The beaches of Yucatán are incredible. This is no time for false modesty. Yucatán is home to some of the best beaches you can imagine, especially for the kids, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. Our beaches are gentle, the shore is shallow, the sand is perfect for building fun, and the waves are predictably calm.
As you venture out of your house and start to make plans to reintroduce your family to nature, why not consider combination days: beaches plus culture? México is such a culturally rich and vibrant country and the state of Yucatán is one of the most fascinating places to be (according to far more people than just this Yucatán-obsessed travel writer).
Chuburná Puerto + Dzibilchaltún
If you head west from Progreso as far as you can go, you’ll hit Chuburná Puerto, a long expanse of untamed beach that just makes my heart sing every time I visit. This stretch of beach feels special. It isn’t lined with houses, there aren’t palm trees dotting the vista. It almost feels as if you’re in another place entirely if you’re used to the beaches around Progreso and the east of the state. Local families come here to picnic and recently I’ve noticed that the kitesurfers have found Chuburná Puerto.
This is the perfect spot to let the kids run and yell into the wind at the top of their voices, something I think we can all agree that kids and adults alike could benefit from at this point. Go on, let out that scream you’ve been holding in since March.
Cultural pairing: Dzibilchaltún. This wonderful archaeological site is just off the highway between Mérida and Progreso. It is home to one of the oldest Maya constructions and was the longest continuously utilized Maya administrative and ceremonial city in the region. There’s a small cenote if you’re still up for water fun after the beach, so take your swimming stuff.
Celestún or Sisal + Hunucmá
On the west coast of Yucatán are both Celestún and Sisal, two gorgeous little beach towns that will steal your heart. I was meant to pick just one for this article but you know me, I’m a rebel so I ignored that instruction (sorry wonderful editors!) and want to recommend that you visit both of these towns.
Most people know of Celestún because it’s where the flamingo tours start, but it’s also a great beach choice. I love to be in Celestún for the afternoon, sitting in a waterfront restaurant eating fresh seafood as my kids run up and down the beach. As the sun sets, watch the vendors make their rounds and grab a last minute Marquesita before heading home.
Sisal, another sleepy fishing village, can get busy in summer and at Easter but otherwise it is a quiet beach spot. As you enter the beach there are a few restaurants with Palapas where you can get fresh seafood and drinks while the kids paddle and run. If you prefer a more secluded beach experience, simply walk a few hundred meters down the beach and plonk yourself down, then marvel at the sheer beauty of nature.
Cultural Pairing: Hunucmá. On the way to or from the beach, stop off in Huncumá, an architecturally beautiful town that is famous for the leather and Henequén fiber shoes they make. There is a cave cenote in town, and the tricitaxis that Hunucmá is known for are a fun ride for the kids. Ask the driver to play music as s/he drives you around for a really local experience.
El Cuyo + Tizimín
This time we’re heading all the way east to the very edge of Yucatán and one of the least visited beach towns, El Cuyo. I guarantee that El Cuyo will knock your socks off (hey, why are you wearing socks to the beach? What’s up with that?).
El Cuyo is the beach you see in your mind’s eye when asked to imagine a beach. The combination of blue waters, pristine white sand, and palm trees is enough to make you weep. If you’re looking for activities in the area, there are plenty of options (visiting Las Coloradas, taking fishing trips, and even quad biking) but mainly people come here to relax and soak up some rays.
Cultural Pairing: Tizimín. The nearest town to El Cuyo is Tizimín, often referred to as “The City of Three Kings.” I love the small town feel of Tizimín (it’s actually the same size as Valladolid), the plazas are such a great spot to sit with an ice cream and enjoy life moving around you. Just outside town is both a community run cenote, Kikil, and an archaeological site called Kulubá. In “normal” times there are some fascinating human-made caves in the center of town but I suspect it’ll be a while before they’re open to the public again, sadly.
Beach notes: I said in the introduction that our beaches are calm and are great for kids. This is true but it is still open, unpredictable water. Tides can turn, currents can appear and when the wind picks up the water can get choppy. Please never leave your kids unattended, no matter how shallow the water, or how perfect the situation may seem.
In addition, in March and April we can see Portuguese Man O’wars on the beaches and in the water in our region. They are magnificently beautiful and are ecologically fascinating, but they are also dangerous. Keep the kids at a safe distance from them. Sting rays are also a possibility, so if you think there may be a chance of them, wear water shoes.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger
Adventure lover who never lost her sense of fun or wonder
Photography by Cassie Pearse for use in Yucatán Today.
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