Things to Do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Wondering what things to do in Celestun in the Yucatan Peninsula?

Celestun is considered more of a ‘back to nature’ tourist attraction with the pink flamingos as the ‘star’ attraction. What a star attraction they are! Our guide explains transport to Celestun from Merida, the boat transport, where to stay and where to eat.

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Graceful pink flamingos of Celestun

Editor Update 2019

The Celestun Biosphere Reserve where the flamingos are for part of the year is located in the northwestern part of the Yucatan Peninsula on 146,000 acres.  On our Facebook, we had noticed other traveller’s photos of the pink flamingos in their natural habitat, in fact, we couldn’t wait to see them.  The only times we had seen flamingos were in zoos, but to see them in their natural surroundings excited us.

We were not disappointed! Celestun Mexico is the place to see them!

You may want to check out our e-book A Mexico Travel Guide to assist you in planning your adventures in Mexico.

Things To Do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

 

Our Mexico Travel Guide highlights all the places we visited during our 9 months travel around Mexico.  Our tips and tricks will let you know what to do, where to go and what to see, where to eat and where to stay.

 

 

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If you are looking to stay around Celestun and want to visit a Mayan Temple  (the main tourist attractions of this region of Mexico) you will need to consider travelling to either Chichen Itza (214 km away)  or Uxmal (120 km away). We would recommend that you make Merida a base to visit all that the Yucatan Peninsula has to offer.

Map of The Yucatan Peninsula

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Map showing the tourist attractions of the Yucatan Peninsula

Things to do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Celestun (the correct spelling is Celestun and not Celestone which is an injectable cortisone) means ‘painted stone’ in Mayan and receives over 25,000 visitors a year. It is a small fishing village with a small harbour, great seafood restaurants and a local beach.

How to travel to Celestun

By Plane

Merida is the closest airport, 91km away.  Alternatives are flying into Cancun or Mexico City with bus connections.  For the latest flight availability and prices click here.

By Bus

There are hourly departures in a 2nd class bus from Merida Bus Station that is located on Calle 67 between Calles 50 and 52.

By Car

There are car rental companies available in Merida to travel around the Yucatan Peninsula. The journey takes between 1.5 hours and 2 hours depending on traffic.

By Tour

 

 

Boat Tour to See Flamingos of Celestun

When you arrive at Celestun there are launches available to take you on the 2-hour boat ride to see the flamingos feeding as well as a tour through the mangroves.

The cost of the boat tour:

MXN1300 (USD$70) for the two of us (price as of 2017).  In 2019 the price of the boat has jumped to USD120.00.

There are opportunities to reduce the cost of the boat by waiting for other passengers to turn up. We took the opportunity of having a launch just for the two of us.  Our boat driver only spoke Spanish but with hand gestures etc we were able to understand most of what he was saying.

To Travel Too Tip:

  • You will need sunscreen and a hat
  • Ensure that you have water
  • Ensure that your boat driver keeps a safe distance away from the flamingos
  • Refrain from loud noises which might scare the birds from feeding

Facts about the Celestun Flamingos

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Thousands of flamingos in Celestun between the months of November and March

What graceful elegant birds they are!  They belong to the waterfowl group and are the tallest birds in this group reaching to a height of 1.5m for males and can weigh up to 4kg. They can live up to 20 or 30 years of age. They have been known to congregate in groups of up to 500 in numbers.   Their long legs, long necks, and graceful movements are so wonderful to watch and when they fly off in formation it is an amazing sight to witness. They are noisy, really noisy but you forgive them because of their beauty.  We were lucky to see so many in one location.  They formed little groups squawking away at one another like groups of school kids in the schoolyard.

When they are born their feathers are grey in colour and their bills are straight.  By the time they reach the age of 3 their pink colour has emerged due to their natural diet which contains high levels of beta-carotene found in brine shrimp and algae. They feed with their heads in the water.

Unfortunately, numbers have reduced over the years due to periodic flooding of their nesting environment, lead poisoning due to overhead aircraft and global warming which reduces the amount of water in the lagoons and lakes.  With the lack of sufficient fresh water they cannot survive, they would have to find new locations and this, in turn, affects their mating.

 

Celestun Flamingo Season

We were fortunate to visit during the month of February, as we had been told that the best time to see the flamingos is between November and March when they are courting.  They move further north to Rio Lagartos in the summer for nesting and birthing. There were thousands on the day we visited.

Celestun Biosphere Reserve

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Seagulls and Cormorants Celestun

After spending some time watching and floating around the flamingos we headed towards the mangroves.

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Abundant bird life

Along the way, we saw many types of other birds in their natural habitats such as the grey and white pelicans and cormorants.

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Heading into the mangroves

In the freshwater springs of the Mangrove, our guide stated we may see a crocodile or two but we were out of luck on this trip. The Mangroves and surrounding jungle are also home to herons, kingfishers, woodpeckers, jaguars, ocelots, white-tailed deer and spider monkey. There are 4 type of turtles to be found in the Celestun Biosphere Reserve; Hawksbill, Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback.

Mangroves are tidal habitats comprising of varieties of trees and shrubs.   Here in Celestun, the tree species are Gum, Chac’a, the Alamo, Sabal and Mahogany trees many growing to heights of between 15m-18m.

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

The colours of the Mangroves at Celestun

The colours of the water and the reflection of the trees in the mangroves as we sailed through gave us a feeling of peace and calm, there was no-one else around just us.  We could have just sat in the launch for hours enjoying the wildlife and the peacefulness.

Celestun Beach

After your 2-hour boat ride, you can enjoy a few hours on the long stretch of the Celestun Beach.

Rio Lagartos Yucatan

Rio Largartos is the summer nesting and birthing place for the Celestun Flamingos after spending the winter in Celestun. It is a 2.5-hour drive from Merida to the northern part of the peninsula where Rio Largartos is located.  It is a small town with a boardwalk which is famous for its pink sunsets.

There are tours from Merida to Rio Lagartos.

If you are visiting the Yucatan Peninsular during Summer we would recommend travelling to Rio Lagartos instead of Celestun to see the flamingos.

 Where To Eat in Celestun

There are at least 13 restaurants to choose from in and around Celestun, their specialities are seafood and local Mexican cuisine.

Celestun Hotels

Located in a 5km nature reserve with private beaches Xixim Unique Mayan Hotel is one of the several hotels that you could stay in Celestun, check availability and latest prices for this 5-star hotel.

Check availability and latest prices at the Hotel & Villas Playa Maya Resorts Celestun which is 14 minutes drive from Celestun and 1 minute from the beach.

Things To Do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

 

 

 

Merida Hotel

We enjoyed our stay at the Wyndham Hotel in Merida, which was in a good location in Merida with a swimming pool that was welcomed at the end of a day of sightseeing.

 

Things To Do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

 

Other Hotels available in Merida Mexico.

Things To Do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

 

Airbnb Accommodation

There are Airbnb properties available in Celestun as well as Merida.

If you are first timers with Airbnb we have a special discount for you on your first booking.

Things To Do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

We highly recommend a visit to Celestun and the pink flamingos as part of your itinerary in the Yucatan Peninsula.  It is a great day out. Apart from Celestun Merida should be on our list as well, the colonial buildings, the restaurants and the night time music festivities that pop up around town.

 

Read more:

Things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula

How to make the most of your visit to Chichen Itza

Things to do in Uxmal Yucatan Mexico

Private Tour of Merida

Luxury Accommodation in Cancun

Tulum Mayan Ruins

If you like our article PIN it to your board for later.

 

You may also enjoy our 30-second video of boating through the mangroves of Celestun.

how can we help you travel moreWe would like to thank the  Yucatan Travel, and Visit Mexico for their assistance for our 4 days in Merida and the Yucatan.  In our visit to Celestun, our transport to and from Merida was sponsored as well as our boat ride.  Our accommodation at the Wyndham Hotel in Merida was sponsored for our stay, we thank the management and staff for taking good care of us. We thank George our driver and Maria from Yucatan Travel for looking after us so well.  As always, our opinions are our own.

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18 Comments

  • This site is well informative, it gives details of all things you can do as a tourist in Celestun Yucatan peninsula, including lovely pink flamingos,boat trips and many more.

  • Anda says:

    You beat me to Celestun. We wanted to go the last time we visited the Yucatan Peninsula, but didn’t have time. I’d love to go back and follow your itinerary. The Biosphere Reserve looks like a photographer’s dream.

  • Cecilia says:

    I just love how rich in biodiversity Celestun is! It seems like my type of place to travel!

  • Lisa says:

    Reading this brought back so many fond memories of Yucatan! I never made it to Celestun peninsula, and what a shame. The flamingoes are beautiful and I’ve never seen any in real life, just photos. It’s great you also got to visit in mating season! I love your photos too!

  • Ann says:

    What a thorough and well-authored guide. I haven’t been (yet) to the Yucatan Peninsula but would love to go there as it seems to be my type of destination. I will make sure to follow your itinerary!

  • Martha says:

    This is a great post about the flamingos! You offer so many great tips and tricks to see them that I think many blog posts are seriously lacking — thank you for that. I think you are right in saying that Celestun Yucatan Peninsula is definitely a natural getaway. It looks divine. Definitely looking forward to visiting there one day.

  • blair villanueva says:

    OMG those flamingos are so beautiful and its real! So guests are allowed to take photos with them or just afar? Hope their habitats are now being disturbed by the flows of tourism in the region. They are so beautiful to be bothered.

    • Hi Blair
      There was a distance we had to adhere to. They did not seem to bother about us too much. So pretty to look at – you should hear their chatter.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Mexico seems so far away from where I live but I really want to make it there someday. I’ve read several posts about Yucatan Peninsula, enough to be sure that it has to be included my itinerary. This is an informative and detailed post about how to get to Celestun, the flamingos look amazing and I’ll make sure that I travel during the November – March season to be able to see them in their natural habitat!

  • Wow! Pink flamingos – very cool. I’ve only seen a couple at the Singapore zoo before.

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