CELESTUN TRAVEL GUIDE
Where to Stay - Click here for price key
Hotels are mainly basic, two- or three-star accommodations. The fanciest place is Xixim, 11 kilometers from the center of town. Some places accept cash only, so be sure to check.
One of the standard inexpensive beachfront hotels is Sol y Mar ($$, Calle 12 #104 between Calles 11 and 13). Hot water and electricity are sometimes not available, and it’s definitely no frills.
Canadian-owned Casa Celeste Vida Guest House ($$$, Calle 12 #49-E) offers an apartment sleeping four and two studio suites, each fully equipped and right on the beach. It’s one kilometer north of the center of town.
On a long, wide, shell-strewn beach about 11 kilometers from downtown Celestún, Ecoparaiso Xixim ($$$, Viejo Camino a Sisal Km 11, tel. 988/916-2100, www.hotelxixim.com) has a restaurant, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and Wi-Fi. Suites are fan cooled and each has a nice stone terrace with comfy chairs and hammocks. Kayaks and guided tours are available.
Where to Eat - Click here for price key
Restaurants in town serve mainly simple seafood dishes. In addition to the best known and most popular with tour operators, La Palapa (see below), other options include Los Pampanos and a number of other simple eateries. Casa Peón (tel. 988/916-2628) serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday and bills itself as a Restaurant/Cafeteria with Internet Hotel Bar---just to cover all the bases!
La Palapa ($$, Calle 12 s/n, tel. 988/916-2063) caters to individual visitors and tour groups. It faces the sea and has a wide range of seafood options, plus burgers and things, with a menu in English and Spanish.
Things to Do
Birding boat trips in the 60,000-hectare (147,500-acre) Parque Natural del Flamenco Mexicano (AKA the Celestún Biosphere Reserve) is the big show in town. Book through a Merida tour operator or proceed to Celestún’s wharf, where a flotilla of boats takes up to six passengers on a one- or two-hour tour. Published prices (2012) were 720 pesos for the shorter tour and 1,320 pesos for the longer; the latter includes a walk through a “petrified forest” and a short swim in a freshwater spring.
Although other small beach towns such as Sisal and Chuburná are just up the coast, the dirt road between them and Celestún is not always passable by the average passenger car, so check with locals before attempting it. Our driver, in a large van, refused to take the road even in the dry season.
From Merida, catch a bus to Celestún from the Autobuses Noreste station at Calle 50 at Calle 67 (tel. 999/924-0830, extension 2909). Buses make the run about every hour but take about 2.5 hours to reach their destination. Oh, well.
By car, Celestún is approximately 95 km (57 miles) from Merida on the old road, which passes several charming small towns where you can stop for a soda and explore the church or the town plaza. It’s a little over an hour on a newer, more direct road.