Wondering if Merida, tucked away in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula, has its share of sandy shores? Absolutely! 

While Merida itself is located slightly inland, a short drive is all it takes to find some of Mexico’s most serene and inviting beaches. Think less crowded, untouched beauty where the Gulf of Mexico meets sandy shores. 

Let’s dive into the 9 best Merida Mexico beaches that are only a short drive away. 

9 Best Merida Mexico Beaches in Yucatan

1. Progreso BeachProgreso Beach

Distance from Merida: A 30-minute drive north of Merida, Progreso Beach is the closest and most accessible beach destination for visitors staying in the city. 

As Merida’s most popular coastal retreat, Progreso offers a long stretch of soft, white sands that meet the waves of the Gulf of Mexico. The town itself is lively and welcoming, with a lengthy pier that’s a testament to its role as a significant port. 

The beachfront, lined with its famous malecon, is where the action happens. From casual dining to beach sports, Progreso buzzes with energy and local flavors. It’s a must visit if you’re looking to visit Merida Mexico beaches.

Things to do in Progreso:

  • Stroll the Malecon: A leisurely walk along the seafront is a must. It’s lined with restaurants, bars, and shops offering everything from souvenirs to local seafood dishes. It’s the heart of Progreso’s social life.
  • Visit the Progreso Lighthouse: Not far from the beach, the lighthouse offers stunning views. It’s a perfect spot for panoramic photos of the Gulf and the beach below.
  • Eco-Tourism: Take a day trip to explore nearby natural reserves like the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, where you can see flamingos in their natural habitat or venture to Ria Lagartos for its biodiversity.
  • Water Sports: Progreso’s steady winds make it a haven for kitesurfing, while its calm waters are ideal for kayaking and paddleboarding. There are several rental shops along the beach where beginners can take lessons.
  • Discover Mayan Ruins: Just a short drive away, the Dzibilchaltun archaeological provides a glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilization, complete with a cenote for a refreshing swim.
  • Enjoy Beach Clubs: For those looking for a bit more luxury, Progreso’s beach clubs offer amenities like swimming pools, private beach areas, and upscale dining, providing a comfortable and relaxing beach day experience.

2. Holbox IslandHolbox Island

Distance from Merida: A 3-hour drive from Merida to Chiquila port, followed by a 30-minute ferry ride across to the island. 

Holbox Island, a secret corner within the Yucatan Peninsula, is truly a sanctuary of natural beauty. This car-free island, with its sandy streets and colorful murals, has a laid-back vibe that’s hard to find elsewhere. Perhaps the most stunning of the Merida Mexico beaches.

The beaches here are postcard-perfect, with powdery white sand that stretches for miles and shallow, crystal-clear waters that blend into the horizon. Although, Holbox is expensive compared to your typical Mexican destinations, the island’s commitment to eco-tourism is evident in its preserved natural landscapes and the emphasis on sustainability.

Things to do on Holbox Island:

  • Swim with Whale Sharks: From May to September, you can experience swimming with whale sharks. These gentle giants migrate through the area, and swimming alongside them is an unforgettable adventure.
  • Explore the Island on a Golf Cart or Bicycle: With no cars allowed, the preferred modes of transportation are golf carts and bicycles. Renting one to explore the island’s hidden corners, from secluded beaches to charming cafes, is a joy in itself.
  • Visit Punta Coco: For one of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever see, make your way to Punta Coco. This secluded beach on the western tip of the island is the perfect spot for an evening picnic as the sun dips below the horizon.
  • Kayaking in the Yalahau Lagoon: Paddle through the mangroves of Yalahau Lagoon to see diverse birdlife and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The lagoon’s clear waters are also ideal for stand-up paddleboarding.
  • Bioluminescence: On moonless nights, take a tour to see the phenomenon of bioluminescence in the island’s shallow waters. This natural light show, created by microorganisms in the water, is a dazzling experience.
  • Enjoy the Local Cuisine: Holbox is known for its fresh seafood, with lobster pizza being a unique local specialty. The island’s eateries range from simple beach shacks to gourmet restaurants, all offering delicious options.

3. Sisal Beach

Sisal BeachDistance from Merida:  A 1-hour drive west of Merida. This relatively short distance makes it an appealing option for those looking to experience a less crowded beach. 

Sisal Beach, with its designation as a “Pueblo Magico” or Magical Town in 2020, is not just a beach destination but a historical port that played a significant role in Yucatan’s henequen boom era. 

Today, it captivates visitors with its pristine beaches and lush mangrove forests. The beach here is a serene expanse of white sand against the backdrop of clear blue waters, offering a peaceful retreat from the busier beaches. Sisal is also committed to conservation, with efforts to preserve its unique ecosystem and wildlife.

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Things to do at Sisal Beach:

  • Explore the Mangroves: Take a boat tour through the mangrove forests that are teeming with birdlife, including flamingos, herons, and pelicans. These tours often include stops at freshwater springs and cenotes hidden within the mangroves.
  • Bird Watching: Sisal’s surrounding areas are a haven for birdwatchers, with numerous species making their home in the nearby reserves. The best times for bird watching are early morning or late afternoon when the birds are most active.
  • Visit the Historic Fort and Lighthouse: Learn about Sisal’s history by visiting the fort and lighthouse that date back to the 19th century.
  • Relax on the Beach: Sisal’s beaches are perfect for those looking to unwind. With less foot traffic than more popular destinations, you can often find a quiet spot to enjoy the sun and sea in peace.
  • Snorkeling and Diving: The waters around Sisal are clear and rich with marine life, making them ideal for snorkeling and diving. Explore the underwater world and marvel at the variety of fish and coral.
  • Enjoy Fresh Seafood: Being a small fishing village, Sisal offers some of the freshest seafood you’ll find. Local restaurants serve up traditional Yucatecan dishes, with the catch of the day always on the menu.

4. Chelem BeachChelem Beach

Distance from Merida: A 40-minute drive to the northwest of Merida. Its proximity makes it a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers and a quiet retreat for visitors during the week.

Chelem is a cozy coastal town with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly community. The beach here has calm, shallow waters making it especially appealing for families and those seeking a gentle swim. 

Chelem’s laid-back charm is complemented by its palm-lined shores and the small, colorful houses that dot the landscape. As a fishing village, it offers an authentic glimpse into the coastal lifestyle of the Yucatan Peninsula, away from the tourist crowds. A truly authentic experience in one of the best Merida Mexico beaches.

Things to do at Chelem Beach:

  • Enjoy Family-Friendly Beaches: The calm waters of Chelem are ideal for children and less confident swimmers. 
  • Visit the Chelem Lagoon: A short distance from the beach, the Chelem Lagoon is a must-visit for nature lovers. It’s home to diverse bird species, including flamingos during certain seasons. Kayaking and boat tours are available to explore the lagoon’s natural beauty.
  • Experience Local Life: Chelem’s central square is the heart of the community, especially on weekends. Here, you can enjoy local street food, shop for handicrafts, and immerse yourself in the town’s vibrant culture.
  • Go Fishing: Given its roots as a fishing village, Chelem offers opportunities for visitors to go fishing with local fishermen. It’s a unique way to experience the local way of life and catch a glimpse of the day’s fresh catch.
  • Explore Nearby Attractions: Chelem serves as a great base for exploring other areas of interest, including the pink salt flats of Las Coloradas and the ancient Mayan ruins of Xcambo.
  • Savor Yucatecan Cuisine: Chelem’s eateries and small, family-run restaurants offer delicious Yucatecan dishes. Fresh seafood is, of course, a staple here, with ceviche and grilled fish among the favorites.

5. Isla MujeresIsla Mujeres

Distance from Merida: A 4-hour drive from Merida to the city of Cancun, followed by a short ferry ride.

Isla Mujeres, a small yet lively island off the coast of Cancun, is known for its stunning white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the relaxed pace of island life. Despite its popularity among tourists, the island retains a laid-back charm and offers a more tranquil alternative to the resorts of Cancun.

There is a reason it made it on my best Mexican islands list. With its narrow streets, brightly painted buildings, and welcoming locals, Isla Mujeres invites visitors to immerse themselves in its blend of natural beauty and culture. 

Things to do in Isla Mujeres:

  • Relax at Playa Norte: Often ranked among the best beaches in the Caribbean, Playa Norte is famous for its shallow, calm waters and breathtaking sunsets. It’s the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and simply enjoying the island vibe.
  • Snorkel or Dive at the Underwater Museum (MUSA): The MUSA offers an unforgettable underwater adventure with over 500 life-sized sculptures that serve as an artificial reef to promote coral life. The clear waters around Isla Mujeres make it an ideal spot for snorkeling and diving to explore this unique attraction.
  • Explore the Island on a Golf Cart: Renting a golf cart for the day is a popular way to see the island. Cruise the island’s roads, explore hidden beaches, and discover local eateries at your own pace.
  • Visit Punta Sur: At the southern tip of the island, Punta Sur offers stunning cliffside views, an ancient Mayan temple dedicated to the goddess Ixchel, and walking paths through sculptures and gardens.
  • Swim with Whale Sharks: Like Holbox, Isla Mujeres is a prime location for swimming with whale sharks during the summer months. These gentle giants offer an incredible experience for wildlife enthusiasts.
  • Taste the Local Cuisine: Isla Mujeres has a vibrant culinary scene, from beachside taco stands to gourmet restaurants. Don’t miss the chance to try the island’s fresh seafood, especially the local dish, “Tikin Xic,” a flavorful grilled fish marinated in achiote and sour orange.

6. Chuburna BeachChuburna Beach

Distance from Merida: A 50-minute drive from Merida. Located to the northwest of the city, it’s a straight shot offering a quieter alternative to some of the more touristy beaches near Progreso. 

Chuburna Puerto is a serene coastal village that promises a genuine escape into a peaceful seaside atmosphere. It is characterized by its laid-back vibe, beautiful stretches of beach, and warm, shallow waters that are inviting for swimmers of all ages. 

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The town is small, with a tight-knit community that welcomes visitors with open arms. Here, life moves at a slower pace, allowing you to unwind and connect with the natural beauty of the Gulf of Mexico.

Things to do in Chuburna Puerto:

  • Beach Relaxation: Chuburna’s beaches are perfect for those looking to relax and enjoy the sun without the crowds. The waters here are calm, making it a safe and enjoyable spot for families.
  • Visit the Pink Salt Lakes: Just a short drive from Chuburna, the pink salt lakes offer a unique natural spectacle and great photo opportunities. These lakes are most vibrant during the dry season when the concentration of salt and microorganisms gives the water its pink hue.
  • Explore the Local Flora and Fauna: The area around Chuburna is rich in biodiversity. Bird watching is a popular activity, with many species of migratory and local birds to be seen. Kayaking through the nearby mangroves is another way to explore the natural beauty of the region.
  • Enjoy Seafood Dining: Chuburna’s restaurants and small eateries offer delicious local seafood. The catch of the day is always fresh, and the ceviche is a must-try. Dining here means enjoying the Gulf’s bounty while supporting local businesses.
  • Fishing Trips: Join local fishermen for a day out at sea. It’s an opportunity to learn about the area’s marine life and fishing techniques, and you might just catch your dinner.
  • Visit the Chuburna Puerto Lighthouse: For a panoramic view of the Gulf and the surrounding area, the lighthouse is the place to go. It’s not only a great photo spot but also offers a glimpse into the maritime history of the area.

7. Telchac PuertoTelchac Puerto

Distance from Merida: A 1-hour and 15-minute drive from Merida. Heading northeast from the city, the journey to Telchac Puerto takes you through some picturesque and serene landscapes of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Telchac Puerto, a charming and quiet beach town, is often touted as a hidden gem on the Yucatan coast. This peaceful retreat is known for its beautiful beaches with soft, white sand and clear, shallow waters that stretch out into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Unlike more popular tourist destinations, Telchac Puerto offers a quiet, family-friendly atmosphere where the pace of life slows down. The town itself is small and retains a sense of untouched beauty, with local fishermen bringing in their daily catch and small, colorful houses dotting the landscape.

Things to do in Telchac Puerto:

  • Relax on the Beach: The beaches of Telchac Puerto are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and simply enjoying the tranquility of the sea. The clear, calm waters are particularly inviting for families with children.
  • Visit the Xcambo Ruins: Just a short drive from Telchac Puerto, the Xcambo ruins are a testament to the region’s rich Mayan heritage. Though smaller than other Mayan sites, Xcambo offers a unique glimpse into the past without the crowds.
  • Explore the Cenotes: The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its cenotes, and the area around Telchac Puerto is no exception. Cenote Xlacah at the Dzibilchaltun archaeological site is one option, offering a refreshing dip in crystal-clear waters.
  • Enjoy Local Seafood: The town is known for its delicious seafood, freshly caught and served in the local eateries. Be sure to try the regional specialties, including ceviche and grilled fish dishes.
  • Bird Watching: The coastal and wetland areas around Telchac Puerto are ideal for bird watching. The region is home to a variety of bird species, making it a great spot for nature enthusiasts.
  • Visit the Telchac Puerto Lighthouse: Offering stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, the lighthouse is a picturesque landmark of the town. It’s a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts exploring Merida Mexico beaches.

8. San Crisanto BeachSan Crisanto Beach

Distance from Merida: An hour and a half drive northeast of Merida. This journey takes you through the heart of Yucatan’s countryside, passing small villages.

San Crisanto is a small beach village known for its unique mangrove forests and natural cenotes. This community-run ecotourism destination provides a quiet retreat away from more crowded tourist spots. 

The beach here is pristine, with soft, white sand and clear, shallow waters, ideal for a peaceful day by the sea. The village itself is a testament to sustainable tourism, with locals actively involved in preserving their natural environment.

Things to do in San Crisanto:

  • Mangrove and Cenote Tour: San Crisanto’s main attraction is its mangrove tour, which takes you through a network of waterways to discover hidden cenotes. Swimming in these natural pools is a refreshing experience and supports the community’s conservation efforts.
  • Relax on the Beach: The beaches in San Crisanto are perfect for those seeking solitude and natural beauty. With fewer visitors, you can find a quiet spot to relax, swim, and enjoy the scenic views.
  • Explore the Salt Flats: The region around San Crisanto is known for its salt flats, where you can learn about traditional salt harvesting methods. The pink hues of the salt ponds offer fantastic photo opportunities, especially at sunset.
  • Bird Watching: The area’s diverse ecosystems make it a haven for birdwatchers. The mangroves and coastal areas are home to a variety of bird species, offering a chance to see them in their natural habitat.
  • Enjoy Local Seafood: Being a small fishing village, San Crisanto offers fresh seafood at its few local restaurants. It’s a great opportunity to taste traditional dishes prepared with the day’s catch.
  • Visit the San Crisanto Cooperative: Learn more about the village’s ecotourism initiatives and how the community works together to preserve their natural environment. It’s an inspiring example of sustainable living.
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9. Celestun BeachCelestun Beach

Distance from Merida: A 1 hour and 45-minute drive west of Merida. This scenic journey takes you through the Yucatan’s picturesque landscapes.

Celestun, famous for its Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, is a small fishing village that boasts one of the most stunning natural attractions in the Yucatan: the pink flamingo colonies. 

Beyond its feathered fame, Celestun Beach offers miles of unspoiled beaches with fine sand and crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal spot for those seeking tranquility and a deep connection with nature. The town itself exudes a laid-back vibe, with seafood restaurants dotting the shoreline, offering picturesque views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Things to do in Celestun:

  • Flamingo Watching Tours: The main draw of Celestun is the opportunity to see large flocks of wild flamingos in their natural habitat. These tours take you into the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, where you can also spot other wildlife, including crocodiles, sea turtles, and numerous bird species.
  • Relax on the Beach: Celestun’s beaches are expansive and relatively uncrowded, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and long walks along the shore. The sunset views here are particularly breathtaking.
  • Explore the Mangroves: Guided boat tours through the mangrove forests offer a chance to explore this vital ecosystem. The mangroves are teeming with life and are crucial for the local biodiversity.
  • Enjoy Fresh Seafood: Being a fishing village, Celestun is the place to enjoy fresh seafood. Local restaurants serve up traditional Yucatecan dishes with a focus on the day’s catch from the Gulf.
  • Visit the Celestun Lighthouse: For those interested in panoramic views, the lighthouse offers a vantage point over the village, beach, and biosphere reserve. It’s a serene spot to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds Celestun.
  • Take a Dip in Local Cenotes: While Celestun is famed for its beaches and flamingos, the surrounding area also has beautiful cenotes worth exploring. These natural freshwater pools offer a refreshing break from the heat and a peek into the underground world of the Yucatan. A must-see while visiting Merida Mexico beaches.


FAQs: Merida Mexico Beaches

Merida Cemetery

Merida Cemetery

Does Merida Mexico have good beaches?

Absolutely! While Merida itself is not located on the coast, it’s just a short drive away from some of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most beautiful beaches. The Merida Mexico Beaches are known for their fine white sand, clear turquoise waters, and diverse ecosystems. From the bustling beach town of Progreso to the tranquil shores of Celestun and the unique beauty of Holbox Island, there’s a beach for every type of traveler near Merida.

What is the closest beach to Merida Mexico?

Progreso Beach is the closest beach to Merida, located about a 30-minute drive north of the city. It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists, offering a wide, beautiful beach along with a long boardwalk filled with restaurants, shops, and bars. Progreso serves as a great quick getaway to the sea for those staying in Merida.

Are there nude beaches near Merida?

While the immediate vicinity of Merida tends to follow a more conservative approach when it comes to beach attire, those looking for a nude beach experience won’t find it too far away. The closest options for nude beaches and nude resorts to Merida are located in Cancún, known for its more liberal beach culture. For travelers willing to explore beyond the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancún offers access to some of Mexico’s best spots for those seeking to embrace the freedom of nude sunbathing and resort stays.

Does Merida have all-inclusive beach resorts?

While Merida itself does not have beaches or beach resorts, being an inland city, the nearby coast, especially around Progreso, offers various accommodation options, including some resorts that might offer all-inclusive packages. However, the Yucatan coast is more known for its boutique hotels and guesthouses that provide a more personalized experience. For traditional all-inclusive resorts, areas further along the Yucatan coast, such as Cancun and the Riviera Maya, are more prevalent.

Why is Merida Mexico famous?

Merida is famous for its rich cultural heritage, stunning colonial architecture, and vibrant markets. Known as the “White City” for its beautiful white limestone buildings, Merida is the cultural heart of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s also celebrated for its gastronomy, featuring unique Yucatecan cuisine, and for being a gateway to exploring ancient Mayan ruins and cenotes. The city’s safety, warm hospitality, and cultural festivals make it a favorite among travelers.

What islands are near Merida?

While no islands are directly off the coast near Merida, some of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most beautiful islands are accessible with a drive and a ferry ride. Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres are two. Holbox is known for its laid-back vibe and is a sanctuary for wildlife, including flamingos and whale sharks. Isla Mujeres, closer to Cancun, offers stunning beaches, snorkeling, and a relaxed island atmosphere. Both require a journey from Merida but are well worth the trip for island enthusiasts.


Conclusion: Merida Mexico Beaches

Merida, the cultural heart of the Yucatan Peninsula, might be inland, but it’s the gateway to some of the most stunning and diverse beach destinations in Mexico. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and rich culture of the Yucatan, these beaches do not disappoint.

You can explore ancient ruins by the sea, swim in crystal-clear cenotes, savor fresh seafood, and even swim alongside majestic whale sharks. The proximity of these beautiful coastal destinations to Merida means you can enjoy the best of both worlds: the culture and history of the Yucatan capital and the serene beauty of its coastal paradises.

Guest Author: Warren Morelli from The Nomad Hive, a blog dedicated to the digital nomad lifestyle and the art of working remotely. Alongside his partner Natasha, Warren explores the globe, seeking out the best places for remote work and adventure. 

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