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Celestún

Celestún is a town in Yucatán, Mexico. It is located in the northwest corner of the state, just north of the border with the state of Campeche, on the Gulf of Mexico coast at . In 2000 it had a population of just under 6,000 people; however, the population swells to 10,000 during the octopus hunting season. It is mostly a fishing town, with an old 19th century lighthouse (as well as a more modern one) and an abandoned historic Hacienda. Besides fishing, Celestún also produces salt, as it has done from pre-Columbian times. Tourism is also making up an increasing portion of the town's economy, as the community boasts many kilometers of sand beaches and abundant wildlife.

Surrounding the town is the 147,500-acre (600 km²) Parque Natural del Flamenco Mexicano (also known as the "Celestun Biosphere Reserve"), a wetland reserve that is the winter home to vast flocks of flamingos, as well as many herons and other bird species. In addition, approximately 300 species of birds pass through on migration, or live there. Celestun's ecosystem is unique because of a combination of fresh water from Celestun "river" and salt water from Gulf of Mexico. Celestun's flamingos are the pinkest in the world due to high concentration of carotene in the water. The park also boasts two types of pelicans - large white Canadian and smaller gray Mexican ones. Boat tours of the estuary are available near the bridge that links Celestun with the mainland. The standard tour of the park includes a "petrified" (salt deadened) forest, mangrove swamps, and "ojos de agua" (fresh water springs that visitors can swim in). It is also possible to arrange a night tour and see crocodiles. Celestun is also known as a hatching ground for endangered sea turtles. Wildlife conservationists have an ongoing project to protect the sea turtles from encroaching modernization.

While most tourists only come here on day trips, an increasing number are staying in town overnight. Several hotels have therefore been created, including an ecological resort, Eco Paraiso, that uses solar energy, recycles water, etc. Eco Paraiso is located about 10km to the north-northeast from Celestún, on the coast (accessible only over unimproved sandy roads). Other, more economical hotels are located along the beach in the center of town.

One of the busiest times for tourism is Easter weekend, when local Maya villagers from around the region visit Celestun. Local folk-catholic traditions are abundant during holy week, when the town's patron saint is floated out to sea surrounded by candles, and visited by the patron saint of nearby Kinchil.

As the town of Celestun is the seat of the municipality (municipio) of Celestun, it attracts various carnivals, dances and musicians to its town square on a regular basis.

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