Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Progreso, Mexico

  • Published 2021/10/15

Whether you would like to cool down with Michelada, that Mexican beer-based cocktail with a spicy kick, or swing in those comfy cotton hammocks which locals call the hammaca, you’re in for a beautiful treat visiting Mexico.

Progreso is one of Mexico’s top tourist spots, being the second-largest island of the Yucatan Peninsula, a port city with its cruise ships and thatch-roofed restaurants.

This place is an excellent tourist destination for those who love the sea, the beaches, and sizzling-and-spicy Mexican food.

For those who wish to escape from the stress of everyday life by getting in touch with nature, exploring its cruise voyages, and discovering a wide variety of tourist attractions, this travel adventure is for you!

So hop aboard, and let’s dive in to check out a list of fun things you can do in Progreso!

Sightseeing Marvels at Izamal Town

View of Izamal, Mexico

Tamil Selvam /

“White City” is to Merida with its limestone buildings, while Izamal is a municipality located north of Yucatan called “The Yellow City.”

Izamal’s infrastructure landscape has its village houses, limestone buildings, and cobbled streets all painted yellow.

View of Izamal, Mexico

javarman /

Why is this so?

Izamal, founded in pre-Columbian times, has its centuries-old history of producing high-quality yellow paint made from its natural resources, with the paint used for the interior walls of churches and colonial buildings like the Palacio de Gobierno or “Government Palace” in Merida, which you can still see today.

Explore this sightseeing adventure with your passion for archaeology and architecture, as tour guides assist you and fill you in with the historical information and culture of Izamal.

View of Izamal, Mexico

Bucha Natallia /

Kayak Through La Ria Progreso’s Mangroves

For those who would go for low-key water sports yet equal the fun, check out the kayaks by La Ria Progreso!

La Ria Progreso, located at Calle 37 southwest of Progreso and east of Highway 261, has its kayaks available for rent for kayaking enthusiasts.

You can discover the lush environment of the mangroves around the island with your kayaking tour and relish a close-up view of Mexico’s tropical birds and local flora and fauna.

The tour, running for breathtaking three-and-a-half hours, would leave you mesmerized with a memorable nature trip experience.

Splash Away via Water Fun Sports With AlphaSports

Go and romp away on the Progreso beach, careening through the waves on a jet ski, or go paddleboarding for a whole afternoon with your family and friends.

Yes, the choices are endless!

AlphaSports, located on Calle 29, offers paddleboarding tours and rentals, as well as kiteboarding classes pegged at 1,000 Mexican Pesos per hour per person.

And there’s so much more to do: go deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, or simply get a suntan while lying on the shore with your sunglasses and tanning lotion to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.

Sunset Watching at Progreso Pier

View of  Progreso Pier in Mexico

Ecope Projects /

Watch the sunset and relish the experience in Progreso Pier, said to be the longest pier in Latin America and one of the largest fishing piers in the world.

The Mexican government built the Progreso Pier in 1905 and, for a long time, was the site of several industries like lime production and salt extraction.

View of  Progreso Pier in Mexico

Nancy van den Ende /

It was declared a National Monument in 1929, with its main function mainly for fishing and tourism.

Today, visitors pass the time sitting on its benches and watching the sunset over Cancun bay.

With its tropical waters reflecting the rose-colored sky at dusk, this pier visit experience is an excellent spot to catch spectacular views of Northern Yucatan.

View of  Progreso Pier in Mexico

Nazar Skladanyi /

Go Horseback-Riding in the Mayan Jungle

You don’t have to be a swashbuckling Zorro — just be a regular guy enjoying this horseback-riding adventure through Yucatan Peninsula’s jungles.

An English-speaking guide is on standby to help you with your horse ride as you enjoy and discover the mysteries of the enigmatic Mayan jungle.

Be amazed at the beauty of the landscapes and these well-bred horses, which have the best care.

Your enjoyable horseback ride is then topped with a zipline adventure taking you to an amazing flight through the canopy, then entering through a water zipline park as a perfect seal to this thrilling adventure!

Beer-Tasting and Pub Crawling the Mexican Way

While you’re doing your partying, beer-tasting and pub-crawling isn’t far behind!

Yes, these cold brews and tropical beaches are a match made in heaven, and you’ll get a load of these at the Mexican Beer Tasting, Pub Crawl, and Beach shore excursions.

This beer tasting excursion is perfect for you interested in learning more about Mexican food, culture, and beers.

On this excursion, you will learn the history of Mexican beer, how it is made and grab the chance to sample several beers from various breweries located around Progreso.

With more than 100 breweries in Mexico and an estimated 300 plus breweries operating throughout the country, there are plenty of beer options to choose from in this excursion.

And it won’t be a surprise if you would get tipsy after this beer-tasting tour!

Swim in El Corchito Ecological Reserve’s Healing Waters

Pink Flamingos in El Corchito Ecological Reserve

Roberto Michel /

For those who simply adore the lush beauty of natural waters, be enthralled by the Reserva Ecologica El Corchito, a popular natural reserve located at the center of the Riviera Maya.

The El Corchito Cenotes natural reserve has been touted as one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico, home to an extensive underground system of caves and cenotes, with its ecosystem also making it a haven of a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Mangrooves in El Corchito Ecological Reserve

Roberto Michel /

The cenotes have become quite popular among tourists who want to explore the area’s beauty and swim through its underground rivers, which are believed to have healing properties.

There are more than 450 registered cenotes in Yucatan, but only about 100 of them have become tourist attractions.

Pink Flamingos in El Corchito Ecological Reserve

Roberto Michel /

Since it was declared a natural reserve, the government has protected the site, which means that no commercial activities are allowed.

Yet, reports are abuzz that plans have already started regarding building an ecotourism complex inside the park, which includes cabañas for rent, kayak rentals, restaurants/bars, outdoor showers, and other facilities for tourists.

Enjoy Golfing at Yucatan Country Club

If nature tripping and sightseeing aren’t your thing, then just go ahead and check out the Yucatan Country Club with its El Jaguar golf course.

Golf enthusiasts, you’re in for an enjoyable experience with this course — a standout among Jack Nicklaus’ excellent designs worldwide.

During its construction, Nicklaus brought out the beauty of the landscapes full of natural cenotes and maintained its archaeological remnants preserving the cultural experience for its visitors.

Most observers say that this is undoubtedly an equal of the highly exclusive La Querencia in Cabo San Lucas, also of the highly ranked course in Cabo Del Sol.

For visitors to the area seeking an alternative to the highly exclusive La Querencia in Cabo San Lucas, El Jaguar makes one of the finest recent courses available to the public.

Enjoy the friendly Mexican sun and tropical breeze as you swing away from your stress with first-class amenities in what may be Mexico’s finest clubhouse.

Experience the Thrill of Misnebalam Ghost Town Adventure

If you haven’t explored a ghost town adventure yet and would like to jump on this encounter, this one’s going to be a first for you!

Yes, Yucatán has a ghost town called Misnebalam, formerly a henequén farm, with its prosperous past and thriving community, yet deserted by its inhabitants a decade ago.

Now the ghost town is only famous for its paranormal activities and supernatural phenomena.

This ghost-hunting adventure promises a unique combination of travel thrills, mystery, and an encounter tour with unexplained spirits.

Former residents narrate that the site was formerly inhabited by around 150 people, primarily workers with their families.

Yet they deserted the place after growing tired of the ghost appearances following the assassination of hacienda owner Don Fidencio G. Márquez, and the suicide of a child named Juliancito.

If you’re the type of tourist who enjoys ghost-hunting and gets a thrill in the vibe of eerie, deserted places, this tour is worth your time.

Television media and other curious groups set out with their Misnebalam adventure, either for professional or personal coverage, witnessing the quaint streets still lined with abandoned buildings, rusted-out cars, and graffiti screaming on the walls of this now silent ghost town.

And yes, a child figure, thought to be Juliancito’s, would pop up in the recorded videos of the tourists and media people, making the phenomena a trigger to boost the town’s growing popularity.

Discover the Maya Ruins of XCambo

Maya Ruins of XCambo

doromonic /

If you’re a traveling lover of history, then the Maya ruins would be an excellent excursion for you on your trip to Mexico.

The ruins, located in the Yucatan jungle and about two hours away from Cancun, are a collection of pyramids and other ancient buildings created by the Maya civilization between 500 BC and 900 AD.

El Castillo, the main pyramid with its many rooms holding ceremonies to this day, is said to grant eternal youth to the climber who manages to reach its top at midnight on a full moon.

Maya Ruins of XCambo

phortun /

The Mayans were a talented civilization that left terrific structures still standing today, even though they inhabited this land centuries ago.

As a tourist experiencing the Maya ruins, you will be able to witness how advanced these people were by visiting the pyramids, ball courts, and temples, with their excellent mathematical skills and built cities that were planned out perfectly.

The Mayans, an empire that existed in Mesoamerica between 250 and 900 AD. extended its reign across modern-day Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

Maya Ruins of XCambo

doromonic /

They practiced human sacrifice at their religious ceremonies, used fear for control over the population, and sacrificed humans to keep the sun from disappearing.

New discoveries estimate the Mayan empire population at around 20 million people across the Maya lowlands, which would be around half the population of the entire European Union.

Researchers are further sharing more discoveries: there were raised highways connecting urban centers, elevated to make sure there is easy access during storms and inclement weather, also complex irrigation and terracing systems, which suggest sophisticated agriculture.

Holy Guacamole, Salsa & Margaritas Beach Cooking

Surely you wouldn’t be able to leave Progreso without eating some of the most delicious guacamole in the world at the port city’s top restaurants, serving delicious dishes that could leave you breathless.

Traditional guacamole is prepared by mixing mashed avocado with lime, red onion, chili, coriander, red onions, and garlic, then seasoned with salt and pepper.

Tourists are exclaiming that just about everything was amazing: from aqua chile, a traditional Mexican seafood dish with a spicy sauce made from chiles and lime juice, to tacos al pastor with its addicting pineapple sauce.

And which are the top restaurants to relish and watch out for with those spicy-hot Mexican dishes?

For one, there’s Arturo’s Restaurant topping them all in Nuevo Progreso, with its vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free options.

There’s Angels Restaurant Bar with its delectable dishes, including avocadoes stuffed with shrimp and mayonnaise, plus grilled chicken breasts as well as grilled frog legs!

Elsa’s Restaurant, meantime, is singled out by travelers as an outstanding restaurant with its excellent customer service, good food, and good music, haunting its diners with its exceptional guacamole, machacado taco bistec, quesadilla, cheese nachos with a side of pico de gallo, salsa piquant, & rajas de jalapeño, plus Mexico Pacifico cocktail!

Dance to the Merida Street Party!

Are you the type who would dance and party all night long?

For all you party-goers who can’t get enough of Progreso without some salsa dancing and nightlife partying, you’ll be able to dance to your heart’s glee with open-air restaurants and bars to let you dance to the Merida beat!

Salsa is a musical genre that was first heard of in the late sixties in New York, throbbing with its mambo and guaracha Afro-Cuban rhythms,

Today, it continues to be part of the active nightlife in Progreso’s clubs and bars which stay busy until early in the morning.

Salsa nights and free dance classes are alive and well at Mercado 60, where you can dance the night away and gyrate your body to the dance grooves.

Mercado 60 is a street festival wherein a group of open-air restaurants participates in the event with blaring live music and groups of partying enthusiasts shaking their blues away.

After their dance warm-up from the place, the party-goers then head over to nearby La Bianca Merida with its large dancefloor, gyrating to various music from salsa to bachata, merengue, and reggaeton beats.

Other party places include The Palace Club, featuring multiple levels of music, neon lights, disco balls, and more; Merida Centro, Pipiripau, Delirio Habanero, La Carmela, and La Mezcalería, which also offers dance classes for beginners.

And in case you’re feeling a bit nostalgic and would like to hear some oldies-but-goodies music to bring you back to memory lane, there’s the Parque de Santiago with its “Remembranzas Musicales” Tuesday nights.

For sentimental music lovers who prefer slow mood music, the Tuesday special has been touching hearts for its aficionados for over three decades, catering to patrons who enjoy their old favorite melodies.

Be Excited With Merida Shopping Tour and Historical Adventure

View of Merida Shopping

Elelicht, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get into the heart of Yucatecan specialties on this street food walking tour of Merida, relishing the local’s special delicacies with its market food stalls, seafood restaurants, and gelato shops.

Discover Mexican cuisine particular to the Yucatan Peninsula, shop for fresh fruits and veggies, and sample dishes such as seafood tacos, tamales, empanadas, along with ‘panuchos’ (tortillas stuffed with refried black beans) and ‘cochinita pibil’ (slow-roasted pork).

Merida in Progreso, Mexico, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Merida street food walking tour doubles as an amazing historical adventure, as tourists also get to visit Parque Hidalgo, one of Progreso’s most important parks.

Part of the walking tour would be a visit to nearby landmark cathedrals, namely Cathedral de Merida and the San Ildefonso Cathedral.

With this tour, you get to see the sights and delights of Merida up close in a small group, away from the large cruise ship crowds, and have a friendly chat with the locals to learn cooking tips for Mexican cuisine!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Amazing Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

View of Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

Walter Rodriguez from Helsinki, Finland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Las Coloradas means “the colored” in Spanish, those stunning cotton-candy pink lakes attracting tourists from all over.

It is located ten miles east of Rio Lagartos — a sleepy Mexican fishing village tucked away at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Travelers describe the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve as an amazing experience for bird-watching enthusiasts, especially flamingo bird-watchers.

This reserve is a UNESCO biosphere reserve with its rich diversity of ecosystems and landscapes, coastal lagoons, grasslands and reed beds, mangroves, and evergreen forests.

View of Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

lu_sea /

Mexican environmentalists explain that the vibrant pink color of the lakes is because of brine shrimp, plankton, and red-colored algae, which are thriving in the highly salty environment.

Historians meantime narrate that these large pink lakes of Las Coloradas were originally man-made lakes, built by a salt-producing factory that produces salt on a much larger scale of some 500,000 tons per year.

As the Mexican sunlight shines brightly on these lakes, water evaporates, making the waters more concentrated with its glimmering pink hues.

While the lakes are always pink, you would have a more wonderful time when you visit around noon on a sunny day when the waters deepen their pinkness.

And what makes these dancing flamingos pretty in pink as ever?

View of Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

javarman /

Young flamingos originally have grey or white feathers, developing their pinkish hues after indulging in their diet of blue-green algae and brine shrimp — food that may prove poisonous to other animals.

These relatively remote wetlands with lakes containing toxic chemicals possess an untapped resource of food, such as diatom algae, cyanobacteria, and crustaceans, where flamingos thrive and survive.

Definitely an enthralling experience for the pink flamingo audiences!

Beach Bumming Around Chuburna

You will turn into a beach lover if you aren’t yet when you come face to face with the breathtaking natural beauty of Chuburna bay.

Whether you’re in for some fun outdoor sports or simply enjoying the gentle breeze with some quiet time while watching the boats sail away, you’re bound to get hooked by this experience.

Tourists staying at Hotel La Playa exclaim about their amazing experience, taking things slowly by drinking a margarita with all its flavors while basking under the tropical sun.

Chuburna is one of the most beautiful places in Mexico, they exclaim, and “we can’t help but wonder if there will ever be another vacation that comes close to being as amazing as this one was.”

Final Thoughts

After spending some time in Progreso, surely you’ll realize that you have grown to love the small-town feel, with its friendly people and its vibrant atmosphere.

You’ll never run out of ideas to do in this magical place, with all these wonderful activities you can participate in, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, zip-lining, partying all night, lounging on the beach, and watching those amazing flamingo dancers, and so much more!

Progreso is a beautiful destination with so much for tourists to do, helping you to open your eyes that there is a bigger world out there waiting for you!

Whether you want to take it easy or get active with some fun water sports, there will be no shortage of excitement here.

Many people choose Cancun for their vacation getaway, yet Progreso is a destination that shouldn’t be overlooked.

With the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and plenty of exciting activities to do, it’s easy to see why so many tourists are choosing this destination for their next vacation.

If you’re looking for a new destination or just want to get away from the hustle of city life, you should consider hopping on a plane and taking that trip to Progreso!

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