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Mexico Yucatan

The charm of El Cuyo: no one comes here

If you study Google Maps and head off the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, El Cuyo might just catch your eye. It lies alone on a peninsula, between the beach and mangrove. You would immediately embrace the village because of its location. Holbox is close by, but that has already been described in detail on all kinds of blogs. Not El Cuyo. This town has hardly been discovered by tourists, which is quite crazy. According to many, El Cuyo resembles the Tulum of ten or fifteen years ago: immaculate and pure.

So head to this quiet fishing village in the Ría Lagartos National Park, where there are only a few places to spend the night and only a few restaurants where you can eat. Where the streets are not yet paved and where you have the beach to yourself. Stroll across the pier on your own. At the entrance of the pier, the locals drink their beers. El Cuyo is not a secret, but simply not yet discovered by the masses.

Between sea and mangrove

The only road leading to here crosses the mangrove. Overtaking at high tide is not a good idea: the road remains above water, but that’s all. And yes, crocodiles live here, so it’s good to stay on the road. Ria Lagartos is known for the thousands of pink flamingos, but also for the sea turtles and sea birds.

The village of El Cuyo

This village itself is actually no more than the wide beach, which is almost always empty. Only 1700 people live in this fishing village and if you offer some pesos, you can definitely join them. But what El Cuyo is best known for is its water sports. Like kitesurfing.

El Cuyo car tries to turn on mangrove
It’s not smart to try to turn around on this road. The mangrove is always close and it may be with crocodiles 😉

Beach houses

This place is not completely without tourists. Many Mexicans have a second (beach) house here. These are fairly simple huts, so don’t expect villas here. Keep an eye on Air Bnb for special offers. A word of warning: there is hardly any internet here. So peaceful. In short: there is hardly anything to do in here. Pelicans watch over the pier.

  • El Cuyo on the pier
  • El Cuyo sunrise beach
  • El Cuyo posing on the pier

Water sports

This place was once ‘discovered’ by kite surfers, who found a perfect spot here and have never left. The water here can be calm but also restless, ideal for practicing this sport. The best thing to do is pop into Naia Café. Here you can get more information about classes. Beach clubs do not exist here (yet).

Wildlife

You regularly see dolphins here, especially in the evenings. Ask the fishermen for the exact times when you have the best chance of seeing them. They always know how to tell it flawlessly, although that is of course no guarantee. A nice idea is to swim in the mangroves in the Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protection Area. Birdwatching is also fun here: there are more than 400 species, which is the largest number in all of Yucatan. Rent a kayak and trek up the mangrove. It takes about two hours and a nice recommendation is to do it around sunrise or around sunset.

El Cuyo beach
Lots of birds above the sea

Stay and eat

During our stay, we slept in Casa Cuyo , including a restaurant. The owners here are extremely friendly and the hotel is excellent as well. From here you can easily walk everywhere. We had dinner at La Conchita, breakfast at La Negrita. The latter is especially recommended.

How do you get to El Cuyo?

By car is easy: there is only one road to El Cuyo and it is called: El Cuyo. Using public transport is more complicated. There are no direct buses from the major cities. You will have to go to Tizimin first. ADO connects Tizimin with Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. From Tizimin you take a bus with bus company NORESTE. There are six buses a day to the village, at 6:45, 9:00, 12:00, 13:30, 16:30, and 18:00.

  • El Cuyo beach
  • El Cuyo bird flying
  • El Cuyo on the beach

The Pink Lakes: Las Coloradas

Not recommended as far as I’m concerned, but I’ll call it Las Coloradas, or: the Pink Lakes. After all, you will often hear them when you go to El Cuyo or to Ría Lagartos. There is a pink lake nearby, which gets this color from organisms such as algae, plankton, and brine shrimp. However, the lake is surrounded by industry, because there is plenty of salt production.

I don’t think it has any charm because of this. It is even said that these factories add a little more pink to the rivers, to make it more interesting for tourists. The salt flat itself is of course interesting, although it contrasts sharply with, for example, the world-famous salt flats of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.

The road to Las Coloradas can be in particularly bad shape after rainfall, so it’s advisable to check in advance if you don’t have a 4WD. That road is therefore also nice: you can get off everywhere and walk to a completely deserted beach. There really isn’t anyone here at all. And that is exactly the charm of El Cuyo.

By Steven van Beek

Steven van Beek ('81) is a Dutch guy, living in Mexico City. I constantly find hidden places in Mexico and share this with you. I love to travel and discover beautiful places. Do you join me? Follow me on social media!

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