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Located 60 miles southwest of Merida, Celestún is a quaint fishing village where the beaches are lovely and there are no crowds. There are several hotels: Xixim, Hotel Manglares, Castillito-kin-nah Guest House, and Casa Celeste Vida Guesthouse, several very good seafood restaurants, a few small shops and a harbor. There is also a long stretch of beach with lots of shells to explore. If you only have time for a day trip, the round-trip can be done in one day; however, it is highly recommended to spend a few nights in this peaceful, beautiful part of Yucatán.

Celestún is famous not only for its seafood restaurants, such as La Palapa and Casa Peon, but also for its river or ría, beautiful flamingo colonies, fresh water springs, and calm beaches. You will also find a 36 foot tall lighthouse and salt fields near the town.

The most popular thing to do here is contract a boat to travel the ría and see the flamingos. These boats are located at the entrance to Celestún, where you can easily contract with a guide. For up to 6 passengers, the cost is approximately 1200 pesos for one hour, 1500 pesos for 2 hours; subject to change.

The flamingos of Celestún are a beautiful part of a fragile ecosystem. When you go to see them, we encourage you to treat the birds and their surroundings with respect so that they will be able to continue breeding and living there.  Sometimes a guide, in order to show the tourist a good time, will attempt to get too close to the flamingos. This has a very negative effect on these exotic birds and you should encourage your guide to stay at a healthy distance. And, please don't ask them to get closer if they are staying away. Refrain from abrupt moves or noises which might scare the birds. If we don't protect this fragile ecosystem, the birds will not be able to survive. Needless to say, there is absolutely no hunting or shooting of anykind permitted in Celestún or Ría Lagartos.

Celestún is the main courtship area for the greater pink flamingo, during the fall and winter months, in the mangroves. Then they move to the sandy beaches of Río Lagartos for nesting and birthing. Part of the boat excursion includes a visit to the fresh water springs "Valdiosera" and "Venecia" where the water is sweet, transparent and ideal for swimming.

You will also visit the "petrified forest" Tampeten, a strange place where you can see just the trunks of these trees with their roots in the water.

And there is a small organization of fisherman trying to get an eco-venture going, to boost their other diminishing income, "Manglares de Dzinitun". In the words of a reader: "For a modest sum I had a most enjoyable private canoe trip, poled through the shallow waters of a fascinating mangrove jungle, and on to the open water of the Ria. I've seen a lot of vegetation types, but never anything like this. And there were birds ... real gems were the tiny and colorful Pygmy Kingfishers. Francisco was his group's most accomplished speaker of English, and we had a good time. He knew his birds, and their English names, too; we managed to make ourselves semi-understood with a modest percentage of the words between." (zinitun@gmail.com).

How to get there:
To get to Celestún by car, there are three exits from the west side of the Periférico out of Mérida: the northerly route goes via Hunucmá, the southerly route goes via Umán, and the new faster route (in between these 2) goes via Tetiz. Continue on to Kinchil and then Celestún. There are signs along the way. To reach Celestún by bus, go to the Noreste terminal on Calle 67 at Calle 50. The trip takes two hours, cost is 47 pesos. Buses leave almost every hour from 5 am to 8 pm. Tel. 924 0830 ext. 2909.

Click here to see some incredible Celestún bird photos.

Recommended reading:
- Celestun Day Trip
A refreshing escape to natural wonders

Hotels in Celestun:
- Casa de Celeste Vida Guesthouse (read more here)
- Castillito-kin-nah Guest House
Xixim: Unique Mayan Hotel
- Hotel Manglares

Restaurants in Celestún:
- La Palapa
- Casa Peon

- Map of Celestún
- Map of the Yucatan Peninsula



Busco que hacer, llego a Progreso en el crucero

EL proximo 6 de Enero llego con mi familia a Progreso en el crucero Ecstasy de Carnival, y estoy buscando que puedo hacer para conocer la zona, en el entendido que el crucero sale a las 3:00 p.m. Gracias





Thanks.... :)


windsurf en celestún

Celestún es un lugar ideal para practicar windsurf en olas pequeñas. el viento y las olas en la tarde suben por encima de los 20 nudos y el metro de altura, haciendo la navegación en lancha difícil, pero poniendo las condiciones ideales para una buena sesión de windsurf.



Interested in eco travel in the Celestun area? There are several possibilities to consider. Learn more about all of them from John Wieland who manages the Casa Peon. John is also a very good source of information about the Yucatan. Have a great trip.



Celestun ???
What a disappointing mess we found there. It may be a no hunting or fishing area as it is a protected reserve, but there is so much rubbish and derelict cars, motorbikes and dross in the town and port, that one wonders if anything can live there besides people ! And then some !
Why can't this place be cleaned up ?
The restaurants that were recommended by Yucatan Today were terrible. Big barns without atmosphere or charm and the food was SCHOOL CANTEEN standard.
I can't begin to tell you how negative we feel after visiting this Dump. It has so much potential but as it is .....it's a toilet!!!


re. Celestun

Thanks for your comment. I am forwarding it to all of our Celestun advertisers as well as the mayor.


celestun paradisiaco destino turistico

dejenme decirles que la persona que escribio el comentario negativo acerca de celestun esta en un error, debido a que en celestun hoy en dia les podemos asegurar que basura regada nohay y carros y motos abandonados por las calles mucho menos, tal vez esta persona esperaba otras cosas y en cuanto a la comida y el restaurant que visito tal vez no busco lo que encontraba pero que no se dirija a este puerto como un inodoro ya que las imagenes y las obras que se estan realizando dentro del puerto deja ver que estamos creciendo y seguiremos trabajando para salir adelante, de todas maneras a la persona que se refirio de esta manera a tan maravilloso destino turistico se le da las gracias por que esos comentarios no nos hace ser menos si no que al contrario nos hace pensar que nos tienen en cuenta y que tal vez no estaba en sus cinco minutos de felicidad para haberse expresado asi, con mucha seguridad le digo y con el corazon en la mano muchas gracias por tomarnos encuentra y seguiremos trabajando en mejoras para el puerto de hecho si dios quiere a finales de febrero estaremos concluyendo todas las obras y no nos queda mas que decir las imagenes hablaran por si solas.



I must respond to the wholly negative comments by Andrew. I'm not sure what he expected to find in Celestun, but Mexican village charm was one thing he obviously completely missed. Now, as a resident of Celestun for five years, I have and do see garbage and rundown vehicles. Unlike North Americans who are in debt beyond recognition, these people cannot get loans to buy or even maintain their homes and vehicles. If fishing is good, improvements are made to homes, vehicles and even the town itself. As I write this response, most of the downtown core is being revamped with underground wiring to enhance the park and main tourist areas. A two block pedestrian-only street is also being designed and built. As well, the soccer pitch and baseball fields are being completely redone for local sport. We have even noticed the beaches being raked and cleaned of garbage and dry seaweed for the past number of months now. Is Celestun a perfect tourist haven? If you are looking for million dollar investment and commercialization....NO it is not!

If you have come to discover the magic of the Yucatan, then Celestun is one stop you can't miss. The charm is the people and the traditional way of life they have adhered to for centuries. You will find tourist attractions; mostly in the area of eco-tourism. Waverunners, parasailing and chain restaurants don't exist. Traditional fishing boats, flat bottomed canoes and locally owned seafood restaurants are the norm. Birdwatching, cycling and walking the beach, shelling for hours, can entertain you for days. Ever walked a mile on a beach in Cancun or Playa del Carmen and not seen another person? You can in Celestun!

Education about pollution, the tourist industry and the expectations of foreigners will only enhance the quality of tourism offered in Celestun. But honestly, if you are looking for a unique and tranquil experience, overlook the negatives and embrace the people and what they offer. You won't be disappointed!


Re. Celestun

From the editor of Yucatan Today: Thank you Kenn, for your thoughtful response to Andrew. It is true that Mexico in general has not caught up to the US or Canada or Europe when it comes to attitudes about garbage. As a former teacher here, I can tell you that the young people of this country are aware of this problem and they are the bright light of change for the future. Mexico's wages are lower and there is a cycle of poverty in many places which creates despair and low self-esteem, which contribute to the problem; and just as in Celestun, many Mexican people depend on unpredictable seasonal income such as fishing. However, having said all that, it is people like Kenn, whether residents or visitors, who are the lucky ones...they have seen what this wonderful country is all about: the people. Whether rich or poor, the people of Mexico are fiercely patriotic, artistic, entrepreneurial, and welcoming to all visitors...even to the ones who only notice what's wrong with our country, rather than what's right. Like everywhere else, including Andrew's home country, wherever it may be, Mexico is not perfect. But as millions of visitors will tell you, as they return year after year: there are many perfect moments waiting to reveal themselves to you.



Thank you for your response to my post, Ken and Juanita. The thrust of my short article was towards the disappointment I felt after arriving in the town of Celestun after all the glowing descriptives that are written about it in the travel information, and on various sites and brochures. It is not a criticism of Mexico, the Yucatan or it's people.
I have had the chance to have lived, not just travelled, all over the world since childhood and I have experienced many different ways of life and accumulated several languages. I have come to the Yucatan eight times alone this year and I am investing time and money here as I am impressed with the many aspects of it's culture and people. The wonderful mix of ancient Mayan legend and history, the old colonial heritage of Merida and the Hennequen farms are a wonderful alternative to the fast paced tourism of Cancun and Playa.
The natural beauty of places like the lagoon and mangroves of the Celestun nature reserve are incredible and are worth protecting. It is this that I find hard to swallow when I see the "sea" of discarded plastic bags and bottles that are lying along the margins of the lagoon area.The back yards of the houses that border the lagoon are for the most part rubbish dumps for bits of cars, bikes, chemical containers, etc and all leaching their toxins into the land.
I feel that given the poverty of the inhabitants and the lack of informative education that would make them aware of of how their environment is being damaged, some of the revenue derived from the Echo-Tourism should be applied directly to correct this pollution aspect.
It is a shock for a westerner to see this paradise being treated like this and for the locals to be so blaze about it. You have pointed out how cheap manual labour is here, so the state should employ people to clean up and follow up an education program to save the future and health of this community.
It is just as important , if not more so than curbs, street lights or parking areas.
The Yucatan people are some of the nicest and most wholesome
people that I have ever met. They are kind , quick to smile and joke and respond genuinely when one makes an effort to speak to them in their own language. They have tight family groups and love their children. They deserve more from us as tourists and migrants from better developed countries, in the way of help to protect their environment. We should learn from them also from their simple but genuine humanity, their community spirit and certainly their family values.
When I see a typical village here I don't see poverty or starvation, I see neglect of the surroundings and a problem with not having a structure to treat waste and packaging refuse.
Mexico has a growth economy and is oil rich with a huge tourist revenue. It is about time it paid attention to how the foreign tourist perceives the way it's natural splendours are treated.

It's a great country and as I will be living here I will try to help with this trash problem in my own local area for sure. I hope you all do too ! This is how a change is made ! By communicating opinions


re. Celestun

Thanks for the more detailed and thoughtful reply, Andrew, you make some very good points. I'm glad your earlier provocative comment triggered this ongoing discussion.

YT Editor



I also appreciate the reflective nature of your response Andrew, especially toward the people of the Yucatan. You have described their culture and values succinctly. I have often pondered the solution to the pollution situation here and elsewhere in Mexico. Once the local people understand and internalize the need for change they will respond. I believe you are correct in saying the levels of government must initiate education and change by dedicating resources to this situation on an ongoing basis. Let's hope that we, the local people and the political powers can all contribute to this needed change for the better.


Hotel Xixim in Celestun

I have been running Hotel Xixim for more than 15 years in Celestun and I have seen huge progress in garbage disposal. Indeed much more can be done, for instance to move the garbage dump out of the reserve, which has been a project for many years, unfortunately not accomplished. Nevertheless I can assure you, Andrew, that we all, who have an interest in preserving this beautiful spot of the planet, are very aware of the problem and doing our best to educate the people, especially the children, of Celestun. In Hotel Xixim, for instance, we continuously encourage and teach our staff to separate our waste properly. We obviously compost our organic waste. I am convinced that this example has brought some positive changes in the minds of our staff not only in the hotel, but also at home. Kind regards, Verena Gerber

Editor's note: you can read more about Verena Gerber and her hotel at these links:





Garbage: who's to blame???

I am a "gringa" living in Celestun since 1995. While I agree with Andrew re: garbage, I disagree completely with where to place the blame.

When I first visited the Yucatan Peninsula in 1975, the streets in Merida were primarily dirt. The road to Celestun was none existent. The only way to arrive in Merida was to fly into Cancun and drive to Merida. Since then, I have seen the "first world" arrive without any sense of responsiblity. We have imported our "throw-away" culture in the form of plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic EVERYTHING, styrofoam containers, glasses, plates, and non-repairable items ad infinitum. As a consequence, this area experienced a sudden BARRAGE of discardable items that this third world town (and ALL third world towns by the way) was unable to handle. Prior TO this importation of disposible items, the Mexican people used and RE-used EVERYTHING they produced.

You want to place blame??? Where are the companies that produce this garbage without consideration of where they will end up?? Why isn't COKE, PEPSI, all the PLASTIC, STYROFOAM companies that PROFIT from these items here to HELP CLEAN UP the items they import???

Yes, this country has problems. But, as a citizen of the USA, I can affirm then we too have the same problems although probably not visible where most people live and travel. Question is: how can we be part of the SOLUTION rather than part of the PROBLEM???

Marilyn Britton


Re: MBritton's submit

Marilyn's comment is so right on for much of the developing world. I traveled overland to India in the 60's & 70's and then to several Caribbean islands in the 80's & 90's. In 1969 there was no litter in places like Afghanistan. By 1995 I remember seeing broken plastic flip flops on every beach walk in Grenada. Cheap commercial goods have been the demise of our global economy and I personally am so saddened and frustrated by it all. Since we can't count on big business to clean up their messes we all have to do our small part and keep after our government to include a huge commitment to recycling in our aid programs. I'll be visiting Celestun for the first time this March and I am happy to be reading such thoughtful comments from it's residents.



I am so glad of all your comments. I agree totally with the blame for the source of this pollution. Walking along the deserted beaches in Sisal , picking up conch for a ceviche, all these plastic bottles, bags and litter is so sad. Why can't we ban plastic food and drink containers and go back to paper shopping bags and glass ?.



Are you another expat who devotes her time to blaming the Americans? If so, then BS! Face the truth. Mexico is a garbage pit because of Mexicans. Most Gringos don't fling poopy pampers on la playa. Mexicans as well as you and we should stop bitching and work at solving the problem. Convince the Mexican kids first.

Welcome to Yucatan Today
Yucatan Today is the leading tourist guide of Merida, Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula and was recently voted the best tourism website in all of Mexico! In our companion monthly magazine, we bring you the information you need to enjoy your experience while you are here. Read more