16 Best Beaches in the Yucatan: Your 2022 Local’s Guide

The best beaches in the Yucatan are plentiful and stunning. They may not get thse same recognition as the tropical beaches that run along the Mexican Caribbean coastline but they are equally as worthy of your time. 

The best beaches in the Yucatan have it all. If you want serviced beaches with all the amenities where you can rent umbrellas and sunbeds and enjoy traditional Yucatecan food right on the sand, you can certainly find that here.

On the other hand, if you want peace, tranquility, and seclusion, you can find that too. Seemingly every square inch of the Yucatan’s coastline is brimming in natural beauty.

Where else in the world could you find hidden coves, secluded coconut groves, abandoned haciendas, and dense green jungles? Most of the best beaches in the Yucatan contained within this post can be easily accessed by public transport.

Some are a little tricky to get to. Rest assured, they are all well worth the effort. 

Best Beaches in the Yucatan

Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo
Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo

El Cuyo

Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo
Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo

El Cuyo is a gorgeous little fishing village situated in the Northeastern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. It is 162.5 km from Cancun, and 261.8 km from Merida, respectively.

This is perhaps one of the most gorgeous Yucatan beaches. In fact, it is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the entirety of Mexico.

That being said, El Cuyo remains largely under the radar… for now. It sees a fraction of the tourists that visit nearby Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Cozumel, and Tulum.

This, in part, may be due to the fact that El Cuyo is relatively tricky to get to, at least if you are not renting a car in Mexico. Getting here from Merida or Cancun requires multiple buses and at least an overnight stay. 

Is it worth it? Absolutely. 

El Cuyo is a place to travel to if you want to relax and unwind. There are just a small handful of hotels and restaurants here. 

Unless you are traveling during a Mexican public holiday, most of the time you will find that you have the entire stretch of coastline all to yourself. A word of advice? 

Wake up to watch the sunrise, even if hearing your alarm go off at 5 am seems painful. There is nothing quite so beautiful. 

Because El Cuyo is relatively remote, visiting this beach usually necessitates an overnight stay. But the boutique hotels and guesthouses here suit every budget and travel style. There are very few places quite as beautiful where you can pass a day or two. 

Getting to El Cuyo

Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo
Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo

Driving in Mexico is the best way to get to El Cuyo. There is a distance of 162.5 km between Cancun and El Cuyo, and a distance of 261.8 km between Merida and El Cuyo.

The journey ought to take approximately 2.5 hours by car from Cancun and 3.5 hours from Merida. The roads throughout the Yucatan are pretty good and well maintained.

However, you should keep in mind that the freeway immediately before El Cuyo is very narrow and there are no street lights. For this reason, you should avoid traveling at night if you can.

From Merida, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid and Tulum, you need to take a bus to Tizimin and then transfer to El Cuyo. You can also take a bus from Merida to Valladolid, Valladolid to Tizimin, and Tizimin to El Cuyo.  

Playa Uaymitun 

Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo
Best beaches in Yucatan: Uaymitun

Playa Uaymitun is a secluded stretch of coastline that sits between the beach towns of Chicxulub and San Benito. This is a gorgeous virgin beach whose soft white sands and turquoise waters see very few visitors.

No public transport runs here so you absolutely need a car to visit. Playa Uaymitun extends over several kilometers and is quite simply, an undisturbed, unserviced beach framed by palm trees and coconuts.

A few beach mansions border the sand, and they are interesting to check out in themselves. If you want the option of waking up and walking straight into the sea, you will find some of these grand beach homes available for nightly/weekly rental on booking sites such as Airbnb.

The entrance to Playa Uaymitun is not obvious and you cannot see the beach from the main road that passes through the area. Unless you specifically knew what was here, you would never know to look for Uaymitun.

Arguably that’s part of the magic and why the beach remains so tranquil and quiet. Entrance to Uaymitun is made through the dirt trails that lead through areas of grassy woodland and take you to the beach.

Getting to Uaymitun 

It is tricky to get to Uaymitun if you don’t have a car. The area is quite remote and no public transport passes through here.

You could take an Uber from Progreso. However, keep in mind that it may be difficult to find a driver to pick you up in Uaymitun for the return leg of your journey. 

Pig Beach 

Best beaches in Yucatan: Pig Beach, Yucalpeten
Best beaches in Yucatan: Pig Beach, Yucalpeten

“Pig Beach” is the name of a small coastal area in Yucalpeten, between Progreso and Chelem in the Yucatan. It is aptly named because eight little sweet homeless mini pigs were found abandoned here in late 2021. 

The pigs were subsequently rescued, and are now cared for by Progreso Ecological Patrol. Since they were found living in this area and have acclimatized to the warmer temperatures, this is where they continue to live for the time being. 

The pigs have a pen where they can sleep and relax, but they are also free to roam around and swim in the warm waters as they wish. In some ways, Yucalpetens pig beach is now reminiscent of Exuma in the Bahamas.

If you happen to stop by the beach between 12.00 and 13.00 between Thursday and Sunday, you have the opportunity to swim with them. Local children love them! 

The beach is free to enter.  However, if you buy T-shirts and other items from the beach shack, proceeds go towards caring for the piggies

Progreso 

beaches near Merida: Progreso
beaches near Merida: Progreso
beaches near Merida: Progreso

Progreso is the closest beach town to Merida, the Yucatan capital. It is also arguably one of the most popular beaches in the state. 

Here, beachgoers relax beneath thatched umbrellas and vendors walk up and down the shore selling chicharron and ice-cold coconuts. Progreso provides a welcome respite from the intense Mexican heat and the chaos of the inland towns and cities.

Progreso’s beach extends over several miles. Its soft white sands, plentiful amenities, and clean clear waters make it the perfect spot for enjoying a day at the beach. 

The beach does get relatively crowded at weekends when Merida residents, expats, and tourists all flock to the coastline to escape the heat. If you are able to schedule your Progreso trip so that you visit the beach on a weekday, you will have a much more pleasant experience. 

Similarly, you should try to avoid arriving when a cruise ship is scheduled to arrive. You can check the latest cruise ship schedule here.

The area around Progreso is very much developed and this is by no means the most naturally spectacular of the Yucatan beaches. However, Progreso certainly does have its charm and is beautiful in its own right.

A lot of the local bars and restaurants allow you to rent a sunbed and an umbrella for the day for just a few pesos, or for a minimum spend at their establishment. Nothing quite says tropical paradise vibes like sipping a cocktail out of a coconut. 

If you get hungry, there are plenty of excellent eateries where you can enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. El Cordobes is a beautiful breakfast spot housed in a grand old colonial building.

For dinner, Crabster Progreso (C.19 148a Boulevard Turistico Malecon) is a wonderful upscale seafood restaurant.

Getting to Progreso 

beaches near Merida: Progreso
beaches near Merida: Progreso

Buses between Merida and Progreso depart every 20 minutes with the exception of Sundays where buses are hourly. You can take the bus from the Autoprogreso station which is located at Calle 62, #524, Mérida Centro.

The journey takes approximately 50 minutes each way by bus. The bus does make a fair few stops just outside of Merida, and upon arrival on the outskirts of Progreso, to pick up and drop off various passengers. 

San Benito 

beaches near Merida: San Benito on a windy day
beaches near Merida: San Benito on a windy day

San Benito is comparable to Playa Uaymitun in terms of its beauty and seclusion. If you were to choose between the two, Uaymitun is perhaps the slightly larger and more aesthetic option. 

San Benito is situated 43km from Merida and is only really accessible if you have a car. There are some breathtaking villas and beach houses in the area, and many new developments are currently underway. 

During the summer season, you may see a handful of locals on the beach but generally, the beach is completely devoid of tourists. If you want to stay overnight, you can consider renting a beachfront property. Alternatively, the closest hotels are a few luxury resorts in Telchac Puerto. 

Chicxulub 

beaches close to Merida: Chicxulub
beaches close to Merida: Chicxulub

Chicxulub (pronounced chick su lube) is a sleepy coastal town in Yucatan, Mexico. It has a population of 5,000 and most residents are involved in fishing and trade.

But Chicxulub is interesting because it is here where the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs hit the earth 66 million years ago. In fact, it didn’t just wipe out the dinosaurs, it caused mass extinction and wiped out 80% of all animals.

You can’t see the impact site. It’s underwater.

But a visit here is interesting nonetheless. The beach is narrow but pretty and there are a handful of restaurants and bars along the coast. 

Just outside of Chicxulub, people were working on building “Sendero Jurassico” which will be a park to educate people about dinosaurs. So maybe it will bring more tourism here in the future

Chicxulub is about 40 miles away from the Yucatan capital of Merida. There are a few mercados, bakeries and restaurants but there’s not really a lot to see. 

But where else can you see old Mexican men drinking horchata underneath giant T Rex statues?  From Chicxulub, it is approximately a 10-minute drive to Playa Uaymitun. 

Getting to Chicxulub 

beaches close to Merida: Chicxulub

There is no direct bus between Merida and Chicxulub. So, the best way to get here by public transport is to take the Autoprogreso bus from Merida to Progreso, and then take an Uber to Chicxulub.

Fortunately, you will find a lot of Ubers available in both Progreso and Chicxulub. There is also the option of taking a cab all the way from Merida to Chicxulub and back.

This actually doesn’t work out too expensive if there are several of you. You are looking at a fare of around 400 pesos each way for up to four people. 

Celestun

beaches close to Merida: Celestun
beaches close to Merida: Celestun

Celestun is a charming fishing village located on the Yucatan peninsula’s west coast. It is characterized by its pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear aquamarine waters, and quaint seafront eateries.

Many Yucatecans will tell you that the Yucatan beaches here (Playa Norte or Playa Sur Celestun) are the best places to see the sunset across the entire state. So, you should be sure to get here for Golden Hour and then for sunset.

Nothing could be more magical or romantic than to sit and watch as the sky above turns from blue to orange to pink. There are plenty of places along the Malecon in Celestun where you can rent a sunbed for the day for just a few pesos.

If you want to just lay your towel on the sand, you can do that too. Vendors are constantly walking back and forth along the beach selling all manner of snacks. 

Dining options in Celestun are not necessarily something to rave about, but they do well to satisfy your Mexican food cravings. Restaurant Nicte Ha (C 10. 108 Centro) in the main square is good for simple treats like quesadillas and tacos. 

La Palapa (12 105, Benito Juárez) is a seafront eatery that is widely regarded as being one of the best in town. Come here for fresh seafood and be sure not to miss the coconut shrimp.

Of course, a trip to Celestun is not complete without a trip to the nearby Ria Celestun biosphere reserve to watch the flamingos. The reserve is just a 25-minute walk (or short cab ride) from the beach. 

Getting to Celestun 

Autobuses Oriente operates a direct bus that takes you straight from Merida to Celestun. It departs almost hourly from Mérida Noreste station (Calle 67 x 50 y 52 # 531 Colonia Centro CP 97000 Merida).

Services currently depart at the following times: 05:00, 06:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 20:00. However, keep in mind that schedules are subject to change.

The journey should take two hours from Celestun to Merida. You should allow up to three hours in each direction, however, as the bus makes a lot of stops en route. 

Chelem 

If Progreso is a little too busy for you, you can continue west along the coast to Chelem. Don’t expect Chelem to be completely free of crowds though.

The charming fishing village is popular among American expats and retirees. The name Chelem means ¨under the magpie¨.

Here, the sands are a soft, powdery white and the waters are perfectly turquoise. You have a handful of stores, cafes, and restaurants here.

If you want to make a day of it, you can have breakfast and coffee in Progreso, pick up some snacks, and then continue on to Chelem. Colectivos run between the two beach towns and can be taken for just a couple of pesos.

Chelem sits adjacent to Chuburna beach. You can walk between the two best beaches in the Yucatan on days when it isn’t so hot. 

Getting to Chelem 

You can take a colectivo (shared minivan style bus) from Progreso to Chelem for just a few pesos. You can also opt to take an Uber which should not cost you more than $3-4 each way.

Telchac Puerto 

Laguna Rosada near Telchac Puerto

Telchac Puerto is one of the more overlooked Yucatan beaches. It is an hour’s drive from Merida and 30 minutes from Progreso.

This is a good choice if you are looking for somewhere calm and quiet. Like most gorgeous beaches in this region, you can expect soft white sand and clear, warm waters.

Telchac has an interesting history because, during the henequen boom and the days of grand Mexican haciendas, canoes would leave from here, taking their products to Progreso ready to ship overseas. Sometimes the canoes were also used to carry food to people living in extremely remote areas along the coast.  

There are a few interesting things to see around Telchac Puerto so you can make a full day of visiting here. The Xcambo Mayan ruins are a short drive away. 

So too, is the Laguna Rosada. This was formerly one of the famous ¨pink lakes¨ of Mexico. 

However, sadly the waters are no longer pink at any time because a dam was built that mixed the nearby river water with the salt lake… Regardless, stopping by here can be a chance to see flamingos and other migratory birds.

You can also purchase some salt that has been farmed in the lake. It makes a unique, edible souvenir from your time in Mexico. 

Sisal 

Best Yucatan beaches
Best Yucatan beaches

Sisal is not only home to one of the most beautiful Yucatan beaches, it is also a ¨pueblo magico¨. What is a pueblo magico, you ask? 

These are designated Mexican towns and villages that have been recognized for their distinct beauty, culture, or gastronomy. Sisal was indoctrinated on the list quite recently, in 2020. It is, without hesitation, one of the best places in the Yucatan to visit.

This is a great place to spend a day if you are looking for some rest and relaxation. This is particularly true if you have the flexibility to travel mid-week when the area is relatively empty.

The port here was first opened in 1810, at which time it was named the Santa María del Sisal. Imports and exports between here and Havana started, and that is how the settlement around the port grew, making Sisal an important fishing town at that time. 

Sisal beach is naturally stunning. Come here to spend hours relaxing on the shore and enjoying the calm, clear, crystal waters. 

There are a couple of cafes and restaurants here. If you can speak Spanish, you may be able to organize a tour with one of the local boatmen to head out into the water, check out the local reefs and do a spot of snorkeling. 

Getting to Sisal

Like most Yucatan beaches on this list, Sisal is best reached by car. It takes approximately an hour to drive to Sisal.

Public transport options are available but they are not direct. From Merida, you need to take a bus to the small town of Hunucma. From there, change buses and continue on to Sisal.

Hunucma itself has its charm, and it’s a nice place to stop for a coffee or some food if you have a little time to wait between buses. The total travel time from Merida to Sisal is closer to 90 minutes on account of all the stops the buses make en route.

Chuburna Puerto 

Chuburna Puerto is one of the beautiful Yucatan beaches that sits adjacent to Chelem beach. It is slightly quieter than nearby Chelem and a perfect place for a solo trip or relaxed family day at the beach.

Chuburna is situated approximately 50 minutes away from Merida, and 25 minutes from Progreso. Besides relaxing on the paradisiacal beach, there are a few things to do here.

Close to the park in the main square, there is a farmer’s market. This is interesting for both people watching and picking up some fresh fruit and veggies to either enjoy at the beach or take back to prepare at your accommodation.

At the end of the pier, you will often find local men trying their hand at fishing. There are also several restaurants by the shore serving Yucatecan favorites. Everything from beloved cochinita pibil, to fresh homemade tacos, are available here. 

San Bruno 

San Bruno beach is a small stretch of coastline framed by palm trees that sits between Telchac Puerto and San Benito. It would be very easy to drive past San Bruno if you didn’t know it was there. 

This is another almost private beach that is backed by luxurious beach houses and summer properties and is hidden from the view of the main road. If you want to indulge, you and your travel buddies could consider renting a house or villa here for a night or two.

From here, you could essentially ¨beach hop¨ and visit some of the most beautiful and undisturbed Yucatan beaches and ruins. For instance, San Benito, Playa Uaymitun, Telchac Puerto, and the Xcambo ruins.

San Crisanto  

The port of San Crisanto, encompassed by photogenic coconut groves, is one of the more secluded of the Yucatan beaches. It escapes the eyes and attention of the tourists that flock to Progreso in their droves. 

The beach here is a perfect place to relax for a day or two, and the sunrise and sunset views here are among the most beautiful in the Yucatan. You can also opt to take a boat tour through the mangroves with a local guide. 

This stunning stretch of coastline is known as the Emerald Coast. It runs from Progreso all the way up to Dzilam de Bravo. 

Santa Clara 

Santa Clara beach is the penultimate beach along the Yucatan’s Emerald Coast. This is little more than a tranquil, off-the-beaten-path fishing village.

Few tourists venture here since Santa Clara is two hours away from the center of Merida and inaccessible without a car. The drive to the beach, however, is charming.

As you head along the coastline to Santa Clara, you will see flamingos and other migratory birds flying overhead and feasting on brine shrimp and other creatures in the waters. There are a few restaurants here, serving light bites, tacos, and seafood.

However, the majority of them only open on weekends as tourists seldom stop by during the week. So, depending on when you plan on visiting Santa Clara, you might want to pick up some snacks or pack a picnic. 

The waters here are clean and clear. They are emerald in color, hence the name ¨the Emerald Coast¨.

If you are here early in the morning, you might catch the local fishermen preparing their boats to set sail. Before sunset, you may see them bringing their day’s catch back to shore. 

Dzilam de Bravo

Dzilam de Bravo is the final beach along the stretch of the Yucatan peninsula known as the Emerald Coast. It is a quiet, sleepy place filled with natural beauty and, you guessed it, no tourists!

There are a few interesting things to see in the area, so you can make a full day of your visit here. Cenote Elepeten is nearby. 

Cenote Ayim and Cenote Labom are also a short drive away. To the east of the port, you will find the Yalkubul lighthouse, one of the most prominent parts of the coastline. 

Few people have heard of Dzilam de Bravo but it has an interesting history. It was here where the Spanish conquerors landed to begin their conquest of the Yucatan. 

Today, it remains an important fishing port, with a beautiful, undisturbed beach. Nearby, you will find the tomb of the famous French 19th-century pirate, Jean Laffite.

Visiting Yucatan Beaches FAQs 

Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo
Best beaches in Yucatan: El Cuyo

Visiting Yucatan beaches can be as much of a highlight of a visit to the Yucatan state as having the opportunity to see Mayan ruins and historical sites. This is especially true on a hot day.

Temperatures here can soar up to as much as 45 degrees celsius. Sometimes it is simply too hot to do anything besides relax and unwind, and the gorgeous Yucatan beaches here provide the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

What are the best Yucatan Beaches? 

All of the Yucatan beaches in this guide are beautiful in their own right. However, some are more special than others.

If you are short on time and you are basing yourself in Merida, perhaps the most convenient option for a day at one of the Yucatan beaches is to take the bus to Progreso. However, Progreso is far from being the most beautiful in the area.

To experience the best Yucatan beaches in the immediate Merida vicinity, take a bus to Progreso and then a cab to Uaymitun or Chicxulub. If you have more time to spare, don’t hesitate to visit El Cuyo.

Consider incorporating 2-3 days of absolute relaxation in El Cuyo into your Yucatan itinerary. You will be glad that you did. 

When is the best time to visit Yucatan Beaches? 

The best season for visiting Yucatan beaches, and indeed, the peninsula in general, is the period between December and late April. This is Yucatan’s dry season. 

The temperatures and weather conditions during this time are perfect for enjoying a day at the beach. Temperatures range between 25 and 35 degrees celsius, with some warmer days.

The skies are blue, and rainfall is minimal. If you travel to the Yucatan from May onwards, you will be met with higher humidity, more rainfall, and temperatures that soar as high as 45 degrees celsius. 

How can I prepare for a day at the beach? 

Best Yucatan beaches
Best Yucatan beaches

It can get extremely hot on the Yucatan beaches and sun damage is irreversible. Be sure to wear sun lotion, even on a cloudy or windy day.

Try to purchase reef-safe sunscreens. They protect the unique ecosystems that exist in the seas, oceans, and cenotes in and around Mexico. 

You may want to consider purchasing a beach tent or cabana. These are a great way to have cover and protection from the sun as a lot of Yucatan beaches do not have any shade. 

You will always find plenty of OXXO convenience stores along the roads in Mexico. You can stop here to buy coffee, snacks, and bottles of cold water ready for your day at the beach. 


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico. She has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.