Campeche – officially the Free and Sovereign State of Campeche – is one of the 32 states of Mexico. Located in southeast Mexico, it is bordered by the states of Tabasco to the southwest, Yucatán to the northeast, and Quintana Roo to the east; to the southeast by the Orange Walk district of Belize, and by the Petén department of Guatemala to the south. We have arrived here from Yucatán, and were very surprised how much wonders Campeche could offer. Let’s review now together the 10 best things to do in Campeche state!
- 1 Ciudad del Carmen – The pearl of the Gulf
- 2 Playa Norte – The sandy urban beach
- 3 Isla del Carmen – The land of the most romantic sunsets
- 4 Sabancuy – Playa de Santa Rosalia
- 5 Champotón – “Bahía de la Mala Pelea”
- 6 Seybaplaya – An authentic fishermen village
- 7 San Francisco de Campeche – An almost fully preserved colonial town
- 8 Edzna Archeological Site – The less visited archeological zone
- 9 Restaurant Mangle – For a quick breakfast at the lagoon
- 10 Cocktelerias & The shrimp production in Campeche
Ciudad del Carmen – The pearl of the Gulf
We spent 2 nights in Ciudad del Carmen and it was more than sufficient time to discover the surroundings. The city – nicknamed “The Pearl of the Gulf” – was a small town mostly devoted to fishing until the 1970s when oil was discovered in the region; since then it has grown and developed substantially. To this day Carmen is known as one of the best locations to find seafood in Mexico. As late as the early 1980s the city could long be reached only by ferry boats called “pangas” or small motorboats (“lanchas“) operating between Ciudad del Carmen and Zacatal; this changed with the construction of a causeway bridge to the mainland in the 1980s (eastbound) and another one in 1994 (westbound). The construction of the first bridge was motivated by the sinking of one of the island’s pangas which resulted in the death of nearly everyone on board. The bridge Puente El Zacatal, constructed in 1994, is one of the longest in Latin America.
Playa Norte – The sandy urban beach
Playa Norte, on the Gulf of Mexico, is Ciudad del Carmen’s beach area. It’s superb looking, with wide expanses of coarse sand, turquoise green water, parking areas and some palapa bars, cocktelerias and restaurants. It’s a proper urban beach that usually during the weekdays is kind of empty as you can see on the below pictures! However, as we heard from locals, during the weekend is suddenly getting full of visitors.
Isla del Carmen – The land of the most romantic sunsets
Everyone speaks about different island tours around Mexico but usually they forgot to mention or even consider Isla del Carmen. Maybe because it’s kind of easy to access via its bridges, no need for ferry rides, I’m not sure, but for us it was most probably the most romantic place that we could have experienced all around our Mexican journey. Super long extension of empty beaches, with white and golden sand, free palapas, and the Gulf of Mexico only for us. Besides couple of official beach bars with fences where you need to book ahead your palapa for a lot of money, don’t expect here any services so it’s better to bring your own supplies, choose a friendly bay, and enjoy your day till sunset!
Sabancuy – Playa de Santa Rosalia
Sabancuy is famous for its beach on Mar Vivo – meaning on the Gulf Sea, and not in the lagoon (Mar Muerto). Its beaches are extremely quiet, fine white sand, shallow water, transparent, peaceful and gentle slope waves. Today, thanks to its peaceful calm waters with waves are ideal for young children and elderly people, and also water sports such as the diving cliffs where you can admire a variety of marine fauna, in addition to fishing sports, sailing, it is planned eco-tourism development for the area and while the study is presented to investors. Sabancuy offers tourism services including accommodation, food, tourist information, plus the population has the characteristics of being kind and friendly people.
Champotón – “Bahía de la Mala Pelea”
Champotón may not be as popular as other cities in Mexico, but don’t let that fool you. Champotón is a smaller but beautiful upcoming tourist destination that is worth a visit. You will find a wide variety of tourist attractions that allow visitors to have different options to enjoy their stay, since they have a privileged geographical location that puts them within their reach tourist beaches, cenotes, rivers, incredible options for sport fishing, bird watching and ecotourism activities, as well as a rich tradition in gastronomy, coupled with the history that links them to a Mayan heritage admired throughout the world.
Seybaplaya – An authentic fishermen village
The most authentic fishermen village that we found all around Mexico was undoubtedly Seybaplaya. Here you can observe the locals creating the fishing net by hand, fishermen boats with colourful flags all around waiting for a catch, the people living out of the sea, where the sea is not for tourism purposes but only for work, and a peaceful, a bit outdated atmosphere where usually the locals can meet only a very few tourists. If you are looking for a real experience, take a walk on the bay promenade to observe the real life of this fishing village.
San Francisco de Campeche – An almost fully preserved colonial town
Campeche is one of the least known and unrated colonial cities in Mexico, mostly bypassed by those visiting more famous destinations in the Yucatan peninsula. The city’s historic buildings are protected by decree to keep them from being destroyed or altered by the growth of the city. Campeche was one of the most important ports in New Spain. It suffered more than twenty one major pirate attacks in the colonial era.
An almost fully preserved colonial town of Campeche is a gem to experience on foot. The streets are lined with colourful buildings and the old defensive walls are preserved in large sections. There are a good number of restaurants and cage’s though not as many as one would expect, especially the farther you go away from the central plaza.
- Look for the pedestrian street: calle 59, it is a very nice narrower street with plenty of eating and drinking options!
Edzna Archeological Site – The less visited archeological zone
One of the best things to do in Campeche and our biggest favourite among the archeological sites! Super well-preserved & hardly visited. It was our last archeological zone visit, and if I think about it that we almost skipped it (!), but luckily not. Even though in how great condition is the complete site, the entrance ticket here is the cheapest without any additional general admission jokes. The entrance ticket is 65 Mexican Pesos, exactly as it is stated on their website.
Edzná’s massive complexes were built by a highly stratified society that flourished from about 600 BC to the 15th century AD. During that period the people of Edzná built more than 20 complexes in a melange of architectural styles, installing an ingenious network of water-collection and irrigation systems. Most of the visible carvings date from AD 550 to 810. The causes leading to Edzná’s decline and gradual abandonment remain a mystery, the site remained unknown until its rediscovery by campesinos in 1906.
- Be prepared – out of all the places all around Mexico, the biggest mosquito invasion we faced here. Regardless of the fact that we used crazy amount of repellent, it did not really matter, there were hungry mosquitos all around, biting on skin and through your clothes as well!
Restaurant Mangle – For a quick breakfast at the lagoon
If you are on the go – like we were – and ready to eat something tasty, jump in to Restaurant Mangle. They are open for all day, we happened to arrive for breakfast, and were immediately served with fresh, homemade shrimp & cheese empanadas, such a big portion that half of it we took for take-away after. The location is ideal, right next to the main road, easy to park and you find yourself at a lagoon with palapas on the water. Lovely & authentic place!
Cocktelerias & The shrimp production in Campeche
Campeche has all the weather, water quality and technological conditions for being one among the leading areas of the worldwide shrimp industry. Given the productivity of this Mexican region, units in Boxol, Seybaplaya, Champotón, and Chulbac farm, in Chiná. Wherever you go in this territory you will find on the menu on every cocktelerias many types of dishes prepared out of / with camaron (shrimp). You can’t go wrong with none of them, but since the quality of the shrimps here is indeed excellent, worth to order them fresh and accompany with ceviche!
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