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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Rains Hammer Down on Holbox Island Paradise

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Flooding has become a growing problem in Holbox, but the extent of the damage is at least in part man-made. Photo: Courtesy Miguel Avila

The Island of Holbox is known for its laid-back atmosphere, pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife.

But over the past few days, large swaths of the island have flooded following prolonged rains.

This has made getting around the island difficult as cars are banned, and most folks move around by foot, bicycle, or golf cart.

Another consequence of the recent flooding in Holbox has been an increase in mosquitoes — which is especially bad given the increase in dengue cases. 

This is not the first time Holbox has flooded to such an extent. Back in 2021, similar floods covered the island, leading many to blame the severity of the situation on poor urban planning. 

Another factor contributing to the increased flooding is the destruction of much of the island’s mangroves.

Mangroves protect against flooding by having dense root systems that act as a physical barrier and reduce wave energy and water flow. 

The destruction of mangroves is a problem in many parts of the world but is particularly problematic for the low-lying Yucatán Peninsula. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht  / Yucatán Magazine

Earlier: The wondrous Isle of Women and its mysterious rainbow goddess

Aside from the growth of the tourism industry’s impact on mangroves, the island’s popularity has brought several other problems, including overflowing landfills

The tourism industry in Holbox generates up to 10 tons of garbage daily. Since recycling the waste is so expensive, much of it ends up in the ocean, dumped illegally, or buried underneath the sand.

“Of course, tourism is important, but all of this garbage is destroying our homes. We must find a way to keep the industry alive without all this destruction,” says Holbox resident Paulina Urbina.

The problem has become so bad that locals and their government representatives have proposed introducing a total ban on plastics and polystyrene on the island.

Among the main attractions on the island are whale shark tours that take tourists out on motorboats to swim with these marine giants. Critics say that the vast number of tourists looking to experience swimming with whale sharks has become unsustainable and may cause these gentle sharks to change their migration patterns. 

Approximately 3,000 people live permanently in Holbox, but another 5,000 visitors a day arrive during the high season from roughly December to April.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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