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The Northern Yucatan Peninsula

Posted by on November 28, 2011

I used to follow the motorcycle travel blog of a fellow ADV Rider (stickfigure) who has done some great ride reports down through Central America. I had the opportunity to cross paths with him at a beach bar and exchange notes and beers. I wanted to ride up to the national park (Ria Lagartos) on the north coast of the Yucatan, and he had been through there. He confirmed which trails were worth the effort and I solidified my route.

Getting from the east coast of the Yucatan to the north coast without going to Cancun is a total PITA. There are only a few roads that go diagonally, one of them is blocked by security and wouldn’t let me through, and the other two are seemingly impossible to find. I’ve since found some back roads that circumvent the security stations outside Playa del Carmen, but they aren’t mapped. They look something like this:


On this occasion I succumbed to unfamiliarity and went north to Cancun….. ugh.

I hate the pavement routes, but before long I was in the coastal town of El Cuyo and ready to rip along the beach in search of flamingos!


Just like Stickfigure promised, I found some of the most fun riding in months!

Long sandy stretches that hugged the beach.


And lots of entry points to hop onto the beach and let the gas drain.



Sometimes there are cemeteries in the strangest places. I always stop to have a look.


The bird sanctuary is what I came to see, and the fantastic riding continued right through the middle of it. There are large bays of very shallow protected water where all the birds hang out. There are towers scattered around the park for bird watching, but they were all locked. I think you have to be a part of a tour group to get access to the towers. Like always, I take the self guided option.


Flamingos in the distance!


Found them. They just stand around a chill out. Way to be.


Did I mention how great the riding was out here?


At one point I dumped the bike and the cheap Mexican hose connector snapped. Go figure. The second I bought it I knew it was crap.


Thankfully I carry spare everything! I removed the T and fuel filter and ran some new hose. Much better.


Some of the water in Rio Lagartos is bright pink. I’m told it is because of all the salt in the area, but that doesn’t sound quite right to me.


After I scared off all the birds I browsed around the town of Rio Lagartos and got a cheap hotel for the night. Beach front with wifi.


The town was quite slow, and once the sun went down there was no one around. So the next morning I packed up and kept moving.

The pavement out towards Progresso was surprisingly enjoyable.


There are coconut farms everywhere in the Yucatan.


And makeshift trawlers.


Cheap ocean front fixer-upper properties can be found for dirt cheap all along the coast here. I stopped to peek at a few. They were all destroyed by a hurricane a few years back when the beach was washed away. There were some squatters living in this one.


Progresso is a nice little town. It has a cute downtown area with nice cafes and people walking about, as well as a couple touristy bars along the water. An enormous pier jets way out into the ocean, I tried to ride out, but was denied access. I’m told the cruise ships occasionally pass through and tie up.


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