Chelem, Yucatan is a quaint and sleepy beach town located less than 30 minutes north of Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan, and about 5 miles east of the port town of Progreso, a major stopping point for Caribbean cruises. It is a delightful mix of Mexico and NOB (North Of the Border). Chelem is a real Mexican village that has opened up its arms to expats from around the world and “snow birds.”
Chelem is a popular vacation spot for Yucatan peninsula residents, especially Meridians, and stucco beach houses ranging from basic to luxurious line the Gulf shore around Chelem for miles. In recent years, the town has become a popular spot for expats primarily from the U.S. and Canada, many looking to retire in the relative safety and warmth of Chelem.
You will find quiet, peaceful streets where children play outdoors safely, and there are just as many motorized vehicles as bikes and pedestrians.
The town stores offer all the necessities at a local’s price. Across the street from your apartment is the town baseball diamond, which provides many opportunities to see the daily life of townspeople. In all directions, there are plenty of streets to walk, where you’ll meet locals and expats alike.
Parking is street side, and very safe.
Numerous restaurants are located within walking distance that cater to both tourists and local residents. There are several expat-owned restaurants in Chelem and the nearby towns, which have become gathering spots – especially over the weekends – for the Gringo community. There are also plenty of locally-owned eating spots, ranging from back-patio kitchens serving seafood and tacos to small restaurants with pizza, hamburgers and such.
There are a couple small grocery stores with basic amenities and a small variety of fruits and vegetables (as well as fruit and vegetable stands). For larger scale shopping with plenty of variety for food and goods, there is a large Walmart-owned store in Progreso, as well as two large grocery stores – Soriana and the San Francisco of Asis store in the center of Progreso.
If the village pace gets a bit too slow in Chelem, you can easily get on the main road and drive to neighboring Progreso or even Merida in less than hour. Chelem is a great location to base explorations of the Yucatan, with easy access to roads leading to cenotes, flamingos, and archaeological sites.