Nothing brings me closer to the ocean than a tent. Nature’s lullaby carries me into a trance when I sleep in my wall-free nest. All four directions of the wind wrap around me, and I feel the waves crashing against the sand beneath my relaxed body. During the New Moon, we leave the solid cloth cover off the top of our tent, so we can see the stars through the hashtag-shaped fibers and feel the dew mist over us at the moment of first light.
Yucatán’s incredibly safe beaches and warm, dependable climate make planning for camping simple. Don’t go when there’s rain in the forecast, because the downpours can be torrential. Prepare sufficiently beforehand in order to maximize your experience. It’s important to prioritize the little things that make you feel comfortable and keep your spirits high. For me, good packing is critical to my experience. My travel partner always says, “Camping doesn’t have to be miserable. In fact, it can be quite luxurious.”
With an inflatable mattress, a generous supply of clean towels, and an expertly packed cooler (with plenty of beer and ice), camping might be the last way to experience private beaches and complete wilderness. Setting up a tent along the Emerald Coast can get you closest to Yucatán’s best views and most breathtaking sunrises.
Tried and true camp sites:
Palula beach has good vibes and an atmosphere of community. Enjoy bonfires with new friends, while spying for luminescence in the waves. Catch sunrise from your tent, then walk the beach for sightings of dolphins, starfish, and horseshoe crabs.
The pristine beaches and colorful view tower of Zac-Ha make you feel like you’re in a movie. Take the time to explore the coconut groves and beautiful fauna along the beaches – there’s so much to explore.
Cabañas y Camping Ría Celestún
Here, sacrifice views for comfort. The campsite is a couple hundred meters from the beach, and is located next to Celestún’s pier, great restaurants, and quick access to boat tours.
Although sometimes very windy, this strip of beach is one of my favorites, because of the views at sunset and the intriguing flora along the dunes. Go prepared, because the lack of facilities can be a challenge.
Free / Wilderness / No facilities
On weekends, there are normally other campers down the beach, so you won’t be completely alone.
Location: Chuburná Puerto
Río Lagartos Bioreserve
My favorite-ever camping experiences have taken place in Río Lagartos. Guide, Paco Machain, has hundreds of camp spots mapped out in his mind. He can take you to set up camp by boat or direct you to campsites accessible by roads.
Free / Wilderness / No facilities
Recommended to establish campsite with guide Paco Machain
Cel. 9861 05 34 28
Location: Rio Lagartos
Packing list for beachfront camping:
- Flashlights / headlamps / solar or battery-powered lanterns
- Inflatable mattress
- Air pump
- Extra sheets and towels (for me, fresh linens make all the difference)
- Well-stocked cooler
- Liquid fire and lighter or matches
- Mosquito repellent and spiral mosquito killers (incense type)
- Machete (for cutting sticks and wood for the bonfire)
- Henequén string (for making shelters)
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes
- Garbage bags
- Solar string lights
- Solar charger
- Decorations, like flags or my personal favorite: pompoms
- Comfortable, reclining chairs
- Sun umbrella
- Solar shower
- Cast iron skillet for cooking over the open fire
- Citronella candles
By Amanda Strickland
Photos by Amanda Strickland
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