By Terrye Godown

Beyond Mérida and Progreso lies a true diamond in the rough - a small fishing village west of Progreso called Chelem (pop. 5200). Here you can really immerse yourself in the Mexican culture. Chelem is a treasure chest to uncover, resting peacefully among coconut palms, seagrape trees bordered by the turquoise hues of the Gulf. You can get there by rental car or public transportation.    

Tempt your palate by sampling the fare from the many small family "restaurantes" that offer fresh seafood, cold refrescos or cerveza, and relax among the locals. Pepe Luis' Restaurante is one such place.  We highly recommend trying their "Mero al mojo de ajo" (grouper with garlic). For pizza lovers there is the "Pizzeria La Playa". The owner here, by the way, speaks English and worked in the restaurant business in California. The many varieties here are delicious, but they are only open certain evenings.  The "Bull Pen" on the main square, owned by two Americans, Patrick and Robert, is a favorite among the ex-pats living or renting in the area. Elsewhere in Chelem you'll find several small "Panaderias" where you can get fresh pastries in the morning and "Tortillerías" that make fresh tortillas daily.  Check out the market in the town square where you'll find fresh vegetables and fruit to fill them with!  There are no large supermarkets available in Chelem, the closest one (Wal-Mart) is a short trip away in Progreso. You can get there via a new bridge that was completed recently, which makes the trip to and from Progreso and Yuculpeten much more convenient.  

There is a growing population of ex-pats living and vacationing in Chelem. Many arrive in early spring and the little village starts teeming with activity. Drive along the sandy coastal "calle" down to the next village of Chuburna and take in the sights; quaint, brightly painted beach casas, palapa roofs and charming Spanish gateways. Along the way you'll discover some incredible views of the gulf for photography buffs.

For those who like to keep in touch with home, there is a small Internet cafe on the plaza square, called "Super Alex". Alejandro speaks English and has 5 computer stations and a hookup for laptops.  He is open in the morning and usually closes in the early afternoon for siesta but reopens around 3 PM.  We found this a convenient place to stop if we had questions about anything we could not understand!  

Don't spend precious vacation time worrying about getting your laundry clean - There is a Lavandería off the main plaza where you can drop off your clothes.  Also, some locals here will do laundry and save you the trouble.  We found a nice lady by the name of Marisela, (her husband is Freddy) who lives in Chuburna.  She charges by the kilo and her prices are better than the first option; just drop off and pick up your fresh smelling, neatly folded items at the designated time! You'll get spoiled in no time and miss this convenience when you get back home! You can email <[email protected]> to find out how to contact Marisela. 

While visiting Chelem take time to take in the wildlife. Lots of beautiful flamingoes can be seen in the Ría de Chelem located south of Chelem's main plaza.  They start arriving in the area in June. Most are here by November but they begin to leave between January and March. The white colored ones are young flamingos.  There were as many as 600 there back in November of 2008! It is quite a majestic sight!  You will also see turtles, a man-made cenote, trees & lots of birds and pelicans! Tour guides will give you more information on the tour! Trips can be arranged by the fishermen at 'Ecoturismo Ría De Chelem'. Ask for Julian.  To get here go around the Main Square, take a left at the first street where the Government office is. At the next street make a left at the stop sign, then a right on the next street.  Go straight and you'll be there. 


Where can I get infor about rental beach house or apartmnet

Where can I get information about renting a little beach house on the ocean or apartment for Jan to April in Chelem


re. rental in chelem



What is the best method of trasportation from Merida to Chelem? My Wife and I will be arriving after 9:00 PM at the aiport in Merida and had hoped for a driver from the place we will be staying but he is busy that evening. Therefore we now are looking for transportation and not sure what would be comfortable and cost effective, taxi, bus, mini bus? Could someone advise? Thanks.


Looking for a photographer in Merida/Progreso


My fiance and I will be staying in Chélem for the holidays this year - Dec. 23 to Dec 31st - and are looking to hire a photographer to take engagement photos of us at some point during our stay. Please contact me if you know a photographer that might be available.

Thanks ..


Looking for a photographer in Merida/Progreso

Here are some photographers you might be interested in depending on your budget:

Pepe Molina / photography
Cel. (9992) 7117.70
[email protected]

Alberto Caceres
Cel: 9993-15-8868
Email: [email protected]

Belinda Correa
Cel. 9999002375

Marisol Chapur
Email: [email protected]


Bus to Chelem

Is there a way to travel from Merida to Chelem via bus?


re. bus to chelem

From Merida Centro you take the bus to Progreso: Autoprogreso, on Calle 62 between 65 and 67. Buses leave every 20 minutes from 5 am to 10 pm, the trip takes about an hour. From there you can take a colectivo or a taxi to Chelem.


Cancun-Chelem bus?

We are flying in to Cancun. Is there a bus to Chelem? What would be the best ways to get from Cancun airport to Chelem? Thank you.


re. cancun chelem

You will take the shuttle from Cancun airport to the downtown Cancun bus depot, and from there get a bus to Merida "CAME" station downtown (corner of Calle 69 and 70). Then cab or walk (about 6 blocks) to the Autoprogreso bus terminal (Calle 62 between 65 and 67) and catch a bus to Progreso. From Progreso take a cab to Chelem.


re. cancun chelem

What awesome directions!!! And how long would the bus ride from Cancun to Merida take please? Cost?


re. cancun chelem

The timing would be as follows: it's about 30 minutes from the airport to the Cancun bus depot. Then 4 hours to Merida (cost ranges from 278 pesos to 489 pesos depending on class of service and they run every half hour or so). Then 40 minutes to Progreso. The last bus from Merida to Progreso is about 10 pm. What time does your flight arrive Cancun?


Arrival is 2pm to Cancun and

Arrival is 2pm to Cancun and I am going to spend the night in Cancun and travel early next morning. It would be way to much traveling in one day for me. I thank you so much for the help. Now I just have to find a beauty beachfront place to stay..... I am on it though!!!



We would like to rent for a week on or near beach near Merida. Not sure which area would be best for public transportation , safety, clean beach , good food , accommodations, etc. Also wonder about pricing . ThAnk you


Can the kids have fun?

I have been interested in Merida and the coast for some time now. I would love to visit but not sure if this is a family vacation or one to do with just the husband. We have four kids 14,11,3, and 5 years old.


re. kids

This is a great place for kids! Beaches, cenotes, zoo, archaeological sites, haciendas, boat tours to see flamingos. If you are super into museums that might be tough but there are many reasons to bring them with you :) Read for more info:
and and click on KIDS on the left


Thank you so much for the

Thank you so much for the information. We were going to rent a home on the beach. What area would you recommend where the beach is nice to swim with the kids. We will probably fly into cancun and rent a car.


re. thank you so much

During the winter months we do get some windy and rainy days with rougher surf which throws seaweed onto the sand (weather from up north!!) but if you come from a very cold place you might not mind swimming on those days! We locals think it is too cold. The summer months the water is emerald green and much warmer for swimming. The beaches are all about the same along our Gulf coast, I would make my choice more on whether you want to be in a bigger town with lots of amenities (Progreso) or a smaller town with some amenities (Chelem or Telchac Puerto) or quiet beach somewhere between these 2 towns. Have a look at our maps and articles:

Beach map

Yucatan peninsula map

Vacation rentals


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