Curious about the Gulf of Mexico beaches near Merida? Today, Boaz Derra, Expedia and Tulumers consultant in luxury travels and hosting, shares with us his 10 top beaches to visit!
“Find inner peace with all of the Gulf Coast beauty that surrounds you in Yucatan”
While the Mexican Caribbean beaches in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum (all in Quintana Roo state; next to Yucatan state) are considered the best Mexico beaches, Yucatan beaches have a charm all their own.
Though there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Merida itself, many can’t imagine coming to Mexico and not visiting the beaches.
In this article, you’ll discover the Top 10 best beaches in Merida Mexico, and what you need to know to visit! Some of the ones featured include Progreso, the closest beach to Merida, Celestun, home to thousands of Yucatan flamingos, and my personal favorite Merida Mexico beach, San Crisanto.
I’ve explored much of the 200 miles of coastline in Yucatan state — known as the Costa Esmeralda (Emerald Coast) for its emerald-colored water. Ready to discover all the best beaches in Yucatan? Let’s get to it!
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Most-Visited & Best Yucatan Beaches
1. Puerto Progreso
This is the closest Merida beach at about 30-45 minutes away, and one of the best beaches in Yucatan. It is popular with Merida locals, and has a cruise port, so if you’re not into crowded beaches, check the Progreso cruise schedule to see when the ships dock.
Puerto Progreso is the closest beach to Merida, popular for weekend trips made by Merida locals because it’s the most convenient beach to get to. Progreso is a cruise port town, and when there’s a ship docked, expect thousands more people than usual in this chill beach town.
Progreso is the most developed of all Merida and Yucatan beach towns, and it has a large population of expats in Mexico from the U.S. and Canada. It is also popular with windsurfers, kitesurfers and kiteboarders, as Progreso can be quite windy.
THINGS TO DO IN PROGRESO
Walk the Progreso Malecon: Once you arrive in Progreso, stroll down the Malecon (walkway) for a bite to eat and to get a better feel for the town. Find your favorite spot on the beach and rent a shaded palapa with beach chairs for $100-200 pesos ($5-10USD) for the day.
Lounge at the Progreso Beach Clubs: The two best beach clubs in Progreso are El HaGuay and Silcer Beach Club. Personally, I prefer El HaGuay, as it’s the more relaxed of the two, but if you’re looking for a lively atmosphere, Silcer may be the better choice.
El HaGuay is located right next to the giant, colorful Progreso letters sign, on the eastern end of the beach. They let you have a beach chair for the day for free, if you order food and drinks. El HaGuay has a relaxed vibe with Instagram worthy boho decor.
Take Kiteboarding Lessons: The western side of Progreso has several kiteboarding schools that offer lessons and equipment rentals. Three well-reputed Progreso kiteboarding schools are Yuckite, Kite Beach and AlphaKite.
Visit El Corchito: Located about 10 minutes by car off the beach, head to the El Corchito Ecological Reserve. For about $50 pesos ($2.50USD) you take a short boat ride over to what’s known as Raccoon Island, where you can swim in two Yucatan cenotes as the raccoons run by.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN PROGRESO
Crabster Seafood & Grill on the Malecon is a great option for breakfast or brunch in Progreso. Yum Ixpu, Los Henequenes and Eladio’s Bar are three great Progreso restaurants to eat local Yucatan cuisine and fresh seafood.
For a nice dinner, Eladio’s is perfect for a casual, beachfront sunset dinner. For a more upscale dinner atmosphere, check out Almadia.
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Celestun has beautiful, quiet beaches with seafood restaurants right on the sand, though it’s better known for the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve. Here, you’ll see the large flock of Celestun flamingos and the other birds that call this part of Mexico home.
BEST BEACHES IN CELESTUN
Among the best Yucatan beaches are Playa Norte (North Beach) and Playa Sur (South Beach) in Celestun. There is a large fishing pier in Celestun, and these two beaches are located on either side of it, to the north and south.
These two beaches look the same, as they are right next to one another. However, Playa Norte is the most popular of the two because it has better amenities and restaurants, including La Palapa and Los Pompanos, two of the best restaurants in Celestun.
THINGS TO DO
Besides soaking up the sun on the beach and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, there’s the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, one of the best Mexico UNESCO Sites.
This large nature preserve is known as the best place to see flamingos near Merida. It is also well known as one of the best places for Mexico birdwatching.
This large flock of flamingos in Yucatan travels throughout the peninsula during the year, moving between a few places. The best time to see flamingos in Celestun is from November to early-March, when the (estimated) 35,000 flamingos live in Celestun during their mating season.
Many people do the mangrove tour via kayak to see the birds in their natural habitat. Some tours also take you to the Ojo de Agua Baldiosera, a swimmable cenote (freshwater sinkhole, sometimes called Baldiosera cenote) located in the Celestun mangroves.
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In 2020, Sisal was named a Mexico Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) the only Yucatan beach on the list. These small towns are highlighted by Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism for unique qualities and a welcoming environment for visitors. There’s not much in Sisal, just beautiful nature and restaurants right on the sand.
Looking for a quiet, relaxed beach? Look no further than Sisal, which has a white sand beach, a pier to walk down, a few places to eat and drink — but little else.
When I personally visit Sisal, I rent a beach chair under one of the shaded palapas outside of the Muelle de Sisal restaurant. Rentals are about $50-100 pesos ($2.50-5USD) for the day, and if you order food and drinks from the restaurant, they let you use their bathroom all day.
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Chuburna Puerto is the westernmost beach you can access along the Costa Esmeralda (Emerald Coast) beach road that goes from Dzilam de Bravo on the east, to Chuburna on the west.
It is a town popular with expats, and there’s even an area called “Gringo Gulch,” mostly populated by U.S. and Canadian expats and retirees. As you might imagine, Chuburna is a sleepy town, but a nice place to spend the day on relatively empty beaches.
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Chelem & Chuburna Puerto, Mexico: Chelem beach, and its neighboring beach town of Chuburna Puerto, have a large Yucatan expat community. Located just west of Progreso, these two beach towns are popular with those seeking the best beach near Merida Mexico — that’s quieter and calmer than Progreso.
One town east of Chuburna, about 15-minutes by car, you’ll be in Chelem. It is a little more populated than Chuburna, though definitely still a pueblo (small town). The beaches here are tranquil and pretty, and there’s some good Chelem restaurants, like TacoMaya and Que Onda Cafe.
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Chicxulub Puerto is where the meteor hit that wiped out the dinosaurs. You can’t see the impact site as it’s in the water, but what you do have in Chicxulub (pronounced che-che-lube) is high end homes with near-private beaches, and easy access to Progreso.
Here, you’re basically on a private beach, and only 15 minutes from Progreso by car. It felt like the best of both worlds — peace and quiet on the beach during the day, and easy proximity to restaurants for dinner.
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7. San Benito
San Benito, San Bruno & Uaymitun: Located just east Chicxulub, the posh vibe continues in the beaches of Uaymitun (pronounced why-me-tune), San Bruno and San Benito. You’ll feel disconnected from it in all these tranquil towns, which have little more than beach houses (often beach mansions!) and upscale beach clubs. There are a lot of beachfront house rentals in this area.
You’ll need to get groceries and do nothing during the day other than relax on the beach outside your rental home.
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Telchac beach has some nice areas around the Telchac Pier, with a cute downtown and casual seafood restaurants. There are also some fun things to do in Telchac, like visiting the Xcambo Mayan Ruins and Xtampu Pink Lakes.
The beaches in Telchac are nice, especially in the area around the Muelle de Pescadores de Telchac Puerto (Telchac Pier).
Besides the beaches, there are some fun things to do in Telchac. These include visiting the Xcambo Mayan Ruins, a smaller ruins site with pyramids you can climb, and Xtampu pink lakes; the two are located only a few minutes from one another.
While there’s no Yucatan pink beach, there are the Yucatan pink lakes in Mexico. Xtampu is less visited than Las Coloradas — but they are the closest pink lakes near Merida. If you’re wondering, the pink color is real, and the lakes are used by locals to collect salt. It is free to visit Xtampu.
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9. San Crisanto
San Crisanto is known as the coconut grove, and there’s usually more coconut trees than people on the beaches! Located about 1.5 hours from Merida, there’s not much around Chabihau and San Crisanto besides the beach.
When visiting, pack a cooler because there’s not many restaurants or convenient stores near San Crisanto beach.
The best way to visit San Crisanto beach is at Balneario Sac-ha; balneario loosely translates to beach club, though there are few services here aside from restrooms and showers. Entry to Sac-ha is about $150 pesos ($7.50USD) per car for the day.
Besides the beach, take the San Crisanto Mangroves EcoTour. This peaceful, gondola-style boat ride through the mangroves ends at Ojo de Agua (cenote) where you can swim in a natural pool in the middle of the Yucatan. This unique experience is only about $75 pesos ($4USD) per person.
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10. El Cuyo
Located about 3.5 hours from Merida, El Cuyo makes a great weekend getaway. It has some of the best beaches in Yucatan, located at the eastern edge of the state and sharing a border with Quintana Roo state and the Caribbean Sea. El Cuyo is popular with kitesurfers.
It is a unique beach town, as it’s located on the eastern edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea, so the waters tend to be a bit nicer.
There isn’t much around it, but this up-and-coming beach town, popular for kiteboarding, has enough beautiful beaches and activities to keep you busy. For things to do in El Cuyo, you can take an ATV tour to Las Coloradas pink lakes, go paddle boarding, kayaking and birdwatching.
After a day of activities, head to the best restaurants in El Cuyo, Naia Cafe and El Chile Gordo, for a bite to eat. Head back to the beach to watch the sunset and the kiteboarders as they seemingly surf the sky!
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Though the beaches in Yucatan Mexico aren’t as popular with tourists as the Mexican Caribbean beaches in Quintana Roo state, this is a great thing for visitors seeking peace, quiet and nature. Coming from Merida, you have plenty of beach options in Costa Esmeralda (Emerald Coast).