If you’re looking for peace and quiet, beaches straight out of a dream, lively wildlife, a fishing town lifestyle, and friendly people, direct your compass towards Yucatán’s northwest. We’re about to take you for a trip along two beaches you’ll want to visit for several days…
Sisal, a small community of fishermen that will embrace you as you arrive, is our first stop. Just 53 km from Mérida, here we find tranquility at its finest. This fishing town has been a key point for maritime trade in the Yucatán peninsula since the 16th century, however, today it has a lots to offer visitors.
Sisal’s vibe invites you to experience nature as soon as you start walking down its streets with colorful ocean-themed murals painted on the houses’ facades. To get a bird’s eye view, there’s no better place than the pier. There you will find quaint constructions of white and red lighthouses that overlook a calm, turquoise ocean (which of course will make you want to dive right in).
A few meters away there are lots of places to have a shore-side lunch. We chose the restaurant “Muelle de Sisal,” which has a great variety of delicious seafood dishes. The main perk of this place is that, if you bring kids along, it allows you to watch them play on the beach while you eat tasty fried fish or ceviche paired with a cold beer. The portions are generous, service is quick, and prices are reasonable. Another option down the street that takes you to the pier is “Juanita.” There we tried delicious Pulpo en su Tinta, or squid with ink sauce.
Leaving Sisal won’t be easy. The peace and kindness of the Sisaleño is contagious. Although there are hotels available, we decided to stay in an Airbnb. We were welcomed by Marty at this place, which is well equipped for a family of two adults and two children, and is only a few meters from the sea. As soon as we stepped out the door, our feet were already in the sand. Can you ask for more? There are many options for lodging in Sisal.
If you treasure pictures of beachy sunsets, you have to get one of Sisal. When the sun sets, the sea turns the color of fire and the water transforms. By yourself or in a group, you’ll enjoy this immensely.
On weekends, the main plaza turns into a small fair in the evening. There are mechanical games for kids, snacks, and candy, as well as textiles and handcrafts for sale. You can get a meal there or at a restaurant downtown.
Like we mentioned, Sisaleños are very kind and taking an excursion with them is a real treat as they know just how to make you feel at home. You can find out about available tours at the Centro Cultural de Sisal (what used to be the Customs building), on Calle 21. The departure point to go to a water spring between the mangroves is by the docks. Along a 14 km ride you’ll see many species of birds and vegetation until you reach the wetlands of Zul Há and the water spring after that, where you’ll swim in crystalline waters. A tour of this sort can last up to three hours. It includes a guide, hydration, transport, and will cost around $900 pesos for two people.
Also on the beaches of Sisal, turtles hatch twice a year. Check out the Secretaría de Desarrollo Sustentable’s website (sds.yucatan.gob.mx) to be part of this unforgettable experience whether you’re young or old.
Celestún, The Biosphere’s Paradise
90 km from Mérida and about an hour from the beautiful Sisal is Celestún, a Yucatecan paradise that has gained importance for being considered a World Heritage Site. In Celestún, the fresh water of the estuary mixes with the salty Gulf of México. If you look up from the emerald green water to the blue sky, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of a few pink flamingos.
Located on the west side of Yucatán, the town of Celestún is the ideal place to practice ecotourism, not only in the state but in the all of México. You’ll know we’re not exaggerating when you experience it for yourself and see what this relaxing fishing village filled has to offer.
In Celestún you’ll find one of the largest flamingo colonies in the world that choose to live here between November and March in more than 59 thousand acres with vast species of flora. When you arrive to Celestún, you can visit the tourist center, at the entrance of the town; here you can hire day tours to see the flamingos. The price per boat is around $1800 pesos for a group of six people.
But there aren’t only flamingos… Crocodiles and 234 different mammal species (ocelots, jaguars, tiger cats, and spider monkeys) reside in the mangroves of the estuaries of Celestún. Everyone will be amazed to witness these wonders of nature.
If after swimming you feel like going diving, you can submerge yourself into the crystalline waters of the Baldiosera, Cambay, and Tambor water springs.
All these activities will probably make you hungry. There are many options to eat delicious sea food, such as the “Chivirico,” “Los Pámpanos,” and “La Playita,” all of them are close to the beach and are reasonably priced. These places are favorites for locals as well, who are very knowledgeable of ocean delights
If you get the same invitation we did to try crab claws at a Celestunense home, you hit the jackpot. Getting to know the townspeople is a wonderful experience, they are excellent hosts and love to show visitors the wonders of Celestún.
If you still don’t want to go back home, there are many places to stay at this beach town – not just hotels, but also cabins, inns, and Airbnbs. Many of them are oceanfront, or are located a few blocks from the beach at a reasonable price. The fun, as you see, has no end.
Where to stay in Celestún:
Castillito Kin Nah: This guest house on the beach has ample space and offers a personalized attention as well as discounts.
Casa Celeste Vida: Offers privacy and great attention in a beach guest house.
Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel: This is one of México’s most famous ecotourism hotels. It allows you to be in nature, and provides excellent luxury lodging. Price per room is about $4,500 pesos.
Hotel Manglares: Ideal for a family trip, it’s on the beach and offers tours.
Cabañas Camping Ría Celestún: If you’re into adventure and enjoy camping, you’ll find your place in these cabins next to the ocean.
Editorial by Cecilia García Olivieri
Photography by Amanda Strickland
Esta entrada también está disponible en: ES