Mérida is close to the western edge of the Yucatán peninsula. If you head due west to the coast you reach Celestún, a biosphere reserve and wildlife refuge. We did a daytrip there the day after we arrived, via a driver that our hotel arranged.
The big draw for Celestún is to see the resident flamingo colony, who live and feed in the mix of fresh and salt water lagoons. On arriving in Celestún, the local fisherman transport you over the lagoon in their boats to the spot where the birds hang out.
We were not disappointed; we saw hundreds of the fellas swooping around, feeding on the pink krill visible below the surface of the water giving it a rosy tint. It was pretty amazing.
After that the boat took us through some mangroves; unlike in Sian Ka’an these ones looked gnarly and dead, and the wood had dyed the water an eerie shade of crimson after a recent period of poor weather. In Josh’s words, it looks like a place Harry Potter would have to go to hunt down a Horcrux.
Inside the forest is a freshwater spring where you can take a dip in the water. It’s pretty funky to swim in such a murky sepia-stained pool with loads of little black fish for company and the twisted mangrove roots to manoeuvre around. Josh didn’t fancy it but I never miss a chance to do something weird.
Afterwards we drove to the main town of Celestún for some lunch. There’s a fairly nice beach, though this side of the peninsula opens onto the Gulf of Mexico rather than the Caribbean so it’s not as crystal clear as Tulum. The town itself is quite sweet with the typical Mexican colours, market and central square to wander around.