Celestun is one of many beautiful places which I have visited in the Yucatan Peninsula. It offers an excellent variety of seafood and seafood restaurants located right by the sandy waters of the Mexican Gulf. The great thing about this place is the tranquility and stillness which awaits you after long hours of travel. The ocean floor in Celestun is quite shallow which is great for those afraid of deep Caribbean waters. The main attraction that should not be missed when visiting Yucatan peninsula (between Merida and Campeche) is Rio Celestun Biosphere Reserve, which is a spectacular forest housing over 200 species of birds, including pelicans, cormorants, the occasional stork, and hot pink flamingos. Many Mexican and international tourists as well as biologists take refuge in the Reserve during the months of July and August. When travelling during those months make sure to book your inexpensive hotel well in advance of your trip.
Celestuns estuary is quite popular with kids and tourists who want to see pink flamingos which are plenty in this region. There are two main trips available. The first heads north to Isla de Pajaros, an avian playground. The second tour heads south through petrified forests and a river tunnel of intertwined tree branches and vines before winding through the abandoned fishing village of Real de Salinas. The tours are quite inexpensive and can be negotiated with local lancheros which can be found at the bridge before the entrance to the town. You can hook up with few people whishing to do the same tour and negotiate a price. The best solution is to combine the two tours; some fisherman will gladly provide you with their lanchero services for around 550 pesos. If you are in Celestun during the weekend, be sure not to miss many performances near the zocalo, taking place usually Saturday night.
City Map: The main street, Calle 11, in Celestun, touches the western shores of Yucatan, and connects with the main carretera federal Rte. 281 which leads to or from Merida (approximately 150 km). Odd numbers increase to the south, while even numbers decrease moving away from the ocean. The zocalo, where the events take place, is bounded by Calle 11, 13, 10 and 8. There is a bus service, Autobuses de Occidente, which provides travel service to Merida; it can be found by the intersection of Calles 8 and 11 right by the zocalo. Schedule may have changed: (2hr trip to Merida, 12 per day betwen 5 am 8:30 pm.) As I had the rented car, I have never used this service.
Accommodation: One of the most inexpensive waterfront hotels I found in Yucatan Peninsula. Most hotels are found on Calle 12. I stayed in Hotel San Julio which faces a sand patio and it is almost right on the beach. There are three hotels, in addition to San Julio, worth to book your nights in: Hotel Maria del Carmen, Hotel Gutierrez, and el Pelicano.
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