A haven for those seeking a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere, this warm, windy, and welcoming Mexico beach town is a destination worth visiting and should be included on anyone’s Mexico bucket list.
All you need to know about the windswept beach town of El Cuyo Yucatan!
We stumbled upon El Cuyo, Mexico, while driving across Mexico by van. El Cuyo is a small, sleepy fishing village in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Here, the main source of income is not from a bustling tourism industry but rather the daily task of fishing to make a living which is EXACTLY why we love it.
Unlike its neighbors, 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 or Holbox of the early 2000s that drew so many people in before it was spoiled by overdevelopment.
El Cuyo, to our delight, 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.
So before you set off to El Cuyo find out all you need to know about how to get there, where to stay, the best restaurants, and more!
Where Is El Cuyo Mexico?
El Cuyo is located on the northern edge of the Yucatan Peninsula, approximately 2.5 hours west of the bustling tourist hub of Cancun, 3.5 hours east of sprawling colonial Mérida, and 2.5 hours north of authentic Valladolid.
Is El Cuyo, Mexico, Worth Visiting?
With its windswept beaches, El Cuyo is one of the hidden gems in the Yucatan Peninsula. This authentic Mexican village is the perfect place to escape. With its laid-back atmosphere, travelers will undoubtedly find things go a bit slower in El Cuyo (especially if they’re coming from the resort towns on the eastern side of the peninsula), but in our opinion, that is exactly why El Cuyo is worth visiting.
There isn’t a tonne to do here, but that is exactly why it’s perfect. Take long walks on the beach, watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, try your hand at kite surfing, read a book, and eat delicious freshly caught seafood. These are the reasons El Cuyo is worth visiting.
Best Things to Do in El Cuyo Mexico
El Cuyo, Mexico may be a sleepy fishing village, but there are plenty of things to do in El Cuyo to keep you busy for a few days.
Relax at El Cuyo Beach
There is not a whole lot going on in El Cuyo, which may be why you are considering visiting El Cuyo, Mexico.
With miles and miles of endless beaches, enjoying the sun here is easy. Take some time to relax, read a book, and soak up the sun.
Just be warned, the wind can get quite strong in El Cuyo.
Try Your Hand at Kitesurfing
Kite surfing is a popular water sport in El Cuyo and is one of the main reasons many people flock to this remote Mexican beach town. In fact, El Cuyo is regularly included on lists of Mexico’s best places to kitesurf.
We recommend learning how to kitesurf with Elements Kite School. Elements Kite School is a small school run by Noah and his team of licensed kitesurfers. They go above and beyond to make sure you learn and have fun during your kitesurfing lesson.
Elements Kite School offers both group and individual classes. We highly encourage the individual classes which will give you more time on the board, although it will cost you a bit more. We also recommend taking lessons for more than one day as you likely won’t even make it to the board during your first lesson (but most schools won’t tell you this).
The cost of kiteboarding in El Cuyo is
- Basic course: 3 hours / 1 day- $4,500 pesos
- Intermediate course: 6-hours / 2 days – $8,400 pesos
- Complete course: 9-hours / 3 days – $11,700 pesos
- Group course: 3 hours / 1 day – $900 pesos
Reservations can be made online, and make sure to check the website for the most up-to-date pricing information.
PS. Make sure to tell Noah and the team at Elements Kite Surf that we (The Vanabond Tales) sent you!
Take Long Walks on El Cuyo Beach
You may be sensing a theme here, but taking a step back and slowing down are the best things to do in El Cuyo. One of the most enjoyable ways we found to spend our time was to walk along the stunning white beach. Beautiful beaches stretch seemingly endlessly to either side of the town center. Take a stroll and clear your head. Remember, your trip to El Cuyo is all about a little R&R.
Bike to See the Yucatan Flamingos
Yes, you read correctly. There are flamingos on the Yucatan Peninsula!
Flamingos can be spotted near El Cuyo down a long dirt road west of the town center. You can join a tour group which will most likely start in Rio Lagartos or you can hire bikes from your hotel or from Naia Cafe.
To find the flamingos in El Cuyo, you should avoid the advice on Google. On the map, Google tells you that you must drive from El Cuyo back through Tiziman to reach Rio Lagartos. 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 while pedaling but will certainly cool you down a bit.
Take a Side Trip to See the Pink Lakes (Las Coloradas)
Have you ever heard of a pink lake? Well, you have got to see it to believe it! The lake gets its pink coloring from organisms such as algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that make their home in salty waters. The evaporation of water leaves these organisms huddled close together thus giving off the appearance of a pink lake.
To reach the Pink Lakes in the Yucatan from El Cuyo, you will need to drive along a long dirt track west of the city (the same track to see the flamingos), not the long way around on the paved roads to Rio Lagartos.
When we drove the road, it could be driven without a 4WD but this perhaps might not be the case after heavy rains. Make sure to ask the locals about the road quality before driving.
Watch the Sunsets in El Cuyo
El Cuyo is the place to come to do little more than relax. One of the best ways to relax is by winding down your day with an amazing sunset. Free to do and almost always a good time, catching a sunset anywhere and in particular in El Cuyo is bound to be something special.
Wet a Line with a Private Fishing Charter
It wouldn’t be a true vacation to a fishing village without wetting a line. If you take a quick stroll through the town towards the marine, you will realize how important the seas are to this small coastal town.
Experience the life of a local fisherman on a guided fishing tour with LunaRena. And if you are lucky, you will be able to catch something to eat for lunch that day!
Enjoy a Snorkel Tour
El Cuyo isn’t known for its snorkeling but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Tour Adventuras runs a snorkeling tour to a nearby sunken ship and reef when there is water visibility. Your best chance of being able to snorkel in El Cuyo is outside of the months of November – April when the kitesurfing is at its best.
Where to Eat in El Cuyo Yucatan
El Cuyo may be a sleepy fishing village, but finding quality meals here will not be a problem. There are so many good restaurants to choose from here covering a wide variety of styles, budgets and cuisines.
Naia Cafe is a 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 is 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
La Casa Palma
You may be surprised to find a restaurant serving up delectable pizzas and pasta in El Cuyo, but La Casa Palma is doing just that. All from a food truck.
Thick crust pizza loaded with yummy cheese and cooked in a wood fire grill. I mean, how can you really go wrong?
Make sure to get here early as the word is out, and the place fills up fast.
Also, this place is alcohol-free, so bear that in mind when you are planning your evening.
- Address: 46 x 49 y 49B, 97707 El Cuyo, Yuc., Mexico
- Hours of Operation:
- Wednesday to Sunday: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
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 in 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!
If you are looking for simple, local, and delicious food, then consider heading over to La Negrita. You won’t find the most trendy decorations here but you will find amazing food, particularly seafood, and even more particularly their shrimp nachos.
La Negrita is open for breakfast and dinner, so make sure to plan accordingly.
And it goes without saying that things are just a little bit more relaxed in El Cuyo, so that you may be waiting for your meal a little bit longer than in other parts of Mexico. Consider it a blessing, and enjoy the time together with friends and family.
- Address: Calle 23 A No. 184 x 26, 97707 El Cuyo, Yuc., Mexico
- Hours of Operation: Daily from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
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 Saturday 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm (although currently, Google says also Sunday and Monday nights)
A newcomer on the scene, Mimisiku is easily becoming the best place to eat in El Cuyo. Run by a young couple, Mimisiku is a combination of flavors that is unlike anything in the area. The couple’s aim is to take diners on a culinary journey inspired by their life across four continents while honoring the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. They source only fresh and local ingredients with the menu changing based on the season.
Diners can enjoy a two or three-course meal set in the most beautiful setting surrounded by nature. This hidden gem is one not to be missed while exploring El Cuyo, so it is wise to make a reservation as Mimisiku is only open for dinner.
Mimisiku does not serve alcohol, but you are invited to bring your own beverages from the nearby store.
- Address: Calle 24 numero 214
- Hours of Operation: Daily from 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Authentic Mexican and a warm atmosphere make Casa Mangle another great addition to the incredible dining scene in El Cuyo. Their menu has a variety of house specialties like pozole and birria, gorditas, and chilaquiles. They open for breakfast and lunch and again in the evening for relaxed dinners.
- Address: Calle 19 Numero 169
- Hours of Operation: Daily from 9 am – 2 pm and 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm
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.
Where to Stay in El Cuyo Mexico
The beauty of El Cuyo, Yucatan, is that there is a place for everyone. Whether you are exploring Mexico by van, on a budget, or looking for luxury travel, there is a place to stay in El Cuyo for you!
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.
Hotels in El Cuyo Mexico
Unlike many off-the-beaten-path destinations in Mexico, finding inexpensive accommodation in El Cuyo can be quite difficult. At Casa Cuyo, rooms start at USD $58 per night which is quite the bargain for the area. The small, cozy hotel has a real island vibe with friendly and helpful staff who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure your stay is exceptional.
The rooms themselves are stylishly appointed in a Mexican-island chic and each room includes a private bathroom. Plus, Casa Cuyo is located right on the beach and includes a delicious on-site restaurant.
- 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: $$
Hotel Casa Cielo
In El Cuyo, it doesn’t get much more luxurious than the stunning Hotel Casa Cielo. Located right in the heart of El Cuyo and right on the ocean, this is the perfect hotel for a romantic getaway or for those looking to treat themselves during their visit to El Cuyo.
Hotel Casa Cielo offers a private beach, a swimming pool, a rooftop lounge, and more. Each stay also includes a free breakfast to be enjoyed with views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Hotel Casa Cielo is the perfect place for travelers looking to be close to the city while still retaining luxury and privacy.
- Address: Calle 15 lote 190 entre calles 12 y 14, 97707 El Cuyo, Yuc., Mexico
- Cost: $$$
How to Get to El Cuyo Mexico?
El Cuyo is easily reachable from the major cities in the Yucatan. Whether you have your own vehicle or require public transportation, there is an option for you.
How to Get to El Cuyo?
If you’re driving, reaching El Cuyo is simple. Some routes will involve toll roads and the tolls in the Yucatan can be quite steep, however normally, taking the long route to avoid them can be time-consuming and even more expensive if you bust a shock absorber on a pothole (ask us how we know). Google Maps is normally pretty reliable, but ElCuyo.net offers a bit more insight.
If you don’t have your wheels, you can rent a car from Cancun, Merida, or any other major hub on the Yucatan Peninsula.
🚗 Check out DiscoverCars.com to compare offers and find the best deals.
Cancun to El Cuyo by Car
Traveling by car is the easiest way to reach El Cuyo, whether you are renting a car in Cancun or have your 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.
Merida to El Cuyo By Car
Merida to El Cuyo is a three-and-a-half-hour 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 speeding as the visibility is sometimes impaired.
Getting to El Cuyo By Bus
You can get to El Cuyo by bus, but you will likely need to make a few transfers.
You will need to get a bus to Tizimin or Colonia as the only route to El Cuyo leaves from these two stations. You may need a third connection Depending on where you are leaving from. find out more at ElCuyo.net.
🚌 We generally recommend BookAway to find buses in Mexico, but last time I checked, they don’t offer a solution for getting to El Cuyo
Cancun to El Cuyo 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 trip takes approximately 3 hours and drops you off in the center of town near the Neveria Basulto. From the same location, grab another bus to El Cuyo. The journey should take approximately 45 minutes. The last bus to El Cuyo runs at 18:30.
Merida to El Cuyo 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 travel time.
Private Transfer and Taxi
If you don’t have your own wheels but can’t face the bus, or a short on time, you can organize a private transfer.
There are a handful of El Cuyo-based operators offering transfers, and once again, ElCuyo.net has a comprehensive guide on options.
Alternatively, you can find transfer services based in Cancun and other towns through TripAdvisor.com.
How to Get from El Cuyo to Holbox
Unfortunately, there is no direct way for travelers to get from El Cuyo to Holbox. The ferry to Holbox runs from Chiquila, an hour and forty-five minutes drive from El Cuyo.
Private boat tours can be arranged in El Cuyo from Luis at Tours Aventuras.
Is El Cuyo Mexico Safe?
El Cuyo is very safe. The petty crime that often follows beach towns overrun with large hotels and all-inclusive resorts has yet to make its way here. The locals are warm and welcoming, which is attributable to the laid-back atmosphere of El Cuyo.
When Is the Best Time to Visit El Cuyo Yucatan?
The best time to visit El Cuyo in the Yucatan is from December to April. Due to the tropical climate of the Yucatan Peninsula, the dry winter months afford travelers the best chance for blue skies, sunny days, and calm waters.
Other Important Things to Know Before Visiting El Cuyo Mexico
El Cuyo is still a village in Mexico, not a city. There are certain things you should consider before your visit to El Cuyo, like the lack of ATMs in the village or the patchy cell coverage.
Cell Coverage in El Cuyo
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 Wi-Fi service as an alternative that is sufficient for web browsing.
Things in El Cuyo are a little slower, so don’t get frustrated if your connection is slow. Remember, El Cuyo is a place for relaxing and unwinding, not web browsing.
Water Quality in El Cuyo
As with most of Mexico, we do not recommend drinking the water. A good rule of thumb is that if the locals are buying water, you should probably do the same. In El Cuyo, the locals buy water, so bring your filter water bottle or purification tablets or purchase purified water.
A water bottle with filtration, like th LifeStraw Go Bottle, is a great thing to have in Mexico.
Tips on Driving in El Cuyo Yucatan
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.
Also, if you are traveling alone in Colonia Yucatan, you are advised to fill up your car. While El Cuyo does have a small gas station at the marina, it may or may not have fuel when you get there.
Other Noteworthy Information for Visiting El Cuyo Mexico
- El Cuyo has no major grocery stores or 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.
- At least four tiendas (2 Modeloramas and 2 Six’s) 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.
So, Is El Cuyo Mexico Worth VisitIng?
In our opinion, El Cuyo is one of the best beaches in Mexico if you are looking to escape some of the nearby crowds. Its laid-back atmosphere and slower pace of life make El Cuyo the perfect place to spend a relaxing holiday.
It is still yet to be “discovered” and retains the authenticity many seek in a Mexican beach destination.
Hopefully, you find some of these tips handy when planning your trip to El Cuyo, Mexico. Let us know if you think visiting El Cuyo is worth it!
Looking for More Places to Visit in Mexico
If you want more Mexico travel inspiration, check out one of our other articles to find our favorite Mexico destinations!