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Bay of Campeche and Ciudad del Carmen: A Complete Guide

  • Joel CZ 
  • 11 min read
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The peaceful beaches of the Bay of Campeche have an attraction that few places of this nature can offer today, such as a clean and almost untouched environment.

Here, it is possible to observe an infinity of migratory and resident birds (ducks, herons, flamingos, and ospreys), nests of hawksbill sea turtles, and marine animals such as dolphins.

Campeche’s underwater world is an extraordinary demonstration of life.

Divers and researchers marvel at the sandbanks, ridges, rocky cliffs, meadows, and coral reef plains that form part of underwater gardens of an unusual variety of shapes and colors, part of the hidden treasure of the Bay of Campeche.

176 kms correspond to nine turtle camps, distributed in four of the six coastal municipalities.

The state of Campeche has a coastline 425 km long and is a national leader in terms of environmental protection, with more than 60 percent of that length under some protection regimes.

Turtle release is an impressive spectacle for the observer and an unparalleled experience for those involved in the fight against the extinction of the species.

In 2000, almost half a million hawksbill and white turtle hatchlings were released.

Enjoy the beaches around the Bay of Campeche

bay of campeche
Source: Jess Kraft / shutterstock.com

So, are there nice beaches in Campeche? Of course!

A few kilometers from the capital city are the beaches of San Lorenzo, Mar Azul, and Champotón, and a little further south, Sabancuy, the latter with excellent tourist potential due to its natural charm and incomparable climate all year round.

Water sports enthusiasts can go skiing, sailing, canoeing, and pedal boating on the beaches.

You can also participate in sportfishing tournaments and take excursions through the mangroves, where extraordinary experiences can be had, such as unexpectedly coming across a lizard or a raccoon or spotting herons and different varieties of ducks.

In Ciudad del Carmen, known as the “Pearl of the Gulf,” the beaches are bathed by warm waters that lull you with gentle waves.

Among them are Bahamitas, Norte, Manigua, Bilbao, and Puerto Real, where you can also practice various water sports.

Los Petenes and Ría Celestún natural protected areas are located in the northern and southern ends of the state.

These biosphere reserves cover the coastal zone that goes from the state capital to beyond the limits of Yucatan and constitutes a paradise for ecotourism lovers, Mexicans, and foreign visitors.

The Laguna de Términos, which includes the municipalities of Carmen and Palizada on the border with Tabasco, is a specific example of the environmental vocation of the state.

Let’s now review some of the most important beaches in Campeche:

Isla Arena, Campeche

The journey to Isla Arena (red triangle on the map), although a little rugged, will allow you to appreciate some mangrove landscapes and extensive flooded areas inhabited by many seabirds.

In the town of Isla Arena, you will find small beaches and a long dock from where it is possible to watch the fishing activity or rent a boat to tour the nearby places.

In the surrounding waters, you can catch barracuda, red snapper, bonefish, and amberjack, among others.

Carlos and Caridad are a couple interested in the behavior of reptiles and mangroves. They manage the Wotoch Aayin La Casa del Cocodrilo.

After struggling for years to get permission to establish a Wildlife Conservation Management Unit (UMA), they finally managed to get a crocodile farm.

They have all sizes, a swimming pool, and seven rooms, and in their restaurant, you can try cocktails and ceviches, onion snail, Mexican fried octopus, snapper, snook, and boquinetes.

The specialty of the house is grilled crocodile, with garlic dip or butter.

In Isla Arena, there are four species of mangrove: white, red, black, and botoncillo.

Its coast is made of mud, so swimming in this place is almost impossible, but the natural spectacle that awaits when you get on a boat makes getting into the sea the least important thing.

Other things to do in Isla Arena, Campeche

By boat, you can visit both the Isla Arena estuary and Ría Celestún, a little further north and shared with the state of Yucatán.

The ocean mixes with freshwater in these estuaries, and there are ecosystems where petenes and pink flamingos proliferate.

A boat trip takes you to the Kan Balam river sandy area where you can swim, and then you can visit a petrified forest, which is a peten that was eroded after a hurricane hit it.

The extensive mangroves on its surface dried up, and the soil’s salinity hardened its dead trunks.

This boat also stops at the salt hacienda known as Real de Salinas, where large quantities of salt used to be extracted.

In Isla Arena, there is a place dedicated to evoking the icon of the golden age of Mexican cinema.

The API Museum to Pedro Infante was built by the Integral Port Administration (API) because, in the 1940s, Pedro Infante flew to this corner, landed in his plane, ate fish, sang, and chatted with the locals.

This special place stands on the seashore, next to the lighthouse, with a small dock on one side.

The museum also has information about the municipality of Calkiní, a couple of figurines of the island of Jaina, and the history of Hacienda Tankuché.

Other cards tell about the flora and fauna of the region, as well as carpentry and hairdressing tools and a replica of a guitar.

Isla Aguada, Campeche

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Isla Aguada, Campeche – Source: Lev Levin / Shutterstock.com

Due to its proximity to the eastern sector of the Laguna de Términos, the Magical Town of Isla Aguada offers many possibilities for fun.

It has attractive beaches facing the Gulf of Mexico and beautiful mangrove environments in the lagoon portion.

The trip around Laguna de Términos begins at the Isla Aguada dock, a beautiful wooden construction where you can appreciate the beautiful sunsets.

Once on the boat, you will discover the Natural Dolphin Sanctuary, there are many dolphins, and many times they jump around the boat, an experience that can only be lived here.

You can also take a tour of the mangroves of the Sabancuy estuary or dedicate some time to sport fishing.

This body of water is full of life, with shrimp and sharks, manatees and mullets that come to spawn.

The Isla de Pájaros, an islet made of mangroves where birds of all colors rest and coexist, is also worth visiting.

There are ashy and white herons, storks and pelicans, elegant golden-legged herons, and curious boot-billed or spoon-billed herons with high crests.

Isla Aguada lighthouse

A pair of lighthouses are part of the urban landscape of Isla Aguada. Recently remodeled, the lighthouse no longer functions as such, and in its place is the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

You will see accumulated photos of underwater findings: remains of ships, anchors, and cannons. A rudder hangs on one wall, and images of other Campeche lighthouses.

There is a mural with the things that matter to Isla Aguada, like the new striped watchman and the tourist pier; on the second floor is the Public Library.

Lerma Campeche

Bathed by the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, these beaches are visited by locals looking for a bit of rest on weekends.

There you will find various services and perfect places to enjoy regional food.

Bahamitas Beach, Campeche

This is a natural area of singular beauty, with crystalline waters, fine sands, and tropical trees making up multiple color shades.

In its waters, you can find vast schools of snails, shells, clams, and starfish, and it is an ideal place for swimming, diving, skiing, windsurfing, and sport fishing.

Playa Bonita, Campeche

It is a quiet beach; its fine sand and gentle waves make it ideal for water and beach sports such as skiing and volleyball.

It has changing rooms, parking, and restaurants offering seafood specialties. It is the closest beach to Campeche city.

Seybaplaya, Bay of Campeche

Along almost three kilometers of extension, visitors can venture for numerous corners discovered between big rocks and white sand, ideal for spending the day and contemplating a beautiful sunset.

These beaches are one of the favorite places for the locals of the Bay of Campeche to enjoy the weekend.

It is possible to practice sport fishing and catch specimens of jack mackerel, snapper, and grunt in the surrounding waters.

Caracol Beach, Campeche

Quiet beaches with gentle waves and bathed by the waters of the Laguna de Términos. In its surroundings are colorful landscapes populated by mangroves.

Si Ho Playa, Campeche

Another splendid place to enjoy the white sandy beaches and gentle waves. The surrounding area offers promising opportunities to enjoy the scenery and sunsets.

Ciudad del Carmen Campeche: Things to do and see

bay of campeche
Source: Lev Levin / shutterstock.com

Ciudad del Carmen, located in the state of Campeche, is also known as the oil city

It takes its name from Carmen’s virgin, which was celebrated on July 16, 1717.

It is an island where you can find incredible coastal landscapes with outdoor sports activities, dishes with a wide variety of seafood, a hot climate, and a large expanse of mangroves.

Ciudad del Carmen Downtown

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Source: Rodolfo I Cambranis / shutterstock.com

In downtown, you will find the church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, whose roof is covered in mahogany wood and an altar made of pink marble.

A few meters away, crossing the seven de Agosto Civic Plaza and the city park, you will find the city’s boardwalk, a habitat of countless species, such as seagulls, pelicans, and even dolphins.

You can appreciate the statue “Stella Maris,” a monument of the Virgin of Carmen which measures 12 meters and is placed on the sea at 25 meters high, the scene of magnificent and contrasting sunsets.

Nearby, you will find the city market “Alonso Felipe de Andrade” and the Handicrafts Market, where you can find typical region products where you can buy a simple keychain, clothing, accessories, paintings, and home decor items, among others.

Try the food

If you get hungry, there is “La Puntilla,” an area full of seafood restaurants with great variety; they can offer you breaded fish stuffed with shrimp, ceviches and aguachile, crab legs, fried fish, and much more.

Puente Zacatal

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Zacatal Bridge. Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche – Source: Rodolfo I Cambranis / shutterstock.com

The Zacatal Bridge stands out within La Puntilla, almost 4 km long, making it the longest bridge in Mexico.

It is one of the busiest for all kinds of vehicles because it is the entrance to the Yucatan Peninsula. It is worth mentioning that you must cross some bridges to the city.

“El Zacatal” takes you to the neighboring state of Tabasco, while to go to Campeche city, you must pass through the “Puente de la Unidad” where the beach that borders is “Punta San Julian” mentioned above.

Despite its marine landscapes, you can also find shopping malls in different city points, with self-service and department stores.

And to enjoy the nightlife in addition to the places in Playa Norte, Ciudad del Carmen has Concordia Avenue full of restaurants and several clubs with vintage and minimalist styles.

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