Progreso, Yucatán, México

31 August 2001

Half an hour north of Mérida is the port town of Progreso. Though it’s on the gulf side of the peninsula, the water is still a beautiful turquoise-blue; it puts Canadian beaches to shame. On a hot weekend, Progreso makes a fun day trip. The wind keeps you cool, and as long as you keep ordering drinks, the food comes free at the palapa huts on the beach.

Three beach chairs sit in the shade of a palm-thatched palapa on the beach overlooking the ocean. A small 'lancha' boat is pulled up on the beach. On the left, Progreso's long pier extends over the water towards the horizon.

The one thing that is impossible to miss in Progreso is the pier. At its original length of 6 km, it was the longest in all of México, and with its new 3 km extension for cruise ships, it’s now the longest in the world. The reason for its size is that the Yucatán Peninsula is in essence a huge, flat limestone shelf that continues to extend long past the waterfront. At 6 km out, the water is still only 7 or 8 metres deep. As a result a 3 km extension was added in 2001 to allow cruise ships to dock safely.

When we asked friends in Mérida about the beach in Progreso, they mostly told us that it wasn’t that nice. When we got back, I told my class that in Canada we put beaches like that in beer commercials. I guess when Cancún is only a few hours drive away, you can afford to be picky. The only downside is that most of the palm trees are tiny. The previous ones were all ripped out during Hurricane Gilberto a few years ago. As a result there’s very little shade, so your only option is to hide under a palapa.