Some Thoughts on Progreso

A recent post on TripAdvisor from someone who visited Progreso and didn’t like it, prompted me to write an answer, but the answer became longer and longer so I am posting it here instead, as a little article that should fit nicely into the neurotic rant category that my website/blog has become famous for.

The original post:


4. Re: Day trip from a cruise, need advice on what to do

Feb 13, 2014, 11:05 PM

Just got back from there today. Was not impressed with progreso as a port in general. Not really a “tourist” port in my opinion.

First thing u see is military people with guns and dogs. Very few shops. No beaches or any typical fun stuff.

I did go see the ruins and really enjoyed that. But if your not interested in ruins there’s not much else to do.

Drove thru Progreso and it didn’t look very nice. Didn’t look like a place u would want to be after dark. Lol

I got to see some of the ruins, took lots of pics and learned some history but will not go back to that port again.


While I am no lover of Progreso and agree it needs help, I should point out a few things:

1. It is not a postcard beach resort for tourists but it is a beach and thousands of Yucatecos and others from around Mexico enjoy it every weekend and holiday, and especially in the summer. Physically it is similar to the beach in Galveston; both are on the Gulf of Mexico with sand that is off white, waters that range from turquoise to green-gray and the potential for seaweed in certain areas. To say that there is no beach is ridiculous and might mislead some readers to think that Progreso is somehow inland and not where the water meets the land, which is the definition of a shoreline which in this case is sandy, which is the definition of the term “beach”.

2. Military and guns are on the federally controlled pier, yes. Unfortunately, due to demand from the societies to Mexico’s north that for some reason are so unhappy and miserable that they need to get stoned just to get by, there is a drug war going on, as suppliers rush to fill a demand; real capitalism at work. Ideally, this should make certain more strident elements of US politics happy, as unfettered capitalism is the goal, but no, not in this case. So, soldiers are needed to make sure that drugs are not moving in and out of these entry points. I understand that it is unusual for citizens of the land of the free to see soldiers and guns, but other places around the world see them all the time, and in this case you can blame your crack smoking neighbors back home.

3. Typical fun stuff. What does that even mean? If it is typical fun stuff you are looking for, don’t leave the ship (or the all inclusive), where things are predictable, experiences are typical and will not challenge your sense of how the world should be.

4. Visiting the ruins is exactly why Carnival stops at Progreso. The idea is to get people to see something truly magnificent, like Uxmal or Chichen; or Dzibilchaltun even. There are however, more things to do in the area, from exploring cenotes to exploring markets, sampling food, visiting the colonial center of Merida, over 450 years old and so much more.

5. Progreso definitely needs a facelift and a major one at that. The town is dusty and dilapidated and very rough around the edges, which might give one impression that you would not want to be there after dark. I can personally vouch for the safety of anyone in Progreso after dark, where your biggest danger – unlike getting shot or mugged in a port city north of the border – might be getting hit on by a drunken old man who wants to both flirt and practice his limited English, or twisting an ankle on the uneven sidewalks. Progreso is very safe, in spite of its run-down look.

13 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Progreso

  1. Well done, Sr. Lawson. And I just clicked on the Tripadvisor link you provided, and you will be happy to know that someone has responded appropriately to this person’s uninformed comment 🙂

  2. Hi WL, I also take exception to the whiny critic who did not like Progeso when said whiny critic referred to the sacred Mayan sites as ‘ruins’. Obviously, the whiny critic needs a few history lessons as well as some lessons in how other cultures live. Can’t possibly imagine what type of ‘fun’ the whiny critic was looking for. . .I shudder to think!

  3. well that is weird. wonder how Merida had their first triathlon with the swim portion out there (and the first triathlon of the national circuit) without a beach to swim from? 🙂 I’ve only ever been to Progreso via bike but had no problem finding the beach…

  4. Whom ever it was who didn’t find enough fun… Go to San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua…a formerly beautiful fishing village that has a vibrant night life for tourists and spats alike.. But has lost its soul somehow….

    I on the other hand, want to be in the place thus described, or the surrounding area.
    I fell in love with Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico. I would sell our home here in the Okanagan/ BC Canada now , but my husband is not as keen and not yet retired. I am retired and want to see what living in the Yucatan is like. I turned 60 yesterday and gifted myself 3 months to find out. I am looking to home share with a family or an audacious woman of my age living in a beach community close to Merida. Where should I post my request for best result?

  5. Hi Joyce! I would recommend you posting on both TripAdvisor Merida Forum and also YoListo, an expat online hangout with participation from a lot of people on the beach. There is also the option of Mexico Amigos, a Facebook group here in Merida.

    Hope this helps!!

  6. You nailed it WL. When I first moved to Progreso it did look a little shabby and even scary but I soon began to see past the mold and peeling paint to the true beauty of the place. Magnificent beach homes, charming little Mexican bungalows, flowers and cacti everywhere. And very, very, safe. If Joyce is interested we have a lovely little casita for rent on our property where she could explore the Yucatan or just kick back and relax by the pool. Check it out at We are a newly retired Canadian couple ourselves and are happily living the Yucatecan dream!

  7. I’m planning on visiting Progreso. I’ve seen several pictures of their beaches and it seems their waters are greenish in color, not turquoise like the waters in the Cancun side. Is this correct?

  8. That is correct. Progreso is on the Gulf of Mexico, while Cancun is in the Caribbean. Different body of water.

  9. I’d say the ankle-twisting thing is really the most dangerous thing after dark in Progreso.
    I have to say, I’m enjoying looking at your reviews.
    It’s interesting to see a “foreigner’s” point of view.

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