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Vamonos to Mexico » Travel Guide » El Cuyo Yucatan: A Secret Paradise in the Southern Peninsula

El Cuyo Yucatan: A Secret Paradise in the Southern Peninsula

  • Joel CZ 
  • 8 min read
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Between Quintana Roo and Yucatán, in the municipality of Tizimín, stretches a quiet white sand beach. El Cuyo Yucatan is a turquoise-colored paradise not on the map of most travelers who live outside the Yucatan Peninsula.

Its ocean has gentle waves and a magical color, very similar to that of the Mexican Caribbean.

This beautiful, uncrowded beach is located within the Ria Lagartos Natural Park, declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Although it is a protected area, there are areas where adventure and ecotourism activities are allowed.

Mangroves whose water channels change color depending on the time of year, a red lagoon, and hundreds of pink flamingos are part of this unique tropical landscape in Mexico.

El Cuyo Yucatan, a fishing village, and the watchful lighthouse

el cuyo yucatan
Aerial shot of El Cuyo – Source: Schaub /

The beach gets its name from the port of El Cuyo, a tiny village of colorful wooden houses, streets dusted with white sand that you can explore on foot or aboard a golf cart, and walls painted with murals depicting life in this region.

If you wish to spend a few days in this destination, there are cabins and very small hotels. Every morning the villagers get up very early to take advantage of the high tide and go fishing in their boats.

In El Cuyo stands a lighthouse. Below it lies a pre-Hispanic treasure: Mayan ruins covered by nature. From the top of the lighthouse, you can get a panoramic view of the beach.

You must obtain a special permit; go to the community, and they will guide you. Their hours are Monday to Sunday, from 10 am to 1 pm. There is no entrance fee, but some rules apply, and the time of stay is limited.

Rent a bike to ride around town and visit the murals made by local artists

cuyo yucatan
Source: Gerardo C.Lerner /

El Cuyo beach enchants any traveler looking for natural, rustic, and secluded scenery. Its calm turquoise blue waters in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico (yes, technically, it’s part of the Gulf) are ideal for swimming.

This destination invites you to sunbathe and relax. Among the white sand, you can still find small seashells and conchs.

In addition, all year round the sky is filled with more than 250 species of birds.

From January to September, pink flamingos can be seen in El Cuyo. Sea turtles lay their eggs on this beach during June and August.

Things to do at El Cuyo Yucatan beach

Beginners or experienced kitesurfers will be able to practice kitesurfing. If you have never practiced this activity, you can take a lesson.

The strength of the wind in this last corner of Yucatán provides favorable conditions to do it: you get on a board, hold a handlebar that connects to the kite, and the fun begins: gliding at full speed on the water.

Another activity offered at this beach is paddle boarding, where the strength of your legs, abdomen, and balance will be your best allies to paddle standing on a board.

Sea kayaking doesn’t require experience and is much more relaxed. You can rent it for one or two people.

The red lagoon

Next to the beach, Ria Lagartos stretches out. The white sand is replaced by palm trees, ceibas (the sacred tree of the Mayas), and mangroves.

A red lagoon was formed in this reserve, which separates Yucatan from Quintana Roo. Its color is due to the large amounts of salt it contains.

There is no other place in Mexico where the landscape combines the reddish tonality of this body of water, the green of the jungle, the turquoise blue of the sea, and the pink color of the brackish lagoons Las Coloradas, very close to El Cuyo.

The food in El Cuyo Yucatan

The typical food at El Cuyo beach is seafood and fresh fish. But, Yucatecan antojitos such as cochinita pibil, baked tamales, and sopa de lima (lime soup) also win in the popular restaurants near the beach.

Your visit to El Cuyo beach is not complete until you visit El Chile Gordo, chef Oscar Flores’ restaurant. His dishes enhance the cuisine of Yucatecan and other regions of Mexico.

Every detail, from the food to the décor, is carefully considered. Organic shapes abound, and everything is a tribute to the town’s origins.    

What to visit near El Cuyo beach

Lagartos Estuary

This place has an extension of 80 kilometers, covering three Yucatan municipalities: San Felipe, Rio Lagartos, and a part of Tizimín.

Ría Lagartos was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1979 because of the abundance of birds, crocodiles, and other animal species that live in the area. 

If you are looking for relaxation and nature, this place is perfect. Hire the services of a boat to tour the mangroves.

Of all the birds you can see here, the pink flamingo takes the spotlight. It is said that this estuary has received more than 20,000 birds in one year.

San Felipe Yucatan

el cuyo yucatan
Boats at sunset in San Felipe, Yucatan – Source: HazaelGonzalez /

Eight kilometers from the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve is the fishing port of San Felipe Yucatan with deep-rooted traditions.

It is believed that this island was part of an important trade route to Chichen Itza.

The food par excellence is fish and seafood. From there, you can take a boat ride to Cerritos Island, a tiny island in the Gulf of Mexico occupied by Mayan traders, who added 120 square meters of land (chinampa style).

It is possible to go down and take a walk. In addition to the Mayan relics, you can go bird watching.


el cuyo yucatan
Beautiful deserted beach – Source: Pernelle Voyage /

Playa Cancunito or Cancuncito is rated by many as one of the most beautiful virgin beaches in Yucatan.

It is also located in the municipality of Rio de Lagartos, 30 minutes from El Cuyo. Its white sand is soft, the waves are calm, and its waters are crystal clear as if you were in the Mexican Caribbean.

There are no stores, hotels, or restaurants to preserve its natural environment. You can visit it, swim in the sea, bring an umbrella and food.

Hotels in El Cuyo Yucatan

  • Hotel Casa Cielo: The establishment has an outdoor pool, garden and terrace. It has an approximate cost of $2124 MXN. per night
  • Costa Esmeralda: These are apartments with sofa bed, kitchenette, bathroom, and a bedroom. cost approx. $2124 MXN. per night
  • Casa Mate BeachFront Cabañas El Cuyo: offers beachfront accommodations a few steps from El Cuyo beach and has several facilities such as restaurant, bar and garden. It is priced at approx. $900 MXN per night
  • Casa Cuyo Hotel, Restaurant & Hostel: 300 meters from El Cuyo beach, and offers a restaurant, garden and garden views. It is priced at $500 MXN. per night
  • Luna Arena Boutique Beach Hotel Yucatán: It is a charming beach apartment built respecting nature, and is located in El Cuyo, between the ocean, the lagoon and the jungle

How to get to El Cuyo

  • From Playa del Carmen to El Cuyo: You will have to take the bus from the station to Chiquila, this trip takes about 1:30 minutes. Then take a cab from Chiquila to Cuyo
  • Cancun to Cuyo: You will take the bus from the station to Kantunilkin Merida and from there you will take the bus to Colonia Yucatan and finally you will take a bus to Cuyo, this trip takes about 3:00 hours
  • Merida to Cuyo: take the bus from Terminal ADO Merida TAME to Tizimin Terminal Autobuses Noreste Cancun. Then take the bus from Tizimín to El Cuyo

Other places to visit near by

vamonos to mexico
Holbox Island – Source: zstock /

I recommend that you take advantage of your trip to this place and visit Holbox, which will give you some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mexican Caribbean, known for its ultra-turquoise waters.

You can also go to Valladolid or visit any of the beautiful little beach towns on the Gulf side like Sisal, Santa Lucía, Santa Ana, San Juan, and Candelaria, each with its personality.

Furthermore, you can visit Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, etc. since the proximity to these destinations is very close to El Cuyo.

As you can see, El Cuyo is really charming, but it’s too bad (or maybe not) that it is still not fully known.

In order to support the people in this town that live from tourism, please share this article so that more travelers know about this hidden treasure. Muchas gracias!

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