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Away from the hustle and bustle of the Riviera Maya, El Cuyo is an oasis of tranquillity and peace, where a community of locals and expatriates enjoy their little piece of paradise on earth, which they strive to protect and preserve, with so much love and care.
What will you find at El Cuyo? Deserted beaches, almost Sargasso free, pristine waters, perfect wind for the kite lovers.
Here there is no rush, cafes, and restaurants are open only a few days per week and for a few hours because time is a precious gift and wasting it working is a crime. 🙂
Here at El Cuyo life goes slow and the WIFI too, but that’s how we love it.
“By having good memories on every place you just visit,
you are building paradise in your own heart and your life.”
Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity
For more travel quotes you can check this post.
I have always seen “El Cuyo” on the map but never dared explore. I was too busy checking out more remote and fancy places until I heard it was the new paradise for kite surfers and therefore it was getting more attention not only from surfers themselves but also from investors who smelled the business opportunity.
So I got curious, not for the business, but for the reason why this tiny place was suddenly getting all this attention and off I went to check it out.
It was in 2017 before setting off for my journey through Mexico leaving my past behind.
When I arrived there with my friends, we found a ghost town.
A few hotels, maybe 2 or 3 and some home rentals, one restaurant, that was open only until 5 pm and a few “Abarrotes” small local grocery shops.
The pelicans were the undiscussed guardians of the pier. Together with frigate birds and ducks lay still on top of the balustrade or the light stands with their careless look, or they just ignore you as if knowing that you wouldn’t do any harm.
Fast forward two years I came back to check out how my paradise was doing and I was pleasantly surprised to find that although there were a few more cute little hotels and lovely coffee shops, just the way I like it, but it remained just like I left it, a laid back tranquil town with sandy roads and cute little houses, lovely people that great you with a smile when you walk by.
Here I will tell you all you can do at El Cuyo now, the new places where to stay and to eat.
THINGS TO DO AT EL CUYO
WALK ON THE BEACH
You can walk forever and find no one. A great morning exercise while chasing the sunrise.
You won’t find the colors of the Caribbean sea, but I assure you it has its own charm.
ENJOY WITH SOME WATERSPORT ACTIVITIES
The water is simply enjoyable, it’s not deep although sometimes you can find strong currents. El Cuyo became popular first among kitesurfers who found there the perfect conditions for their practice.
You can challenge yourself with some kite lesson, but also rent a kayak or a paddleboard for a quieter ride along the marine reserve. You can inquire at the NAIA CAFE for either rentals or class.
BASK ON THE BEACH AND CHILL
The beach is wide and deserted. There are no beach chairs or umbrellas to rent, although there are a few “palapas” here and there to offer some shade.
Otherwise, you are on your own. So remember to bring your “beach equipment” if you need it. Or lay on a rug anywhere you want.
- Use ecological sun protector, but use it, because the sun is strong, even when it’s hiding behind the clouds.
- Respect the environment and do not litter
- Always take water with you. In the NAIA cafe and CAFE LOCAL, they sell nicely designed refillable bottles, in case you need to buy one.
WATCH THE SUNSET
From the pier, it’s, to me, the best spot to watch the sunset while mingling with the locals fishing or just having an evening stroll. P.S. On the pier it is not allowed to bring alcohol as a safety measure.
During the sunset time, you can be lucky and find dolphins swimming around the pier. I did saw one and it blew me away. It was so close and it stuck around for quite a while. So beautiful.
RENT A BIKE AND GO LOOK FOR THE FLAMINGOES
At NAIA CAFE‘ you can rent bikes and go for a ride around town. With this heat, it’s a great way to explore the village, biking through the narrow dirt roads and checking out the beautiful colorful houses and the amazing murals on their walls.
You can reach far off to the pier on the Lagoon from where you can always see a few flamingoes snacking or chilling. So beautiful to look at, and take pictures.
Sometimes you can also see the flamingoes on the way in before entering the town, the road stretches between to pinkish…or brownish lagoon where a few flamingoes are always hanging out. It’s an amazing show to watch. Just don’t get too distracted if you are driving.
JOIN A QUAD TOUR TO LAS COLORADAS
From the main plaza in the town center, you can inquire for this tour by Quod that will take you through a dirt road along the Insta-famous pink lagoon. There you can even enter a protected area with a local guide that will take you around and explain about the local territory.
If you have a 4 wheel drive car you can also venture out on your own. Once you get to the pink lagoon you can really take pictures from the road without paying the entrance.
However, how my friend Cathy from ElCuyo.net explained, you would pay only 50 MXN (2USD) and you will support the locals that wouldn’t have any forms of income otherwise.
So that would be 2 USD well spent.
WHERE TO STAY AT EL CUYO
This is where I have stayed for my two nights. I loved the spacious rooms and frugal design. The rooms have only the essential but of great quality and comfort, and, most important, clean.
The location is also quite convenient not far from the center and two blocks from the beach. Great WIFI and a nice restaurant, which I didn’t try but from the reviews I read it seems quite good.
It’s a nice hotel with self-catering accommodations, very nicely decorated as well. The hotel has its own restaurant (Italian) that is open for breakfast and dinner. It’s about a km 0.8 miles from the center, which makes it a great excuse for a nice walk. It’s not right on the beach but just across the road and you can have a lovely view from the upstairs rooms. The hotel can also organize private boat tours in the protected reserve.
HOTEL CASA CIELO
This is the most expensive hotel at El Cuyo and one of the first to be built. I didn’t have the chance to see it because it was closed when I got there and I didn’t bother to go back.
For more hotel options at El Cuyo, click here
Stay in an Airbnb at El Cuyo
There are a few interesting Airbnb options at El Cuyo, which can be a very interesting substitute of the usual hotel.
If you are new to Airbnb, it’s a platform where you can book apartments for a short stay or a room into a local homes. I use it very often in my nomadic life and it has always worked very well.
If it’s your first time using the platform for you, you can register using this link so that you can get a discount coupon for your first booking.
If you already have an Airbnb account you can use the below search box to look for your apartment options at El Cuyo.
WHERE TO EAT AT EL CUYO
When I arrived at El Cuyo for the first time there was absolutely nothing, besides one restaurant that closed at 5 pm and 2 “loncherias” that only sold tacos that were open for dinner.
Now, as tourists come in more often and the hotel offer increased you also get more food choice. Here below I am giving you a list of my favorite places, which are almost all the places you can find in town.
This is my top favorite place at El Cuyo. Too bad it closes too early at 2 pm. But if you like an early lunch you might be on time to grab yours before they close.
You should not miss their breakfast though by all means.
The menu is rich and makes everybody happy, vegans and non-vegans. The vegan breakfast is to die for!
A variety of healthy juices and drinks are available too.
The cafe’ is located in the cute backyard of the owners’ house, on the main street 2 blocks from the beach and from the main square.
You will be welcomed by the nice staff, and most of the time Juan, the owner itself, who will personally come to your table to make sure everything is ok.
But the real stars of the places are the sweet labrador Lucas who would come and offer you his coconut to play with or will sit with you just as if he was your best friend since ever and the friendly kitty-girl Lila, who would just hang around as if she was the owner of the place and, if she decides so, she might come and say hi.
They are just hilarious and part of the reason this place has such a special energy.
Open every day from 8 am to 2 pm
It’s the new kid of the blog and it’s doing quite well. I have just gone for a refreshing smoothie which was delicious and an espresso coffee’ which was just perfect.
They also have a good variety of sandwiches and other dishes with vegan choices. It’s located just behind the beach on the main beach road.
You cannot miss it.
Open every day from 8 am to 4 pm
This restaurant has been there forever and it was quite popular as a fish restaurant. I went once when all the restaurants were close and had a vegan fajita which was very disappointing. The veggies were not fresh and they were swimming in oil. I was also told that it’s not anymore so popular for fish so I would go there just in case of lack of other options, to be honest.
Open every day from 8 am to 5.30 pm
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to eat there although I stayed in the hotel. So I cannot give you my personal opinion. However, I wanted to include it because space and atmosphere are really nice and cozy and the plates have excellent reviews on trip advisor, not sure about the vegan options though. But I would certainly give it a try.
Open every day from 8 am to 2 pm and from 5 am to 9.30 pm except Wednesday when it’s only open from 8 to 11 am
EL CHILE GORDO
Such a special place. The dining room is nicely decorated with exquisite taste creating a cozy little place. If you prefer to dine in the open air you can also choose a seat the backyard in the manicured garden that faces the lagoon where, if it’s not too dark, you might spot some flamingoes. The variety of the dishes in the menu is a tribute to the finest Mexican cuisine. But they went the extra mile adding a vegan and vegetarian version to every meal, which is a rare detail that really deserves to be highlighted.
They even offer you a complimentary appetizer which is mole poblano which is a very typical Mexican sauce made with chocolate and chile. And they even have the vegan version. That detail almost made me cry for joy! Such rare attention to details. 🙂
El Chile Gordo is definitely a must if you are staying at El Cuyo in their opening days.
Open from Thursday through Sunday from 5.30 through 9.30pm
LA CASA PALMA FOOD TRUCK
A cute place run by a lovely Argentinian couple. It’s a simple food truck and a few tables in a nicely decorated and enlightened garden where you can eat pizza, pasta or empanadas. Follow them on Instagram to make sure they didn’t change their opening hours
Open from Wednesday through Sunday from 6 to 9.30 pm
I have to say I didn’t make it there. BUT Cathy from Elcuyo.net, a local online magazine recommended it as a great place to eat fish. So here I am passing the information on to you.
Closed on Tuesdays, but it’s open on weekdays from 12 pm – 6 pm and from 8 am till 7 pm on weekends.
On Sundays, they announce to sell what is the equivalent of homemade stewed pork, on the street. So from 7 am, you will see a lady with a huge Saucepan selling this local delicacy.
I am vegan so I don’t eat this kind of food. But if you are into meat, it might be a good way to get into local food.
If you are renting an apartment and you wish to cook yourself it would be better if you purchase food in Tizimin, the closest big town at 1-hour drive from El Cuyo.
Otherwise, you find some small grocery stores in town and 2 lovely ladies selling fruits and veggies on the main road every morning.
HOW TO GET TO EL CUYO
El Cuyo is situated on the Yucatan east coast in between Chiquila‘ (from where the ferries to Isla Holbox leaves) and Rio Lagartos and belongs to the same protected area. It’s a Sanctuary of birds, especially flamingoes and a paradise for nature lovers.
HOW TO REACH EL CUYO BY CAR
Although it will be easy to find on google map or any road map, please be aware that sometimes you can lose the signal. It’s a no-brainer though. From Cancun take the road to Valladolid, you will see the sign along the road on where to turn right in Colonia Yucatan.
Here below you can find a map for your perusal.
HOW TO GET TO EL CUYO BY BUS
It’s a little of an adventure to get here by bus, just because there are no direct buses from the main cities to El Cuyo.
You will need to get to Tizimin and from there get a bus (NORESTE is the name of the bus company) or a shared taxi or minivan, which is faster but less reliable
Here the NORESTE schedule from Tizimin to El Cuyo
6.45 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 1.30 pm, 4.30 pm, 6 pm
From El Cuyo to Tizimin
5 am, 7 am, 9 am, 1.30pm, 3.30 pm, 6 pm
However, I would double check, just in case.
To have more information you can check out ElCuyo.net website which is always up to date.
How to get to Tizimin
ADO bus connects Tizimin with Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
From Valladolid, you can find the ORIENTE buses from the Valladolid bus station that are quite frequent, but again they don’t have an online available schedule.
Minivans are also available, they are faster but less reliable as well.
You can check on their website for their schedule. However, be aware that there are low-cost busses that are more frequent but their schedule is not available online. You can use the chat in the ADO site and ask the operator. They speak English and they are very efficient.