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....
To continue our on-again, off-again look back at the time we spent in the Yucatán peninsula of Mexico in late 2015, this post takes us back to the charming fishing village of Celestún on Mexico's Gulf Coast. This is the last new spot we visited before heading back to Florida in January of 2016 and buying our motorhome, Pearl.
The big draw of Celestún for the traveler is to see the flocks of hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of gorgeous pink flamingos in the Celestún Biosphere Reserve. Even though we didn't pick the very best time of year to go (i.e., when the flamingo population in this area peaks, in late January), we were excited to see as many flamingos as we could and to check out what appeared to be a quaint and quiet village, as a welcome break from busy Playa del Carmen, where we were living.
We had spent the previous couple of nights in Mérida and caught a second-class (but still nice) bus to Celestún in the morning. These buses run all day long, every hour or so. Although the drive takes only about an hour in a car, with the bus stopping here and there along the way, the ride ends up being about two hours. We were hungry when we arrived in the village so immediately headed to one of the several gulf-side seafood restaurants, Restaurante Los Pampanos, for some sustenance.
Thus fortified, we set off on foot to the guest house where we'd spend the next few nights. Just over a kilometer outside the village proper, the walk along a sandy road was a big change from the bustling concrete of Playa.
At last, we arrived at Celeste Vida and got settled in. What a lovely place! We had our own apartment downstairs, La Maravilla, while the owners lived upstairs. There were two other smaller apartments (Casita Brisa & Casita Flora) downstairs as well, but our unit was the largest and most comfortable, and the only one with a TV. While not fancy, it was comfortable and private and decorated with Mexican flair.
Since we'd done plenty of walking already, we spent the rest of that first day getting settled in and relaxing on the beach right behind the guest house,
The back yard of Celeste Vida is private and well-groomed yet lush, a real treat.
Here's the back of Celeste Vida as seen from the beach. It just disappears behind the tropical foliage.
This is as far as I got into the water. It was December so a bit nippy!
A storm out at sea passed us by but looked dramatic and urged us inside.
A couple of interesting sights from our time on the beach: a Horseshoe Crab shell and a fortress wall constructed of concrete and thousands of conch shells around the house next door to Celeste Vida. Not sure what the owners are protecting, but their tall fence and wall make a strong statement.
Since we didn't have a car, we strolled back into town for dinner. We ate at the same spot where we had lunch, Los Pampanos, and enjoyed more simple but delicious fresh seafood along with our sunset over the Gulf waters. Barry always enjoys his fish a la diabla, and I had the crab (jaiba), which was lip-smacking good!
Stay tuned for more from Celestún, including photos from the village and, of course, the flamingo tour!
After leaving Towns Bluff and before my bike accident, we headed up to another campground we'd enjoyed last year, Petersburg, managed by the Army Corps of Engineers (COE). Although we prefer not to make reservations, this campground takes them on most sites, so in order to get our preferred site for three nights over a weekend, we had made online reservations in advance this time.
Petersburg Campground is right on the southern shores of Lake Strom Thurmond, in Georgia near the South Carolina border. The setting is heavily wooded, hilly, and serene, making it a great place to get away from it all. All campground roads are paved, though sites are gravel. RV sites have water and electric hookups and most have nice separation from your neighbors. There are a small number of primitive sites for tenters as well. There is a dump station in the park, along with several bath houses, one with laundry facilities. RV sites run $26/night, so we paid just $13 with Barry's pass.
Here's a map from the lake's visitor center showing the location of Petersburg, the lake, and numerous other recreation and camping facilities in the area.
We reserved the same site we were given last year, when we arrived mid-week without reservations, Supposedly this pull-through site only takes a 25' RV, but Pearl, at 32'9", fit in it just fine. Their measurements must allow for a truck or tow'd vehicle to stay hooked up to your RV.
From our site, our Verizon Mifi box picked up 1-2 bars of 4G LTE, and we were able to use our Dish Playmaker to pick up satellite TV stations.
Due to drought, the lake level was way down, which meant that the little finger our site sits on was almost dried up! Instead of water, we saw mostly green growth. However, the creek remaining attracted birds and large, sunning turtles and was still scenic. The difference between our view from last year and this year was significant.
Here's this year's view from our campsite, then walking down the back a bit for a closer look. Not much water to see!
These photos we took last year, show a much higher water level near the same campsite. Also, we visited earlier last year, so the deciduous trees are not leafed out.
Unfortunately, our stay at Petersburg did not turn out quite the way we'd hoped. On our first full day, we had a glorious bike ride over to the South Carolina border and to check out the Lake Strom Thurmond dam. Unfortunately, this is the ride when I had my accident, while finishing up in the campground after over 20 miles of bliss. Here are a few photos from the fun part of that ride.
We took this happy shot in front of the lake with my camera's self-timer right before heading back to the campground. I hope that one day we'll be able to take another one like it, when my recovery is complete.
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.
Favorite Travel Blogs