Progreso de Castro is Yucatán’s most important port and gets its name from Juan Miguel Castro, its first promoter. This city has also become an important tourism destination thanks to its many attractions: from natural reserves to restaurants and recreational activities.
Its proximity to Mérida is what originally made Progreso gain importance. It was founded in 1871 because of the need to transport the Customs office from Sisal to a port closer to the Yucatecan capital due to the henequén commerce of the 19th century.
This destination’s most important monuments include the Progreso lighthouse, which began operating in 1893; and the pier which is among the longest in the world. This construction was completed in 1947 and helped make Progreso an important commercial center. Today, the port is also a significant cruise ship destination.
Another attraction you can’t pass up is the “Malecón Internacional” (the boardwalk). Here you will find many different restaurants serving fresh seafood specialties in their dining rooms, and under palapas on the beach, so that you can choose whichever you like best; you will also see many stores and stalls selling handcrafts as well as art installations and other attractions. On the weekend you’ll usually see “banana” rides and seaside massages being offered. Yucatecans also love to go to Progreso on Saturdays and Sundays; on these days you will see many of us looking to cool off with an ocean swim. Don’t forget to leave time in your itinerary to walk the “malecón” until you see the “Casa del Pastel” (you can’t miss it, it looks like a three layer cake!); afterwards take a photo next to the Progreso sign which is just across the street.
There is a unique culinary offering at the beach and you can’t miss out. Try delicious coconut water and ice cream; crunchy “kibbi” served with pickled onion (and some chile, if you like it hot!) which became so popular with the arrival of Lebanese migrants in the 19th century; and traditional coconut, pumpkin seed, and peanut candies, as well as meringues in all shapes, colors, and sizes.
If ecotourism is your thing, visit El Corchito Ecological Reserve. Here you will be able to see mangroves, springs, and the coastline’s plants and wildlife. Another great choice is going to the Ría de Progreso where you can take a kayak tour into the mangrove, try SUP (stand up paddle), do yoga or just take the tour.
If you can, stay until the sun goes down so that you can watch from the pier as it sinks into the ocean and disappears.
How to get there:
Driving from Mérida is easy, just go north on Calle 60 or Paseo de Montejo until you reach Progreso. Public transportation is provided by Autoprogreso and operates every 10 minutes between 5 am and 10 pm, at a cost of $21 pesos one way, $38 pesos roundtrip, from their terminal on Calle 62 between 65 and 67. www.autoprogreso.com
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