The Hand-Painted Advertisements of Holbox

Smokin Frida2

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of spending a week on Isla Holbox, Mexico, a tropical island/wildlife reserve about 30km off the coast of the Yucatán. We stayed at Villas Flamingos, a low-key resort where the main activities are bird-watching and strolling in the shallow waters that surround the island. Evenings meant a trip (a 20-minute walk along the beach, 10-minute bike ride, 7-minute golf-cart ride) into town, which consists of small shops and restaurants grouped around the zocolo and along a few side streets. From the first moment, we loved that town, in fact the whole island, with its truly laid-back, unspoiled (no mega-hotels), friendly vibe.

The most striking feature of the town: the paintings on the walls. The people of Holbox are truly creative. Here is some of their work:


Besides a Frida obsession, there is great interest in space travel, fantastic creatures, and the local Mayan heritage.




Many of the paintings identify and promote local businesses and products. Could this medium be even more effective than Facebook advertising?






My favorite, below, is a piece that turns the corner of a building and celebrates the colobrí or hummingbird. The signature, Jade Rivera, led me to the website of the artist, who has been commissioned to create extraordinary wall paintings all over Latin America.



And here is our favorite restaurant, El Colibrí, home of delicious food and musica en vivo (live music) every evening.


About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint,, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
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