It was recorded in Baambrugge, Netherlands over the summer of 1972 using a reconstructed studio sent from California, and with two Brian Wilson tracks rush-recorded in Los Angeles and added to the album at the last minute. The photograph on the album's front cover is an upside down image of the Kromme Waal, a canal that runs through the center of Amsterdam.
Holland's bonus EP, entitled Mount Vernon and Fairway (A Fairy Tale), was based on the intersection where the Love family lived in Los Angeles, and was primarily composed by Brian Wilson. Wilson originally intended it to be the centerpiece of a new Beach Boys album, consisting of the tracks from the EP and "Funky Pretty".
Released in January 1973, Holland received mostly encouraging reviews and helped The Beach Boys establish their critical standing further. It peaked at No. 36 in the US and No. 20 in the UK. At the end of the 1973, Rolling Stone named Holland as one of their picks for "album of the year". In 2000, Elvis Costello ranked the album as one of his favourite records of all time. Not all reaction to the album has been positive. Robert Christgau praised the production qualities of the album, but believed the album had strayed too far from what the Beach Boys did best, stating "I suppose that in time their tongue-tied travelogue of Big Sur may seem no more escapist than "Fun Fun Fun," but who'll ever believe it's equally simple, direct, or innocent?"Camper Van Beethoven have disclosed that when recording their album La Costa Perdida, Holland was enormous inspiration to them.