Progreso is a city in the state of Yucatán, Mexico, on the Gulf of Mexico on the northwest coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. The city was founded in 1811 as a port for exporting sisal (henequén) fiber from the Yucatán haciendas. It has a long heritage of fishing as well as shipping. Now numbering 37,000 inhabitants, Progreso has experienced growth due to its presence on some cruise line stops in Mexico, and is now a favorite destination for locals and tourists.
The earliest Mayan settlements on the site date back to the 1st century CE, when the city was known as Xcambó. The city was dominated by nearby Izamal, and was most populated from the Early Classic Period until the 6th century CE. The primary economic activity at that time was salt extraction.
Progreso is 30 minutes from Merida by car, by Federal Highway 261.
1 Auto-Progreso (Calle 29 No 151 between 80 and 82) operates frequent second-class buses from Merida to Progreso seven days per week, with buses running approximately every 10 minutes from 05:15 to 22:15 or later, depending on the season and passenger demand. The bus journey takes about 55 minutes.
- 1 Muelle Altura Progreso (Progreso Pier). The 6-km pier, the longest in the world, due to the shallow water on the Yucatan coast, has made Progreso the most important port for the export of Yucatan's products and visiting cruise ships. By law, you can't enter the pier, but try to ask the Customs officials.
- 2 Xcambó Archaeological Site (2km E of Progreso). Because of the relatively long period of occupation, some pre-Columbian ruins are still visible here, right by the coastal road. The site consists of two plazas surrounded by numerous buildings, ten of them large. Especially notable are the Pyramid of the Crosses and the Pyramid of Masks. Today the location is a pilgrimage destination, due to a legend that the Virgin Mary once appeared here.
- 3 Uaymitún (just E of town en route to Chicxulub Puerto). There is a small flamingo colony located here. If you don't manage to get to Celestún you might still be lucky and see a few here.
- Enjoy the beach.
- Sometimes in the winter there are dolphins near the entrance to the lagoon (3 km north of town center.
- There are sailboats going to Arrecife Alacranes nature reserve 110 km NNW (2-day trip)- several tiny coral islands, lighthouse, you stay on the boat overnight. Diving, snorkeling.
- There's a wreck in only 15 m depth sunk by accident on his way further northwest to become an artificial reef for divers. Enquire in Progreso or Chelem just west.
- Remember: Chicxulub - 20 km southwest (not Puerto) was impact point of the giant meteorite many scientists believe eradicated dinosaurs along with 90% other species some 65 millions years ago. The diameter of the crater is some 180 km.
- Dzibilchaltún is a Mayan ruin some 25 km south - during the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sun shines through the window of the main "Temple of the Seven Dolls". While the site and structures are not nearly as massive as Chichen Itza, it's still beautiful and very peaceful since there are no vendors all over the place hawking souvenirs like at Chichen Itza. There is also a cool cenote sinkhole where you can swim, and a small museum. Tours are offered in English and Spanish, or you may wander the site on your own. You can reach Dzibilchaltún via bus, or rent a motor scooter in Progreso.
Local jewelers in the market place will make jewelry according to your specifications. Opposite to market place to the west there's an artisan market whenever a cruise ship arrives.
Fresh raw seafood, either fish or crab or mix. Served cold, little spicy, with lemon. Eat it only till noon, as locals do, who also say it is good for treating hangovers.
Ask locals for a house to rent. The west side is cheaper as there it is where the locals live. Many houses are rented only for holidays, so bargain hard.
- Hotel Casa Isidora, Calle 21 No 116 (Between Calles 58 and 60), ☏ . Rooms with 2 double beds, US$55 including continental breakfast.
- 1 Progreso Beach Hotel, 68 por 66, Calle 21, ☏ .
Cenotes are caves with the "roof" collapsed. They are filled with crystal-clear water and connected to a underground river system that runs all through the Yucatan. Ask locals where you can swim & explore one.