Here are a few more photos to complete our Celestún series, documenting our trip in December 2015. If you missed the previous posts and are interested, here are the links:
We had such a relaxing time visiting this laid-back fishing village on Mexico's Yucatan coast, and it was a nice break from tourists and traffic, as we visited in what is considered the off-season. You sure don't see sights like this in busy Playa del Carmen, where we were living in Centro at the time. I guess you could say there was traffic, just not the usual type!
Even the zocalo (town square) was sparsely populated when we visited.
Here is the Catholic church on the zocalo. You can see it on the right in the photo above.
Restaurants don't open early for breakfast in town (8:30 or 9 am is the norm!), and on our last morning, our favorite spot for breakfast wasn't open at all on Tuesdays, so we tried the Restaurant El Lobo. It wasn't open when we first went by, so we walked on the beach for a bit, then returned. We were the only ones there, and the owner had to run to the grocery store to get some yogurt for our breakfast. Yes, this is small-town Mexico! He was very friendly, though, and the breakfast was tasty.
You can see from the street above that it has rained overnight. However, the clouds were breaking up over the beach, promising a beautiful day ahead.
This old leaning tower may have been an early, abandoned lighthouse. The current white lighthouse sits, tall and straight, close by.
At this hour, we had the beach all to ourselves, other than these two cute beach dogs. I tried to make friends, but they were very shy. The puppy was adorable, but just too scared to come over to be pet.
Here's the beach side of the restaurant where we ate all three of our seafood dinners. It gets the best reviews on Tripadvisor, so we just kept coming back; why mess with a good thing?
We had our backpacks with us as we were going straight to the bus terminal after breakfast. A good reason to pack light!
After breakfast, it was time to buy our bus tickets back to Merida (where we'd then catch a first-class ADO bus back to Playa). Although this is a second-class bus line, it is still very nice (better than any bus we took in Belize!) The ADO bus does not come to Celestún.
Being a second-class bus, the Oriente has a few more stops than an ADO bus. One of the towns we stopped in featured this gorgeous egg-yolk yellow church. I don't recall which town now, but we had to get a couple of photos of this beauty.
Also on our return trip, it was getting close to December 12, the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, so we saw many of the faithful pilgrims making their trips to distant cities for the celebration. This is a big deal in Mexico, and we'd experienced it when visiting Mexico from Belize in 2012 so knew what it was all about this time around!
Thanks for coming along on our trip to Celestún!
We set aside our second full day in Celestún for the much-touted flamingo tour. This is what brings most tourists and locals alike to Celestún.
Naturally, we decided to walk into town from our guest house rather than take a taxi. It was a nice walk of a couple of miles, as the river and dock are past the town center.
On the way to the docks, we spied this gorgeous cache of birds right off the side of the main road. Flamingos, Egrets, Herons, and more at no charge!
This bridge painted in flamingo pink leads into town and provides a nice view of the tour boats that will take visitors out to see the birds.
This sign explained what we would see on our tour. Interesting that it is described as both a 1.5-hour tour and a 1-hour tour. To be honest, I can't recall how long our tour lasted, but it was long enough to see plenty of flamingos.
It took us quite a long time to get onto a boat. We came on a Monday, which must be the least busy day for tourists. A set price is charged per boat (around $115 USD), and that is divided among the passengers. So if we went as a party of two, we'd pay a lot more than if we could join some other folks to fill up a boat. For that reason we waited to see if anyone else would show up so we wouldn't have to bear the entire tour cost on our own. As I recall, we arrived in the mid-morning and waited for over an hour.
It was a slow day for flamingo tours! We'd read that these tours are packed on the weekend, and probably busier in the main breeding season of January through March, while we were there in early December. But finally, we were able to hop on with two men who showed up, cutting our cost in half. Here is our boat.
The flamingos were not as plentiful as they would be later in the season when there can be thousands at a time, but we still got to see plenty. They are so pretty and odd-looking! I didn't realize that they are born white but develop their rosy hue from the brine shrimp they feast on.
I played around with some camera settings to get a couple of different looks to my flamingo photos.
They are so interesting and so looooooong in flight!
In addition to Flamingos, we saw other birds, including ospreys, cormorants, and gulls,
The next phase of the tour took us through a mangrove tunnel.
The large, dark blob is a termite nest. We saw many of these in Belize.
Next, our boat zipped down to the Ojo de agua (eye of water, or a spring). This was an interesting and exotic spot, but the mosquitoes were ferocious! Make sure to take insect repellent if you ever take this tour!
We got to see a croc!
And this lovely Egret hunting....
The tour was excellent, and we highly recommend it if you ever have a chance to visit the charming fishing village of Celestún, on Mexico's Gulf coast. You can take a day trip from Merida or spend a night or two, as we did.
I'll have one more post covering the remainder of our time in Celestún, so please stop back soon!
On our first morning in Celestún, the primary order of business was finding breakfast. We had read good things about Restaurante Gutierrez Dolphin, so we took a stroll into town to try it for ourselves. We arrived a few minutes before the 8:30 opening time and had the place to ourselves.
The restaurant lived up to the reviews. Excellent French-press coffee, fresh fruit, and Eggs Miga fortified us for the day, and at a very reasonable cost.
We also enjoyed watching the hummingbirds having their breakfast as we ate ours!
Since we'd already planned on saving the flamingo tour for the following day, after breakfast we decided to pull out the bikes at the guest house, Celeste Vida, and explore the sandy road to the east, away from town.
This experience reminded me so much of our bike rides in Belize. No traffic, no pavement, no helmets or fancy cycling wear, just cruising along wondering what we'd find up ahead. Like being a kid again!
This sign surprised me. There's actually a hotel way down here, in the middle of nowhere.
Eventually we spied a natural pool to one side of the road so pulled off to take a look. We were surprised and delighted to have our first flamingo sighting! This guy (or gal) obviously didn't know where the tour was or was just a loner.
Before leaving this gorgeous, deserted spot, we noticed a large pile of sand off to the side. Coming closer, we realized it was salt! We didn't know it at the time, but Celestún is an important salt-producing area in Mexico. The salt from the pools is pink, like the more well-known Himalayan salt sold everywhere. It gets its color from the tiny brine shrimp that also give the flamingos their rosy hue. Here's a blog post with more information about the pink salt of Celestún: adventures-mexico.com/blog_/sal-rosa/.
The rest of the day was for relaxing, reading, and enjoying another seafood dinner on the beach at the same spot as the night before. There's not a lot of variety to eat in the small town of Celestún, which is, after all, a fishing village, but that didn't bother this seafood lover one bit!
Here are a few more photos, taken from the gulf shore behind the breakfast restaurant. Early December is not a busy time for tourists in Celestún, so everywhere we went, we had to ourselves, or nearly so. It was a welcome respite after the hustle and bustle of Playa del Carmen, which is fun but demands "recharge time" from now and then.
Stay tuned as our next day we finally take the much-anticipated flamingo tour....
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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