It would take the average adult about 90 minutes to have a leisurely walk from the start to the end of this four-mile (6.5-kilometer) pier, one of the longest in the world.
The first wooden pier in Progreso was built in the 1930s, with several expansions leading to its eventual length of about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers). In the late 1980s, a major overhaul saw the existing structure completely replaced with concrete, and an almost four-fold expansion to get it to its impressive current total by 1989. The first ship to have docked in this renovated pier, now separated into sections called respectively Fiscal Pier and High Port depending on their use, was the Mexican-flagged Náuticas.
Originally designed for cargo ships, the pier saw itself expanded further (wider, in this case) to start welcoming an increasing number of cruise and passenger ships anchoring in Progreso. This beach city’s reputation has grown in recent decades, as it is one of the few Caribbean beaches in Mexico located outside the major, and sometimes overcrowded, Riviera Maya corridor. Additionally, the growth of nearby Mérida has made Progreso a favorite holiday getaway for the nearly one million Meridanos currently living in the state capital.
The High Port is named after its arched, elevated base that rises over the water level. This design means that water and sediment are allowed to move under it. The Fiscal Pier however, is actually settled on the seabed, which has lead to major environmental and erosion impact on the nearby beach.
The Puerto de Altura’s engineering and impressive length have lead to it becoming a major touristic attraction in Progreso, to the degree that a smaller pier was built next to it for sightseeing. This second pier, known as El Muelle de Chocolate (“The Chocolate Pier”, not after confectionery but after a Mexican slang expression where “chocolate” means “fake”) has helped highlight the High Port’s engineering further. While the Chocolate Pier has required several structural repairs since being built, the Puerto de Altura in its current state has only needed minor renovations.
Know Before You Go
Most of the length of the Puerto de Altura is not open to the public, unless disembarking from a ship docked to it. The Chocolate Pier offers a great vantage point of it, however.