The beaches in Merida are not exactly what the Yucatan capital city is known for. There are actually no beaches in Merida, to be totally accurate. The so-called white city, also nominated the cultural capital of Latin America, is mainly visited for its profound cultural heritage, interesting history, sumptuous architecture, delicious Yucatecan food, and also the nearby cenotes and Mayan ruins in the surroundings.
So why are we talking about the Merida beaches in Yucatan, if there is so much to see already?
Well, you need to know that the Yucatan beaches are some of the most underrated in Mexico. Everybody knows very well that a beach destination in Mexico is Playa del Carmen, Cancun or Tulum, and all the Mexican Caribbean coast.
However, I would like to show you in this article that Merida beaches, or better say, the beaches near the city of Merida are worth mentioning and visiting.
If you need a break from the unbearable heat of the summer in Merida, or if you just want to check out the Mexican coast in Yucatan, you should know that there are some of the best beaches of the Yucatan peninsula at only 1 hour (or a little more) from Merida, that have nothing to envy to the Mexican Caribbean coast of the Riviera Maya.
From Celestun all the way to El Cuyo (my favorite place on earth) you will find incredible isolated public beaches with clear waters and small laid-back beach towns where to relax and escape from the concrete jungle of the city.
And because I wanted to check them out myself I rented a car in Cancun and drove all the way around the Yucatan Peninsula, including all the Merida beaches in my itinerary.
I have checked them out one by one and in this post, I am sharing all the information I gathered so that you can decide which one to visit and create your own Yucatan itinerary.
With the exception of El Cuyo, all these beaches can be reached with a day trip from Merida. So my recommendation is to rent a beautiful Airbnb in Merida and do daily tours either on your own or with travel agents.
You should know that you can reach most of them by public transportation, but I wholeheartedly recommend renting a car and driving on your own.
The state of Yucatan is the safest one in Mexico and the roads are in excellent condition for the most part. So if you can drive in your country, you can definitely drive here and it will give you the freedom to move around at your own pace without worrying about missing the bus.
Find the best Car Rental deals
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
- The best Merida Mexico beaches in a nutshell
- Merida Beaches Map
- The 11 best beaces near Merida that you can visit in a day trip ( or two)
- View more places to stay on the Yucatan coast
The best Merida Mexico beaches in a nutshell
If you are in a rush and don’t have much time to explore, in this section you will find a quick overview of the most beautiful beaches at an easy and short drive from Merida, making a great day trip from the city.
If you have more time and want to know more about the Merida beaches, keep reading as in the next section you will find more detailed information for each one of the best Merida beaches and the best pics I took with my brand new camera and phone.
Among the best places to enjoy some beach time close to Merida, Progreso is definitely the closest beach town that offers a beautiful infinite beach and great restaurants. It’s actually the biggest city on the gulf coast of Mexico in Yucatan.
Nothing compared to Playa del Carmen, but it’s the perfect balance between laidback tranquil beach town with a good amount of tourist facilities. Mind that Progreso is also a cruise port with many cruise ships stopping by.
If you want to explore a little further away and want to combine beach time with wildlife watching, Celestun would be the perfect place as you will be able to join a boat tour to see the gracious pink flamingos. Celestun tours make some of the best Merida day trips.
Recently proclaimed Pueblo Magico, something that locals disagree with, Sisal is a cute small town on the northern Yucatan coast, at only 1-hour drive from Merida, with spectacular white sand beaches and an incredible wetland where to enjoy some boat tours through the mangroves and petenes looking for flamingos and other types of birds. Keep yourself for mosquito bites, though!
El Playon dunas de Chiburna
Getting from Merida to Chiburna, El Playon is the very last stretch of beach of the peninsula. It’s a spectacular huge piece of white sand beach where turtles lay their eggs at night.
In fact, it is prohibited to drive close to the shore. You can enjoy the beach although when I visited it was very windy and with some sargasso.
The best time to visit is in the summer when there is less risk of sargasso and the ocean is supposedly calmer.
Right between Progreso and Chelem, in Yucalpeten you will find a tiny beach which is not very crowded and is very well kept and clean and it’s home to cute Vietnamese pigs that have been rescued and now kept clean and healthy right at the entrance of the beach. You can go and cuddle them if you want. They are the cutest thing.
The beach is a good option too but keep in mind there is no restaurant or any facilities.
El Cuyo is the farthest south among all the gulf of Mexico beaches in Yucatan, but I thought it’s worth mentioning in case you have a couple of days to spare, I believe it’s worth visiting. It is one of the best beaches in Yucatan but I will tell you more about it further on in this post.
Useful facts about the Merida beaches
- I have been driving along the coast from Celestun all the way to Dizilam de Bravo and I found the best beaches to be around Progreso (besides El Cuyo, of course).
- Along the coast from Chixchulub to Dizilam de bravo there are very few access to nice beaches because although the beach are supposed to be public, many private properties would obstruct the access. Further on I will tell you where you can find some nice beaches with public access.
- Also, with the exception of Progreso and Chelem you won’t find many places where to have a nice breakfast or even a decent meal. I had to get my coffee in convenience stores while I was staying in Telchac, which was very awkward.
- Public transportation is random if not inexsistent so if you decide to explore that area you would be better off with renting a car.
- Do not expect to find the beautiful beaches and turquise water of the Riviera Maya. Nothing compares to Playa del Carmen and all that area, where you can appreciate some of the most beautiful Mexican beaches. However you can still enjoy some beach time around Merida as well.
Merida Beaches Map
The 11 best beaces near Merida that you can visit in a day trip ( or two)
Now that we have talked about the top Merida beaches, in a nutshell, let’s talk more about each and every one of them, including the things to do in the area, where to stay (in case you decide to spend a couple of days there) and where to eat.
You should know that I have been living in Chixchulub Puerto a few years ago while I was housesitting in a lovely home on the beach, but a few months ago I decided to rent a car and drive around Yucatan mainly focusing on the beaches near Merida, with the purpose to write this post, besides having fun myself of course 🙂
So, here below I will talk about all the most beautiful beaches I found on my journey from Celestun the farthest beach on the northwest of Yucatan all the way to Dizilam de Bravo and the very last one in Yucatan, El Cuyo, further east.
So the list below reflects a chronological order that you can also follow on the map.
Situated at only 1h 30” drive from Merida, Celestun is a tranquil beach town mainly known for the graceful flamingos living in the nearby lagoon. You can find full-day tours from Merida that include transportation and boat tours to spot flamingos and other kinds of birds that populate the area.
However, the beach is amazing too. Pretty wild, with not so many infrastructures, you can really enjoy some quiet time by the emerald water swimming or relaxing on the beach.
There are quite a few beach hotels in Celestun for any price and style. Personally, I believe the luxury hotels in the area don’t offer a great value for money but if you love the comfort and you are prepared to splurge, you may find some cute lodging.
There are also cheap hotels for those who travel on a budget.
As for food, there is not much choice either, depending on the season. If it’s high season or weekends you may find a couple of restaurants on the beach open.
The restaurants in town are just acceptable. I had breakfast at the Oxxo, the popular Mexican convenience store, but I was traveling on the cheap at the time.
I am sure that upscale hotels offer also decent meals or at least breakfast.
Celestun Hotel Options:
Hotel San Julio – budget hotel with just about everything you need, private bathroom, cleaners, and WIFI. Located right on the beach. Check prices and details
Hotel beach Don Gonzalo – a great option if you love nice and stylish hotel without breaking the bank. Not right on the beach but just on the other side of the road. Check prices and details
Playa55 Beach Escape – this is the most upscale hotel in the area to my knowledge, and boasts spacious rooms with elegant decor and the finest amenities. If you looking for luxury this is your place. Check prices and details
How to get to Celestun from Merida
As I mentioned before the best way to get to Celestun from Merida is by car, however, you can find Oriente Busses that run directly from Merida every 2 hours and they take around 2 hours to get you there.
Otherwise, the fastest and hassle-free way is to join one of the tours that combine flamingo tours with some beach times. They normally include lunch, but make sure you check that before booking. Here I am sharing a few options.
Organized tours from Merida to Celestun
At only 10 km from Celestun, you can find El Palmar ecological reserve, one of the most important protected areas in the Yucatan peninsula for the abundance of flora and fauna that live here. Another interesting attraction is the huge lighthouse, the biggest in the Yucatan peninsula.
Getting to el Palmar, though, is quite tricky. If you have a four-wheel-drive car you can drive from Celestun on the dirt road that runs along the beach among mangroves and a lush jungle.
Keep in mind that the road is not in good condition, especially if it has been raining. That’s why you will need a 4 wheel drive.
The other option would be getting there by boat from Celestun beach. You should ask one of the fishermen on the beach how much they charged.
You may be able to go from Sisal as well but it would be a longer trip and therefore more expensive.
A cool thing to do would also be flying over the lighthouse on a helicopter but I still have to find the information. Once I have it I will update the post.
I didn’t manage to get to El Palmar beach this time, but it looks incredible in pictures so I thought I should include it here anyway for the sake of information. If you go, please let me know how it goes.
Sisal Magic Town
Sisal is a pretty little town on the northern coast of Yucatan. It’s not very far from Celestun and they are only separated by El Palmar Reserve but not directly connected.
The beach here is spectacular and if it’s not too windy you may even find the colors of the Caribbean sea. In Sisal you can have long walks on the beach or just bask in the sun.
There is just one infinite public beach where you can find chairs and sunbeds for rent. There are some restaurants that will let you use their beach facilities if you buy something to eat or drink.
In Sisal you can also rent kayaks and paddleboards for a different experience, or you can explore the nearby beaches a little further off from the town.
Local travel agencies also offer guided tours in the wetlands and mangrove areas around Sisal, where you can enjoy an incredible wildlife walk on Petenes and swim in the crystal clear water of the “ojos de agua”.
How to get to Sisal
From Celestùn you will need to drive all the way towards Merida and turn left in Kinchil towards Hunucmà and then back towards the coast to Sisal. It’s a beautiful road although you may find some potholes every now and then.
Make sure you try the delicious coconut ice cream from the little shop by the pier.
Where to stay in Sisal
Sisal is an easy day trip from Merida. However, if you want to join some of the local tours, you will appreciate staying there a couple of nights.
Casona de Sisal – this is where I stayed. It’s a new hotel with comfortable spacious rooms and modern decor. The rooftop terrace offered great views of the sunset over the roofs of Sisal and the beach. Below the hotel, you could enjoy a great breakfast in the hotel restaurant which is also open for lunch until 5 pm – Check rates and info
Casa Kinch Sisal – a nice property with four-bedroom units equipped with a kitchenette, WIFI, and shared pool. Located a few blocks away from the center and the beach, in a peaceful area. Check rates and info
Casa de Pato – Casa de Pato is an exclusive luxury hotel with its own restaurant where you must reserve in advance to get in. They don’t accept external guests at the restaurant and don’t offer day passes. If you want to know their prices and make a reservation you need to contact them through their website.
Chuburnà Puerto is the last village coming from Merida or from Progreso. There is no road after that.
The town is pretty much idle with not much to see and the beaches in town are not very attractive, as they have been extremely reduced lately. The beaches go back to normal depth during the summer when there is a lower tide.
However, the best stretch of beach to enjoy in Chuburnà is the last bit of beach, Playon Las Dunas. To get there you just need to continue driving until the end of the road. You can leave the car in the parking lot (supposing you rented a car) and walk on the beach dune.
It seems like sea turtles come up at night to lay their eggs that’s why you are not authorized to get on the beach by car.
There is a huge pier from where you can get great shots as well. It’s probably a great place to be at sunset.
Keep in mind that there are no facilities or restaurants. Bring some snacks and most of all water if you plan to stay long on this beach.
Chelem is just a continuation to Chuburnà. You don’t see when one ends and the other begins. However, in Chelem village, you can find more restaurants bars and a couple of coffee shops.
When I checked Chelem beaches though I didn’t really find anything attractive.
There are no beach clubs that I know of, as most of the time you will find beach houses. There are a lot of beach access but the ones I checked weren’t really inspiring me to sit on the sand and enjoy a beach day.
From Chelem you may find some tours on the lagoon side to spot flamingos and other bird species. However, at the time I checked, I couldn’t find anyone and I was in a rush to move on to the next beach.
If you continue driving from Chelem you will get to Playa Cochino, in Yucalpeten, the nearby fishing town. Cochino means small pigs.
In fact, the beach has been named after a group of Vietnamese pigs that have been rescued and are now living on the beach enclosed in a small fenced area.
Local authorities are taking care of them and making sure they are well fed and looked after. They are adorable and the beach has been called after them.
The stretch of beach here is quite small but very clean and a great spot to relax and swim as the water is usually pretty calm.
Progreso is a small port town near Merida and the most popular beach destination for locals, as it’s the closest but also the nicest place.
I have to admit that coming back to Progreso after a few years I could appreciate quite a good both in the infrastructures, and the atmosphere overall.
They have extended the Malecon (beach promenade) which is really an amazing place to stroll, especially at sunset. Locals also go to exercise and take a walk, especially on Sundays.
The beach is incredible. Very broad and wide and it is so big and long that you can choose whether to stay close to the center in one of the local beach clubs or further away from where it’s quieter and less crowded.
There is quite a variety of beach clubs offering sunbeds and sun umbrellas.
Some of them are also restaurants. My favorites are EL AhGuay and the nearby chairs from the restaurant La Antigua, a great place for breakfast or lunch.
Both beach clubs have Tulum-style facilities, with large sunbeds and music.
If you love kitesurfing you should join one of the Kitesurfing Club in Progreso, Alfakite either for some lessons or for equipment rental. They also have a little coffee shop with WIFI as well.
Where to stay in Progreso
Playa Linda Hotel – this hotel offers the best value for money. Its rooms are simple but clean and in modern style, and it’s located right on the beach. The last time I checked their rates were quite a bargain. Check rates and availability
Capital O José y Lety – cute property with spacious nicely decorated rooms and a shared pool. Mid-range prices. Check rates and availability
Hotel Amor Progreso – If you are looking for something a little more upscale, this is the perfect place for you. Cozy and romantic, it’s a great place to relax and unwind. Check rates and availability.
At only 8 km from Progreso, you will find the small tranquil town of Chixchulub and its beautiful beach.
You may have already heard of this unusual name (pronounced Cheek shoe lube )because this is where ages ago a crater fell on earth (actually in the ocean) provoking the creation of the thousands of cenotes around the Yucatan Peninsula which eventually became some of the most popular tourist attractions in the area.
And that is why the biggest concentration of cenotes is found in the nearby area (more info on this soon)
The town of Chixchulub has nothing interesting to offer, except for the beautiful huge stretch of beach.
Keep in mind though that with only a few exceptions from Chixchulub all the way to Dzilam de Bravo, the so-called Costa Esmeralda, you will only find deserted beaches, where the best way to have access is to rent a beach house.
There are only a couple of beach clubs and I will talk about them further in this post.
Chixchulub is in fact becoming one of the most popular towns where wealthy families from Merida, choose to have their second home, and expatriates from US and Canada retire.
In town, you will find a few grocery stores and a couple of restaurants but if you rent a place you would be better off buying some groceries from Merida supermarkets.
Renting a Vrbo/Airbnb in Chixchulub
I have lived in Chixchulub for a couple of months altogether when I was housesitting and I enjoyed getting up on the beach or watching the sunset from my balcony.
Here below some home rental options that I have picked for you on the VRBO site.
Entire House on the Seafront in Chicxulub Puerto – Check rates and info
Beachfront penthouse apartment on Chicxulub / Progreso – Check rates and info
Past Chixchulub on the direction of Dzilam de Bravo you will find the deserted beach of Uaymitun. It’s a residential area where it’s even difficult to find beach access because it’s mainly occupied by private homes or gated communities.
Therefore if you want to rent a house for yourself and your family or friends for a weekend here are some great choices.
Insider tips – coming from Chixchulub on the way to Uaymitun, make sure you look out for the convenience store “Tienda San Roman” on the lagoon side. Park the car and go for a walk towards the lagoon you have good chances to spot flamingos at a very close distance.
There is a lookout point further down the road but it’s now temporarily close.
VRBO/AIRBNB on Uaymitun beach
Villas Las Tunas – Yucatan Home Rentals – Check rates and info
Beduinos beach front relax and luxury house with the best price – Check rates and info
The quiet fishing village of Telchac Puerto doesn’t have a beautiful beach. However, there are a few interesting beaches and interesting spots in the near surroundings. I am listing them below.
San Bruno Beach
The stretch of beach before arriving at Telchac is really beautiful, spacious, and with easy access to the ocean. The problem is that it’s difficult to find access simply because there are many private homes and hotels.
However, if you get off the main road and drive along the beach dirt road you may find a couple of beach entrances.
I found one by driving around the hotel Technohtel Beach in San Benito, which is also a great option if you want to spend the weekend there.
If you drive as if you are going to the hotel but continue along the side road you will get to public beach access. Not much space to park but enough to find a spot.
Again, there are no beach facilities, just plain sand and emerald water, usually all for yourself.
Komo Komo Beach club
If you want the comfort of the beach club and all its facilities here you have it. Komo Komo Beach club is an upscale spot where you can also spend a few nights in their luxury apartment. It was actually the only one I found. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Otherwise, you can just pay 300 MXN (15 USD) to access the beach and the beach facilities plus the use of kayaks and paddleboards. Then you pay for what you eat at the restaurant.
During the weekdays the price of the beach access is 250 MXN but if you just want to eat at the restaurant and hit the beach without using their facilities you don’t have to pay the 250MXN. (you must on the weekends, though)
Xcambó Mayan Ruins
If you love local history, you should make a stop and visit the Mayan ruin of Xcambo‘, one of the most underrated archeological sites – It’s only 75 MXN (4 USD) and you will most probably find yourself alone among the ancient Mayan ruins.
You can also hike to the top of the temples and appreciate the spectacular views. On the way there look out from flamingoes on both sides of the road. You will be likely to see a lot of them.
Reserva Ecologica “Sayachaltun”
Right after the turn to the Xcambo’ Mayan Ruins, you will see the entrance to the Reserva Ecologica Sayachaltun on the lagoon side. I am so glad I stopped by because the place is very well maintained and you can appreciate sitting on the pier on the lagoon enjoying the absolute silence interrupted only by the sound of the birds passing by, sometimes even flamingos.
They organize tours around the lagoon in small boats, to spot the local fauna including crocodiles. Very affordable and worth it.
The restaurant is also a great spot where you can have enjoy a good meal from breakfast to lunch and dinner. This is one of the decent seafood restaurants in the area so keep it in mind. The other one that I was suggested is in Telchac, called Tiburones, also a good seafood restaurant.
Where to stay in Telchac area (includes San Benito and San Bruno)
- Tecnohotel Beach (San Benito) – Check rates and info
- Casa Kay Poloc Ha / Bwellcome Colección Playa – Check rates and info
- House Beach Front Superb Ocean View Hi Speed WiFi – Check rates and info
- Stylish beach apartment – Check rates and info
Right after Xelchac, you will find SanCrisanto, a cute little village on the beach where you will appreciate the colorful homes around the main square and the interesting boat tours on the lagoon organized by a local community.
You can see the entrance to the tour offices as soon as you enter town on the lagoon side of the main road.
The beach in San Crisanto is not exceptional and it’s actually very narrow. However, just before getting there, you can see the road sign for Playa Sac-Ha. You must pay for the entrance to the beach but there are no facilities, except for toilets. The entrance fee is only 90 MXN.
If you love roughing it, you can also camp on the beach for an extra 150 MXN per person. I would personally stay in a hotel, but you have this option too.
Dzilam de Bravo
If you are staying in the area and you love to explore the natural treasures you may want to stretch a bit to Dzilam de Bravo. It’s only 30 minutes drive from Sancrisanto, after Santa Clara another small fishing town on the Yucatan coast.
There you have the chance to take a 2-hour boat tour on the beachside to spot local flora and fauna and swim in an Ojo de agua, a unique experience off the beaten path.
There are no beaches there but the tour is fun!
Make sure you check out the beautiful Yucatan Hacienda San Francisco de Tzacalha. If you want to spend the night in the area, staying in one of the ancient Yucatan Hacienda is a magical experience. Otherwise, you can just pay a visit and ask for a tour of the hacienda.
One of the most beautiful places on the Yucatan beach, it is the perfect getaway if you are tired of the overpriced and crowded Riviera Maya.
Differently from the previously mentioned towns, El Cuyo has the facilities of a touristy resort but with the appeal of a local feel.
Here you can find an infinite beach where to enjoy swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, taking long walks, or just basking in the sun. From El Cuyo, you can also visit the pink lakes of Las Coloradas and many other interesting sites.
But also nice restaurants and cute hotels.
I wrote a huge guide about El Cuyo because it deserves its own place 🙂
I believe I have completed the list of all the Yucatan beaches, which includes the best beaches near Merida as well. I hope it will be helpful if you are looking for an additional place to visit among all the things to do in Merida.