Just thirty minutes from Merida and you can find yourself on one of my favorite coastlines in the world. Yes, seriously. The Yucatán Gulf Coast is a pretty well kept secret and today I’m going to spill the beans on a great way to spend a day exploring around here.
This day out requires a car or driver, swimming stuff, plenty of water and snacks.
Head to Progreso for breakfast. You could take a picnic to eat on the beach or you could do what my family tends to do and head straight for the Milk Bar (Malecón #146 x 72 y 74) for a truly delicious breakfast overlooking the beach. You’ll need to leave the car in one of the side roads and walk along the Malecón to the restaurant. Once you’re sated, a quiet post-breakfast stroll along the beach will be perfect…unless you have kids and then a post-breakfast whoop and run along the beach will have to suffice. Many locals will claim it’s too cold for the beach at this time of year, which means there’s all the more space for you!
If you can pull the kids away from the beach you now have some fun options:
This ecological reserve is accessible only by boat. Once you’re in the mangroves you’ll find three small and stunning cenotes for swimming, none of which are too deep, making them perfect first cenotes for kids. The wildlife here is pretty cool too. We saw a small crocodile (emphatically not where we swam), raccoons, coatis, tortoises and even a boa constrictor. Life jackets are available to rent. The earlier you get here, the quieter it will be. Open 9 am – 4 pm.
Cost: Non-Mexican adults and children: $90 pesos. Mexican adults: $45 pesos. Mexican seniors and children: $35 pesos,
X’cambó archaeological site:
This site may come as a surprise to many. It’s well hidden in the jungle but still easily accessible. We have been a number of times and it has always been pretty much empty, meaning the kids can run and play to their hearts’ content while the adults marvel at the beauty of the location. Entrance $75 pesos per adult, open 8 am – 4.30 pm daily. To reach X’cambó you’ll need to drive across the Laguna Rosada. It’s well worth stopping to admire the pink waters in the salt lakes and the flamingos that regularly hang out on the lake. Do take mosquito repellent as we’ve found them to be more prolific here than almost anywhere else in Yucatán.
On your way back, this small village next to Progreso is worth a five-minute stop purely because it is thought to be the epi-center of the asteroid impact that hit the earth 65 million years ago, causing the extinction of the majority of the dinosaurs. This momentous occasion is marked with a tiny, unassuming plaque in the center of the plaza.
Continuing west all the way through Progreso and Chelem to the very end of the spit, about a twenty minute drive, you’ll find a small harbor and a beach. Head right for a huge expanse of pristine sand and stunning sea with nobody on it (at this time of year). Head left to find a small boat that can take you on a tour of the lagoon so you can see the bird and sea-life Once you’ve had your fill, head back into Chuburná town to find a restaurant ready to cook you up some delicious fish and ply you with the cold drinks you’ll so need. Just off the plaza is the pier and the beach. The pier is a lovely spot to enjoy watching the pelicans as the sun goes down.
And, of course, there are plenty of other beaches around here to explore too. We always end our Gulf Coast exploration days with a hearty meal at the Texas Roadhouse on our way back into Mérida.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Photography by Cassie Pearse and Yucatán Today
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