Mexico Family Travel

The Top 12 Memorable Progreso Activities and Progreso Excursions

July 19, 2022
Astrid Vinje

If you’re looking for a fun beach destination on your next trip to the Yucatán Peninsula, look no further than the city of Progreso. Whether you’re in the mood for Progreso activities and Progreso excursions to do on your next cruise, or planning a longer vacation in Progreso, you’ll have plenty of things to do while you’re there.

This beach town is full of unique activities and beautiful scenery. Families can enjoy a beach day, explore nature, and even learn some history too! It’s a perfect destination idea for families who are planning a Mexico family vacation.


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Progreso Beach, photo credit: Laurentiu Morariu

Table of Contents

Where is Progreso, Mexico?

Progreso is a small city in Mexico on the northern coast of the Yucatan peninsula. With a population of around 37,000 people, Progreso is primarily a port town. The main industry in Progreso is fishing, as well as cargo shipping.

In recent years, however, Progreso has become a stop for cruise ships. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines stop at Port Progreso for cruise goers to do Progreso excursions. Additionally, Progreso pier boasts the longest pier in the world, at 6.5 km (4.1 mile) long. Progreso is not quite as developed as popular cruise stops like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but it‘s certainly worthwhile. 

But Progreso is more than just a cruise ship shore excursion stop. And it’s more than just a gateway to the rest of the Yucatán peninsula. It’s a destination in its own right! There are plenty of Progreso activities and tours in Progreso for families that warrant more than just an afternoon’s stay or a drive through.   

Shaded spots at Progreso Beach, photo credit: Chris Havard Berge

Planning your trip to Progreso

The best time of year to visit Progreso and take your tours in Progreso is from mid-October to mid-March, when the weather is not sweltering hot. The coldest months are December and January. But even during those months, you can still enjoy plenty of warm beach days from time to time.

To really enjoy the city, plan to stay at least a week. If you’re pressed for time, you can plan for one or two days. But be sure to reserve some time for beach play along with your Progreso activities. If you stay longer than a day, you’ll have plenty of time to take tours in Progreso and still enjoy the beach.

Statues at Progreso port

Getting to Progreso

Progreso is a cruise ship port for Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises. So you can access the city and the tours in Progreso via Progreso port. But if you’re coming to Mexico by air, the nearest international airport is located in Mérida. This airport services flights from the United States, and also serves domestic destinations too. 

If you’re planning to drive a car in Mexico to transport you to your Progreso activities, you can get to Progreso via Mérida, where you can rent your car. And if you’re traveling by bus from elsewhere in Mexico, you’ll need to get a bus into Mérida. From there, you can hire a taxi to take you to Progreso. 

Alternatively, you can book the Merida Progreso autobus. This Progreso to Merida bus is offered by Autoprogreso. The bus terminal in Progreso is located on Calle 29 and 80. Tickets cost 21 pesos (a little over $1 USD) for one way, and 38 pesos (less than $2 USD) for round trip.

Getting around Progreso and where to stay in Progreso

While in Progreso, it’s fairly easy to walk around the city. Progreso is very safe for families. The streets have sidewalks, and some streets, like the Callejón del Amor (on Calle 23), are specifically designed for pedestrians. If you stay close to Centro (the center of the city) or the Malecón (the beachside boardwalk), you’ll have access to plenty of restaurants and Progreso activities.

There are no Ubers in Progreso, but there are taxis available. For families, however, renting a car is a good option. Having access to a car allows you to easily explore all the things to do in Progreso, and makes Progreso excursions outside the city easier as well.

If you’re having trouble finding a Progreso Airbnb or other vacation rentals within the city, try looking outside the city in towns like Chelem or Chuburná. While it requires renting a car, you’ll be able to rent some nice beachfront places at fairly affordable prices. Progreso tends to be a popular spot for retirees and snowbirds who want to avoid the crowds of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Other things to know about Progreso

As in most parts of the Yucatán peninsula, many people in Progreso have Mayan heritage. This means you’ll have a chance to experience Mayan culture through dishes like cochinita pibil (pork that has been slow cooked underground) or pavo relleno negro (turkey that’s been slow cooked underground in a pumpkin seed-based broth).

It’s worth spending some time getting to know Mayan culture while you’re in Progreso. Some ways to do this can be reading books about Mexico before your trip, or seeking out traditional Mayan experiences, like a temazcal ceremony, while you’re in Mexico.

Take a look at these books to get an introduction of Progreso and the Yucatan peninsula:

Yucatan with Kids by Cassie Pearse

Yucatan Peninsula Travel Guide by Moon Guides

Cancun, Cozumel, and the Yucatan by Lonely Planet

Visiting other Mexican cities? Here are the safest cities for travelers.

Must-do Progreso activities for your next family vacation

Whether you’re looking for Progreso Mexico cruise excursions, or simply an outing to pass the time, there are many fun Progreso activities families can do on their next vacation to Mexico. Take a look at our list of must-do activities to add to your itinerary.

Progreso lighthouse, photo credit by Mike Juarez

1. Progreso Activities | Book these fun Progreso excursions and tours in Progreso

To maximize your time in Progreso, why not book some Progreso excursions? These Progreso Mexico tours will pick you up from the Progreso port cruise terminal, or from your hotel. Take your pick from nature experiences, historical experiences, or a combination of both, to make your shore excursions memorable.

4 in 1, Cenotes, Flamingos, Salt Flats and Mayan Site (Available for Cruisers)

This tour takes travelers to visit the Progreso cenotes of Reserva Ecológica El Corchito, Laguna Rosada, and the Mayan site of Xcambo. 

Costa Esmeralda 5 en 1

This tour is similar to the previous one in that you will visit El Corchito, Laguna Rosada, the salt ponds, and Xcambo. However, you will also receive a brief Progreso city tour as well. 

Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins and Beach Break Excursion

This Progreso Mexico Mayan ruins tour takes visitors to the Dzibilchaltun archaeological site. Afterward, travelers can spend the rest of the time relaxing at Silcer All-Inclusive Beach Club.

Small Group Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

For a Chichen Itza tours Progreso experience, book this tour, which takes travelers to the famous Chichen Itza archaeological site. These Chichen Itza tours from Progreso include a visit to the Temple of Kukulkan and the Great Ball Court.

Mayapan Mayan Ruins and Cenote Swim Tour

Another option for Progreso Mexico Mayan ruin tours is this experience, which takes visitors to see Mayan ruins and to swim in Progreso Mexico cenotes. 

Crab mural in Progreso

2. Progreso Activities | Spend a beach day at the Malecón

Progreso’s proximity to the beach is one of the many draws of this town. Since it’s located along the Gulf of California, you won’t find surfing at the Progreso Mexico beaches. However, families can still spend a day playing in the waves. As with any public space in Mexico, you’ll find hawkers walking along the beach selling things like snacks, fruit, or bracelets.

The Malecón, Progreso’s beachfront boardwalk, borders the main beach in Progreso. It runs from the corner of Calle 19 and Calle 80, and ends at Calle 60. The paved boardwalk is wide, so there’s plenty of room for families to stroll and enjoy the ocean views.

Along the Malecón, you’ll find a large selection of Progreso restaurants, many of them selling seafood. So after spending an afternoon at the beach, you can head over to the restaurants along the Malecon for dinner. The prices will be fairly inflated, due to the location. But if you want dining with a beach view, then this is the spot.

Boogie boarding at Progreso beach

3. Progreso Activities | Enjoy La Ria Progreso

For families looking for low key water activities, renting kayaks with La Ria Progreso is a must! La Ria Progreso is located along Calle 37, east of highway 261. The dock leads into the mangrove forest, located southwest of Progreso.

Families can rent kayaks to explore the mangroves. Kayak rentals are hourly, at 100 pesos for singles and 200 pesos for doubles. Families can also rent paddleboards for 250 pesos per hour. Life jackets are available for adults and kids of all sizes.

Kayaking at La Ria Progreso

4. Progreso Activities | Visit Reserva Ecológica El Corchito

To the south of Progreso is Reserva Ecológica El Corchito (also known as El Corchito Ecological Reserve in English) where you will see cenotes for swimming. Cenotes are sinkholes in limestone bedrock that are filled with fresh water. These natural pools can be found all over the Yucatán peninsula. During Mayan times, they were used for sources of drinking water.

There are three main cenotes at the biosphere reserve of El Corchito, ranging from less than 1 meter (around 3 feet) deep to over 2 meters deep (around 6 feet). There is also a small cenote, roughly 2 meters (6 feet) in diameter that is exclusively for dipping your feet in. The fish in this particular cenote like to nibble the dead skin off your feet! 

Reserva Ecologica El Corchito is open every day, from 9am to 4pm. The entrance to the reserve is located on Calle 27, near the roundabout on Calle 46. From the entrance, you take a boat across the estuary into the reserve. Admission to El Corchito costs 90 pesos (roughly $4.50 USD) for adults, and 35 pesos (roughly $1.75 pesos) for children, making it an affordable option for a cenote Progreso Mexico experience

Enjoying an afternoon at El Corchio

5. Progreso Activities | Experience Laguna Rosada

Laguna Rosada gets its name from the red hue of its waters. This red coloring comes from the algae that live in the lagoon. Flamingos like to come to this lake to feed on the algae. 

You can rent kayaks to explore the mangroves at Laguna Rosada through Reserva Ecológica Sayalchaltun. Or you can take a guided boat tour of the lake. Rates start from 100 pesos (roughly $5 USD) per hour. The reserve is open every day from 7am to 4pm.

Alternatively, you can take a visit to the traditional salt ponds of Laguna Rosada. Workers harvest pink salt from shallow pools fed from the lake. You can purchase a package of locally harvested Mexican pink salt for 10 pesos (roughly $.50 USD) a package.

The salt ponds at Laguna Rosada

6. Progreso Activities | Visit Zona Arqueológica Xcambo

Nearby to Laguna Rosada is the Progreso Mayan ruins found at Zona Arqueologica Xcambo. Located less than 30 minutes away from Progreso, this site was a former commercial port city within the Mayan empire. 

The Xcambo site is small, but there are several pyramid structures to see surrounding an open space. Xcambo is open every day from 8am to 5pm. The fee for Xcambo is 75 pesos (roughly $3.75 USD) per adult. Children under 13 are free.

Mayan pyramid structures at Xcambo

7. Progreso Activities | Visit Zona Arqueologica de Chichen Itza

Chichén Itzá is an archaeological site in Yucatan and one of the most visited locations in Mexico due to its close proximity to Cancun. It’s classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

From Progreso, Chichen Itza is roughly 98 miles (158 kilometers) and takes about two and a half hours to drive there by car. Chichen Itza is open every day from 8am to 5pm. Entrance fee to Chichén Itzá is 498 pesos (roughly $25 USD) for foreign visitors.

8. Progreso Activities | Visit Zona Arqueológica de Dzibilchaltun

Families visiting Progreso don’t have to travel all the way to Chichen Itza to learn about Mayan history. Zona Arqueológica Dzibilchaltun, located just 25 kilometers south of Progreso, is a convenient place to learn about the history of the Mayans. 

Dating from as early as the late Precalssical period of Mayan history to the late Postclassical period, the main feature of the ruins complex is the Temple of the Seven Dolls. The Dzibilchaltun Museum, located near the ruin entrance, offers exhibits to help visitors learn more about the complex. There is also a cenote, called Cenote Xlacah, that visitors can visit during the weekdays.

Dzibilchaltun is open for visitors every day of the week from 8:30 or 9 am to 4 pm. Entrance to Dzibilchaltun is 231 pesos (roughly $12 USD) for foreigner adults, and 75 pesos (roughly $3.75) for kids. During your visit to Dzibilchaltun and other Mayan historical sites, remember to be responsible and respectful of the site, and follow the posted rules.

A temple at Dzibilchaltun

9. Progreso Activities | Spend a day at Uxmal and ChocoStory

Another archaeological site that you can’t miss is Uxmal. This site has one of the most representative architectures of the Puuc region. Uxmal is located 52 miles (84km) from Mérida and is open every day from 8am to 5pm. The fee to enter is 418 pesos (roughly $21 USD) per person. 

While visiting Uxmal, be sure to incorporate a visit to ChocoStory as well. This open air museum showcases the history of cacao and also shows how cacao is consumed in Mexico. Families will get a chance to taste traditional Mexican cacao.

If you’re renting a car, you can visit Uxmal and ChocoStory on your own. Alternatively, you can book Uxmal tours from Progreso through tour companies in Progreso, like this one:

Uxmal and ChocoStory Private Tour

Pyramid at Uxmal

10. Progreso Activities | Take a day trip to Mérida

For a taste of history and culture, as you’re thinking of things to do in Progreso, head south to the city of Mérida. Just a 30 or 40 minute drive from Progreso, Mérida has no shortage of activities for families

A city of over 600,000 people, Mérida has a large selection of restaurants, parks, and museums for families to visit. There are also several neighborhood markets and shopping malls to visit in the area, so you can experience both traditional and modern Mexican culture. Getting to Mérida is easy via highway 261.

If you have a big appetite and are in the mood for a little walking, be sure to book this tour: 

Mérida Street Food Walking Tour

A historic house in Merida

11. Progreso Activities | See flamingos at Celestún

Another exciting excursion to take from Progreso is a visit to Celestún, on the western coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. A visit to the Reserva de la Biosfera Ria Celestún will give you the chance to see wild flamingos!

Celestún is about an hour and a half drive from Progreso. Just after you cross the bridge to enter the town of Celestún on highway 281, you’ll see a tourist stop where you can rent boats to explore the estuary and see the flamingos. Boat rentals cost 1,800 peso and come with a guide. 

The boat ride takes you around the estuary, to give you an up close and personal view of the flamingos. Like Laguna Rosada near Progreso, the estuary near Celestún is filled with red algae that makes the water look pink. This is also what gives the flamingos their bright pink hue. We loved seeing these magnificent birds in person and in the wild! 

If you want to have a knowledgeable guide, book this tour to Celestun from Merida:

Celestun Nature Reserve Flamingo Tour

Flamingos in Celestun

12. Progreso Activities | Enjoy Progreso Mexico kitesurfing and paddleboarding with AlphaSports 

Located on Calle 29, between Calle 132 and Calle 128, AlphaSports offers paddleboarding tours and rentals. They also offer private kiteboarding classes starting at 1,200 pesos (roughly $60 USD) per hour per person. 

For those renting paddleboards, rentals start at 750 pesos (roughly $37.50 USD) per hour. For an additional fee, AlphaSports can arrange delivery of the paddleboard to where you are staying, allowing you to rent for the whole day. If you’re staying on a beachfront property, this is a good option, as it allows families to enjoy paddleboarding for a whole afternoon.

Looking to explore more of the Yucatan peninsula? Read our Yucatan posts.

Paddleboarding in Progreso

Getting to know Progreso with all these Progreso activities

Progreso is more than just a pass-through town or a cruise ship stop. It’s a bonafide tourist destination! During your visit to Progreso, you will most certainly be able to fill your time with things to do! Though the city is small, it’s packed with Progreso activities that will make your stay worthwhile. 

Even if you don’t have that much time to spend on your vacations, you can still enjoy a visit to Progreso. Pick your favorites from this list of Progreso activities and start planning your own family trip. And don’t forget to enjoy the beach!

Have you visited Progreso, Mexico? What were your favorite Progreso activities, Progreso excursions, and tours in Progreso? Share your experiences on our Facebook page.

Want more beach destinations in Mexico? Take a read through these posts:

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