Food and Drink in Progreso
Progreso is bursting with restaurants, all of them vying for customers. Seafood is the big draw here, be it fish filet stuffed with seafood, ceviche, or the town's signature sea snails.
About $15 buys a large main entree at most of the restaurants, but if it's only light bites you're after then sides of guacamole and tacos will cost a fraction of the price.
The main drag leading to the beach is lined with restaurants, but the eateries on the beachfront malecon itself have the best view.
Le Saint Bonnet has tables in its restaurant as well as on the beach and serves a great fish fillet stuffed with seafood.
Restaurante Tommy's is similarly located and offers delicious chips, salsa and guacamole, plus reasonably priced camarones de coco (coconut shrimp).
Crabster's Seafood and Grill offers signature dishes including crab (try the Moorish crab claws), lobster and "Poc Chuc" octopus. Be aware that octopus is only in season between September and December.
Drinks are aplenty in this corner of the Yucatan and you can try (and buy) some of the local specialties in the duty-free shops close to the ship. Tasting portions are extremely generous so it's only polite to put a dollar or two in the tips jar afterwards.
Liquorice-lovers will like the xtabentun - a locally produced liqueur made from the bark of an anise tree. But our favourite is the mezcal. This is a liqueur native to the region and we tried a creamy variation that comes in different flavours: chocolate, coconut, coffee, mango, you name it. All delicious!
Beaches in Progreso
If you fancy an easy beach day in port, then look no further than Progreso. The beach is only a 5-minute walk from where the shuttle bus drops cruisers off and is actually a very nice stretch of clean, white and soft-as-talc sand. The ocean is a crystal clear, shimmering turquoise and there are no pesky rocks underfoot, so water shoes can be left at home.
Most cruisers lay out their towels as soon as they hit the beach, but to escape the crowds it's worth walking a little further up. Five to 10 minutes is all it takes to shrug off the majority of beachgoers. Plus, the further up the beach you venture, the more distance you put between yourself and any possible hassle by vendors.
There are sun beds and sombreros for hire -- although there are less of these the further up you go -- but there are also palm trees offering natural shade.
Don't Miss in Progreso
Chichen Itza: It's a bit of a trek to get there, but these ancient Mayan ruins set in the heart of the jungle are truly exceptional. The pyramids, ball courts and sacrificial sites are some of the finest in Mexico and well worth the journey, especially if you're not sure when you'll next be back.
Merida: If you fancy a day trip, but don't want to venture as far as Chichen Itza, Merida is a good alternative and is 30 minutes away from Progreso. This splendid colonial town is the capital of the Yucatan state, and is nicknamed 'The White City' due to the colour of its architecture. The town oozes with history and is the hammock capital of Mexico -- aka the place to go if you want to buy an authentic one to take back home.
Flamingos: More recently these pretty birds have been spotted in mangroves not far from Progreso. But if this flock's being shy during your stay, then the sleepy town of Celestun has long been known for its pink-feathered friends. Flamingos are present year-round, but for the best viewing catch them from November to mid-March: a must-see for bird-lovers.