One of the nice things of living in a tropical destination where the winters are warm and water abounds is being able to get away from the daily grind and take a day to go off the beaten path, on a boat adventure.
We had just a day like that while going deep into the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated south from the coastal town of Tulum, in Quintana Roo. As the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, Sian Ka'an is full of life -- wildlife, that is -- and a paradise for anyone that likes being surrounded by beauty, peace and exotic creatures in their natural habitat.
For those visiting from out of town, there are many tour options offering different experiences, some more adventurous than others (I can help with recommendations, just ask!). In our case, we decided to do it on our own -- not an easy task, but it helped us save some money.
Our full-day adventure took us driving from Playa del Carmen to the very end of Tulum's seaside strip (an hour drive, give or take), and from there, it was an extremely bumpy ride all the way down to Punta Allen, which took us about 2 hours without a 4WD vehicle (not very advisable). The road conditions along the long and narrow stretch known as the Boca Paila Peninsula are so bad that we were forced to stop several times, both on our way in and out, as my little one's stomach couldn't handle it very well (there was some slight puking, but she recovered like a total champ each time!)
Once in Punta Allen, we boarded a speed boat that took us out into the open waters of the Caribbean. Surrounded by deep turquoise blues, we finally started to relax.
The day had our back, too. It didn't take long before a pod of dolphins showed up swimming next to our boat, complete with two dolphin calves in tow! The pure joy of watching these amazing creatures enjoying themselves freely in the wilderness made us forget the roughness of the ride there.
A little further out we also had a chance to spot a huge sea turtle coming out for air a couple of times, gifting us with a graceful gesture that, to me, looked like a smile as her head poked above the water for a second or two.
Boat trips into the ocean side of the Reserve typically include time for snorkeling in the beautiful Mesoamerican Reef. However, because we started our ocean tour quite late, we decided to skip the snorkel part and instead enjoyed some refreshing time plunging into a tranquil natural pool that the kids in our group loved.
After the excitement of our sea adventure, we were hungry. Lucky for us, the good people at Punta Allen's Fisherman Lodge Restaurant had us covered with delicious seafood (what else?). Plus they have a nice pool so the kids were able to continue having fun while waiting for the food to arrive.
We started the drive back around 5:30 p.m., and while getting back to Tulum was just as rough as on the way in, feeling happy and relaxed sure helped making it seem so much quicker and easier!
Need more information on how to do this trip on your own? Here's a link to a great guide I found from some fellow bloggers that took the time to write it all down! Or drop me an email, and I'll be happy to offer some additional tips and/or help you book your trip!