Celestún, the Jewel in Yucatán’s West Coast

Although further away and less easily accessible than closer beaches such as Progreso or Sisal, Celestún is well worth the visit as it offers a different beach experience and a chance to be in close proximity to some magnificent wildlife and stunning paradises.

Everything you need to know about Celestún: how to get there, see the flamingos, where to fish, places to visit, where to eat, and more. A unique trip!

In comparison to Progreso’s buzzing seafront and lively Malecón, Celestún’s vibe is more relaxed, with moto-taxis trundling through the streets, and a mixture of locals and tourists ambling around the town center, enjoying the slower and more easygoing pace of life.



What to do in Celestún

The Celestún mangrove and flamingo tour


2404 Celestun Flamingos by andrea myt


The town of Celestún sits at the entrance to the Celestún biosphere reserve, a sprawling natural wetland home to an impressive selection of resident and migratory birds, the most famous of which are the stunning pink flamingos

At the entrance to the town, crossing the bridge over the Celestún river, on the left-hand side you will find boat tours which leave regularly giving tours along the river and into the mangroves. Look out for the curious raccoons in the car park here! Aside from the boat tours, in the center of town you will find a selection of tours and local collectives offering other ways to explore areas of the biosphere, into the petrified forest, an ojo de agua, and to more secluded beaches and flamingo spotting sights, including via mototaxi, boat and/or kayak.



From the beach or the visitor center: which Celestún tour to take

Whether you opt for the tour from the visitor center or the beach, the route remains largely unchanged; from the visitor center, your boat will depart from the estuary, where the water is calm, offering a leisurely start to your journey. From the beach, depending on the waves, it can get quite a bit bumpier. 




What you’ll see on the Celestún tour

The Celestún flamingo tour takes you on a boat to take in breathtaking views of the mangroves and the diverse wildlife that call them home. The tour usually includes a visit to the Baldiosera spring—a hidden gem reminiscent of a cenote nestled amidst the mangroves.


2404 Celestun Ojo de Agua by AndreaMYT


The main attraction of the tour, however, are the flamingos, which in Yucatán are truly bright pink. Besides providing them with the food that turns their feathers this vivid color, Celestún is where the flamingos gather to choose their partners for the year.


Celestún usually has the largest number of flamingos between November and March; between March and October, they concentrate more in the Ría Lagartos biosphere reserve, in the eastern part of the state.


Like most boat tours in Yucatán, the price of tours of the Celestún estuary is set by the cooperatives that carry them out; tours are priced per boat, not per person. If your group is small, it's a good idea to head to the visitor center and try to join another group to share the fare.



The beach in Celestún





After taking an ecotour into the biosphere, be sure to take some time to relax at the beach. For shade, you will need to bring your own umbrella or rent a palapa. Alternatively, Tótem Beach Club is a beachfront hotel and beach club located a fifteen-minute walk (or five-minute mototaxi ride) out from the center of Celestún. A day pass costs $300 pesos and provides access to the facilities which include a pool, beach volleyball, children’s play area, showers and bathrooms, and wifi access. At the entrance to the club, you will notice a tapir statue. The Tótem group supports an initiative to construct and develop Yucatán’s first tapir sanctuary, with the goal of reintroducing this species to the area. 



Where to stay in Celestún

My top choice for Celestún accommodation is always Hotel Gutiérrez, a chilled and colourful three-story hotel with direct beach access to Celestún’s north beach, and home to a multitude of adopted dogs and cats. A double room with a private bathroom and air conditioning costs $900 pesos per night. Reservations are through WhatsApp only on Tel. 999 301 9357.

A few streets back from the beach in the center of town, Hotel Don Gonzalo has clean, modern, and spacious rooms and a small pool on site. The beach is just a few minutes walk away. Double rooms start from $900 pesos per night.


2407 Cabanas Cinco Elementos Celestun Cabañas by Kate Buckle


A twenty-minute walk out of town along the coast, Cabañas Cinco Elementos is a peaceful and relaxing spot that opened in 2023. A cabin sleeps two people and costs $1,200 pesos per night. The beach is a couple of minutes' walk away, although there are no shaded areas here. There is kitchen access, and complimentary tea, coffee, fruit, and breakfast muffins are served in the mornings. Bicycles are available to borrow to cycle in and out of town. 


If you want to spend a lovely, worry-free day, here are some options for day passes and beach clubs in Yucatán (including Celestún!), or find out where you can camp on the coast with our complete guide.


What to eat in Celestún

2407 La Palapa de Celestun by La Palapa de Celestun Slogo (1)
2407 La Palapa de Celestun by La Palapa de Celestun Slogo (2)


Next to Hotel Gutiérrez, Café Sol y Luna has a good selection of reasonably priced breakfast and lunch options, including eggs, hotcakes, chilaquiles, tacos, seafood, several vegetarian options, desserts, and coffee.

Along the seafront, you will find various restaurants offering similar seafood options including fillet of the day, shrimp cocktails, octopus, and ceviches. La Palapa offers sheltered beachfront dining with an extensive menu of seafood favorites, some pasta and salad options, as well as delicious dessert and cocktail options such as Carajillo or Baileys Irish Cream to round off your meal with something sweet.

On the corner of the town square, El Lobo is a casual spot with a friendly, family vibe and a rooftop terrace from which to take in the evening hubbub of the central square. Popular with tourists and locals alike, expect friendly service and generous portion sizes of fast-food style options such as pizzas, pastas, tacos, burgers, and wings.



How to get to Celestún


2407 La Palapa de Celestun by La Palapa de Celestun Slogo


From Mérida, a Combi (van) leaves every hour or so from the center, between Calle 67 and 48 and goes directly to Celestún, taking around an hour and a half. Contact Gaby on 999 255 2839 to check leaving times and availability. $60 pesos per person.


Buses leave regularly from the Oriente terminal at Calle 50 between 66 and 67 and also return from Celestún regularly. The journey takes around 2.5 hours. Tickets cost $72 pesos per person.


If you are driving yourself, from the center of Mérida, exit the city towards the west/Caucel area and follow Highway 281 all the way to Celestún.

By Kate Buckle.



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Photography by Kate Buckle, Cassie Pearse, La Palapa de Celestún and Yucatán Today, for its use in Yucatán Today.