In a bubblegum pink building, the Hostal Ría Celestún (Calle 12 at Calle 13, tel. 988/916-2170, US$5.50 dorm, US$14 s/d with shared bath) is the only hostel in town—too bad, because the pressure of competition might prod the management into a little better maintenance. As it is, rooms are cheap but in need of a good scrubbing. The communal kitchen is all right, and the common areas better still—you’ll surely spend more time there than in your room. A spotty Internet terminal is US$2 an hour, and bikes can be rented for US$2 an hour or US$5 a day.
Half a block from the pier, Hotel María del Carmen (Calle 12 between Calles 13 and 15, tel. 988/916-2170, US$18.50 s, US$23 s with a/c, US$23 d, US$29 d with a/c) is a small reliable hotel on a attractive stretch of beach. Each of the clean simple rooms has sturdy window screens, two double beds, and a balcony or terrace. Most also have ocean views. If your budget permits, the air-conditioned rooms are worth the extra five bucks.
Near the northern edge of town, Ecohotel Flamingo Playa (Calle 12 at Calle 5, tel. 988/916-2133, US$37–46.50 s/d) offers simple beachfront rooms with tile floors, air- conditioning, and cable TV. There’s also a small but inviting pool that overlooks the ocean. All in all, a good deal.
Hotel Manglares (Calle 12 near Calle 5, tel. 988/916-2156, US$74 s/d, cabana US$150) is Celestún’s best hotel, owned by the same two brothers who operate Restaurante La Palapa. All 24 double rooms have air-conditioning, satellite TV, and telephone, while four beachfront cabañas have the same, plus a small living room, king-size bed, and kitchenette. A small pool completes the package.
Ten kilometers (six miles) north of town, Hotel Eco Paraíso Xixim (Antigua Carretera a Sisal Km. 10, tel. 988/916-2100, www.ecoparaiso.com, US$152 s, US$178 d) boasts 15 oceanfront palapa-roofed bungalows that rest on 61 acres of land. Each unit has a sitting area, comfortable beds, and an ample patio with hammocks. A short walk reveals a modern pool, an immense shade palapa, and a tall lookout platform that affords views of the sea and coast. As the name suggests, it’s an eco-friendly hotel: Solar energy is used, all water is recycled, and the land has been protected by building upon only 1.2 percent of it. There also are a handful of ecologically diverse trails for walking or biking. No question, it’s a long way from city life but it’s a perfect retreat with sun, white sand, and the emerald sea at your doorstep. Be sure to ask about the educational tours. Rates include full breakfast; half-board available.
For longer stays, consider Playa Maya Resorts (Antigua Carretera a Sisal s/n, tel. 999/938-0839, www.playamaya.net, US$100–210 s/d, weekly and monthly rates available), a beachfront condominium complex with one to two bedroom units with fully equipped kitchenettes, simple wood furnishings, and private verandas. All face a wide expanse of beach along the Gulf of Mexico and are next to a large, well-kempt pool. There’s also a decent restaurant on-site. Located seven kilometers (four miles) north of town. Rates include transportation to and from Mérida’s airport.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition