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Punta Allen: the Gateway to Sian Ka’an

Looking for a quiet, hidden spot in tourist-filled Riviera Maya? Here’s my guide to Punta Allen, Mexico’s best kept secrets.

Shhh… I’ll let you in on a secret. At the far south of Tulum beach lies the remote Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve – a protected area that rich in wildlife and surprisingly wild, empty and secluded. Sprawling across 1.3 million acres of wilderness, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a mishmash of ecosystems, ranging from tropical forests to mangroves and marshes. 

Punta Allen is the gateway to Sian Ka’an, as it’s the only village in the reserve. You’ll hardly find any tourist here; it’s the kind of place where you come to completely disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, immerse in pristine nature and see marine life such as dolphins, manatees and turtles. Life here moves at a languid pace, but it’s precisely this unhurried rhythm that makes it such a worthwhile place to visit.

If you’re looking to veer off the tourist trail in Tulum, this is the place to go. In this Punta Allen guide, I’ll share with you everything I’ve learned, including where to stay, where to eat and what to do around here.

punta allen mexico travel guide

My Guide to Punta Allen Mexico

Where is Punta Allen?

Punta Allen is located on the southern tip of Boca Paila Peninsula, a narrow land that juts into Sian Ka’an on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The peninsula separates Boca Paila Lagoon from the Caribbean Sea. It’s blessed with some of the most beautiful and pristine beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Punta Allen stands as one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most remote destinations, a surprising revelation considering it’s a mere 45 km (35 miles) south of Tulum’s hotel zone. The only road that leads there is a potholed, unpaved road that is notoriously known as “Mexico’s worst road.” Even though Google Maps shows it as a 2-hour journey, it takes over 4 hours to cover the potholed path.

It’s this terrible unpaved road that deters most travelers from coming to Punta Allen – for that reason, Punta Allen is one of the very few places in the Yucatan Peninsula that has retained an authentic, rustic feel.

punta allen map

How to Get to Punta Allen Mexico

Reaching Punta Allen isn’t easy —  you need to traverse the vast Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve to get here; and the only road is a rough, pockmarked 45-kilometer road from Tulum. Because the road is filled with so many giant potholes, it can take up to 4 hours to cover the 35-mile distance from Tulum!

During the rainy season, it can get real muddy and slippery on the road and you can risk getting stuck here. After driving the road ourselves, we can confirm that the rumor is true.

That said, there is an alternative route to take to Punta Allen from Tulum, one that sidesteps the road’s perils. It’s particularly suitable for those who don’t drive and prefer someone to handle all the logistics. Or you can simply book a day tour from Tulum, and that will cover all your transport, logistics and food.

Here are the three options:

1. Brave the bumpy 4-hour drive along what Mexico’s most pockmarked road.

2. Book a transfer with an agency which includes van transport and boat.

3. Book a day tour to bring you here and back to Tulum.

punta allen - sian kaan birdwatching

Option 1: Driving to Punta Allen

First and foremost, it is highly recommended to drive what is one of Mexico’s most pockmarked roads on an SUV, 4X4 or on a motorcycle. It’s no joke – the potholes come one after another; you hardly get any break between the bumps. Opting for an SUV will provide a slower yet less vehicle-damaging experience along the often rugged and bumpy road.

After speaking to friends who drove the road in a normal sedan, we decided to be stubborn and drive our Volkswagen Beetle to Punta Allen. Our car made it the whole way, but did we regret bringing our car? Yes we did!

It was an exhausting 4-hour drive of non-stop bumping, grinding and cursing – plus our car (with a very low bottom) has been giving us a lot of problems since the trip. We have had to fix the entire bottom and switch out the tyre flaps and front bumper, in part because of this treacherous journey!

To clarify, we have driven in many parts of the world with god-awful roads, such as Tanzania, South Africa, Ecuador and Costa Rica. My husband is an extremely experienced driver, but even he got tired of navigating those back-breaking bumps and trenches.

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punta allen - driving our own car

Option 2: Van & Boat Transfer

Opting for the van + boat journey to Punta Allen will relieve you of the horrible driving and offer a more comfortable, slightly faster route. If you can’t drive, then this is the ONLY way to get to Punta Allen as there is no public transport. 

This transfer is organized by a company called Fisher Natours and they run daily transfers to Punta Allen at 3 pm and leave for Tulum at 7am. The transfer costs 650 MXN (US$32.5) each way. You can book with them directly on Whatsapp (Yessi: +52 998 190 0123).

First, you’ll meet the van at Hostal Pueblo Mágico. It’s then an hour’s drive south along the Tulum beach road to the Sian Ka’an Visitor Center. After you pay your park entrance fee (104 MXN or US$5), it’s a just a short drive to a rustic resort, el Ultimo Maya. There you’ll catch your boat to Punta Allen. 

I’ve heard that it can be disorganized and there might be some waiting involved. But Yessi is helpful and she can answer any question you may have.

how to get to punta allen - rickety bridge

Option 3: Book a Day Tour

Lastly, you can actually go on a day tour to Punta Allen from Tulum, where your transport, logistics and meals are all taken care of. Prices aren’t cheap but t least you won’t have to worry about anything. It’s great for those who are short on time but really want to see a pristine and untouristy part of Tulum.

These small group tours will drive you on the bumpy road for 15 km to the Boca Paila Lagoon, where you’re transferred to a small boat to sail across the Sian Ka’an. You’ll stop to watch dolphins, spot manatees, and snorkel at a coral reef. Then you’ll visit a sandback before finally reaching Punta Allen for some time to relax and the included lunch.

These Punta Allen boat tours are priced around US$200. Given all that’s included, these small group tours can be worth the splurge for the convenience of being able to experience this all on a day trip from Tulum. Check out this Full Day Adventure to Punta Allen that has raving reviews.

punta allen boat tour

Best Time to Visit Punta Allen Mexico

The best time to visit Tulum (Punta Allen is considered to be in the Tulum municipal) is during the shoulder season: May to June and September to October, when there are fewer crowds and lower prices. While these months can be slightly warmer and more humid, they still offer enjoyable conditions for beach lovers. 

We visited Punta Allen in late September and it was absolutely quiet and empty. The weather was perfect and we definitely enjoyed having the place to ourselves. That said, the sea was strangely murky while the rest of the Tulum and Cancun beaches were gorgeous and clear of sargasso! But this might not have anything to do with the time of the year (sargasso can be unpredictable). 

Generally, the peak tourist season aligns with the dry winter months, from November to April. During this period, the weather is pleasant and warm and the sea remains calm, perfect for snorkeling and boat tours. 

punta allen beach

How Many Days in Punta Allen?

Most people come to Punta Allen to disconnect, and do nothing. That said, it is a very small town with limited infrastructure and there’s not a whole lot to do here, so 2-3 days in Punta Allen should be perfect. We spent a weekend in Punta Allen and that was the perfect amount.

I would not advise coming to Punta Allen for a day trip as it’s far from Tulum and you won’t have enough time to enjoy it. Plus it’s the kind of place you go to let your hair down and simply do nothing.

punta allen hotel - swinging at hammock in cielo y selva

Is Punta Allen Safe to Visit?

Overall, Punta Allen is a tranquil and safe destination where you go to get away from it all. As I mentioned many times, the road to Punta Allen is one of the worst roads in Mexico, and it can get flooded or dangerously muddy during the rainy season. Keep an eye on weather conditions, especially during hurricane season (June to November).  Be sure to check the conditions of the road with your hotel before driving. 

Due to its remote location, Punta Allen has limited access to services and medical facilities. It’s advisable to ensure your vehicle is in good working condition, carry essential supplies (such as water and snacks), and have a full tank of gas before embarking on the journey. If you have specific medical needs, it’s a good idea to bring necessary medications and first-aid supplies..

punta allen beach

Wifi/Internet in Punta Allen 

As Punta Allen lies within a reserve, internet connectivity is quite limited and unreliable. While some accommodations in Punta Allen offer Wi-Fi to their guests, the quality of the connection can vary significantly. Expect slow speeds and potential interruptions.

I recommend getting a SIM card with internet data to make sure you stay connected while in Tulum. Either buy an eSIM before traveling or a get SIM card at the airport upon arrival. Even then, expect to have limited 4G while in Punta Allen.

Read my guide on how to get a SIM card in Mexico.

punta allen village

Things to Know Before You Visit Punta Allen

Before heading to Punta Allen, it’s essential to be aware of the daily electricity schedule, which includes power interruptions from 2 to 7 pm and 2 to 7 am. If you’re not staying overnight in Punta Allen, this should not affect your visit, but it’s a detail worth keeping in mind. 

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Also, for those who are driving to Punta Allen, it’s important to note that there are no gas stations en route to Punta Allen or within the town itself. So make sure that you start your journey with a full tank of fuel.

punta allen night

Cost of Travel in Punta Allen

Punta Allen is cheaper than Tulum beach, especially when it comes to prices of food and groceries in the village. Most of the places we ate at had main courses for less than 200 MXN (US$10) and drinks for 30 MXN (US$1.5).

Accommodation is not cheap though; even a glamping tent cost around US$80/night. Excursions can also be expensive, though prices of the boat tours depend on how many people end up on your boat. A boat tour costs 3300 MXN (US$160) for a group of 6.

For our weekend in Punta Allen, we spent around 3,000 MXN (US$150) per person, including 2 nights of accommodation, gasoline, food and boat trip.

punta allen restaurant

Where to Stay in Punta Allen

There are some modest guest houses in Punta Allen, but you can also find glamping spots and higher-end fishing lodges dotted around the village. On the drive to Punta Allen, you’ll find there are quite a few Airbnbs and villas within the Sian Ka’an Reserve but they are quite a distance from Punta Allen.

Budget: Las Palapas de Punta Allen

Las Palapas is one of the best budget-friendly places to stay in Punta Allen. It’s a basic, simple place but the hosts are very nice people and prices are good. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Cielo y Selva

We stayed in a glamping tent at Cielo y Selva (pictured) and loved our time there! This ecolodge has a series of comfortable and photogenic bell tents and bungalows right on the beach, within a few minutes’ walk from the village. Check rates here. 

Luxury: Grand Slam Fishing Lodge Tulum 

The most upscale option in Punta Allen is a fishing lodge with gorgeous beachfront rooms, nice lounging areas and hot tubs. It’s a short walk from the village and suits those traveling in groups. Check rates here.

punta allen - glamping tent

Where to Eat in Punta Allen

Considering how remote and tiny Punta Allen is, dining options are naturally limited. Don’t expect to explore the full spectrum of Yucatan Peninsula’s culinary delights during your visit. But it’s an incredibly affordable place to try lobsters and fried fish if you like seafood.

Here are some of the places we tried and can recommend:

Muelle Viejo

A simple beachfront restaurant right next to the old pier, Muelle Viejo offers homecooked seafood dishes at really good prices. Try their camarones al diablo (shrimps covered in a spicy sauce) and seafood pozoles (soup). Prices are much better here than in Tulum!

Restaurante Los Gaytanes

Towards the other end of the village, this beachfront diner has friendly service and simple hearty dishes like shrimp tacos and octopus burrito. They also have very well-priced grilled lobsters!

Be F#%&ing Nice Coffee Shop 

This is a popular spot for decent coffee and breakfast, as well as swinging hammocks right on the beachfront.

punta allen food - lobster

Things to Do in Punta Allen

Punta Allen, being a small and unassuming pueblo (village), doesn’t offer a plethora of activities in and of itself. Nevertheless, it serves as a great base for venturing into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

See Sunrise on the Beach

Punta Allen’s pristine beaches stretch eastward, offering a splendid vantage point to catch sunrise over the Caribbean Sea. We stayed at glamping tents right on the beach and I would wake up every morning to see the bright orange ball of fire rising over the water, turning the horizon into a sea of gold. There was silence except for the sound of birds chirping and fishermen paddling out to sea.

To see sunset, just walk for 10 minutes over to the wooden dock on the other side of the peninsula and you’ll see the sun descending over the Sian Ka’an Lagoon in the evenings. It’s worth noting that this spot is popular with travelers at sunset, don’t expect to have it to yourself.

punta allen - sunrise on the beach

Rent a Bike to Explore Punta Allen

The best way to explore the area is by bike as Punta Allen is a tiny village, and the area around is very rural and free of traffic. We rented bikes from our hotel for 100 MXN (US$5 for 3 hours) and whisked our way through the calm and quiet village. 

If you continue further, you can cycle all the way to the southern tip of the peninsula where the lighthouse is (read my next point). Along the way, there’s no shortage of empty, wild beaches where you can stop at to take refreshing dips.

punta allen biking

Stroll around the Village

The Yucatan Peninsula gets a bad rep among travelers for becoming over-commercialised due to tourism. It’s true for some areas, but there are still untainted places like Punta Allen that are worth going the extra mile for. The village itself is tiny, but take some time to wander around, see the old pier, the main square and the playground for a feel of village life.

punta allen village

Visit the Abandoned Lighthouse

Standing at the southernmost tip of the Boca Paila peninsula is a lighthouse that measures over 60 feet. It’s made of unpainted white concrete with red paint on its top. The abandoned lighthouse located is surrounded by crocodiles, so be careful not to swim in this area.

punta allen lighthouse

Stargaze at Night

As power gets shut off every night in the whole of Punta Allen, there’s no light pollution and you can see the night skies lit up in millions of stars. From the hammock right outside our glamping tent, we could see the Milky Way and all kinds of astrological formations. I highly recommend downloading the Night Sky app and taking time to watch the stars while listening to the waves crashing and feeling the fresh ocean breeze. 

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punta allen night stargazing

Take a Boat Tour of the Sian Ka’an Lagoon

This is what people come to Punta Allen for: a 3-hour boat excursion around the oceanic side of Sian Ka’an Lagoon to spot wildlife and swim in the spearmint blue waters. These boat tours have fixed prices and are offered by most hotels for 3200 MXN (US$160) per boat for a group of six.

The boat typically brings you from the lagoon to the Caribbean Sea, where chances of spotting marine life are high. It’s common to see dolphins, turtles, and manta rays. You’ll also get to stop at the Blanquizal sandbanks, to snorkel or swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters. Book with your hotel or reserve it here.

punta allen dolphins

Snorkel atl Blanquizal Sandbar

Even if you don’t join the boat tour, you can actually drive or kayak towards the Blanquizal Sandbar which isn’t too far from Punta Allen. We rented a kayak from our hotel (250 MXN or US$12.50 for three hours) and paddled our way to the offshore sandbar. The water was shallow and crystal clear, even though there was sargassum (seaweed) in the other parts. There’s also a healthy reef 400m from shore that offers snorkelers wonderful sights.

snorkeling in punta allen

Try Your Hands at Fly-Fishing 

Punta Allen is well known among fishing fanatics as a paradise for catch-and-release fishing. There are several lodges that offer fly-fishing packages. The most popular fish to catch in Sian Ka’an are bonefish, tarpon, and snook. If you are into fly fishing, or are interested in learning, then Punta Allen is a great spot to try your luck! Check out this fly-fishing tour.

Go on a Guided Birdwatching Excursion

Hundreds of bird species inhabit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and you can see them easily on a birdwatching tour in Punta Allen. The tour will bring you out on a motorboat through the mangrove estuaries to observe the diverse species of birds that thrive in this area. 

Bird watching tours are not as commonly promoted as the popular ocean and snorkeling adventure. Early morning and late evening are the best time to spot birds as those are the times when they’re most active.

punta allen birdwatching

What to Pack for Punta Allen

For this trip to Punta Allen, you’ll be spending most of your time in the sea, so definitely pack lots of sun-proof gear. KEEN footwear or normal sandals are also really useful to walk on beaches strewn with seashells or corals. Snorkel mask and fins will come in useful as you’ll be using them alot here. We were glad we brought our snorkel masks!

Packing List for Punta Allen

punta allen hammocks

Mexico Travel Guide

⏰ Set your timezone to Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5).

💰 Withdraw Mexican Peso at the ATM (Current exchange rate US$1=20 MXN). US dollars are accepted in most places, but you’ll be overpaying.

🎫  Most travelers do NOT need a Mexico visa. Check here if you need a visa.

🏥 Insure your Tulum trip with Safety Wing, a global travel insurance company.

📱 Get a Mexico eSIM on Airalo to get cheap internet data.

🔌 Bring Type A (two-prong) and Type B (three-prong) electric sockets — the same as the United States. Get this universal travel adaptor if you don’t use those plugs.

Is It Worth Visiting Punta Allen?

Having lived in the Yucatan Peninsula for the past two years, I’ve seen my fair share of touristy beaches and commercialised zones – and Punta Allen is one of the very few remaining spots that have escaped mass tourism and retained a charming sense of authenticity. 

There are no kitschy gift shops here or tourist touts trying to sell you a tour – just empty beaches, swaying palm trees, and small rustic ecolodges. Despite the lack of facilities and infrastructure, Punta Allen’s charm lies in its remote and disconnected atmosphere. If you’re looking to veer off the trodden trail and get away from it all, Punta Allen is the place for you.

I hope you’ve found this guide to Punta Allen Mexico useful. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions. For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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