Looking for information on Sisal, Yucatan? I got you covered.
Sisal is a quaint small coastal town that is located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. When my partner and I lived in Merida, since Sisal was only 45 minutes away, we frequently traveled to this beachside destination whenever we wanted a quick getaway from the bustle of the city.
The Yucatan Peninsula in general has amazing natural landscapes and the beaches in Sisal are no exception. If you walk along the beach, all you will see is white sand and clear waters ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
However, Sisal is not just about the beaches, though; there are also many colonial structures, churches, and natural resources that make visiting this seaside town worthwhile.
In this article, I will share with you our complete travel guide to Sisal, plus give you tips on the best things to do in the area, where to eat, how to get there, and more.
- History of Sisal, Yucatan
- Best Time to Go to Sisal
- Best Things to Do in Sisal, Yucatan
- 1. Relax on the Beach
- 2. Explore Sisal Town
- 3. Go Birdwatching
- 4. Eat Some Fresh Seafood
- 5. Visit the Lagoons on a Guided Tour
- 6. Watch the Sunset
- 7. Visit the Sisal Lighthouse
- Where to Eat in Sisal: The Best Sisal Restaurants
- Where to Stay in Sisal
- How to Get to Sisal
- Other Places to Visit Near Sisal
History of Sisal, Yucatan
Sisal has a really interesting history as a port town on the Yucatan peninsula. It used to be a Mayan settlement back in the day, and the name “Sisal” actually comes from a local word that refers to a type of agave plant that was grown in the area.
During the colonial era, Sisal became an important place for exporting henequen, which is a type of plant that was used to make rope and twine. When the port of Sisal in Yucatan was opened, it was initially called Santa María del Sisal.
The town grew quickly, with lots of wealthy merchants and traders settling there.
Although Sisal isn’t as important as a port as it used to be, it still has a strong connection to henequen production, and you can see the evidence of its past prosperity in the old colonial buildings that are still standing.
Today, Sisal is no longer Merida’s port town and has been replaced by Progresso and this is how Sisal gradually became a fishing town.
Despite this, tourists and locals alike make their way here to relax on its gorgeous beaches and experience its friendly vibe. In my opinion, Sisal is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Yucatan.
One of our favorite things to do is to go on a road trip here to enjoy some fresh seafood by the beach! It really doesn’t get better than that.
Best Time to Go to Sisal
If you’re planning a trip to Sisal, the best time to go is during the winter months from December to March. The weather is usually sunny and dry, with mild temperatures that are perfect for outdoor activities like swimming, sunbathing, and exploring the town.
Summer, from May to September, can be unbearably hot and humid! After spending a few months living in Merida, we can attest to how unbearable the heat gets.
Although having said this, if you happen to be in Merida or anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula during those months, a visit to Sisal is a great way to cool off from the heat.
October and November are also good months to visit Sisal, with cooler temperatures and fewer tourists.
If you plan on visiting from November to April, you might luck out by seeing hundreds of flamingos fly above you as they flock to the Ria Celestun Bio Reserve.
Want a detailed list of the weather schedule in Mexico? Check out a few of our articles:
- Weather in Mexico in January
- Weather in Mexico in February
- Weather in Mexico in March
- Weather in Mexico in April
- Weather in Mexico in May
- Weather in Mexico in June
- Weather in Mexico in July
- Weather in Mexico in August
- Weather in Mexico in September
- Weather in Mexico in October
- Weather in Mexico in November
- Weather in Mexico in December
Best Things to Do in Sisal, Yucatan
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1. Relax on the Beach
Sisal has some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, with soft white sand and crystal-clear water that’s perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
Whether you want to lay out and catch some rays, take a dip in the ocean, or simply walk along the shoreline, the beaches of Sisal are sure to provide you with the ultimate relaxation experience.
Honestly, the first time we went to Sisal, I was very surprised at how clear the waters were. After being spoilt by the beaches in Tulum or Playa del Carmen, I didn’t think there were beaches close to Merida that were as nice.
While the beach is definitely a lot more local (don’t expect any large beach clubs!), It’s a great getaway from the city.
During the weekends, the beach tends to get busy as locals and their families head here so make sure you time your visit appropriately.
2. Explore Sisal Town
Sisal is a charming and picturesque town that’s full of history and culture. In 2020, it was declared as a “Pueblo Magico” or Magical Towns by the Mexican government.
This title is only given to towns that are culturally significant and historically important. In the entire of Mexico, there is a total of 132 pueblos mágicos or magical towns.
Since Sisal has been awarded this title, more and more tourists have ventured into this town.
However, there has been a backlash from locals as they say the title, although it has brought an increase in tourism isn’t really beneficial for the local residents as they don’t have the necessary infrastructure to grow sustainably.
You can read more about this here. In my opinion, when we visited Sisal, there wasn’t much going on in the town itself. The main attraction is really the beautiful beach and long coastline!
Hopefully, with the awarding of the “magic town” title, more tourism development will take place to help boost the local economy.
3. Go Birdwatching
If you love nature and spending time outdoors, Sisal has a lot to offer. Because of the mangroves and lagoons nearby, you can see a variety of different birds if you go on a guided tour.
Here, you can observe birds of all kinds like flamingos, pelicans, and herons. The mangroves in Sisal are super important for the local ecosystem and provide a habitat for lots of different plants and animals, including tons of bird species.
Aside from the birds mentioned above, you also might chance on a few egrets and ibises. There are also plenty of feeding areas for smaller bird species, like sandpipers and plovers.
If you’re keen to learn more about the mangroves and their inhabitants, you should definitely join a guided bird watching tour.
The local tour guides know a ton about the area’s wildlife and can help you spot different bird species.
4. Eat Some Fresh Seafood
Since Sisal is located right on the coast, this means there’s an abundance of fresh seafood available.
When we last went there, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh ceviche, grilled fish, and cold cervezas, just a few meters away from the ocean.
One of the best things about going to Sisal is that you get to eat delicious seafood. The local fishermen bring in their catch every day, which means that the seafood you’ll be eating is just hours old.
Ceviche is a popular dish in Sisal, and for good reason. The tangy, citrusy flavors of the marinated fish are the perfect way to cool off on a hot day.
You can also try grilled fish, which is often served with a side of rice and beans. And of course, no meal is complete without a cold cerveza to wash it down.
There are a few small restaurants in Sisal where you can enjoy fresh seafood. Many of these restaurants are located right on the beach, so you can get a table under a palapa (beach hut) and enjoy your meal while digging your toes in the sand.
5. Visit the Lagoons on a Guided Tour
Looking for a unique and fun way to explore the stunning natural beauty of Sisal? Then you absolutely have to do a guided tour of the lagoons. The lagoons in and around Sisal are filled with all kinds of amazing wildlife, from exotic birds to fish and even crocodiles!
These guided tours are a great way to see attractions like Ojo de Agua, a small lake with spring water as well as Las Carboneras, an ecological zone that has flamingo colonies, depending on the time of the year.
The local guides will be local expert who knows all the best spots for bird watching and wildlife viewing so we definitely recommend going with them.
Plus, it also supports the local economy while contributing to conservation efforts.
6. Watch the Sunset
No beach trip is complete without admiring the beautiful sunset in Sisal. Since it used to be a port town, there is a large pier where you can take a stroll to which gives you a pretty beautiful view of the sunset.
If that area is busy, you can also opt to walk along the long stretch of beach for a more serene experience.
7. Visit the Sisal Lighthouse
The historic lighthouse is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Sisal. This iconic structure has been around for a while and was built to help guide ships safely into the port of Sisal.
There was a fort that was built around the lighthouse to protect it from Pirate attacks.
The climb up the lighthouse is definitely a bit of a workout, but it’s absolutely worth it. Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to an amazing panoramic view of the town and the beautiful coastline that stretches out from it.
We’ve heard that the lighthouse and museum are currently closed but hopefully, they will reopen soon!
Where to Eat in Sisal: The Best Sisal Restaurants
It’s important to remember that Sisal is a small fishing village. If you’re looking for a wide variety of options, you’re better off going to Merida.
However, with that being said, Sisal has a few delicious, local restaurants where you can get great Mexican food. Please don’t expect a wide variety of options as the menus in these places tend to be very similar.
Overall, in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with an order of fried or grilled fish, guacamole and chips, coconut shrimp, and a few margaritas or beers!
Some places also might offer a variety of types of tacos, although we recommend trying out the fish ones as you’re in the coast! A few favorites which we’ve tried over our visits are:
1. Restaurante Muelle de Sisal
This is a pretty popular restaurant that serves fresh seafood. They have a delicious fried fish, usually red snapper that has just been caught that day.
To make sure you order the freshest thing, I recommend you just ask for the catch of the day!
This restaurant is located just a few meters from the beach.
2. Restaurant Zama
If you’re looking for something a little bit more upscale, head on over to Zama which is located in the Casona de Sisal hotel. Here, you can find fresh seafood as well as International food options like shrimp burgers, french toast, and more.
This restaurant is also known for its coffee and brunch so head here if you need a caffeine fix!
Other places that you can visit are La Palapa de Soco and Las Puertas De Sisal. If you want to try some local street food, by Calle 15, there are little local stalls.
Where to Stay in Sisal
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Sisal, there are a few options to choose from- remember, sleepy little seaside town? Here are a few of the best places to stay in Sisal:
This charming hotel is located in the heart of Sisal’s historic center and features beautifully restored colonial architecture. The hotel has spacious and comfortable rooms, a lovely courtyard with a pool, and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the town and the sea. See Prices here.
This boutique hotel is located just a short walk from the beach and features cozy rooms with rustic decor and private balconies. The hotel also has a pool, a restaurant that serves delicious local cuisine, and a friendly staff that will make you feel right at home.
For a more budget-friendly option, Cocolitos is a great choice. This guesthouse is located just a block from the beach and offers simple but comfortable rooms with shared bathrooms. The guesthouse also has a communal kitchen, a garden, and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the sea.
This hostel is a great option for backpackers or budget-conscious travelers. The hostel offers dormitory-style accommodations with shared bathrooms, as well as private rooms with en suite bathrooms.
There’s also a communal kitchen, a lounge area with a TV, and a terrace with hammocks and a barbecue.
How to Get to Sisal
Getting to this small fishing town is a breeze, with a variety of transportation options available depending on where you’re coming from. Here are a few ways to make your way to this beautiful beachside destination:
1. How to Get to Sisal by Car
If you’re cruising in from Merida or another neighboring town, driving is definitely the easiest way to reach Sisal.
It’s about a 45-1 hour and 15 minute drive from Merida, and the journey is pretty straightforward. You’ll find plenty of parking once you reach Sisal, so you don’t have to worry about that.
I recommend renting a car for the day which is what we would normally do. You can check out Discover Cars to get a price comparison.
2. How to Get to Sisal by Colectivo
A colectivo is a local transport that can be found all over Mexico. You can take one to Hunucma then catch another colectivo from Hunucma to Sisal.
There are also buses available but the schedules are not as frequent. If you’re planning to take the bus, it’s always a good idea to check ahead of time.
3. How to Get to Sisal by taxi or private transfer
If you prefer a bit more convenience, hiring a taxi or private transfer might be a good option for you. While it can be pricier than the bus, it’s perfect if you’re traveling with a group or want door-to-door service.
Uber is also available in Merida so I recommend checking that first to get an estimate on the price.
Other Places to Visit Near Sisal
If you’re looking to explore some of the amazing nearby tourist places when you’re visiting Sisal, then you’re in luck! There are a few charming towns that are just a short drive away and definitely worth checking out.
One of these towns is Hunucma. This beautiful place is known for its colonial architecture and vibrant local culture.
Take a walk around the central plaza to appreciate the stunning church and other historic buildings, or try some delicious Yucatecan food at one of the local restaurants. You can also visit the popular Cenote El Pocito which is one of the cenotes in Merida that people visit.
Another nearby destination that you simply can’t miss is the Celestun Bioreserve.
This place is a nature lover’s paradise, with a beautiful natural reserve that’s home to pink flamingos, and many other birds, and other amazing wildlife.
You can take a boat tour through the reserve or simply relax on the beach and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Both of these nearby destinations are easy to reach from Sisal, and offer a great opportunity to experience the rich culture and natural beauty of the Yucatan province.
Aside from beautiful beaches, cenotes, the archaeological sites, the Yucatan Peninsula is incredibly diverse and has a lot to offer so I highly recommend you spend some time exploring it.
Whether you’re interested in history and architecture, or just want to take in the stunning landscapes and wildlife, these towns are definitely worth a visit. So make sure you include them in your travel plans when you’re in Sisal!
Regardless if you plan to stay in Sisal for the night or if you’re just driving through, Sisal is a destination I highly recommend you visit if you’re spending time in the Yucatan Peninsula.