Guide To Punta Allen: How To Explore The Riviera Maya’s Hidden Gem (With Video)

Tropical Punta Allen Mexico

There’s nothing better than visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations that still preserve their authentic charm. Unspoiled by mass tourism, these places hang on to a simpler way of life. We were ecstatic to find that Punta Allen is one of those places. This fishing community is a world away from the Riviera Maya’s all-inclusive resorts, Margaritavilles, and the ‘eco-chic’ aesthetic that has somehow become the default style for many emerging Mexican destinations.

Situated only 35 miles from Tulum, Punta Allen couldn’t be more different from its uber-trendy neighbor. This undiscovered piece of paradise along the Yucatán Peninsula’s Caribbean coast is a place to disconnect and enjoy the relaxed pace of life. And this post is the only guide you’ll need to help you get away from it all in Punta Allen!

We share it everything – from how to make the adventurous journey to this remote town to the best things to do and where to stay! Punta Allen, Mexico is a special place for travelers who want to dial back and embrace the lazy days. We bet you will fall in love with this piece of paradise!

Estimated reading time: 22 minutes

*Note: this post contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase from these links. Thanks in advance for supporting WOTW!

Not ready to learn about Punta Allen, Mexico? Pin this for later!

What You Need To Know About Punta Allen Before Visiting

Punta Alan Corazon De Quintana Roo

Where Is Punta Allen, Mexico?

Punta Allen is a small fishing village located on the Caribbean side of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The town of about 500 people is found at the end of the road about 40 miles south of Tulum. East of Punta Allen is nothing but the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west is the wild Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Map Of Punta Allen, Mexico

What Is The Sian Ka’an Biosphere:

Sian Ka’an means ‘origin of the sky’ in the Mayan language. So named because of its incredible natural beauty, the reserve is one of the largest protected areas in all of Mexico! The biosphere is home to an incredible amount of wildlife, including jaguars, ocelots, crocodiles, dolphins, turtles, and manatees.

Sian Ka’an consists of the coastal side (where Punta Allen is located) and the lagoon side with massive swaths of jungle, mangrove forest, brackish water lagoons, and canals.

Punta Allen is a better base for exploring the reserve’s ocean side, so the wildlife found here includes dolphins, turtles and, if you’re lucky, manatees. Don’t expect to see any of the big cats while exploring Punta Allen!

WOTW Tip: head to Muyil if you want to see the jungle and mangrove forest side of Sian Ka’an Biosphere. You can find the details of how to enter the nature reserve from Muyil here.

How Do You Get To Punta Allen?

Punta Allen is one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s most hard-to-reach destinations. This may come as a surprise when you consider that it’s located only 35 miles south of Tulum’s hotel zone. So how difficult could it really be?

Well, the problem is that the road from Tulum to Punta Allen is described as the world’s worst road. We have both seen some pretty sketch roads in our day, and this one is definitely on the list of the worst. Rumor has it that the 35-mile drive takes up to 4 hours!

But before you get all thrown off by any logistical challenges, you’ll be happy to know that there is a better way to reach Punta Allen from Tulum. Just continue reading below to find out how.

Keep in mind that Punta Allen maintains its authentic and relaxed vibes because the effort it takes to discover this slice of paradise deters most visitors. In other words, you will be rewarded for taking on the challenge!

Getting To Punta Allen From Tulum:

You have two options when going to Punta Allen from Tulum:

  1. Make the 4-hour drive over the most pot-holed road in Mexico.
  2. Take a boat from the Sian Ka’an Visitor’s Center south of Tulum’s hotel zone.

Driving to Punta Allen:

Image source: Canva

Let me start by saying that there are no gas stations along the way to Punta Allen or in town. Make sure you depart with a full tank!

Now that we got that out of the way – the drive from Tulum to Punta Allen should only be attempted in an SUV or motorcycle.

Driving with an SUV will still be slow and bumpy, but at least you won’t risk damaging your rental car. In fact, most rental companies in Tulum won’t rent to you if you tell them you are going to Punta Allen. That’s how bad the road is!

Getting to Punta Allen by motorcycle would allow you to swerve around the potholes more efficiently, allowing you to complete the trip much quicker. Motorcycles clearly come with their own limitations. And you can imagine why this wouldn’t be our top option if you’ve seen me drive a scooter in Cozumel.

In either case, think twice about making the drive during the rainy summer months. Large parts of the dirt road will be submerged thanks to the heavy rains.

Taking The Boat To Punta Allen From The Sian Ka’an Visitor’s Center:

on the boat to Punta Allen

Taking the boat to Punta Allen, Mexico is a little more complicated, but more comfortable, slightly faster, and definitely more scenic. Here’s how the journey unfolds:

  1. Even if you decide to visit Punta Allen by boat, you will still need to experience a stretch of the infamous road. The first stop is the Sian Ka’an Visitor’s Center, which despite being only 10 miles from Tulum’s hotel zone, takes over an hour to reach. Taxi is your best bet for getting to the visitor’s center.
    • Many taxi drivers will quote you ridiculous prices. We recommend reaching out to your lodging in Punta Allen to see if they have a trusted driver in Tulum. We paid 650 pesos ($32 US) for the bumpy one-way trip.
  2. The boat to Punta Allen leaves from a rickety dock a few steps from the visitor’s center. Similar to step one, it’s best to organize the boat transport with your hotel/hosts in Punta Allen. We were able to arrange a pick-up, but the details were disorganized, and we ended up getting on the wrong boat. So make sure your host provides the captain’s name and confirmation about what time they will arrive. We paid 250 pesos per person ($12.50) for the one-way boat trip.
    1. You can theoretically show up at the Sian Ka’an Visitor’s Center and arrange transportation with the person in charge. However, the boat drivers are the same people that give the tours of the Sian Ka’an reserve. So the captains are only free to transport visitors to Punta Allen after dropping off day-trippers from Tulum in the afternoons.
  3. Now the challenging part is finally over. We promise that the one-hour boat ride through the nature reserve is a spectacular way to reach your final destination. Just sit back and admire the turquoise waters as you zip past little mangrove islands towards Punta Allen.
  4. Welcome to paradise!

WOTW Tip: we started our journey from the ADO station in Tulum. The ADO bus is the easiest and most comfortable way to travel around the peninsula’s main tourists destinations. Our pre-arranged taxi met us just outside the bus station.

Getting To Punta Allen From Cancun

In most cases, getting to Punta Allen from Cancun would first require you arrange transport from Cancun to Tulum. However, you can also leave all the chaotic driving and hassle of navigating different buses, taxis and boat rides by hiring a private driver to take you from Cancun to Punta Allen. Not too shabby!

Is Punta Allen, Mexico Worth Visiting?

The Town Of Punta Allen

Punta Allen was probably the most unique place we visited during our 70-day adventure throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s not often in today’s world that you get to visit a place where time stands still. There is not much to do in this sleepy little town of 500 residents. But sometimes not doing much is just what the mind and spirit need.

Punta Allen is perfect and charming for everything it doesn’t have. The dirt roads are more pothole than road, the power turns off in late afternoons and the middle of the night, and there are only a handful of hotels and restaurants. And definitely don’t expect a strong Wifi signal in Punta Allen, Mexico!

Want to know what’s not worth visiting (in our opinion)? Isla Holbox, Mexico. Forget what you may have read about this ‘eco-destination’, and check out these 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Isla Holbox, Mexico!

This is a place to completely disconnect from distractions and wander around the sandy streets at a snail’s pace. Enjoy your morning coffee for an hour or two as you listen to waves rolling onto shore. And grab a couple of beers from the tiny markets to create your own picnics.

Life moves pretty slowly in Punta Allen, Mexico. And that’s exactly why it’s worth visiting.

WOTW Tip: as an FYI, some hotels in Punta Allen have solar energy, so your accommodation should still be able to keep the power on even though the town’s power gets shut off in the mid afternoon and late at night.

Can’t Wait To See More Of Punta Allen, Mexico? Check Out Our Vlog!

How To Pay For Things In Punta Allen?

Punta Allen, Mexico is not exactly a cheap destination. Due to its remoteness and the general lack of infrastructure, it is more difficult to bring in basic goods. So grocery store essentials like coffee, bread and even drinking water are more expensive here than on the mainland. Also, grocery stores in town only carry very basic foods, drinks and snacks.

On top of that, there is no ATM in Punta Allen and credit card is generally not accepted. This means you might be in a tricky situation if you arrive in this remote village with only a few pesos in your pocket.

WOTW Tip: the local grocery store and some restaurants accept dollars. But the exchange rate they offer was literally the worst I saw while in Mexico. Bring Mexican Pesos to Punta Allen!

Is Punta Allen, Mexico Safe To Visit?

Aimara with a beach dog in the Yucatan Peninsula

Punta Allen has to be one of the safest destinations in all of Mexico. This is a place where you can just wander around without a care in the world. The most dangerous thing you are likely to encounter is getting barked by dogs during your first few days in town because they don’t yet recognize you.

Nevertheless, you’ll still be happy to know that Punta Allen has its own little police station. But there is a 95% chance that the police chief is taking a nap at any given moment.

WOTW Tip: while Punta Allen is super safe in the traditional sense, we heard from our hosts that some minor scams do happen. Mostly in the form of misleading tours that promise one thing but don’t deliver. Try to coordinate tours through your hotel/hosts or make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.

9 Incredible Things to Do In Punta Allen

1. Go On ‘The Tour’ Into The Sian Ka’an Biosphere

Turtle in Mexico
Image source: Canva
  • Price: 3,000 MXP per boat ($150 US); the fee is split among a maximum of 6 guests.
  • Hours: the tour typically starts at 9 am or 12 pm, depending on the weather, ocean conditions, and your preference.
  • Time needed: 3 hours.
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

When hanging around Punta Allen, locals will come up and ask if you are interested in going on ‘The Tour.’ For most visitors, this will be the one major activity to experience while in town. ‘The Tour’ consists of heading out on a speed boat into the coastal side of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve to spot dolphins, go snorkeling and visit a stunning natural pool.

We saw dolphins and a billion turtles while cruising along the turquoise Caribbean Sea. If that wasn’t amazing enough, we saw a couple of nurse sharks and plenty of fish while snorkeling. The snorkeling isn’t as epic as Cozumel, but it is always nice to jump in the water to explore underneath the surface.

The tour ends at ‘El Blanquizal,’ an area of calm water protected by the surrounding reefs. It’s a beautiful spot to end the day in crystal clear water. Continue searching for rays and turtles, or just hang out in the warm, waist-deep waters like we did.

  • Location: the tour leaves for the small marina on the west side of town.

WOTW Tip #1: some tour operators will try and overcharge for the boat. The price was $150 US as of March 2022. Don’t let them rip you off!

WOTW Tip #2: it is possible to visit the Black Lagoon as part of the excursion. And while the lagoon is nice, the better bet might be to request more time snorkeling. There’s not much to see besides some water birds and mangroves.

2. Rent A Bike And Cruise To The Abandoned Lighthouse

  • Price: N/A
  • Hours: the lighthouse is abandoned, so there are no times. But crocodiles can apparently be found on the trail to the lighthouse at night. So just don’t go at night.
  • Time needed: 1 hour
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Grabbing a beach cruiser and biking along the sandy roads is one of the best things to do in Punta Allen. It’s a great way to get a sense of the little community as you bike past the little school, church, police station and friendly dogs. To get to the lighthouse you’ll cruise past some beautiful beaches and see some thatched huts that locals live in.

There are several places to rent bikes around Punta Allen, but they would all be described as unofficial businesses. On top of that, all the bikes were being repaired when we inquired about renting some beach cruisers. This really came as no surprise, considering the road conditions. Luckily our hotel’s hosts let us borrow their bikes to cruise around town a few times!

Need To Finish Reading About Punta Allen Mexico Later? Save This Post To Your Pinterest!

3. Watch The Stars When The Power Goes Out

  • Price: free!
  • Hours: best between 11 pm – 4 am
  • Time needed: N/A
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

One of the great things about the power being switched off in Punta Allen during the evenings is the complete void of light pollution. And no light pollution means that the stars shine extra bright at night. Take advantage of your remote surroundings and head out to see one of the most epic night skies you’ll ever see.

The best way to experience Punta Allen’s epic night sky is by heading to the beach or pier. Enjoy the incredible stargazing opportunity while listening to the waves crashing and feeling the fresh ocean breeze. What can beat that?!

WOTW Tip: be careful if you are walking out onto the main pier in the dark of night. Many off the wooden boards are missing or broken. Also, walk on the middle of the pier at all times. Some planks or loose on one end which creates a trap door effect.

The Yucatan Peninsula is more than incredible beaches! Discover it’s colorful colonial towns:

4. Visit El Blanquizal To Snorkel From Shore

Image source: Canva
  • Price: N/A
  • Hours: daylight hours makes the most sense.
  • Time needed: 1 – 2 hours; about a 30 minute bike ride from town to reach.
  • WOTW rating: 3.5/5

El Blanquizal is the area of calm waters sheltered by the surrounding reef also visited on Punta Allen’s famous tour. Our host referred to this place as Punta Allen’s swimming pool, and you can definitely see why! You will never want to leave the perfectly clear and calm waters.

All that being said, reaching El Blanquizal by land is a bit of an adventure. We rode our bikes for about 40 minutes up the bumpy road until we found small paths leading to the water. Visiting El Blanquizal from shore gives you great access to the reefs that protect the natural pool from the surf.

  • Location: to reach there by road you have to search for a clearing in the brush that leads to the shore.

WOTW Tip #1: our visit to El Blanquizal was not ideal. We visited during a period of high winds, and the conditions were not very comfortable for snorkeling.

WOTW Tip #2: bring water shoes if you have them. The shore is rocky around El Blanquizal, and we saw a couple of sea urchins tucked away among the rocks.

Interested In Exclusive Travel Stories From The Road? Sign Up To Receive Our Weekly Email!

5. Experience World Class Fly-Fishing

fly fishing
Image source: Canva
  • Price: packages with fishing lodges seems to be the most popular way to experience fly fishing in Punta Allen.
  • WOTW rating: N/A

This unspoiled paradise is a haven for catch-and-release fishing. There are several lodges that cater to fly-fishing fanatics who are in the know about Punta Allen. Most of the lodges in town sell packaged deals that are pretty pricey. However you could potentially reach out to see if fishing is available for non-guests. The most popular species to catch are permit, bonefish, tarpon, and snook.

Neither Aimara nor myself are big on fishing. But if you are into fly fishing, or are interested in learning, then Punta Allen is a great spot to try your luck!

6. Head Into The Jungle On A Birdwatching Tour

birdwatching Sian Ka'an
Image source: Canva
  • Price: likely similar to the $150 US per boat quoted for ‘The Tour.’ You may have to pay for the full boat, as this is a less popular tour.
  • Hours: around sunset.
  • Time needed: 4-6 hours.

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is home to an incredible amount of bird species. On a birdwatching tour in Punta Allen, you will head out on a motorboat through the mangrove estuaries to observe the diverse species of birds that thrive in this area. Note that the focus of this tour is water birds like frigates and spoonbills.

Bird watching tours are not as commonly promoted as the popular ocean and snorkeling adventure. Luckily the cooperative that manages the ocean tour also offers a sunset birdwatching excursion. Follow the link if you want to add birdwatching to your list of things to do in Punta Allen.

7. Enjoy Sunrise From The Pier & Sunset From The Marina

Sunrise from Punta Allen Mexico
  • Price: free.
  • Hours: check for sunrise & sunset times!
  • Time needed: 60 – 90 minutes
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

Punta Allen’s beaches face east, which means you can catch beautiful sunrises as the sun emerges over the Caribbean Sea. We went out for one of the most peaceful and beautiful sunrises that we have ever witnessed. Everything was completely quiet, and it seemed like we were the only ones awake besides for a couple of local fishermen going for their morning catch. We even saw a spotted eagle ray hanging around the pier while watching the sunrise!

Sunset and the other side of town is a more festive affair. Grab a couple of cold beers from one of the markets and walk 10 minutes to the wooden dock where you first arrived to town to watch a beautiful sunset behind the lagoon. There is a good chance that many visitors spending the night in town will be there. So we’re talking like 15 people total.

8. Visit One Of Punta Allen’s Secluded Beaches

  • Price: free
  • Time needed: as long as your little heart desires.
  • WOTW rating: 4/5

Punta Allen has a white sandy beach that runs along the coast for about a half-mile. We noticed that surprisingly few people take advantage of the beach and ocean. That said, we visited in March when northern winds (called ‘nortes’) can bring choppy surf to the area. So the ocean was a bit rough, and the water slightly murky.

If it weren’t for the choppy ocean, we’re sure the water would be crystal clear and inviting. And you can easily spend a few hours just relaxing in the sand if you find a shady spot under a palm tree. Oh, there’s also a good chance you will have the entire beach to yourself!

  • Location: the main beach runs north from the town’s main pier. You really can’t miss it.

WOTW Tip: Punta Allen’s beaches are not maintained. This isn’t like visiting Cancun, people! There will likely be seaweed on the beach because they are kept in their natural state.

9. Relax And Do Absolutely Nothing

Relaxing in Punta Allen Mexico
  • WOTW rating: 5/5

Remember, Punta Allen is all about disconnecting from outside distractions. Enjoy a two-hour breakfast while watching the waves roll onto shore. Find a sandy spot in the shade and count how many turtles you see popping up for air. Or grab a couple of beers and simply stroll around town.

Unless you are going on a fly-fishing excursion, the truth is that there aren’t a ton of organized things to do in Punta Allen. So visit with the right mindset, turn off your alarm, and go with the flow for a few days. I’m sure you’ve earned it.

  • Location: everywhere and anywhere.

Where To Stay In Punta Allen

where to stay in Punta Allen Mexico
Image source: Canva

There are a handful of lodging options scattered around Punta Allen. Most of the accommodations are modest, family-owned operations. However, there are also some higher-end hotels and glamping facilities. Though most of the fancier hotels are fishing lodges.

Where To Eat In Punta Allen

There is not a huge array of dining options in Punta Allen – so don’t expect to sample many of the Yucatan Peninsula’s best foods while you’re here. And the lack of any real grocery stores means you probably won’t be cooking for yourself. Make a note of these best places to eat in Punta Allen to avoid being disappointed during your stay:

  • Best coffee spot: Cafecito
    • Their new name is ‘Be F#%&ing Nice Coffee Shop.’ The service is very friendly, and the coffee is good enough for where you are. And they have beautiful ocean views!
  • Great breakfast in Punta Allen: SCST Vigia Grand
    • I’m not sure if this is still the actual name, but look for the restaurant that looks like it’s part of Be F#%&ing Nice Coffee Shop.
  • Best dinnerspots:

WOTW Tip: Punta Allen is famous for its lobster. But lobster harvesting occurs during a defined season. Make sure you know if you are visiting during the season before ordering, or you will get served previously frozen lobster.

Final Thoughts On Visiting Punta Allen, Mexico

Punta Allen was one of our favorite stops during our slow-traveling adventure throughout Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Granted, it lacks many activities and amenities that people look for during a vacation in the Caribbean. But we totally think this is a special place to visit for travelers looking to disconnect and explore the virgin coast.

The town is unspoiled by large-scale tourism. Punta Allen has no kitschy gift shops or vendors convincing you to spend your vacation budget on something you don’t need. And while the local community could surely benefit from having more visitors spending a few days in town, residents are also totally content if Punta Allen stays as a quiet fishing community.

Thinking back to our time in the Yucatan Peninsula, it is obvious that some places are a victim of rampant overdevelopment combined with insufficient infrastructure. Tulum is the poster child for this issue, but Isla Holbox can also be thrown into that conversation. I pray that Punta Allen, Mexico will never be part of that discussion.

Thanks for reading!


Have any questions about visiting Punta Allen? Which one of these activities are you most excited to experience? Tell us in the comments or DM us on Instagram!

Want to explore more of the Yucatan Peninsula? Read these next:

Tired of reading? We have a full Yucatan Peninsula travel series on YouTube! Don’t forget to subscribe to follow along with the adventures 🙂

Was This Punta Allen Post Helpful? Share it on Pinterest!

*Note: this post contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission when you purchase from these links, at no extra charge to you. Affiliate income helps keep us on the road creating content that we hope is useful to you!

Home » Destinations » Guide To Punta Allen: How To Explore The Riviera Maya’s Hidden Gem (With Video)

4 thoughts on “Guide To Punta Allen: How To Explore The Riviera Maya’s Hidden Gem (With Video)”

  1. I am in Holbox now, supposed to stay for a month but am a week into the visit and have had more than enough of the horrendous noise the ATV’s make and the dust all day…l lived in Punta Allen for 2 years and am cutting this visit short to go to PA. You are spot on…

  2. Glad you enjoyed punts Allen. Made it there by motorcycle a few years back. However by writing articles about these ‘hidden gems’ for the world to read only speeds up the overdevelopment and ultimate ruin; just like tulum and holbox. I’ve been to both of those places before their ruining and it’s heartbreaking to see as you discussed in your article on holbox.
    Please consider.

    1. I‘m totally agree with you Kate. I have been in Yucatan 21 years ago, also in Punta Allen. Everything has changed so much here, unfortunately not to a good side. If Punta Allen is still what it was, don‘t tell the whole world Gordon!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *