Is Mérida Mexico Near the Beach?

Is Mérida Mexico Near the Beach

Mexico is known for its beautiful beaches. Significant differences are found between the Gulf of Mexico beaches and beaches along the Riviera Maya. Now, you’re coming to the Yucatan and are asking is Mérida Mexico near the beach? The answer my friend is yes, most definitely yes.

Not only is Mérida near the beach but beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula are some of the most unspoiled and beautiful beaches in Mexico. Actually, there are quite a few beaches to visit within a short drive from Mérida. Some of these beaches are also known by locals and tourists alike. Others are best-kept secrets by the locals to ensure the pristine nature of the sand, the water, and the experience.

This article was updated in January of 2023.

Yucatan Beaches are best-kept secrets

You’ll find the best weather to visit the beaches are from mid-November to May. Regular sunshine and calm seas are found on most of the Mexican beaches during these months. Keep in mind, the beaches will be more crowded during spring break and holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Heavy rains, clouds, and insects are prolific during hot and humid months from June to late August, early September.

Best Beaches Near Mérida Mexico

Fortunately, you’ll have your pick of quite a few beaches close to Mérida Mexico. Each of these beaches has its own unique offering with some being more popular with expats while some are quieter, local spots. Before you start out on your beach journey, be sure to check the weather. Planning in advance will also help you know the best route for Uber, public transportation or if renting a car is better.

The closest beach to Mérida is Progreso

The most popular beach destination among locals and tourists alike is Progreso. Only 27 miles from Mérida, Progreso is the number one choice for a quick and easy day trip. Progreso is accessible by bus, Uber, taxi or car. Depending upon your transportation of choice, it will take you about 25 minutes from North Mérida  or 40 minutes to 1 hour from Mérida Centro.

Let’s take a quick peek at the closest beaches west and east of Progreso:
Chelem is a quick 15-minute drive west with Chuburna just 5 minutes farther. Chicxulub Puerto is 15 minutes’ drive east with Uaymitun just 10 minutes farther.

The beach popular with expats is Chelem    

A little diamond in the rough, Chelem will give you local flavor while helping you feel at ease with the Mexican culture. Many ex-pats frequent Chelem for the sand, the sun, the quaint local restaurants, and easy access. Chelem truly provides the feel of a beach town with small markets for fruits, vegetables, bread, staples, and, of course, tortillas. The people of Chelem will welcome you with open arms and also do their absolute best to help you feel at home.

The favorite beach of locals is Chuburna 

This is a very popular location for people who leave Mérida due to the high humidity during the summer. Chuburna has many choices of restaurants with fresh fish as the main course. Like Chelem, you will also find small markets for fruits, vegetables, bread, etc. Chuburna also has a pharmacy in the event you need something.

What’s more –

Here you will find shops called tendejons. You will stand outside of the store or house, in some cases, and tell the person inside what you would like to purchase. Moreover, it is a unique way to shop “Mexican-style” and is quite charming.

Merida Tours and Services Guide by Amy Jones of Life in Merida

The beach where the cenotes originated is Chicxulub

Chicxulub has quite an interesting history. Famous for being the epicenter of the crater is due to a meteorite resulting in many cenotes in the area. In 1663, Chicxulub Puerto defended the north coast from the incursion of pirates.

But that’s not all . . .

Later, it gained notoriety as a sabotage port during World War II. It is well developed, a bit more than the other locations, with a larger variety of shops, restaurants, and some modern amenities.

The beach with flamingos is Celestun

About an hour and 15 minutes from Mérida, you’ll find Celestun in the biosphere reserve. Celestun is a quaint fishing village most familiar for the flamingos that inhabit its clear waters and mangroves. The best times to see these intriguing birds are in the fall and winter. They perform their courtship before they move to the sandy beaches of Rio Lagartos for nesting and birthing. It is also famous for its seafood restaurants, pristine beaches, and calm waters.

pink flamingos in the water in celestun yucatan

Different times of the year attract more flamingos than others in Celestun. 

A quieter beach is Sisal

To the north of Celestun and on the edge of the biosphere is Sisal. From Mérida, Sisal is the same distance. Or if you travel from Celestun to Sisal, you will also have to drive outside the biosphere. The time and distance are the same.

The Port of Santa Maria de Sisal opened in 1810 to unload ships from Havana and then export goods from Yucatan. It was the first and one of the most important ports for the exportation of henequen fiber familiar as sisal. Once the port opened in Progresso, Sisal became a quiet, fishing village.

If you want to visit both Celestun and Sisal, I recommend going on separate days. Don’t spend your valuable beach time driving to both locations.

Best Cenotes Near Mérida

Many cenotes can be found throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are only present in Mexico and are quite a magical experience.

Check this out – 

Originating from the Mayan word “dzonot” meaning sacred well, cenotes are deposits of freshwater. They were revered by the Maya for their fresh water and as entrances to other worlds. They were also centers of communion with the Gods and sites of sacrifice.

Merida Driving Guide by Amy Jones of Life in Merida

Best Day Trips in Yucatan Mérida Mexico

This is a very short list of the best cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula. If you are staying in Mérida these would be considered day trips:

  • Ik-Kil
  • Oxmal
  • Zaci
  • Hacienda Mucuyche
  • San Ignacio
  • Yaal Utzil
  • Kankirixche

semi-open cenote with blue water and tree roots in Yucatan Peninsula

Each cenote has it’s own energy, personality, and story; all of them beautiful in their own way. 

Gulf of Mexico Beaches are biodiverse

The Gulf of Mexico is astoundingly beautiful, biodiverse, and teems with life; capturing your heart and imprinting your imagination. The Gulf is home to fish, coral, whales, sea turtles, dolphins and thousands of bird species. It is also a major contributor for local and national economies with species like oysters, shrimp, and crabs supplying a robust fishing industry.


Nearly 87 million people rely on the unique habitats of the Gulf and call it home; a way of life with its own local cultures and communities. Beach lovers find that the extensive coastline of the Gulf of Mexico is reason enough to visit Mexico.

What is sargasso?

You may have heard about the influx of seasonal seaweed called sargasso or sargassum. This widespread genus of seaweed creates floating oases for marine species including sea turtles, seahorses, and a wide variety of fish. These patches of seaweed can become so large and dense they can be detected from space.

While infrequently found in the Gulf of Mexico, the seaweed is prevalent in the Riviera Maya in the state of Quintana Roo. Typically present from April to August, June is the worst month. For more information, I’ve included a map for your review and reference.


Final Thoughts on Is Mérida Mexico Near the Beach

Is Mérida Mexico Near the Beach? YES, it most definitely is. If you’d like to share experiences with other expats, come join us here: Life in Merida: Visitor & Resident Resources

You will find quite a few of the most beautiful, tranquil, and relaxing beaches near Mérida. The offerings from the beach to beach and location to location provide a wide variety for almost anything you are looking for in a beach experience.

Now you know . . .

From quiet fishing villages to more commercialized venues, there is something for everyone. There is nothing quite like the beaches in the Yucatan and the Gulf of Mexico. The combination of history, ecosystems, culture, and relaxation provides a unique and memorable experience.

See also, Our Guide to Mérida, Mexico On A Budget

Merida Consultations with Amy Jones of Life in Merida