The following is a report from our first visit to Progreso, Yucatan in April of 2013.
The three of us flew from Portland, Oregon on United through
Houston arriving in Merida at 9:00PM on Saturday April 20. Landed during a thunderstorm and had no problems with luggage except being overcharged for one of our “golf bags” by a misinformed agent in Portland. Still working to get that resolved by United.
We rented a house on the beach in Progreso called Casa del Sol, that I found on Vacation Rentals.com. 3 bedroom, 3 bath, with a small pool right on the beach about 1 km west of the pier. With a full kitchen and really nicely furnished with tile everywhere, even the covered patio. The owner has a friend that lives in Merida and he rented us two cars. Really nice Honda Accord and Ford Focus. He met us at the airport with the cars and to show us the way to Progreso. Really nice people. The total cost of the house for ten days was US$950. The cars were US$250, each, for the 10 days. About $48 each per day, for the 3 of us. Not too bad. There are lots of cheaper places available for those with tighter budgets.
The first night we got to the house around 11:00. Unloaded the cars in the rain, checked out the house and then went into Progreso to find some dinner. A few places were still open and we had a nice meal with ceviche, pastor and of course, cervezas and tequila. Weather was humid from the storm and no wind that night.
The next morning was also really humid and not windy. We went to the local supermarket at the south end of town which was like a Walmart. Good selection of everything you would need and at pretty good prices. Lots of fresh fruit, pastries, meat and seafood available there plus the essentials, cerveza and tequila. A gas station was next door. We drove through Progreso to get a feel of what was there and found a city of about 50,000 stretched out along the beach on either side of the pier. The “Malecon” is a beachfront promenade and stretches for about 20 blocks to the east side of the pier next to the beach, and a lot of restaurants, shops and street vendors line the street opposite the ocean side. Lots of locals walk the Malecon in the evening when the cooling wind blows. During the day vendors wander the beach selling their wares. There are covered areas on the beach that you can sit in the shade and have something to drink.
When we got back to the house the wind had picked up from the NW and we pumped up our 12’s and kited for 3 hours. The wind was steady at about 20- 22 mph. The water is shallow and you can walk out about 100, or more, mtrs and still touch bottom. There is some debris on the beach blown in from the gulf and some other non foot friendly stuff, but we mostly went barefoot on the beach and just watched where we walked. There is a packed sand road that runs down the beach, so cars, scooters, police and the occasional horse are passing, but infrequently enough that it is never a nuisance. The water is choppy with small on shore wind waves, but in the shallows it flattens out for some smoother riding. The ocean floor is sandy, no rocks or coral near shore. The onshore wind and the shallowness make the water cloudy with sand while the wind is blowing. The water temperature was 85F and up to 89F in the shallows. Air temperature was from 75 in the morning and up to 90 in the afternoon. We usually have to kite in wetsuits in Oregon and Baja, so for us it was great. We usually saw only about 6- 10 other kiters down at the main spot.
That night went to Flamingo on the Malecon for dinner. Was good and reasonably priced. Not very many other Americans, Canadians or Europeans at all. I had heard that a lot of Canadian and American expats owned property there, but usually came during the colder months Dec- Mar. We ran in to a couple of Canadians while we were there but that was it.
The next day we drove west and checked out Chelem and Chuburna. Small little fishing towns, but a lot of homes on the beach almost all the way. Narrow beaches so it would be harder to set up and launch. That day the wind came up at around 2:00 PM from the NNE and we started out on 12’s but soon, had to come in and put up our 10’s. The wind kept picking up and then it was time for 8 meter kites. We measured the wind at 28 to 34 mph when we quit for the day. It stayed like that until a hour or so after dark and then slowly dropped to calm after midnight.
The rest of the days it blew from the NE or ENE. We kited every day we were there. You could kite for 5 hours straight if you have it in you. We would kite, come in for a snack or drink, and then go out to kite and repeat. A couple of days were 12M days but the average was 10M with 8M later in the afternoon. One day we even kited until after sunset when it was too dark to see the kiter out very far.
The local “kite beach” is about a kilometer west of the house. There is a kite school there (Yuckite) that also rents nice rooms with AC, fridge, range, full baths and between 500-800 pesos per night. The locals usually kite from this beach as it is wide and easy to launch/land from. We kited from the beach at our house mainly, as it was only about 50 steps to the water. There was a small boat pulled up on shore there that we could hook a line and carabineer to for easy self launch and landings.
We did not go into Merida even though it was only 35 minutes away on a really nice 4 lane freeway. We did go to see Uxmal and Dzibilchaltun the nearest Mayan archeological sites. Uxmal was about 80 minutes away and Dzibilchaltun was only 35 minutes from Progreso. There is also a zoo called Animaya in Merida, but we didn’t go. We went west another day to Puerto Telchac and it was a nice little town. Between Chixulub and Telchac there were some really nice private beach homes for miles, but we did not see any public access roads to the beaches there so we did not go check them out. We took a portable GPS with Mexico maps. It worked great and we were able to find anything we wanted easily. You should know at least some traveler’s Spanish as most people do not speak much, if any, English. Some of the larger restaurants have English/Spanish menus, and there are English speaking tour guides at the Mayan sites.
I will be back for sure. The wind blows all year long, I hear, and is really windy April to July. July and August are supposed to be the lighter wind months. The wind is thermal and comes on around 1:00 to 2:00 just like somebody threw a switch. We looked around for flat water places, but didn’t find any that were really available. Not to say they aren’t there, just didn’t find any on our own. There was no swell while we were there. It is not any choppier than Baja. The water is as warm as Hawaii or Aruba or any place in the Carribean. The wind was not really gusty at all. 4-6 mph difference was the average measured over 10 minutes. The shallow warm water and side onshore winds make it a really good place to learn or advance your skills.
It is as cheap as Baja with more to do and lots of good choices for restaurants and shopping. There are two kite schools there, but they may not operate year round. You can find links below. You can get around without a car, but having one opens up a lot of adventures. The people were really friendly and helpful. Best place in Mexico for good vibes that I have been to. I have heard that there may be some small crimes of opportunity, but that violent crimes are not allowed by the people at all. There is a constant police presence but its not a scary one. We left kites, boards and harnesses out on the patio all night and when we were driving places. Nothing was touched.
Overall the consensus is that we will return. I want to find more info on the seasons for good percentage of wind before I decide when. If anyone wants more info send me a personal message. I have listed some of the links to the house, some apartments two houses down, and the kite schools.
Good winds to all of you!