarespace.com

You May Also Like

City Guides

You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.

Bundles

Curate your bookcase with the full SUITCASE library. From Volume 2 through 29, we've been around the world, explored uncharted landscapes and reexamined travel perceptions along the way. We invite you to do the same; grow your collection today.

Download Suitcase App
Learn More