Things to Do in Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Wondering what things to do in Celestun 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 Celestun guide covers:

  • Celestun Mexican flamingos and a visit to the Mangroves
  • Celestun tips on the boat tour to see the flamingos
  • Celestun Mexican Hotels
  • Visiting Celestun – transport options
A good 5-star hotel to base yourself in the Yucatan Peninsula in nearby Merida is the Wyndham Hotel.

Read our hotel review here.

Book your accommodation here.

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.

 

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

Graceful pink flamingos of Celestun

(Editor Update December 2019)

The Celestun Biosphere Reserve

The Celestun Biosphere Reserve where the flamingos live part of the year is located in the northwestern part of the Yucatan Peninsula on 146,000 acres.

Facts about the Celestun Flamingos

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 information 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.

Where are flamingos from?

Flamingos can be found in South America, Africa, Middle East, the Caribbean, Mexico and India.

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.

We were not disappointed! Celestun Mexico is the place to see them! Read here what other travellers have said about Celestun.

Prebook a Tour to Celestun with Get Your Guide – the #1 global tour company here

Boat Tour to See Flamingos of Celestun, Yucatan Peninsula

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.

Pro-Tips

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.

  • Ensure that your boat driver keeps a safe distance away from the flamingos
  • Refrain from loud noises which might scare the birds from feeding
Do you know our story of how we both ditched the corporate world to live a life of travel since 2013? Read all about how and why we did it here.

The Mangroves

The Mangroves of the Celestun

Celestun Biosphere Reserve

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

Birds of the Celestun Biosphere Reserve

Birds of the Celestun Biosphere Reserve

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

Beautiful mangroves of Celestun

Gently sailing through the beautiful 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.

Serene mangroves

Cooling and refreshing mangroves and its wildlife

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.

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.

A Mexico Travel Guide

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

Mexico Travel Guide Book

 

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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things to do in Celestun in Mexico

General Visit Information for Visiting Celestun

Where is the Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatan Peninsula is located in the southeast region of Mexico. The Mexican Yucatan Peninsula lies in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

The Yucatan Peninsula Map

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula Map

Yucatan Peninsula Map

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:

From the USA click here

From the UK click here

From Australia click here

From the rest of the world  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.

You can book your bus tickets around Mexico with Busbud – the global bus ticketing website.

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.

Yucatan Weather

When is the best time to visit the Yucatan?

The best time to visit the Yucatan is during the months of November through to April in the dry season.

The busiest tourist season is from mid-December through to mid-January and Easter.

An ideal time to visit is mid-November through to early December.

Tour from Merida

A full-day tour from Merida with lunch to Celestun with Get Your Guide, our partner.

Be transported away from the hustle-and-bustle of Merida to this little seaside town. Learn about its 2 lighthouses, an abandoned hacienda, and the salt-making industry. Enjoy the beauty and peacefulness of the surrounding nature at the Celestún Biosphere Reserve. Among the more than 200 species of birds living there, the wetland reserve is perhaps best known for the flamingo population living there during the winter months.

While in Celestún you will also go on a boat ride and stop for lunch.

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What to do in Celestun and surrounds

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. 

 

Celestun Yucatan Peninsula

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

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.

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 Resort 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 Merida Hotel, 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

 

Where to stay 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

Our Experience on Visiting the Celestun 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 a visit to Merida should be high on your list as well to see and experience:

  • the colonial architecture and Merida Plaza
  • the restaurants
  • night time music festivities
  • a base for visiting the Mayan Temples

If you have any questions or would like some advice we would love to hear from you. You can reach us via our Facebook page or email us here.

 

Travel Insurance

We recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your flights and pay deposits on any cruises, tours or hotels.

If you are located in Australia or New Zealand click here for the latest quotes.

If you are located in the rest of the world click here for the latest quotes.

More articles to inspire you to visit the Yucatan Peninsula

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

 

Do You Need a Visa For Mexico:

 

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What to do in Celestun Mexico

Flamingos of Celestun

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

We 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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38 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.

  • HI

    It was a wonderful blog .. Every picture you have posted in your blog that Tells a story.
    Looking forward to read your other wonderful travel experience.

  • Jen Morrow says:

    Flamingos are such beautiful pink. I would love to see them when they are small, grey babies. Mexico has so much to offer, I am amazed at something new every time we visit.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I’m in Mexico City now for a few weeks and thinking about traveling to some other areas of Mexico afterwards. The Yucatan peninsula is definitely at the top of my list. I didn’t really know anything about Celestun. After being in the busy city for so long, go somewhere with a more “back to nature feel” sounds perfect. It sounds like I might be cutting it close with the end of the season though. The fresh seafood restaurants sound really good too.

    • Hi Elizabeth
      Thanks for your comments. I hope you get to the Yucatan Peninsula and Celestun. The restaurants are very good as well. Enjoy Mexico.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • The flamingos and the mangroves are absolutely stunning. I have seen many pictures of pink flamingos but I have thought that it’s possible to see them only if you work for National Geographic. It seems I was wrong and you really proved to me that it is possible. The Celestun Yucatan Peninsula has so many things to offer and I can’t wait to explore it one day.

    • Hi Luliana
      The flamingos as worth a visit when you travel in the Yucatan Peninsula. The whole region has so much to see and do make sure you plan at least a week.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Jennifer Prince says:

    I had no idea that there were flamingos in Mexico. I think I’ve only ever seen them in Africa. It would be really fun to see them nesting, and I had no idea that they could live up to 30 years. What a fun thing to do and your photos of the flamingos are so colorful!

    • Hi Jennifer
      Thanks for your comments. We loved visiting the flamingos in a natural habitat, they were so noisy LOL as I mentioned just like school kids in the playground.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Your first image of the beautiful flamingos convinced me that we need to visit the Celestun Yucatan Peninsula. I can’t imagine catching a group of 500 congregating! I am sure that visiting in the fall when they are courting would be an amusing sight. And a trip through the mangroves looks quite relaxing too. A tour from Merida sounds like a good way to enjoy this treat.

    • Hi Linda
      Thanks for your comments. We hope you can make a visit, it is such a spectacular and such a lovely nature tour to enjoy.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Stephanie says:

    What beautiful nature! Wow, I might have guessed that global warming had something to do with flamingos getting pushed out of their home, but I had NO idea about lead poisoning from planes and air crafts. That is insane. I wonder why this is never discussed when we talk about our environmental impact of travel! So glad I learned something new from reading this!

    • Hi Stephanie
      Thanks for your comments. I guess we are going to see more and more environmental impact on our wildlife over the years.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Summer says:

    I got to see flamingos in a bird sanctuary in Rio and it was a really great experience. They are so beautiful in person! I would love to see them in the wild too. The boat tour sounds like a great way to get close and observe them.

    • Hi Summer
      Thanks for your comments.So glad to hear that you have seen them in Rio. They are beautiful and graceful. Maybe one day you will get to see them in Mexico too!
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • With so many flamingoes, its just so fascinating and I’d love to visit this place. Though I have seen flamingoes, I’m yet to see so many together in 1 place, in wild. A gentle sail through the mangroves sounds divine! Good to know Merida is a good base to visit the Mayan temples from!

    • Hi
      Thanks for your comments. The Yucatan has so much to offer the traveller, flamingos, temples, great food and more. It is one of our favourite places in Mexico.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

  • Melissa says:

    You had me with the first photo! I love flamingos, I would love to be surrounded by so many! The mangroves are beautiful. One of my dreams is also seeing the Mayan Temples, so this would be the perfect place for me!

    • Hi Melissa
      Thanks for your comments. The Yucatan Peninsula has so much to offer the visitor and the highlights are the flamingos and the Mayan Temples and the food.
      Hope you get to visit.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

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