Progreso Yucatan is a quintessential Mexican seaside town on the northern coast of the Yucatan. It is located just 43km away from Merida.
This makes it one of the most convenient places to take a beach day trip from the Yucatan capital. During the week, the town is very peaceful and quiet, and you will often find that you have entire stretches of coastline completely to yourself.
On Sundays when everyone is off work, you will find that Progreso really comes to life. At this time, dozens of Mexican families drive from Merida to Progreso to enjoy picnics and swimming on the beach.
The coastal Yucatan is often massively overshadowed by the translucent blue waters and picturesque beaches of the Mexican Caribbean (Mahahual, Tulum, etc). However, the beaches here are often just as beautiful. Better still, they are usually devoid of international tourists.
Progreso Yucatan borders the clear, aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Miles upon miles of soft white sand extends as far as the eye can see.
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.
There is everything that you need here for a day at the beach during your Merida itinerary. The seafront is lined with restaurants that serve up cuisines from all corners of the world.
There are affordable hotels situated right by the beach, places to shop for swimming apparel, and an abundance of places to rent sunbeds or water sports equipment. The Faro de Puerto Progreso, built in 1893, is an active lighthouse.
In the late afternoon or evening, it is pleasant to stroll along the Malecon. You could come here on a day trip from Merida by bus, or spend a relaxed few days here if you wish.
It is important to note that Progreso Yucatan is absolutely not a quiet, tranquil, off-the-beaten-path seaside town. This is one of the most popular beach towns in the Yucatan and it has a population of circa 37,369, including both locals and ex-pats. Regardless it is one of the best places in the Yucatan for some sun, sea, and much-needed R&R.
At weekends, the beaches and restaurants here can be teeming with crowds as everyone flocks to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea on their days off. But that is not to say that Progreso doesn’t have its charm.
When you just want a day at the beach, it serves its purpose. And a day or two here can actually be very enjoyable.
Visiting Progreso Yucatán
If you are planning a visit to Progreso Yucatan, there are a couple of things to keep in mind first. First of all, the beaches are far more peaceful, and thus it is a much better experience to visit Yucatan Progreso on a weekday rather than a weekend.
Second, you should try and schedule your visit so that you avoid cruise ship crowds. During the high season (December – March), cruises do stop here and as they do, thousands of camera-wielding tourists disembark at once, causing your drinks to shake and rattle like when the T Rex approaches Jurassic Park.
You can check the schedule for when cruise ships will be arriving in Progreso Yucatan here. Do yourself a favor and plan your trip around that if you can.
Getting to Progreso from Merida
It is very easy to get to Progreso from Merida. This rings true whether you have opted to rent a car in Mexico and are driving, or you are planning on taking public transport or a cab.
Take a cab to Progreso Yucatan
Taking a cab to Progreso can be a very comfortable choice. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes and if there are a few of you heading to the beach for the day, this can be very affordable.
Hailing cabs on the street is less common in Mexico and most people rely on Uber or the local alternative Didi. The Didi app is the lower-cost option of the two and is well worth downloading while you are traveling in Mexico.
You just need to change your phone location (and your Apple ID location, if applicable) to Mexico. A cab to Progreso should cost around 300 pesos or $14.
If you are using the Uber app, sometimes prices are higher at certain peak times due to increased demand. So, if you happen to see an ultra-inflated price, you might want to open Didi and check the prices there or wait for a little for the costs to go down.
It is easy to take a cab back from Progreso to Merida. There are always plenty of drivers around the main port in Progreso.
Taking the Autoprogreso bus from Merida to Progreso
Buses between Merida and Progreso depart every 20 minutes with the exception of Sundays when buses are hourly. Beloved First Class Mexican bus provider ADO does NOT service the route between Merida and Progreso.
Instead, you need to take the Autoprogreso bus. The Autoprogreso bus station in Merida is located at Calle 62, #524, Mérida Centro.
It is located in the section of Calle 62 between Calle 65 and 67. It is just a short walk away from the city’s Centro Storico and is sandwiched between a couple of ramshackle stores.
You can purchase your ticket from the ticket office inside labeled “TAQUILLAS.” A one-way ticket is 21 pesos, and a return ticket is 42.
The Autoprogreso buses may not be as luxurious as the ADO buses but they are still relatively modern, clean, and comfortable. Buses are air-conditioned, with reclining seats and curtained windows.
Returning from Progreso to Merida by bus is relatively straightforward too. The bus station is just two blocks away from the Port of Progreso.
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.
Things to do in Progreso, Yucatan
There are plenty of things to do in Progreso Yucatan and you will certainly not be bored if you decide to spend a day or two here. The below list of suggestions will help you to make the most of your time.
Rent sunbeds and relax on the beach
Playa Puerto Progreso is the main stretch of coastline in Progreso that starts at the port area. There are a lot of restaurants and bars here that allow you to rent a sunbed for a day if you buy a drink or a snack at their establishment.
Usually, this is just a couple of dollars and then you can enjoy the sunbed and the facilities for the day under the shelter of a tiki umbrella. Alternatively, you may prefer to simply take your own beach towel and lay it down on a secluded part of the beach.
The water in Progreso is very clean, clear, and perfect for swimming in. It is usually very calm too, making a day trip here perfect for families with kids.
Hang out at exclusive Progreso beach clubs
The Marymar beach club is a new addition to the Progreso social scene that first opened its doors back in Spring 2022. The gorgeous beachfront bar and restaurant exude class and sophistication without any air of pretension.
You can enjoy lounging in hammocks and sunbeds on a private stretch of the coastline, or spend some time swimming and relaxing in the pool. The menu boasts a diverse selection of cocktails, mocktails, and light bites.
Visit the Progreso Museum of Geology
A lot of development work has taken place in Progreso over the course of the last 12 months, in the interest of promoting the beach town as an up-and-coming Mexican coastal destination. In the Summer of 2022, the Progreso Museum of Geology opened on the Progreso Malecon.
The museum is housed inside a gorgeous contemporary building that was designed by the Mexican architecture firm Estudio MMX. The building itself is as impressive as some of the exhibits within it.
Its unique design is supposed to represent the blend of architectural styles in the region. It uses materials and shapes that were used by the Ancient Mayans, along with some Spanish colonial touches.
The Museum design is so impressive, that it has been nominated for several Mexican architecture awards already and it hasn’t even been open for a year! One of the annexes houses the meteorite museum which tells the story of the Chicxulub meteor that smashed into the area some 66 million years ago.
The exhibitions are spread across 8 rooms. Some contain specimens, samples, and rocks recovered from the area.
Others provide information on the various dinosaur species that once walked the earth. Outside the museum, you will find several larger-than-life dinosaur statues which are fun to pose for photos with, particularly if you are traveling with kids.
Visit pig beach in Yucalpeten
If you have access to your own vehicle, or you don’t mind Uber-ing back and forth, you can venture onwards to some of the other beaches in the Progreso area. One nice, alternative place to visit is pig beach in Yucalpeten.
This place, reminiscent of the Bahamas, sits between Progreso and Yucalpeten. The beach got its name on account of the seven sweet little mini piggies that call it home.
In late 2021, eight mini pigs – the piglets and their mother, were found abandoned on the beach. Local animal charities were called in to help and now, the pigs continue to live and are cared for at the beach.
Sadly, their mother passed away but the piglets live happy lives by the sea and have adapted to the climate conditions here. The beach is free to enter but there is a small shack on the sand selling souvenir t-shirts, hats, and other memorabilia.
The funds from anything you purchase go directly towards supporting the pigs. The pigs live in a little dedicated pen but are free to get out and swim and walk as they like.
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!
Stroll up and down the Malecon
The Malecon is the name of the main promenade that runs along the seafront in Progreso Yucatan. Walking here is particularly pleasant at the golden hour or at sunset when the sky is illuminated in shades of pink and orange.
You will find that when the tourists and the daytrippers leave, Progreso is an altogether more serene and peaceful place. There are some interesting things to see along the walk – outdoor light installations, street art, thought-provoking graffiti, and contemporary art pieces.
Look out for the sculptures that sit on the bench by the sea looking at their phones. It is a reminder to detach from the online world and social media and enjoy what is in front of us.
There is an excellent hot dog truck (The Hot Dog Beach), shaped like a hot dog, by the pier at C. 27 205, Juan Montalvo, 97320 Progreso. It’s a great place to stop for a chili dog and some fries on a romantic evening walk by the sea.
Have breakfast in an old colonial building
Going out for breakfast (desuyanos) in Mexico is a wonderful way to start the day. In Progreso, there are several places by the sea and in the compact town center where you can stop for breakfast.
That is, whether you want to eat Yucatan food or international breakfast favorites. El Cordobes (C. 80 38, Centro, 97320 Progreso) is a nice place to stop for breakfast in a gorgeous historic, pastel-yellow building that almost feels like something out of a movie set.
Order up a serving of huevos con longaniza (scrambled eggs served with chorizo from Valladolid), or huevos Motuleños (eggs on tortillas with black beans and cheese). Was it down with a strong cup of Mexican coffee from Chiapas state.
Visit lesser-known beaches nearby
If you want to escape the crowds at Progreso, you absolutely can find your slice of peace and seclusion on the Yucatan beaches along the state’s Emerald coast. The only problem is that public transport options that run along the coastline range from limited to non-existent.
So, as with visiting Pig beach, you need to either have access to a car or take taxis. Chicxulub is a worthwhile town to visit. It was here where the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs hit the earth some 66 million years ago.
You can’t see the impact site, it’s underwater. But this is certainly an interesting town to stop by.
Continuing along the coast, you can head to the secluded Playa Uaymitun and the upscale beach towns of San Bruno and San Crisanto. Most of these areas are surrounded by nothing but coconut groves and sprawling luxury beach villas. If you want to indulge and stay overnight, you can find a lot of these properties via Airbnb.
Dine at international eateries
There is an abundance of excellent restaurants in Progreso that serve up both local and international dishes. Those that sit right on the seafront are often (as is to be expected) a little more expensive. They are generally catered to tourists, yet without compromising on the quality.
Crabster Progreso (C. 19 148a, Boulevard Turístico Malecón) is an upscale seafood restaurant situated right on the Malecón. The chic eatery boasts contemporary furnishings, artsy lighting, and unparalleled service.
The menu is a little on the pricier side as far as Mexico goes. Main dishes tend to be in the range of 200-300 pesos per person. However, they are certainly worth the price tag.
You will find a lot of exquisite dishes here that place a quintessential Yucatecan twist on classic ingredients. For instance, the brioche crabster is not to be missed. The dish features brioche bread stuffed with shrimp sautéed with chili poblano and green pepper au gratin with cheddar cheese, refried beans, tartar dressing, and french fries.
Eladio’s is a Yucatan institution with several branches operating around Merida and Progreso. The Progreso location is right on the beachfront. It’s a great place to people-watch and the eatery is always bursting with life.
Some say that the botanas (free meze-style samplers that come to your table before the main course) are a highlight of coming here. We will let you be the judge of that.
Visit the Reserva Ecológica El Corchito
Arguably Celestun and the Ria biosphere reserve are among the most famous nature reserves in the Mexican Yucatan, along with one of the more rewarding to visit. However, if you are interested in visiting mangroves and wetlands that are in the direct vicinity of Progreso, you can visit the Reserva Ecológica El Corchito.
The natural pools and mangrove swamps here are home to coatis, turtles, and crocodiles. This Ecological Reserve is run by a cooperative of 23 fishermen.
You must take a small boat to enter the reserve and cross through the mangroves. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of crocodiles and other animals that call this reserve their home.
You will disembark the boat in a small scenic area where you can enjoy an alfresco picnic with your friends and travel companions, hang out, and rest in the hammocks and wooden chairs. Trails lead you from this point to the various springs and cenotes of the reserve. Be sure to pack your swimsuit!
Where to stay in Progreso, Yucatan
There are plenty of accommodation options in Progreso Yucatan should you choose to stay overnight. You will find something here for every budget – from self-catered Airbnb rooms and apartments to boutique and luxe hotels.
A selection of reputable options is detailed below. Alternatively, you may want to consider searching for a hotel or guesthouse in Merida.
Hotel Marias Nicte Ha
The hotel Marias Nicte Ha is a charming property situated right on the Progreso beachfront. It offers you an affordable budget stay without compromising on comfort.
The rooms are all clean and cozy and boast air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a private en-suite bathroom, and a balcony or pool view. The outdoor swimming pool is a great place to relax after a long day out exploring, and there is a small shared kitchen should you want to prepare your own food.
Rooms here start from just $27 a night. You can check the latest rates and availability here.
The Mayan Gypsy
If you are the type of traveler that loves something a little different from your average cookie-cutter hotel rooms, you will love The Mayan Gypsy. This Progreso hotel is set inside an old colonial mansion that has been converted into a guest house and art space.
The property is owned by two artists that have adorned the walls and ceilings of each and every room with their unique artwork. Each room boasts a slightly different design, with quirky furnishings, high ceilings, and double doors.
The Mayan Gypsy is for adults only (15+) and provides a wonderful getaway for writers, creatives, and anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary. Rooms start from $70 USD a night, with some containing their own private kitchenettes.
Do you have any additional queries about visiting Progreso Yucatan or about planning a trip to Mexico in general? If you are visiting Yucatan for the first time, you might also enjoy reading this suggested Yucatan road trip itinerary, or this post on the best time to visit the Yucatan.
I live in Merida and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. Safe travels!
Hasta Luego! Melissa xo
2 thoughts on “Progreso Yucatan: Your 2023 Travel Guide by a Local”
WE will be spending the winter in Progreso. Are there any local guides who do group day trips to mayan ruins or other points of interests. The cruise passangers pay a premium and we dont want to pay what they pay. We are looking for something budget friendly. We will not have a car and do not plan on renting one so would rather pay a local tour company to show us the sites but at a good price.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and vast knowledge of this beautiful community of Progreso, Yucatan. I have been keeping my eye on investing in this community for my retirement and am hoping to visit here next year sometime. I love the pig beach…never heard of that outside of the Bahamas and would definitely contribute to the preservation of them amongst other ecological entities preservation. Love Mexican people and am hoping to be a part of their community one day soon enough!
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