Go Coastal & Undiscovered at Playa Progreso Mexico

Discover the many reasons to visit Playa Progreso, Mexico. Keep reading to learn how to plan for a getaway to this laidback paradise.

Going to the coast for some rest and relaxation is a time-honored tradition the world over. In Playa Progreso, it’s a way of life. Read on to discover the many things to see and do and why you, too, will want to go coastal in this up-and-coming destination.

Where is Progreso Beach, Mexico, Located?

Playa Progreso, Mexico, is a beach town on the northwestern corner of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a little over a half-hour drive from the inland city of Merida, making this a favored destination for locals and international tourists.

The town is located on a barrier island along the Gulf of Mexico, giving it a different feel than the beaches on the Caribbean side of the peninsula. 

It is a convenient base of operations for exploring not only the miles of beaches along the coast but noteworthy points of interest ranging from Mayan ruins to the architectural gems of the city of Merida.

What’s the Beach in Progreso, Mexico, Like?

white sand, palm tree, palapa in Playa Progreso Mexico

Technically the overall stretch of beach is known as Playa Puerto Progreso. However, this can be divided into sub-beaches, with Playa Arena to the left of the pier, Playa Linda to the right, and Playa Chaca adjacent to the east. Wherever you lay your towel, a broad expanse of white sand beckons while shallow emerald-green water stretches out to the horizon as far as the eye can see.

This is no tiny beach town. It’s a small city, and as such, a bustling vibe will keep you engaged if you want to be. If not, just grab an open spot of sand and look at the water. You can also rent loungers and umbrellas so a sunburn doesn’t spoil your vibe.

As the nearest weekend getaway for residents of Merida, the beach is most crowded on the weekends—especially if one of the frequent cruise ships that visit here is in port. 

Generally speaking, weekdays without cruise ships in port are your best bet for a quiet day at the beach. If that doesn’t work with your schedule, there are some alternatives that we will speak of later.

Many ask about the sargassum seaweed situation, and sadly, this coast isn’t immune to it. However, efforts are made to clean it up as much as possible.

With plenty of access along its length, you’ll find Progreso Beach open to the public and free of charge.

Things to do at Playa Progreso, Yucatan

As a cruise ship port and beach destination, you won’t lack for things to do. Below is a list of some of the highlights

Enjoy the Beach

small fishing boats on the water in Playa Progreso

Fine white sand and calm green waters make for a delicious recipe in the eyes of beach lovers everywhere. 

Work on your tan, wade in the crystalline water, or go for a stroll—do everything or nothing and enjoy yourself while doing it. Progreso, Mexico, beaches are tranquil and wide, making for a peaceful location for some rest and relaxation.

Eat and Drink like a Local

fried fish and salad

Hop from one restaurant to another along the beachfront, sampling fantastic local and international cuisine. Of course, this is also an excellent opportunity to wash it down with the fruity drink of your choice or popular michelada.

Stroll the Malecon

colorful Mexican dresses

One of the simplest Progreso beach excursions is a stroll along the malecon—a promenade lined with shops and restaurants adorned by murals, sculptures and modern art installations. 

You can go shopping, sample authentic local cuisine, or just people-watch along this attractive beachside feature.

See the World’s Longest Pier

Playa Progreso pier

Fans of engineering and architecture should take the opportunity to check out the world’s longest pier.

So, just how long is the pier in Progreso, Mexico? The answer is 6.5 kilometers or about 4 miles! 

You can’t just waltz out onto the pier, which is an active shipping artery. But you can access a fisherman’s bridge right next to it, allowing you to get close enough to appreciate its impressive size.

Take in the Progreso Museum of Geology

fossilized coral

This may not be a typical entry on a beach destination to-do list, but the award-winning Progreso Museum of Geology—open since 2022—offers an interesting glimpse into the natural world of the Yucatan. The museum is spread over eight rooms, including a meteorite museum and several dinosaur statues that will delight the kids (and adults who are kids at heart).

Things to do Near Playa Progreso, Merida, Yucatan

Visit Nearby Beaches

There are several worthy beaches to check out besides Progreso Beach, Yucatan. If you have your own wheels or are willing to take an Uber or short bus ride, you can visit a few in a day. 

San Benito Beach, Progreso, Mexico

If you head east, at about 25 kilometers (16 miles) along the barrier island, you’ll arrive at San Benito Beach. This is a far more laid-back destination with less crowded views of the emerald coast.

San Bruno

A few kilometers east of San Benito, this upscale town is home to some of the region’s finer rental homes and villas. It also has one of the best beaches in Progreso, Yucatan, for those willing to go a little farther.

Playa Chelem and Playa Chuburna

white sand beach with green shrubs

These small towns to the west of Progreso are easy to reach by bus or taxi, offering desolate beaches and many rental home options. If you’re looking for some seclusion close to the city, these are fantastic destinations.

Visit Mayan Ruins at Uxmal and Chichen Itza

Uxmal pyramid Mexico

An hour-and-a-half drive out of town will bring you to the impressive Mayan ruins at Uxmal. Here you’ll get to explore typical Mayan architecture and learn about the fascinating civilization for which the Yucatan is famous. 

If you’re up for a longer excursion, the World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza, with its towering pyramid and expansive complex of structures dotting the jungle, is just a two-hour drive (155km/96 miles) away.

Get some Culture (and a Meal) in Merida

view of Merida sign and plaza

As the largest city in the region and home to a growing number of expats, the colonial city of Merida is certainly worth a day’s exploration. You can learn more about Yucatan culture while sampling its cuisine. You can also immerse yourself in the architectural details and charm. 

At just 40 minutes south by car (43.5 kilometers/27 miles), you can see the city and return to the beach by sunset.

Where to Stay in Playa Progreso, Mexico

There is an abundant variety of lodging options when searching for a place to stay at one of the Progreso beaches in Mexico.

Hotels span the spectrum from luxury all-inclusive resorts to boutique properties to inexpensive hostels. You’ll find good values and many options, whatever your budget might be.

Beach rentals run the length of the coastline and are an economical—and at times luxurious—option for larger parties. Airbnb is a major player in this niche.

How is the Weather in Progreso Beach?

Progreso beach malecon

Playa Progreso’s location on the Yucatan coast means short, warm, clear winters and long, hot, cloudy summers. 

If you want to enjoy the beach, mid-January to mid-May is your best bet. The daily high temperature will hover around 32°C (91°F) with very little variance.

The wettest time of year is between May and October, with about a 25% chance of rain on any given day. September is the rainiest. 

Packing List Essentials for Progreso Beach

wooden fish statue next to the famous pier in Playa Progreso

With so much infrastructure and development, you’re unlikely to find yourself in a situation where you won’t find what you need in town. But here are some practical suggestions:

  • A wide-brimmed hat—The sun is no joke in these latitudes, and you will need protection if you’re walking (or lying) around.
  • A water shirt—Save on sunscreen by keeping your torso covered while engaging in beach activities. 
  • Biodegradable sunscreen—Whether you’re swimming or just lying on the beach, biodegradable sunscreen will protect not only your skin but the environment as well.
  • Your swimsuit—With the beach as the primary attraction, you will want a comfortable swimsuit (or two) for those days at the beach.
  • Comfortable shoes—If you expect to explore the Mayan ruins, walk the malecon or head to Merida for the day, comfortable shoes will make any one of them a more pleasurable experience.
  • A sturdy bag or backpack with lock—While theft isn’t much of an issue, you can enjoy greater peace of mind with a sturdy, secure bag to carry around your stuff.

Map of Playa Progreso

Take a look at this interactive map to get a feel for Progreso and its surroundings. Everything is pretty close, so you’ll be able to see a lot if you can pull yourself off the beaches.

How to Get to Playa Progreso

couple walking in Playa Progreso

The first step for visiting Playa Progreso is to arrive in Mexico. 

The closest airport is Merida International Airport (code MID), a 40-minute drive from the beach. Getting from the airport in Merida to Playa Progreso is as easy as renting a car or hopping in a Uber, bus, or shuttle.

It is also possible to arrive via cruise ship. In this case, you arrive directly in town, and while your time will be limited, you can enjoy the many attractions.

If you are already on the Caribbean Coast, hop on a bus from Cancun to Merida. It’s only about 3-4 hours. 

Or you can fly from Mexico City to Merida in about one hour.

Once you’ve arrived in-country, getting around the rest of Mexico is pretty straightforward. Private shuttles, rental cars and public transportation are your best options. 

Final Thoughts on Playa Progreso

statue of octopus and shark on pier in Playa Progreso

The Emerald Coast on the Yucatan is an emerging destination that you can explore easily and at a good value. Playa Progreso is the premier location for experiencing the best the region has to offer. So whether you’re arriving by cruise ship, driving through the country, or just looking for a weekend getaway from Merida, ‘going coastal’ is an easy and worthy diversion.

FAQ

What is the closest airport to Playa Progreso? 

The closest airport is Merida International Airport (code MID).

What is the closest town to Playa Progreso?

While Progreso is a sizable town in its own right, Merida is the largest city and only a 40-minute drive away.

Is it safe to travel to Progreso, Mexico?

In general, it is a safe area. Most tourists come and go with no issues, and a little common sense will go a long way toward protecting your belongings and yourself.

Can you swim at Playa Progreso? 

Most certainly! The calm emerald-green water is an excellent place for a dip.

Posted April 11, 2023
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Ben Pastore
Ben is a freelance travel writer, public speaker and graphic artist whose adventures to date have brought him to 78 countries across all 7 continents. He is the author of the witty travel ebook You Can Keep Your Adventure Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper, and a host of travel articles detailing his journeys. When not gallivanting across the globe, Ben spends his time as a volunteer minister along with his wife in Houston, TX, USA.
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