progreso-sunset-3

Progreso – Mexico – (Secret) Information


OCTOBER 2016:




Click here to read our Mexico Retirement Reviews.


OVERVIEW:

I made my way from Rio Lagartos to Progreso by public transport (local buses).

Rio Lagartos was a very quiet fishing village on Mexico’s northern coast with a nice estuary setting.rio-lagartos-waterfront-1

In Rio Lagartos, I stayed in a GRANDPAcking Standard hotel: the Punta Ponto.rio-lagartos-punta-ponto-frontage

Rio Lagartos accommodation is particularly expensive for GRANDPAckers; it is very hard to get accommodation for under US$40 / night.

I found the Punta going at a discounted rate of US$37 / night including breakfast. This was the most that I have paid for a room in the 2 years that I have been GRANDPAcking.rio-lagartos-punta-ponto-rooftop rio-lagartos-punta-ponto-furniture rio-lagartos-punta-ponto-vanity

However, I decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and pay this higher price because I wanted to go on the famous Flamingo Tour.rio-lagartos-trip-12 rio-lagartos-trip-28 rio-lagartos-trip-35

Both the Punta and the Flamingo Tour were disappointing.

In my opinion, Rio Lagartos does not deliver a good enough overall experience to warrant these prices.

It was time to head for Progreso. I planned to stay there for 3 nights.

I wanted to have a quick look at the beach town next to Merida before staying in Merida itself for the October Festival.


RIO LAGARTOS TO PROGRESO:

From the Punta it was a 100m walk to the Noreste Bus Terminal.

The Noreste buses leave from Rio Lagartos to Tizimin every 2 hours starting at 5:00am. I targeted the 11:00am bus. The price is MXP40.

At the same time, I also purchased my Noreste bus ticket from Tizimin to Merida for MXP165.rio-lagartos-tizimin-bus-to-rio-lagartos

The bus left Rio Lagartos on time and arrived in Tizimin at 11:55am. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with my onward ticket to Merida … it was hand written. So, I went to the ticket counter to ask for the time of the next bus to Merida. She took my hand-written ticket and provided me with a new one from the computer. The next bus left in 2 minutes at 12:00 noon. The longer distance buses are better quality buses.el-cuyo-bus-valladolid-to-tizimin

We arrived in Merida at 2:15pm.

The transport from Merida to Progreso does not leave from the same bus terminal. I was directed to another terminal about 5-7 blocks away.

I’m not sure if I found the right place, but I did find a Colectivo Terminal with Colectivos going to Progreso. The price was MXP16 and it left within 2 minutes of my arrival.

We arrived at the Progreso Bus Terminal at 3:00pm.progreso-bus-terminal

The Colectivo was comfortable enough for such a short trip.


ABOUT PROGRESO:

Progreso is located on the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula just 40-45kms north of Merida.progreso-location

Progreso is a port town. Progreso has a population of about 40,000.

Progreso is a center for both the fishing industry and the container industry. Containers arrive in Progreso and get distributed throughout the Yucatan peninsula.

Progreso is one of the newest ports for large cruise ships and an emerging ‘balneario’ resort destination. Cruise ships dock twice each week and swell the waterfront with tourists when they do.progreso-map

During the months of July and August the beaches fill with thousands of mostly local tourists, as it is traditional in these months for well-to-do residents of Mérida to leave the city and spend the summer in the cooler seaside environment.

Progreso (and the smaller coastal villages east and west of it) has a growing ex-pat community (mainly from the USA and Canada).


COMMUNICATIONS:

In Mexico, free internet is normally widely available in the restaurants and bars. Your accommodation almost always provides free internet too (quality can vary). In the bigger towns and tourist areas, this is reasonably reliable.

This normally means that you don’t need the usual GRANDPAcker 2GB monthly Mobile Phone Data Package; you should be able to get away with less data.progreso-sunset-1

Progreso is no exception; internet is generally available.

After my total frustration with Telcel, I was giving AT&T a try. I had NO SIGNAL problems in Mahahual, El Cuyo, and Rio Lagartos. In Progreso, the AT&T signal was good.


BEACHES:

immediately west of the Progreso pier the beach is being slowly eroded. The pier has affected sea currents. This beach area gathers a lot of debris and rubbish.

West of the pier is a favourite spot for the kite surfers.progreso-west-of-pier-1 progreso-west-of-pier-2 progreso-west-of-pier-5 progreso-west-of-pier-5b progreso-west-of-pier-6 progreso-west-of-pier-8 progreso-west-of-pier-9

East of the pier, the beach is cleaner and stretches for about 1.5 kms.progreso-beach-east-2progreso-end-of-east-beach

At the 1.5km mark, the coastline becomes a bit more ‘rugged’ with a lot of private houses down small sandy roads directly accessing the waterfront. progreso-eastern-beach-roadprogreso-coast-east-1 progreso-coast-east-2

During the winter months, the waters are clouded by the surf created by the northerly winds. In summer the waters clear and become calm … these are known to be safer waters than the Caribbean Coast (which can develop stronger undercurrents).

A walk down the Malecon (the beachfront road) is a pleasant one. Here you find the normal selection of restaurants and hotels laying out their (rented) loungers and serving food and drinks under palm leaf canopies.

Simply put, the Malecon traces the best part of the beach – which is about 1km long.progreso-malecon-roadprogreso-beach-huts progreso-sunset-2


WHERE TO STAY:

There are plenty of options for all budgets.

In Peak Season (December through May), Progreso becomes almost full and accommodation prices can almost double. At its peak, it is not unusual to pay US$900 / month for a small bedsit-type room with a small in-room kitchenette. July and August can, also, get very busy.

A general accommodation search for the 1st week of November (the last month of ‘Hurricane Season’ and the month immediately before Peak Season) reveals the following …

HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):

BOOKING.COM:booking-progreso
AGODA.COM:agoda-progreso
EXPEDIA:expedia-progreso

PLEASE NOTE: Hotel and Hostel search sites display prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You, usually, have to add 19% to the displayed price to get the final price.

PLEASE NOTE: I nearly booked Hotel Playa Linda … but after investigating further, I discovered that the cheap room being listed doesn’t have windows!

VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):

If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use AIRBnB or TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental.

Holiday Rentals are usually rented by the week. A simple future search for the first week of November demonstrates what’s available nicely (please note that these prices are in US$s).

TRIPADVISOR:tripadvisor-progreso
AIRBnB:airbnb-progreso

Vacation Rentals are, usually, displayed INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any Security Deposit (if required). BUT, the displayed price may be EXCLUSIVE of the host site’s Service Charges (which can add as much as 16%).

In S.E. Asia I wouldn’t touch AirBnB with a barge pole … in my opinion and experience the accommodation that you find is an absolute rip off. However, in Mexico they are definitely worth a look. This seems to be their ‘territory’. The other sites seem to list the same hotels … AirBnB offers many different options in the same price range.

IN SUMMARY:

As you can see, accommodation is expensive for GRANDPAckers.

BUT, once you get to Progreso, you will find that there are many accommodation options not listed on the internet. Progreso is the sort of place where you can take a ‘gamble’ on accommodation … book 1-2 nights in advance and, then, have a walk around the hotels to see what deals you can get for a longer term stay.

For the online options, if you start your search early (or at the last minute), you may be able to find the ‘deep’ discounts that you need in order to afford to stay in GRANDPAcker Standard accommodation.progreso-sunset-3

The place to stay is along the 1km stretch east of the pier. GRANDPAckers don’t have transport, so any accommodation up to 1 km east will still provide reasonable access to the town center. As aforementioned, a walk along the Malecon is very pleasant.

If you can find yourselves some cheap bicycles, you can go further afield.

I would suggest that you keep within 2-3 blocks inland from the beach … further back than that will put you in more ‘unkempt’ streets … and, you will dilute your experience.progreso-typical-back-road


MY ACCOMMODATION:

I booked only 3 days in advance. I did this on purpose … I was looking for a ‘last minute’ discount. I needed a discount to be able to afford to come here.

I used BOOKING.COM to book 3 nights in the Abrazarse Life B&B.progreso-abrazarse-frontage

This is still Shoulder Season in this part of Mexico, so I got my room at a discounted rate of MXP533 / night (US$30). The Abrazarse had a Breakfast meal option for MXP100 / person / day; I took up this option.

The Abrazarse is set back 1 road from the beachfront.progreso-abrazarse-balcony-view

The room that I booked came with a ‘sea view’.progreso-abrazarse-balcony-view-2

The Abrazarse is, basically, a homestay. The owner lives on the property and rents out 4 rooms.

They also have a plunge pool at the side of the house.progreso-abrazarse-plunge-pool

I booked the ‘King Bed with Seaview’ Room.
progreso-abrazarse-hallway-to-balcony progreso-abrazarse-hallway

My room was large and came with a walk-in wardrobe, hot water ensuite, balcony access, aircon, ceiling fan, fridge, dining table, in-room wifi, and cable TV.progreso-abrazarse-room

The aircon was new and silent.

progreso-abrazarse-room-entry progreso-abrazarse-walk-in-robeThe room got a nice seabreeze – which I prefer to aircon … alas, the road outside was a bit too noisy at night for me to leave the windows open. So, I had the seabreeze during the day and the aircon on at night.

The fridge was great to keep my beers cold … beers that I could buy cheaply at the OXXO store across the road (3x 1.2L bottles for MXP64) … beers that were very welcome whilst sitting on the balcony in the evenings, reading a book, and enjoying the seabreeze.progreso-abrazarse-bed

It was a 30 second walk to the beach. Being 800 meters east of the main road, this is the quieter end of the beach. Which is nice.progreso-abrazarse-beach-east progreso-abrazarse-beach progreso-abrzarse-beach-west

The in-room wifi was good … I could even stream ‘Match of the Day’ to catch up on my EPL football. Whilst I was there, they had trouble with their internet company and the internet was fine in the morning and evening but disappeared in the middle of the day.

progreso-abrazarse-ensuite-entry progreso-abrazarse-vanityThe shower had good water pressure. But the hot water only seemed to last enough for 1 shower … but, if you waited 5-10 minutes, there was enough hot water again. It must be a small hot water tank.

The owner (Jacque) is Canadian, so she has installed Cable TV that has a good selection of English speaking channels … including movies.

All-in-all the room was very comfortable for the price paid (for Mexico).

I am glad that I took up the breakfast option too … Jacque made sure that there was a full pot of coffee for me every morning and spoilt me with some tasty large breakfasts … good value for money … especially when you consider that you get a bottomless cup of coffee …

I ate breakfast outside on the patio.progreso-abrazarse-outside-breakfastprogreso-abrazarse-breakfast-1-mxp100progreso-abrazarse-eggs-benedict-mxp100

progreso-abrazarse-mushroom-omelette-mxp100On Thursday Friday and Saturday nights the Abrazarse open their Indian Restaurant. I wasn’t there on those days, myself, so I can’t say how good the food is.progreso-abrazarse-dining-areaprogreso-abrazarse-indian-menu


ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:

Have a look yourself:


Booking.com






TRANSPORT:

ON FOOT:

You can walk everywhere.progreso-central-park

TAXIS:

Taxis are reasonably cheap in Mexico if you know what the Rule Of Thumb should be. Alas, tourists get over-charged frequently.

Taxis do not use meters and the price should be confirmed first. The guideline is MXP10 for the ‘flag fall’ plus MXP10 / km. You can almost double this at night.

So far, I have found UBER Taxis to be a safe and cheaper option than using Taxis on the street. But, alas, UBER does not operate here.


EAT & DRINK:

The Malecon has several Tourist Restaurants … you could swap the menus (and price) between them and not know the difference. GRANDPAckers can’t, usually, afford to eat in Tourist Restaurants (unless they are splashing out with some of their LIVING funds).

However, you can find the odd ‘bargain’ if you shop around. I stopped at Moe’s and ordered their Chicken Nachos for MXP85 (their beers were only MXP25 too) … it was enough for 2 people … I could only eat half of it.progreso-nachos-mxp85

The budget restaurants can be found 1 or 2 blocks back from the waterfront – especially in and around Calle 80 (the main road into town). A typical sight is restaurants advertising Pescado Frito (Fried Whole Fish) for MXP100 / Kg. I went out to try one … the restaurant that I had targeted was closed so I went to a ‘local’ across the road. Alas, they charged MXP120 (but it was still nice).progreso-main-street-to-townprogreso-pescado-frito-mxp120

There are some street stall options on this area too … serving your normal fare of Tacos and Tortas in the usual budget price range.

A good option for budget travellers is the Mercado (Market) Building on the Main Street. The center is riddled with cheap eateries where you can get a decent meal for MXP60-70. However, they close before 6:00pm so it is a Lunch (not a Dinner) option.progreso-mercadoprogreso-mercado-eateries progreso-mercado-prices


YOUR HEALTH & SAFETY:

There is no reason to feel unsafe here. But, as always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.


WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO SEE / WHAT TO DO:

It’s another lazy beach town … relax and lap up the beach.

Merida (and its Historical Center) is only 30 minutes away and worth a day trip.


MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:

MONEY:

There are several ATMs / banks to choose from in and around Calle 80.

SHOPPING:

Shopping is surprisingly good.

There are a couple of large Supermarkets, several Superminis, and and plenty of small (SIX and OXXO) convenience stores. There are, also, some well priced outlets for clothes, etc.

Progreso is very ‘self sufficient’.


WHEN TO GO:

The climate is similar to Merida … but not as rainy.merida-climate

July through October is hurricane season in this part of the world, and the weather becomes more changeable and less predictable during these months.

However, the Progreso area seems to sit in a ‘pocket’ that avoids the hurricanes. They haven’t had one here for about 30 years.

The rainy season is June through September. But, when it rains it teems down for only 30-60 minutes and stops.

The Peak Season is December through May as these are the months with the most temperate and driest weather.


GETTING AWAY:

From Progreso I head to Merida for the end of October Festival and the Festival Of The Dead.

I will tell you more about that in a later post.


THE SECRET:

For GRANDPAcking readers, I have done a deal with the Abrazarse Life B&B.

Jacque is offering GRANDPAckers a special 4-week long-term rate on her upstairs King and Double Rooms:

  • The King Room with Seaview and sea breeze (the room that I stayed in, above) is offered at ‘stay 4 weeks and pay for 3’. The nightly rate is usually MXP550. The GRANDPAcker rate, therefore, for 4 weeks is MXP11,550 (or MXP412.50 / night) including taxes
  • The Double Room with sea breeze (at the back of the house – which is, also, away from the road and quieter) is being offered at ‘stay 4 weeks and pay for 3’. The nightly rate is usually MXP500. The GRANDPAcker rate, therefore, for 4 weeks is MXP10,500 (or MXP375 / night) including taxes

This is what the back Double Room looks like:progreso-abrazarse-double-roomprogreso-abrazarse-double-entryprogreso-abrazarse-double-walk-in-wardrobeAnd its ensuite:progreso-abrazarse-double-ensuite

progreso-abrazarse-double-shower progreso-abrazarse-double-ensuite-entry

These rates only apply in the months of May, June, September, October, November, and December (but December ends on the 20th of the month).

Any of these months are nice months … even though they are out of Peak Season.

May and June are particularly nice months.

November and December are also good.progreso-abrazarse-double-bed

In addition, GRANDPAckers will get a 20% discount on all meals. This means that GRANDPAckers can get breakfasts for MXP80 each. The discount also applies to their Indian Restaurant menu.

To get this discount, you must phone or email Jacque Small directly and say that you are a GRANDPAcker. Phone: (Mexico) 983-135-7170. Email: AbrazarseLife@gmail.com.

For this GRANDPAcker rate, payment is in cash (in advance) … sort out the details with Jacque.


CONCLUSION:

Progreso took me by surprise … being so close to a big city like Merida, I was expecting a much more ‘built up’ and ‘commercialised’ coastal town. It is not. It still manages to hold a lot of its ‘character’.

In times past, rich Meridians used to own beachfront properties in the Progreso area and they would come and stay in the heat of the summer. With the new road, the area is now only a 30 minute drive … and those days have gone.

The area has been left with many beachfront properties that can be rented and purchased for reasonable prices. A ‘do it up’ 2-bedroom beachfront property a few kms either side of Progreso can be purchased for as little as US$120,000 and done up to ‘western standards’ for a total cost of under US$200,000. Council Rates / Fees are minimal in Mexico.

This has proven to be a big attraction to retirees from the USA and Canada. There is already a decent ex-pat community in nearby towns like Chelem … and, this community is growing. Chelem, in particular, offers a good expat experience where you can build up long term friendships.

Progreso (and the area around it) makes it into both my GRANDPAcking Holidays list and my GRANDPAcking Retirement list.

TTFN


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