All you need to know about the wind swept beach town of El Cuyo Mexico!
El Cuyo is a small and sleepy fishing village located at the top of the Yucatan Peninsula. The main source of income here is not from a bustling tourism industry but rather the daily task of fishing to make a living. This, however, is exactly why we loved it. Unlike the neighboring coastline of the Yucatan to the east, El Cuyo remains untouched by large hotel chains and all-inclusive resorts. Only small modest guesthouses, hostels, and hotels dot a long sandy road making the tourism here feel less “touristy”, more local, and more enjoyable.
I imagine El Cuyo today is similar to the Tulum of the early 2000’s that drew so many people in, before it was spoiled by over development. (Don’t get me wrong, we greatly enjoyed our time in Tulum, but it really isn’t Mexico anymore. Moreso, it has come to feel like an extension of the US, on foreign soil).
El Cuyo, to our delight, however, still remains mostly uncharted territory. While you will find modest restaurants, guesthouses, and cafes for all your needs, the real beauty is exploring Mexico at its true, raw untouched self. Find out all you need to know about El Cuyo from how to get there, where to stay, the best restaurants and more!
How to Get to El Cuyo Mexico
By Car: Traveling by car is the easiest way to reach El Cuyo whether you are renting a car in Cancun or have your own wheels. El Cuyo from Cancun is a two-and-a-half-hour drive. Follow the Mexico 180D south until you reach the QROO 5 heading north to Colonia Yucatan. From there it is a straight shot north until you dead end into the Gulf of Mexico.
By Bus: There is no direct bus from Cancun to El Cuyo. To reach El Cuyo, a bus must first be taken from the ADO bus terminal to Colonia Yucatan run by either Mayab or Noreste. Purchase tickets at the two left windows in the bus terminal. The journey takes approximately 3 hours and drops you off in the center of town near the Neveria Basulto. From here, grab another bus from Colinia Yucatan from the same location to El Cuyo. The journey should take approximately 45 minutes. The last bus to El Cuyo runs at 18:30.
By Car: Merida to El Cuyo is a three-and-a-half hours drive. Take the Mexico 176 to Tizimin before continuing north on the Mexico 295. The last hour of the drive is on the Dzonot Carretero. This stretch of the road is narrow and appears to be seldom traveled. We recommend driving only during the day and not to speed as the visibility is sometimes impaired.
By Bus: Traveling to El Cuyo by bus from Merida requires first that you transfer to Tizimin before heading onward to El Cuyo. Buses leave from Noreste Terminal at Calle 50 and 67 at 6:45, 9:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 17:30 to Tiziman. In Tiziman, catch a new bus headed for El Cuyo at the Noreste Terminal at the crossroads of Calle 46 and 47. Buses run at 5:00, 6:00, 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 13:30, 16:30, and 18:00. The cost should be between MXN $65 – $80 depending on the time of travel.
Where to Stay in El Cuyo Mexico
Van Life in El Cuyo Mexico
Camping in your van in El Cuyo Mexico is easy. Whether you choose to be away from it all on your own little beach or right in the thick of things in the town, there is something for everyone.
For those wanting to get away, there is an abandoned development with a few standing palapas west of town that is perfect for overlanding. A few locals come throughout the day and the police stop by occasionally, but otherwise, you will most likely have the place to yourself. No 4WD is necessary, but the road to get there is very narrow. You can find the spot on iOverlander here.
If you are more interested in staying in the city to enjoy the laid-back vibe, head out east along the beach from the main town square. Along this road there are several dead end streets with beach access where you can park comfortably for a night or two.
Hotel Accommodation in El Cuyo Mexico
Finding inexpensive accommodation in El Cuyo can be quite difficult. At Casa Cuyo, dorm beds start at USD $40 per night for a six-person room. While the cost is fairly pricey, the location is right on the beach and the amenities exceed most hostels.
- Address: 97707 El Cuyo, Yucatan, Mexico
- Cost: $
LunArena Boutique Beach Hotel Yucatán Mexico
While not located directly on the beach, LunArena Boutique Beach Hotel Yucatán Mexico is a stylish and modern hotel offering all of the luxury amenities one could ever want in El Cuyo. Each suite has a private terrace with a view or garden. A delicious breakfast is included with your stay as well as access to bikes. LunArena Boutique Beach Hotel is the perfect weekend getaway for couples looking to relax and unwind.
- Address: Avenida Veraniega, 97707 El Cuyo, Yuc., Mexico
- Cost: $$
Hotel Casa Cielo
Hotel Casa Cielo is located right in the heart of El Cuyo. Right on the ocean, Hotel Casa Cielo offers a private beach, a swimming pool, a rooftop lounge and more. Each stay also includes a free breakfast to be enjoyed with views of the Gulf of Mexico. Hotel Casa Cielo is the perfect place for travelers looking to be close to the city while still retaining luxury and privacy.
- Address: Calle 15 lote 190 entre calles 12 y 14, 97707 El Cuyo, Yuc., Mexico
- Cost: $$$
Where to Eat in El Cuyo Mexico
While El Cuyo may be a sleepy fishing village, there are a handful of quality meals to be found in El Cuyo, Mexico.
For Breakfast | Naia Cafe
Naia Cafe is the bohemian beach cafe that exists in almost every beach town that you will visit. While the decor is cliche, the coffee is brewed to perfection and the food simply delicious. For breakfast, Naia Cafe serves up poached eggs with avocado toast, banana pancakes and more. You can also stop in for a light lunch of salads and paninis after soaking up the morning sun.
- Address: Calle De La veraniega, 97707 El Cuyo, Mexico
- Hours of Operation: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm daily
For Lunch | Restaurant La Conchita
A local establishment, La Conchita is the best place to go if you are looking for seafood. La Conchita like most other seafood restaurants offers fish and shrimp almost any way you could ask for. Conchita also serves up lobster for $350 pesos which are a bargain compared to prices in the Western world. The portions are quite large so sharing is recommended.
- Address: Calle 37 x 40 y 42, Centro, 97707 El Cuyo, Yuc., Mexico
- Hours of Operation:
- Wednesday to Monday: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm
- Tuesday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Pro-tip: Try the margarita on the rocks with your meal! Trust me it is delicious!
For Dinner | El Chile Gordo
Catching dinner at El Chile Gordo may be difficult as this establishment is only open from 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays (and sometimes not even then). When we visited El Cuyo, El Chile Gordo was only open on Sunday. If you do manage to visit while it is open you will be in for a treat. Delicious Mexican food served in a cozy environment, these guys know what they are doing.
- Address: Calle Laguna 220, 97707 El Cuyo, Yuc., Mexico
- Hours of Operation: Friday and Saturdays 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm (although currently, Google says also Sunday and Monday nights)
These are what we think are the best restaurants in El Cuyo. Let us know if you agree!
Best Cafes in El Cuyo Mexico
There are two main cafes in El Cuyo which is plenty for this tiny town. We visited both during our time there. Here is our honest review of each cafe in El Cuyo.
We already mentioned Naia above as the place to grab breakfast or brunch in El Cuyo. Naia is also the best place to grab a coffee and enjoy a morning pastry (their brownies are amazing!).
Mochiart, run out of the front of their home by a lovely young couple, is the other option for coffee in El Cuyo. While we enjoyed our coffee (and pastry) better from Naia Cafe, Mochiart seemed to be more of the local vibe. Regulars stopped by for the morning on-the-go cup of coffee, friends gathered to chat about the latest gossip (I assume) and families dined on healthy breakfasts. It is a great place to visit while in El Cuyo.
Best Bars in El Cuyo Mexico
If you are looking for a party town, then El Cuyo may not be the place for you. Currently, there are no bars in El Cuyo to speak of and most establishments close up shop by 21:00 or at the latest 23:00.
What to Do in El Cuyo Mexico
Relax on the Beach
There is not a whole lot going on in El Cuyo which might be why you are thinking of going. Take some time to relax, read a book and sunbathe. Just be warned, the wind can get quite strong in El Cuyo.
One of the big reasons for people to visit El Cuyo in Mexico is for kite surfing. There are two main kiteboarding schools in El Cuyo, El Cuyo Kite School and Come Kite With Us. At both schools, you can have private or group lessons ranging from one day (three hours) to three days (nine hours). Costs range between USD $165 for a one-day group lesson to USD $585 for a three-day private lesson. All equipment and gear can be rented as well for your kite surfing needs while in El Cuyo.
Flamingos and the Pink Lakes
Flamingos can be spotted nearby to El Cuyo. While most tours and options start from nearby Rio Lagartos, you can easily see the flamingos from El Cuyo by hiring a bike from your hotel or from Naia Cafe.
On the map, Google tells you that you must drive from El Cuyo back through Tiziman to reach Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas. This is not the case. On the west side of town, there is a dirt path past the cemetery that connects Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas with El Cuyo. While the ride might be long (probably 10-12 kilometers) the experience will be worth it. And face it, there is not a whole lot to do in El Cuyo anyway.
Make sure you pack plenty of water and sunscreen. There is no shade on the journey and it will be hot in the middle of the day. Luckily, in El Cuyo, you will definitely have a breeze that can either work for you or against you pedaling but will certainly cool you down a bit.
Other Important Things to Know About El Cuyo Mexico
Telcel, Mexico’s leading cell provider, advertises 3G coverage in El Cuyo. While this might be the case, the service is not the best that we have found in Mexico. Most cafes, such as Naia, offer wifi service as an alternative which is sufficient for web browsing.
As with most of Mexico, we do not recommend drinking the water. A good rule of thumb is if the locals are buying water then you probably should too. In El Cuyo, the locals buy water, so bring your own filter water bottle, purification tablets or purchase purified water.
Driving in El Cuyo Mexico
Most roads in El Cuyo are either sand roads or are littered with potholes. You do not need a 4WD here, but we did not visit during the rainy season. It could be different.
Other Noteworthy Information for Visiting El Cuyo Mexico
- El Cuyo has no major grocery stores or even a substantial fruit and veggie shop. Make sure to stock up on the basics including fruit and veggies prior to visiting El Cuyo if you plan to do any cooking yourself.
- There are at least 4 tiendas (2 Modeloramas and 2 Six’s) that serve beer, so your beer needs will be more than taken care of while in El Cuyo.
- Purified ice is available in El Cuyo for all your cocktail making needs (and of course to keep things cold).
- There are no ATMs in El Cuyo, so bring cash as many (read: all) businesses are cash only.
Hopefully you find some of these tips handy when planning your trip to El Cuyo Mexico. Let us know what you liked and what you didn’t below!
Looking for More Places to Visit in Mexico
If you are interested in more Mexico travel inspiration, check out one of our other articles to find our our favorite Mexico destinations!
- Where to Go in Mexico: 25 of the Best Mexico Travel Destinations
- 10 Unique Places to Visit in Mexico
- What to Do in Merida: The Complete Guide
- What to Do (and More) in Valladolid
- The Flamingos in the Yucatan, Mexico
Want to save this article about El Cuyo Mexico for later? Pin It!