Between Cyclones and Oil: When Playa Miramar Reinvented Itself as a Tourist Destination


It was once common for beachgoers to bring a bottle of oil among their beach items. For a century, Playa Miramar belonged to Tampico. It was during this time that the English, who arrived in the late 1800s to work in the oil companies and lived near the coast, began the tradition of taking the seaside as a Sunday stroll.

This tradition, which started over 100 years ago as a distraction for oil workers trying to do what was customary in their home countries, was passed on to the rest of the population and remained until it turned the beach into Tamaulipas’ biggest tourist attraction.

The president of the Historical Rescue of Mexico, A.C., David Granados Ramírez, points out that by 1917 the beach had several establishments, “it becomes the first tourist beach in Mexico and that is documented, so it had the infrastructure to support the visitors who came as tourists attracted by the oil boom.”

In the following years, the oil workers would promote the division of territories that would lead to Villa Cecilia in 1924, just after Tampico’s centennial, and which would be named Ciudad Madero in 1930.

It was at the beginning of that decade, already as a municipality separate from the port, when more sophisticated infrastructure began to be built, such as the Gran Casino Miramar.

Later, the first hotel Casino called El Oriente would be built; followed by:

  • El Casino Villa del Mar, at the tram stop entrance
  • El Casino Pánuco, next to the breakwaters
  • And as beach resorts, El Sardinero
  • El Galveston and others, which marked an era in dances, moonlit parties, and festivities, as well as family and couple outings.

Playa Miramar experienced two key moments in its history: The beach went through two crucial moments: in 1933 when a cyclone hit the area, destroying part of the infrastructure, and in 1955, with the catastrophe of Hilda, which wiped out everything that had been built. In the following years, the coast experienced several more phenomena and had to redouble efforts to reposition itself as a tourist destination.

Madero was born as an oil worker’s city, and this element will always be related to the beach, whether in its beginnings with the incursion of oil workers to build its first infrastructure; as well as in the time of Tampico’s independence and until its early days of tourism when bathers would find hydrocarbons in the sand.

Why did bathers take bottles of oil to Miramar?

That’s why it was common, at some point, for bathers to bring a bottle of oil among their items for going to the beach, as they often got tar stains on their bodies. Even in the resorts, rags with solvent were offered for cleaning before going to the showers.

The same establishments located on the beach that rented bathing suits had the outfits in dark colors, with the purpose of disguising the tar stains that bathers might “catch,” as invariably this distance appeared on the coast at different times of the year.

Over the years, Madero’s beach transformed with various infrastructure and service projects, including environmental management certification, being one of the few in Mexico that has achieved and maintained this distinction over several years, giving it prestige in the country.

Today, Miramar is a tourist hub that drives the development of the non-smokestack industry throughout Tamaulipas. It has become the third most popular road destination in the country, with an average of one million visitors in recent years during the spring vacation season.

Miramar’s pristine coastline attracts tourists from all over, making it a jewel in Tamaulipas’ tourism crown. The surge in visitors has positively impacted various sectors of the local economy, including restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, and crafts, all of which have reported significant increases in profits.

The transformation of Miramar into a top-tier national and international tourist destination is a testament to strategic promotional initiatives and well-planned infrastructure advancements.

Additionally, Miramar has achieved the prestigious Blue Flag certification for its commitment to environmental care and inclusive beach facilities3. The economic benefits extend not only to the tourism industry but also to professionals and businesses serving this sector. Tamaulipas continues to thrive as a sustainable and attractive destination for travelers, thanks to visionary efforts and revitalization initiatives.

Source: El Sol de Tampico