The Beach at Progreso, Complete with 4-Mile-Long Pier

Although I’m not much of a beach person, I decided to end my vacation in Mexico with three days at the Gulf port of Progreso, essentially doing nothing. Well, that’s not exactly true, because on one of those days I hired a taxi to take me to the Maya ruins at Dzibilchaltún (about which more in a later post). I spent my days looking for a nice shady place to read while escaping the heat, and my evenings relaxing in air-conditioned comfort at the Playa Linda Hotel, which was right on the beach.

Progreso is an odd town. When a cruise ship docks at the 4-mile-long pier, the town is overrun with retired American passengers looking for places to eat and things to do. On days when no cruise ship is socked, many places choose not to open at all: Only a few restaurants right near the centralized Calle 80 can be depended upon to welcome diners. There are no museums in Progreso, no really old churches; but there is a nice market with some interesting cheap dining places.

Good Cheap Eats at the Local Market

I had been to Progreso twice before, but only on day trips from nearby Mérida (about 25 miles south, or 43 km). What I remember most vividly were the fish dinners I had there. Now, on my third—and longer—visit, I can say that the fish is indeed wonderful. I remember a place of ceviche de pulpo, raw octopus marinated in lime juice and served with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. The lime juice in effect “cooks” the octopus. On my last day in Yucatán, I had a ceviche de pescado (with fish this time) at the Marlin Azul in Mérida.

From the Beach Looking Down Calle 80 (with Lighthouse)

One final note: Why is the local pier 4 miles long? Apparently, the Gulf of Mexico is too shallow for shipping at lesser distances. If I were a more of a beach person, I would have waded out into the water to check it out—but alas, I never even so much as got my feet wet.