Yucatán has so much to offer its guests that unless you have weeks to spend (even months or years) here, you won’t get to experience everything. How about if we sneaky Yucatán Today experts offer you a top tip, as in a way of packing some of the more far-flung treats into one fun day? Would you jump up and say “yes please”? I think you would.
Obviously, if you have time we absolutely recommend seeing the flamingos in Celestún, the pink salt lakes in Las Coloradas, and visiting all the archaeological sites and beaches you can, but we also accept that not everyone can be lucky enough to live in Yucatán. Some people have to make do with short visits. If that’s you or your visitors, then we suggest a drive across the Laguna Rosada between the Xtampú salt flats and X’Cambó, the small and gorgeous jungle archaeological site.
The Xtampú salt flats are a smaller version of those at Las Coloradas, but they’re equally fun colors: sometimes pink, sometimes orange. The salt is harvested by locals and has been for thousands of years. In fact, it was the wealth of salt right here that led to the prosperity of the
Maya community at X’Cambó during the Classic period. You can buy small bags (or even enormous bags) of salt and small souvenirs on-site when you’re finished looking around.
Remember, we can’t promise bright pink waters; that depends on the time of year, cloud cover, and water composition.
Once you’ve ooohed and aaaahed over the salt lakes, drive over the laguna but keep your eyes peeled as the birdlife can be stupendous. You could well see pelicans and even flamingos pretty near to shore. I don’t think I’ve ever driven around here without stopping to take photos (and to yell at the kids to not fall in the water). Everyone pulls over to marvel at the flamingos.
At the end of this bridge over the laguna, you’ll find X’Cambó, a wonderfully undervisited and quiet jungle archaeological site that you may have all to yourself while you explore. My kids love a day out here. We take snacks, plenty of water, bug spray and aim to spend a few hours just jumping, climbing, and imagining Maya life during the centuries that people lived here in the coastal jungle of Yucatán.
If you’re willing to drive slightly more than three kilometers then head into nearby Telchac Puerto for some excellent Yucatecan beach options, or Motul for truly delicious local cuisine such as huevos Motuleños, a local breakfast dish you will crave forevermore. You could also grab a bite at Reserva Ecológica Sayachaltún.
How to get there
Coastal Road 27, km 33.5 between Progreso and Telchac Puerto.
X’Cambó is located 1 km from the Progreso-Telchac Puerto highway from Mérida, and 15 km north from Dzemul.
By public transport
Complicated, but not impossible: Take the bus to Telchac Puerto and then a Tricitaxi (tuk tuk) to the site.
Have more time? Here are some activities to try in the area:
- El Corchito: three outdoor cenotes along the 27 by Progreso.
- Kayaking at Reserva Ecológica Sayachaltún.
- Beach in Telchac Puerto (for free) or a day pass at one of the nearby beach clubs (approx. $250 pesos per person).
Nearby places to eat
$$$ Tintorera, at Kokomo Beach Club, Restaurante Grand Marina Kinuh.
$$ Sayachaltún, at the entrance to Telchac Puerto.
$ Los Tiburones, by the Telchac pier.
$ Los Patitos or Angelitos, exiting Telchac towards San Crisanto.
Want to make it an overnight stay?
$$$ Grand Marina Kinuh.
$$ Reef Yucatán, Kokomo Club de Playa, TecnoHotel Beach.
$ Paomar, Capitán Criollo, Mar-Inn or Caballito de Mar.
- A good portion of this tour (salt flats and flamingos) can be enjoyed from the car.
- The salt flats require some navigation, but are not impossible to visit in a wheelchair.
- X’Cambó features some uneven terrain, but the site itself is highly accessible.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Cassie Pearse and Violeta H. Cantarell for its use in Yucatán Today.
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