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Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve

Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve is a paradise for nature lovers and those seeking a tranquil escape. This enchanting coastal lagoon is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and unique ecosystem.

Ría Celestún is situated approximately 90 km west of Mérida. The reserve can be easily reached by car or bus, or guided tours from Mérida, making it a popular day trip destination for travelers exploring the region.

Ría Celestún is characterized by its pristine mangrove forests, brackish water lagoons, and a unique blend of freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. Ría Celestún Reserve is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Numerous bird species make it a haven for birdwatchers. The standout feature is the vibrant pink flamingos that inhabit the lagoon, making it one of the most important nesting areas for these iconic birds in the Americas.

Explore the wonders of Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve and immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of this natural sanctuary, where wildlife thrives, and every moment is a glimpse into the wonders of nature.

Visit the fishing town of Celestún

After your adventures in the reserve, take some time to explore the quaint fishing town of Celestún. You can sample delicious seafood at local restaurants and get a taste of the authentic Yucatecan culture.

Weather & Climate

The Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve has a tropical climate with warm temperatures all year round. The weather in this region of the Gulf of Mexico can be divided into two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season.

Wet Season (June to October)

During this period, Ría Celestún experiences occasional heavy rainfall.

The landscape becomes lush and green, and the lagoon’s water levels rise. While the wet season may not be ideal for some outdoor activities, it’s a great time for birdwatching as many migratory species visit during this time.

Dry Season (November to May)

This is the best time to visit Ría Celestún for most travelers.

The weather is sunny and dry, making it perfect for boat tours, kayaking, and exploring the lagoon’s natural beauty. The dry season also offers the best chances of spotting the iconic pink flamingos and other wildlife.

The best time to visit Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve

The best time to visit Ría Celestún is during the dry season, from November to May.

The months of December to March are particularly popular, as the weather is cooler and the birdwatching opportunities are at their peak. It’s advisable to plan your trip during this period to fully experience the charm of Ría Celestún.

Things to see and to do in Ria Celestun

Ría Celestún Reserve offers a range of exciting activities for nature lovers.

The reserve is a mix of rocky formations, small islets, and white-sand beaches. This area also offers excellent opportunities. Several cenotes are scattered throughout the reserve, providing idyllic spots for swimming.

One of the best ways to experience the reserve is by taking a guided boat tour. Knowledgeable local guides will lead you through the mangrove channels and lagoons, where you can observe the diverse wildlife up close.

Keep your camera ready to capture the iconic pink flamingos, herons, pelicans, and other bird species that call the reserve home. These tours often include stops at areas with crystal-clear springs and cenotes.

Witness the awe-inspiring sight of pink birds soaring gracefully above the estuary throughout the year. If you visit the place between November and March, you will see these pink flamingos gather in abundance.

Ría Celestún is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 300 bird species documented in the area. Along with flamingos, you can spot frigatebirds, cormorants, spoonbills, and ospreys, among others.

Ría Celestún is the fourth-largest wintering ground for ducks in the Gulf Coast region. The reserve is also home to over 365 other bird species. The diverse ecosystem also hosts a thriving sea turtle population.

Bring binoculars and a field guide to make the most of your birdwatching experience.

Paddle through the serene waters of the reserve in a kayak or canoe. This allows you to explore the mangroves at your own pace and get closer to the wildlife. It’s a peaceful and eco-friendly way to experience the natural beauty of Ría Celestún.

Swimming and relaxation. Some boat tours include stops at freshwater springs and cenotes within the reserve. These are excellent places for a refreshing swim or to simply relax in a tranquil natural setting.

Along the coast of Ría Celestún, you’ll find pristine white-sand beaches that are perfect for beachcombing and shell collecting. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore and enjoy the tranquility of the Gulf of Mexico.

Ría Celestún is a photographer’s dream. With its landscapes,  birdlife, and scenic waterways, you’ll have countless opportunities to capture breathtaking shots. Respect the wildlife and their habitats while photographing.

Guided tours offer nature walks on designated trails within the reserve. These walks provide insights into the local flora and fauna, and guides can educate you about the importance of preserving this unique ecosystem.

You might have the chance to encounter endangered species like the elusive ocelot, the majestic jaguar, and the playful spider monkey.

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the breathtaking sunsets over the lagoon. As the sun sets over Ría Celestún, the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere.

Visit the Celestún Biosphere Interpretation Center to learn more about the reserve’s ecology, conservation efforts, and the importance of protecting this delicate ecosystem.

How to get there

Getting to Ría Celestún from Campeche City

From Campeche City, take Highway 180 heading west towards Celestún. The distance is approximately 170 km, and the drive takes about 2.5 to 3 hours. Follow the signs to Celestún once you get close to the town.

While there isn’t a direct bus route from Campeche City to Celestún, you can take a bus from Campeche City to Mérida. Multiple bus companies operate this route, and the journey takes about 3 to 4 hours.

Getting to Ría Celestún from Mérida

Ría Celestún is approximately 90 km west of Mérida, and the drive takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. Take Highway 281 towards Celestún, and once you arrive in the town, you’ll find signs leading to the reserve.

You can also take a bus from Mérida to Celestún. Several bus companies operate this route. Buses depart from the Noreste Bus Terminal in Mérida. The journey takes a bit longer than by car, typically around 2.5 to 3 hours.

The entrance to the Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve

Once you arrive in the small town of Celestún, you’ll find that the place is relatively small and easy to navigate. The Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve’s entrance is located near the town center.

Tourist information

Ría Celestún Reserve offers activities like boat tours for birdwatching, or you can hire a local guide or rent a boat at the entrance to the town. Look for boats available for tours under the bridge leading into Celestún.

  • Check the current transportation options in advance if you plan to take a bus.
  • Make sure to carry essentials like sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Bring a hat, and comfortable clothing suitable for the local climate.
  • Follow the guidance of your guides and adhere to any conservation rules.

Mosquitoes tend to gather in large numbers on the beach, especially during the winter months. If you plan to take a walk on the beach, it’s advisable to use appropriate mosquito repellent to make your walk comfortable.

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