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  • Writer's pictureJillian

Why You Should Visit Progreso, Mexico

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Introduction: Our Experience in Progreso

In mid-2020, Jeremy and I started our adventure traveling the world full-time.

Our first trip as digital nomads brought us to Progreso, Mexico, which neither of us had heard of. We lived in Progreso for three months, and recently returned for another three month stay. All we can say is WOW, what a huge change.

By the end of this article, we are confident you’ll see what we, and so many others, love about Progreso, Mexico and why you should visit. We also have many Progreso YouTube videos linked at the bottom of this article if you’d like to see our adventures.


Progreso At–A-Glance

Progreso is located on the Gulf of Mexico, 30 minutes northwest from Merida, the Yucatan state capital.

2D map showing the bottom of the United States and most of the country of Mexico with a paper airplane icon over Progreso.
Progreso is a quick flight from the USA.

Progreso was founded in the late 1800’s with the sole purpose of providing a port close to Merida. Today, it’s one of Mexico’s more important port locations for trade, and cruise ship destinations.

Fun Fact: the pier is the longest in the world, at over 4 miles (6.5 KM). Why so long? The water in the Yucatan peninsula is quite shallow, and this mega pier allows large ships (including cruise ships) access.

Start of the Malecón, facing west, looking at pier.

If you are visiting Progreso by Cruise ship, you have the option to enjoy a beach day, explore Progreso’s Malecón, or boardwalk, which has a variety of delicious restaurants and shops, or, take a day trip to nearby Mayan ruins, Cenotes, and other excursions.

Progreso’s neighbor, Chixculub, is ground zero to where 75% of life was annihilated by an asteroid blast over 66 million years ago. We’ll touch more on this later in the article.

Over the last 10 years, Progreso has transformed from a sleepy fishing village to a lively tourist destination and expat relocation hotspot.

When we visited in 2020, the pandemic caused Progreso to shut down.

There were parts of the city that were completely undeveloped and frankly looked like a war zone.

We weren’t deterred by this; in fact, we quickly fell in love with Progreso because it was NOT like larger resort towns such as Cancun or Playa del Carmen.

Coupled with being one of the safest parts of Mexico to visit, and having some of the most friendly locals we’ve experienced in all of Mexico, we couldn’t wait to visit again once the city came back to life.


Is Progreso, Mexico Safe?

As I just mentioned, Progreso is one of the safest parts of Mexico to visit for tourists.

In fact, Merida (the capital of the Yucatan, just 30 mins from Progreso) is the #2 safest place in the entire country of Mexico, and #8 safest place in the Americas, according to numerous government and news agencies. Forbes wrote that Merida and surrounding areas are as safe as Europe.

However, like most places around the world, there are occasional incidents of petty crime, such as pickpocketing, and visitors should use common sense while exploring the city. Violent crimes against tourists is unheard of in Progreso, and the local authorities work hard to ensure the safety of visitors.

In our three month stay in 2020 and 2022, we never once felt threatened or unsafe (day or night). We felt comfortable and safe walking around the populated areas at night, and saw constant police monitoring and supervision around Progreso.

Quick Story: I had a flat tire and not just one, but FOUR policemen who saw I was in trouble stopped to help remove my flat tire and replace with a spare. They were so kind, thoughtful and helpful with nothing expected in return besides gratitude.

The Mexican government, in particular the current Progreso Mayor, invests heavily in tourist security and has implemented various measures to protect visitors such as cameras, emergency call boxes, patrolling the Malecón and entire city.

In terms of cyber security, we always use Surfshark VPN when connecting to any public WiFi (which Progreso has around the city). This masks our digital footprint to protect our data. We also love using the VPN at home for accessing Netflix (and other streaming service) libraries in different countries, including American shows that aren't on the Mexico Netflix. We simply change our location in Surfshark VPN and VOILA...a whole new library of options at your fingertips!

Bottom line, if you're considering a trip to Progreso, you should feel safe and comfortable while enjoying all that this beautiful coastal city has to offer.


Exploring Progreso: Things to Do

The current Mayor, Julian Zacarias Curi, has made extraordinary efforts in modernizing Progreso.

From infrastructure and utility improvements, security, attractions, overall branding and signage, the list goes on and on. On his website, you can see the various projects in progress to continue to enhance Progreso.

Even since our last visit in 2020, the upgrades are staggering and incredibly impressive.

Today, the list of things to do in and around Progreso has skyrocketed. After reading this article, watch our YouTube video of the 19 Best Activities in Progreso (most are free!).

Starting with the Malecón, or promenade, which has been significantly expanded on the west side of the the pier and named “International Malecón” to differentiate the new from old sides.

One of the things we love about the International Malecón is the number of community spaces available.

It’s clear that the original (east) Malecón is the “tourist” area, while the International Malecón (west) is better for locals. It’s customary for families to gather in the evenings to enjoy sunsets and each others company.

We personally think the beach is nicer and more quiet on the international Malecón side.

The recent addition of a new meteorite museum and dinosaur park are big attractions, and pay homage to the Chixculub crater, a massive hole measuring nearly 19 miles deep and 120 miles wide caused by the asteroid which destroyed over 75% of all life forms including the dinosaurs, some 66 million years ago.

Sendero Jurasico, or Jurassic Trail, is just one example of the massive infrastructure improvements made to the Progreso area. What used to be an open air dump had over 500 tons of garbage removed, then was cleaned and sanitized.

Each day, between 800 to 1,000 visitors flock to Sendero Jurasico to for a multi-sensory experience learning about the dinosaurs that inhabited the area before the crater struck

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in and nearby Progreso, including: kite surfing, kayaking, jet skiing, boating, visiting flamingos, digging your own sea salt, and taking a walk and dip in cenotes at nearby El Corchito.

And let’s not forget Pig Beach…a sanctuary located on the beach where eight Vietnamese pigs and their piglets call home, and was designed for recreation and to raise animal awareness.

The pigs are very well cared for and the public is allowed to interact with them Thursday- Sunday between 12p-2p. It’s not uncommon to see the pigs swimming around with visitors in the beautiful waters.


Why You Should Visit Progreso

Cost of Living: although the pandemic has caused global price increases in just about everything, the cost of living in Progreso is still much more affordable than many countries. A few examples we’ve experience (listed in $USD):

  • AirBnB / VRBO on the beach: <$60/night

  • Hotel: $25-35/night

  • Dentist cleaning: <$25

  • Groceries (if done correctly): 25-50% less than the US

  • Food (eating out): can range from $9 for two with non-alcoholic drinks at lower range to $40 for a mid-range meal and two alcoholic drinks

Food: while we are talking about food, although Yucatecan food isn’t our favorite Mexican cuisine, there are tons of delicious options in Progreso. From fine dining to street food like my personal favorite, marquesitas, you won’t go home hungry in Progreso.

People: one of the highlights of Progreso to us is the people. From locals who treat you wonderfully and are so accommodating and nice, to the expat community who have embraced us.

The community is active and engaged, and rallies to help humans AND animals. Here are several organizations we've volunteered with should you want to lend a helping hand (websites linked below).

The people of Progreso love Progreso…however, there is definite trepidation about the growth for all the reasons you can imagine - increasing prices in real estate and daily goods, lack of parking, less room to roam, tourists who can be disrespectful to locals, etcetera.

Despite these growing pains, Progreso remains a hot spot for both visitors and future expats.

But don’t just take our word for it. We interviewed first time cruise ship passengers and another digital nomad couple to hear what they thought of Progreso. Check it out:


Conclusion: Progreso, Mexico is the Yucatán’s Treasure

If Progreso isn’t on your travel list, we 100% recommend you add it - especially if you want a small-town vibe with friendly and welcoming locals. Progreso, Mexico is 100% a hidden treasure in Yucatán.

Now, you know what time it is…. 🫵 GO CREATE AN ADVENTURE. ✌️ PEACE!

PS: watch our Progreso YouTube videos below to see more. ⬇️


Disclaimer: we recommend / provide links for products that have worked for us. Should you decide to purchase one of these items (at no cost to you), as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. No strings attached!

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