El Cuyo Yucatan: Your 2023 Insider’s Guide to the Sleepy Beach Town 

El Cuyo Yucatan is perhaps one of the most beautiful beach towns in the Yucatan region and arguably, the entirety of Mexico. That being said, it remains largely under the radar, with many travelers to Mexico never having heard of El Cuyo.

So, those in search of a little rest and relaxation along the coast tend to head to more popular alternatives like Cancun, Isla Holbox, Isla Mujeres, and San Miguel de Cozumel. El Cuyo remains forgotten and relatively devoid of tourists… at least for the time being.

Falling in Love with El Cuyo Yucatan

El Cuyo Yucatan
El Cuyo Yucatan

El Cuyo Yucatan is little more than a small fishing village. You can think of it as Tulum 15-20 years ago before all the tourists arrived.

The town is essentially five blocks long by five blocks wide. You can walk its entirety in less than half an hour.

A lot of the stores, hotels, and cafes here are very recent developments that have only popped up in the last few years. They have been built with love by locals and foreign residents who fell completely in love with the dreamy vibes of El Cuyo.

There is very much a small-town feel to the area. Upon arrival, our hotel receptionist advised us that El Cuyo was crime-free, that there wasn’t so much as a small disturbance for more than a decade, and that we would be safe even wandering along the beach at night. 

Things to do in and around El Cuyo 

The main draw of visiting El Cuyo Yucatan is to simply relax, unwind and enjoy the beach. Envisage lazy days spent sleeping on the sand, swimming in warm, crystal clear turquoise waters, and drinking straight out of a coconut.

Most of the time, you will venture here and find that you have huge stretches of coastline almost entirely to yourself. For added relaxation and indulgence, you can treat yourself to a massage, facial, or some alternative spa treatment at one of the on-site spas in the luxury hotels here.

Catch an El Cuyo sunrise and sunset 

El Cuyo Yucatan sunset
El Cuyo Yucatan sunset

No matter how many sunsets you have seen around the world, nothing comes close to the one that you can witness in El Cuyo Yucatan. Getting the opportunity to witness this can mean waking up as early as 4 am.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

The sun rises in the east and there is truly no better vantage point for seeing this than on the shores of El Cuyo beach. Most of the time, you will find that the beach is relatively deserted so you have this tropical paradise to yourself.

Even on a cloudy day, an El Cuyo sunrise is impressive. The changes in the colors of the sky are dramatic and you can capture some incredible photos, even with just a cell phone camera.

An El Cuyo sunset is just as gorgeous. Walk down the pier and watch the sun sink behind the clouds in the west from here, with an ice-cold Tecate beer or a churro in hand. 

Spend a day at the beach

El Cuyo Yucatan
El Cuyo Yucatan

Days spent lounging on the beach and sipping beverages right out of a coconut are exactly what a visit to El Cuyo Yucatan is all about. The translucent aquamarine waters are perfect for swimming in and the water is calm and clean.

Keep in mind that the beach is not serviced. There is nowhere that you can rent sunbeds or umbrellas here and there are no vendors that stroll up and down the sand selling their wares unlike in Progreso or other Yucatan beach towns. 

Beach towels and ocean-friendly sunscreen are a must. Since the heat and sun in Mexico can be so intense, you may want to consider buying a beach tent/sun shelter. 

There is very little shade on El Cuyo beach. Snacks, bottles of water, and beverages can be purchased from the small convenience stores around town. There are a couple of food and taco trucks where you can buy a couple of light bites if you wish. 

Try your hand at watersports 

El Cuyo Yucatan
El Cuyo Yucatan

El Cuyo Yucatan is a popular travel destination for the kitesurfing community. Several stores around the town allow you to rent or purchase equipment.

If you are a complete beginner and you want to try your hand at kitesurfing, you can head to El Cuyo Kite School. They offer basic, intermediate, and advanced kitesurfing lessons in English or Spanish. 

Enjoy El Cuyo nights 

El Cuyo Yucatan
El Cuyo Yucatan

There are just a handful of restaurants and bars scattered around El Cuyo but an evening here can be charming. Close to the entrance to the pier and the colorful ¨EL CUYO¨ letters, there is a small tiki shack bar called Playita El Cuyo.

They serve a selection of beers, homemade cocktails, and Micheladas – a spicy tomato sauce and beer drink that is so quintessentially Mexican. Nearby, you will also find a scattering of food trucks selling Yucatecan marquesitas (stuffed crepes) and churros dipped in Nutella.

The restaurants here sell everything. You can find Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, Yucatan food delicacies, fresh seafood, and international comfort foods like hamburgers and fries. 

El Cuyo’s proximity to the sea means that you can find some excellent fish tacos here. They are prepared with fresh fish sourced in nearby waters earlier that same day. 

Some of the luxury hotels in the area, like Casa Cielo, boast chic rooftop bars. You may also enjoy packing a couple of cans of beer and some snacks and heading down to a secluded part of the beach to watch the stars. 

Visit Las Coloradas 

Las Coloradas, one of the famous pink lakes of Mexico, is just 114km (approx an hour and 40 minutes drive) away from El Cuyo. If you are staying in El Cuyo Yucatan, you may want to take a day trip out to Rio Lagartos and Las Colorados or spend a night in that area as you continue on with your Yucatan itinerary.

Las Coloradas means ¨“the colored” in Spanish. This is actually a privately owned salt lake. 

The lakes are pink because red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp thrive in these salty waters. But they are so vibrant and almost fluorescently pink that they look ethereal and otherworldly. 

There is an entrance fee of 75 pesos to enter Las Coloradas. It is best to come early in the morning if you want to visit as the area has unfortunately become very famous due to Instagram. From there, continue onwards to the bio reserve of Rio Lagartos. 

Venture onwards to Rio Lagartos 

Rio Lagartos is a protected biosphere reserve in the northern part of the Yucatan. It is 96.3km (1 hour and 15 minutes) away from El Cuyo. 

You can absolutely venture from El Cuyo to Rio Lagartos and back in a day. However, you can also opt to stay in the charming Hotel Rio Lagartos right on the banks of the lake if you want to explore at a more laid-back pace. 

Rio means ¨lake¨ in Spanish. Just 4,000 inhabitants live in this little lakeside town. 

Historically, the fishing trade was a major source of income here. However, tourism is slowly taking over as many travelers stop in Rio Lagartos en route to Las Coloradas.

Rio Lagartos is particularly famous for the 20,000 or so flamingos that migrate here from Celestun during the spring. Between June and September, sea turtles swim to the warm sands of nearby beaches to lay their eggs.

Throughout the year, more than 250 species of birds call Rio Lagartos home. In all, Rio Lagartos is a pretty spectacular place to get back to nature.

Even just strolling along the Malecon and sipping coffee in the waterfront cafes is a great opportunity to birdwatch. For 900 pesos or so, you can rent a boat and your guide will sail you across the lake to see flamingos, crocodiles, birds, and beaches. 

Where to Stay in El Cuyo Yucatan

El Cuyo, Yucatan
El Cuyo, Yucatan

There are some gorgeous seafront hotels and guesthouses in El Cuyo. Since there are limited accommodation options available, and a lot of the properties here have only moderate capacity, it is advisable to reserve your rooms in advance. 

This is particularly true if you are traveling during a Mexican public holiday. Such occasions can see hotels become completely fully booked. 

Casa Cielo, El Cuyo

Where: Calle 15 lote 190 entre calles 12 y 14, 97707 El Cuyo

Casa Cielo is a luxurious, adults-only property that sits right on the sands of El Cuyo beach. When you wake up here, you can simply jump out of bed and open your door to your own private section of the beach.

Rooms are spacious, and an American-style breakfast with eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, and coffee is included in the price. The property boasts a pool and jacuzzi, and a gorgeous rooftop bar from which you can watch the sunset as you sip pina Coladas.

Rooms at Casa Cielo start from $192 USD per night including taxes and fees. You can check the latest rates and availability here. 

Casa Cuyo Hotel and Restaurant 

Where: unnamed road next to the baseball field, 97707 El Cuyo, Yucatan

Casa Cuyo Hotel and Restaurant sit in the heart of El Cuyo town, just a short walk from the beach. Rooms here are affordable and comfortable, with rates starting from just $85 per night for a double/twin room with an ensuite bathroom.

The hotel was built completely from scratch back in 2017 in order to accommodate the kite surfers and off-the-beaten-path travelers that fall in love with the beach community of El Cuyo. Rooms boast private balconies or patios. 

An a la carte or vegetarian breakfast can be added for just $8. The hotel’s traditional palapa restaurant is a charming place to dine whether you choose to stay here or not. 

The eatery boasts a mestizo menu, merging dishes from several different countries and cuisines and using only locally sourced seasonal products. Vegan options are available and the organic coffee options served hail from the best coffee-growing regions in Mexico.

You can check the latest availability, room rates, and prices here. 

LunArena Boutique Beach Hotel 

Where: Avenida Veraniega, 97707 El Cuyo, México

LunArena is a gorgeous boutique property just one minute away from El Cuyo beach. It is surrounded by lush, dense greenery and if you are lucky enough to stay in one of the top floor rooms or suites, you can hang out in a hammock high above the jungle canopy. 

Rooms here start from $170 per night including an exceptional breakfast. A lot of the rooms and suites at LunArena are extremely large and spacious – verging more on being luxury self-contained apartment units rather than just rooms. 

Rooms are chic, modern, and stylish. Their Bohemian decor suspended beds, and quirky decorations are a far cry from your average cookie-cutter hotel room. 

You can check the latest availability, room rates, and prices here. 

Getting to El Cuyo Yucatan

Visiting El Cuyo Yucatan
Visiting El Cuyo Yucatan

El Cuyo Yucatan is relatively tricky to get to if you don’t have your own transport. Even if you are renting a car in Mexico, it is a bit of a trek. 

Is that to say that the journey isn’t worth it? Not at all. Just keep in mind that you are likely to be traveling for a fair few hours depending on where you are traveling from. 

There is a distance of 162.5 km between Cancun and El Cuyo. The journey ought to take approximately 2.5 hours by car. 

There is 261.8 km between Merida and El Cuyo. Expect a journey time of around 3.5 hours if you are driving from Merida. 

Driving to El Cuyo

Driving in Mexico is not as intimidating as it may sound. Here, people drive on the right-hand side as they do in the United States and most of the world. 

The same road rules also apply for the most part – no speeding, no driving under the influence, no using phones at the wheel, etc. Steep fines and potential jail time are enough of a deterrent to encourage most people here to drive safely. 

The roads in Mexico are not as chaotic as you might assume. From Cancun to El Cuyo and Merida to El Cuyo, the roads are very well built and maintained.

There are no dirt or gravel roads. Perhaps the only thing that you need to be mindful of is the rural freeway immediately before El Cuyo.

Some parts of the road are very narrow and if two cars are passing each other in opposite directions, it’s a bit of a tight squeeze. Driving here at night is best avoided where possible as the road is not well lit.  

Take the Bus

Whether you are traveling to El Cuyo Yucatan from Merida, Cancun, Tulum, Holbox, or Valladolid, you will need to first take the bus to Tizimin. From Tizimin, you can transfer and take the bus to El Cuyo. 

Frustratingly, there is very limited information about these buses and their schedules online. 

Bus from Cancun to El Cuyo 

Two bus companies go to Tizimin from Cancun. Namely, Mayab and Noreste. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket stalls or directly from the driver.

They are 150 pesos ($7.45) per person one way. It is worth noting that some Cancun to Tizimin buses require a change at Kantunilkin so double-check with the ticket office staff before boarding.

The buses currently depart at the below times.

03:30, 06:00, 09:00, 10:30, 12:30, 13:00, 14:30, 15:30, 16:50, 18:50. This schedule is subject to change.

Bus from Merida to El Cuyo 

You can take a bus from Merida to Tizimin. Noreste Yucatán serves this route and buses depart four times a day at the following times:

06:45, 10:00, 14:00, 17:30. The journey from Merida to Tizimin takes approximately 2 and a half hours.

If you miss the bus, you also have the option of taking a bus from Merida to Valladolid. From there, take another bus from Valladolid to Tizimin, and another from Tizimin to El Cuyo. 

Transferring in Tizimin 

It pays to set out early in the day so that you are not worried about missing connections or waiting around in Tizimin. Buses depart from Tizimin to El Cuyo at the following times: 

05:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 13:30, 15:30, 16:30, 18:00. Tickets cost 75-85 pesos each way depending on the specific bus.

If you arrive in Tizimin after 6 pm and you have missed all the connections, you may be able to get a colectivo (shared minivan) or a cab. The colectivos depart regularly from Bodega de México, one block from the bus station, and cost 70-80 pesos per person each way.

Failing that, a cab for up to 4 people should not cost more than around 550 pesos all the way to El Cuyo. There are hotels available in Tizimin if for any reason you want to break up the journey and spend a night here. 

Private Transfers to El Cuyo 

It is possible to take a cab or a private transfer all the way to El Cuyo, though you should keep in mind that this can be pricey. Rideshare apps like Uber and Didi are popular in Merida and the Yucatan, however, they are not available in Cancun or Quintana Roo.

If you want to take a cab or an Uber all the way from Merida to El Cuyo, you are looking at a fare of between 2,000 and 2,500 pesos. A lot of Uber/Didi drivers may not be willing to embark on such a long journey so consider contacting reputable local taxi firms.

Parting Words

Do you have any additional questions or concerns about visiting El Cuyo? This is one of the most gorgeous parts of the Yucatan and yes, it is worth the journey.

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.