Monday, August 16, 2010


Locally, “sisal” has two primary meanings. First, one may very well think of the rope or twine, known world wide as sisal. Secondly, Sisal is the name of a small, sleepy little fishing village on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

This is a picture of the henequen plant from which the sisal twine is made.

This is a picture of some sisal rope. (These are actually hammock extensions used to tie your hammock to the special holder in the wall.)

But, that’s not what this blog is about! This blog is about a wonderful day I recently spent in the sleepy little fishing village of Sisal, just 52 kilometers (32 miles) from Merida. It is a pleasant one hour drive through some very interesting, small pueblos where I like to stop and buy fresh fruits and veggies from the local roadside stands.

At one time, during the peak of henequen and sisal production in the Yucatan, Sisal was a major port, booming in the export and import trade. With the onslaught of synthetic (nylon) fibers, jute twine lost its prominence as did the port of Sisal. There are no more large boats that dock there, just small individual fishing boats. There is no large henequen production going on locally, although the industry does survive to this day, producing twine, paper, cloth, wall coverings, carpets, and dart boards!

Sisal is an interesting place to visit with beautiful, unspoiled beaches that invite you to take a casual stroll and get that sugar-like white sand between your toes! There is no evidence of beach erosion in the entire area. The water is crystal clear and beckons you to take a dip to cool off before you visit one of the many great restaurants that serve fresh seafood.

My favorite restaurant is the RESTAURANTE MUELLE DE SISAL (The Pier of Sisal Restaurant) located directly on the beach. As you are driving in to Sisal, heading directly to the pier, there is a sign for the restaurant to the right. Hard to miss it! I don’t normally do restaurant reviews, but this place is totally outstanding including, location, ambiance, cleanliness, service, food, and prices. Oh! And the beer is always ice cold!! (But I’m sure that is not of primary importance to any of my readers!)

Botanas (appetizers) are free when you order a cerveza (beer), and consist of a variety of seafood delicacies. A large, fresh crab cocktail, is 75 pesos (approximately 6 USD). It is 100% crab meat with garnish of sauce, onions, and cilantro served on the side. A shrimp cocktail of equal size is the same price. The menu offers a wide variety of seafood entrees and slowly, but surely, I am working my through them! This is some of the absolute best seafood I have ever eaten in Mexico. It is well worth the drive to Sisal just to have a casual seafood lunch on the beach while enjoying a magnificent view and an ice cold brew! Another great value is a large pitcher of fresh lemonade for only 40 pesos (approximately 3 USD). You can well afford to take the family or invite your friends. (Below: Merida Mikey, indulging and imbibing.)

Although not a major destination for tourists and almost ignored, Sisal is an overlooked but very charming beach community with not much more to offer other than beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, friendly smiles, and a variety of great seafood restaurants. Who could ask for anything more?

In such close proximity to Merida, it is definitely worth a drive there to check it out for yourself. Personally, I’m hooked on Sisal!