In Yucatán, visitors and residents alike are able to enjoy the many attractions the state has to offer. Swimming in cenotes, enjoying beaches, exploring caves, or trekking along ancient archaeological sites to mention just a few. Part of the fun of traveling is trying to squeeze in as many unforgettable experiences into your itinerary as possible. However, for even the most energetic amongst us, after a while exhaustion can start to set in. When this happens it’s a good idea to take it slow and find low impact activities which will re-energize you without the need to spend the entire day cooped up in your hotel room or rental.
One of the best activities for such occasions is kayaking along Yucatán’s mangroves. The calm waters are usually extremely easy to paddle through with only the slightest of currents. Aside from the mangroves themselves (which are extremely interesting and important to the health of Yucatán’s ecosystem) you will likely spot a great variety of birds such as egrets, pelicans, hawks, cormorants, and flamingos.
Yucatán’s northern coast is chock-full of amazing mangroves to explore. However, as few visitors to the area bring along their own kayaks, it’s necessary to find rentals and consult with people in the know regarding the safety of kayaking in certain areas, as crocodiles are known to frequent the shallow waters of some mangrove systems. Sisal and Río Lagartos are two of the best-known destinations in Yucatán for kayaking and enjoying the region’s wildlife and are certainly worth a visit, but if you are only in the region for a few days or don’t want to venture that far away from Mérida, there are great options as close as 30 minutes from downtown.
The closest of these options lies directly north of Mérida, just outside of the coastal city of Progreso. Located on the shores of a tranquil estuary, La Ría Progreso offers kayak rentals for $100 pesos an hour, which includes life vests. They also have paddle boarding and guided tours, a beautiful lookout, bathrooms, changing rooms, a nice picnic area, and sell refreshments. It’s very relaxing to slowly venture off into the estuary and explore the maze-like features of its mangroves – to paddle up to one of the small sandy islands, enjoy a nice Pan Dulce (Mexican baked goods), and just breath in the slightly salty air and listen to the sound of flapping wings around you.
The most inexpensive way to get to the coast and then to La Ría Progreso is by taking the Auto Progreso Bus from downtown Mérida (Calle 62 #524 x 65 y 67, Centro) and then taking a local taxi. You may of course also drive or use one of the many ridesharing services available in Mérida.
La Ría Progreso is open year-round from 8 am to 5 pm, but those in the know will recommend arriving right as they open to see the most birds and avoid hours of direct exposure to the intense Yucatecan sun and heat.
Regardless of the time you decide to go, remember to bring sunblock as the calm waters act as a mirror for the sun’s rays. Though the kayaks are very stable, it‘s also a good idea to bring along a plastic bag, or waterproof holder for your cell phone or camera.
Tel. (999) 340 0459
FB: La Ría Progreso
Editorial by Carlos Rosado.
Photography by Carlos Rosado for use in Yucatán Today.
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