Riviera Maya Stories and Tips

Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve

Tunnel of trees Photo, Tulum, Mexico

There are two main roads to reach the Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve: one is driving south from Tulum ocean side road that goes through the "mayan Arch" after you pass the hotel zone, this road ends in the town of Punta Allen; the other road you have to drive on the highway to Felipe Carrillo Puerto after Muyil and Chumpon and cross the whole jungle to reach the sea.

I took the second road after talking with the guard at the "arch" as the road was in very bad shape -only jeeps were good for that road- and my little compact car would have suffered the potholes created after too many jeeps at high speed.
Be warned that there are no rangers or any other kind of guards on this road, is basically a path cut through the jungle, most of it single lined, and in very few spots you can pass another vehicle. It also has potholes (not many people use it), but not as many as I feared nor too deep to avoid the trip. The road is about 40 km long to El Playón, a little wooden pier just in front of Punta Allen.

The locals tell me that there is a lot of wildlife in the jungle: deers, coatis, snakes, all kind of birds, pecari and the more and more difficult to spot jaguar. In our drive we only saw birds, from osprey to crane, to green parrots and pelicans. I'm sure if I drive slower and stop at the proper places, the wildlife would be much easier to spot, but from the seat of a car the chances decreases sharply.

Before arriving at El Playon there is a little exit to "Vigia chico" we took it and were highly disappointed as there used to be palapa and some kind of touristic services here but now is all abandoned and ruined. There is an automated lighthouse where the vultures look for lunch, but not more than that, and the day I visited the ocean has carried lot of plastic trash dumped who knows in which country but that was carried all the way to this isolated spot.
Things at El Playon are a bit better, no trash, but not by much, there are no services at this dock, you will see a small building, but is also abandoned, and the wooden pier is in bad shape. Here the little peninsula where Punta Allen is located serves as a barrier from the powerful waves of the ocean and that's what creates the safe environment for millions of juvenile fish of many species that take refugee in this shallow and calm waters and also as an added protection can hide between the mangroves.
After waiting about half hour we saw a boat passing in the distance and waved a red jacket to them, fortunately they saw us and we had a ride to Punta Allen inner pier, in town we had one of the best seafood dinners I can remember, veeeery fresh and cooked beyond perfection, and to my biggest surprise, at reasonable prices.
We were late to do a full tour of the area, which consists in visiting several spots to snorkel or swim, meet the dolphins, look for manatees, but our boat crew insisted on at least doing a boat tour of the mangrove and lagoons in our way back to El Playon, it was a perfect time for amazing pictures, the Sun had just gone down and the moon was high in the cenit, the colors of the sky and the flatness of the water were just magical.

I need to plan a longer visit at Punta Allen, there are about 8 little restaurants and half a dozen little hotels.

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