If you’ve wandered around Merida’s Plaza de Armas ten times over and admired its beautiful architecture, you might be ready to get to the beach. In that case, you’re in luck—Progreso is a beach town less than an hour away from Merida and offers great wheelchair accessibility.
But to my surprise, it’s a really cute beach town. And equally important, it’s taken wheelchair accessibility into account more than many other destinations in Mexico.
In this guide, I’ll share tips on accessibility based on my visit in the summer of 2021.
Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Progreso, I’d love to hear about your time there and your recommendations in the comments section. I appreciate it and I’m sure that our future readers will too!
Accessibility in Downtown
My initial impression when I laid eyes on Progreso is how new it felt. Perhaps it was the Caribbean sun, but everything had a squeaky-clean glow to it.
Furthermore, you can find wide sidewalks with drop-down curbs, accessible entrances, and ramps consistently throughout the town. It’s also entirely flat.
Calle 80 and 78 are the two main touristy roads in Progreso. These streets have wide sidewalks and, especially in the case of Calle 80, outdoor restaurants that offer enough space for a wheelchair to pass through or accessible seating for you to stop and dine.
While you’re in downtown Progreso, I recommend visiting Parque de la Independencia. This park sits five blocks back from the ocean and is the center of town.
There isn’t much shade during the day. But in the late afternoon and evening, more vendors and street performers emerge.
I also recommend visiting the Callejon del Amor on Calle 23. This short, pedestrian-only street has a dazzling array of street art that’s free for the public to enjoy.
If you’re in the mood for souvenir shopping, the Mercado Municipal offers a ramp and a wide path for exploring the outside of the shops.
The vendors showcase many items outside their shops. However, the stalls are so small and they have so many items packed inside that it would be challenging to enter them as a wheelchair user.
Nevertheless, locals are friendly and will be eager to bring items from inside their shop to show you.
Beach Accessibility in Progreso
Progreso’s downtown is small and cute, but let’s face it—most people visit Progreso for its beach.
And what a beach it is!
For starters, wheelchair users can easily arrive at the beach by rolling down Calle 80 or 78. Personally, I recommend starting your explorations on Calle 80 because it’ll have more of a “wow” factor when you arrive at its wonderful maze of ramps and boardwalks.
If you don’t fancy getting your wheels sandy, you can enjoy excellent views of the Caribbean water from a cement path that lines the back of the beach.
Alternatively, a wooden (and usually somewhat sandy) boardwalk juts onto the beach from this spot. The path will lead you to the boardwalk and pier, which we’ll cover next.
If you follow the cement path, it’ll lead you to Calle 19, which is a quiet road that runs beside the sand, offering excellent ocean views. Vendors and tour guides line the wide sidewalk on Calle 19, along with palm trees and restaurants.
There are periodic sandy beach entrances along Calle 19 mixed in with stair entrances.
The beach itself is wide and the sand is quite loose and deep until you reach the coast, where it’s more packed down. If you don’t have a beach chair with you but want to venture a little way into the sand where there’s some shade, there are restaurants with beachside tiki huts beside Calle 19 you can stop at.
Exploring the Boardwalk & Pier
Progreso has a beautiful white sand beach. But it’s equally known for its long boardwalk and pier.
Let’s start with the boardwalk. To arrive there, you can come in from Calle 80 or the far end of Calle 19 (which will lead you around that small cement boardwalk, dropping you off at Calle 80).
From there, take the wooden boardwalk that veers off to the left. You may have to tackle some drift sand, particularly in the area that dips down before you meet up with the elevated wooden boardwalk.
Once you arrive at the pier itself, it’ll be smooth sailing for exploring. The pier has a wooden fence with three narrow wooden strips, so you can easily enjoy the ocean views from your chair.
You’ll also see a massive bridge, which leads to a port with a cruise ship terminal. It’s way too far to make your way there by wheelchair. So, if you want to go on the bridge, allot some of your beach time to take a drive there.
You’ll be able to enjoy a few pieces of art and sculptures as you explore the boardwalk.
If you visit in the late afternoon or evening, more people will be out and about since there isn’t much shade there. You can also grab a drink at a boardwalk bar, which has accessible seating.
Once you arrive at the end of the boardwalk, you’ll immediately encounter a cement pier to your right.
In my opinion, the pier doesn’t have quite the same charm as the boardwalk. However, I recommend wheeling out on it nonetheless, especially if you enjoy fishing; it’s a popular place for fishers. It’s also common to see pelicans hanging out in this area hoping for some free fish.
Progreso is a small town, but it has many wheelchair accessible restaurants.
Calle 80 is an excellent place to encounter them, most of which offer spacious outdoor seating.
Several restaurants across the road from the beach on Calle 19 also offer accessible seating.
As mentioned earlier, you can also wheel fifteen feet, or so, into the sand and arrive at your own personal tiki hut with stunning ocean views. Your server will then come out to you and take your order.
Are You Ready to Head to Progreso?
Based on the destinations that I’ve visited to date, I feel Progreso is one of the best beaches in the Yucatan for wheelchair users. Its newer design offers many ramps, wide sidewalks, and boardwalks where you can enjoy seeing the ocean without having to transfer into a beach wheelchair if you don’t want to.
If you have questions about visiting Progreso, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help. It would also mean so much if you return to this page after visiting Progreso and leave a comment about your experience.
Thank you in advance; I’m sure future readers will appreciate your insight.
Hey! Will you be Wheeling Around the Yucatan?
If so, good news!
We’ve put together several other accessible blog posts on destinations in Mexico’s Caribbean peninsula. Check them out below:
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.