Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: Accommodations and Food

Map of Tulum and Southern Quintana Roo, Mexico

Tulum and Southern Quintana Roo

Punta Allen is the only town on the peninsula and has the most options for lodging, food, tours, and other services. Along the long unpaved road leading there is a smattering of lodges and private homes, amid miles and miles of deserted coastline.

Note: The town of Punta Allen often switches off the electricity grid at midnight—and hotels outside of town are entirely off the grid—so air-conditioning and TV are not functional unless the establishment has a generator. (Fans work as long as the hotel has solar or wind power.) If you’re staying in a room with kitchen facilities, keep the fridge shut as much as possible to conserve the cold.

Punta Allen isn’t a foodie’s village, but it does have a handful of eateries, all specializing in fresh seafood. A few mini-marts and a tortilleria round things out a bit, especially if you’re planning on staying more than a couple of days.

Area Accommodations and Food

Accommodations Toward Punta Allen

Just four kilometers (2.5 miles) from Tulum, Boca Paila Camps (tel. 984/871-2499, US$65-80 s/d with shared bathrooms) has spacious “tent cabins”—heavy-duty canvas tents set on platforms—with real beds, tasteful decor, and terraces with views of the Caribbean or lagoon. All share bathrooms with rainwater showers, compost toilets, and 24-hour lighting. The cabins themselves don’t have electricity, but candles and battery-powered lamps are provided. There’s a restaurant in the main building, where guided kayaking, bird-watching, and fly-fishing tours also can be arranged.

Eight kilometers (5 miles) north of Punta Allen, Sol Caribe (cell. tel. 984/139-3839, US$185 s/d, US$175-250 cabaña, US$100/40 extra per adult/child all-inclusive) offers modern rooms and cabañas set on a breezy palm-tree-laden beach. All feature en suite bathrooms with tropical woods, terraces with hammocks, 24-hour electricity (fan only), and gorgeous views of the ocean—a true hidden getaway of the Riviera Maya. There’s a full-service restaurant on-site, too.

For more luxury that you’d rightly expect in a remote natural reserve, Grand Slam Fishing Lodge (near the entrance to town, cell. tel. 984/139-2930, toll-free U.S. tel. 855/473-5400, US$45-55 s/d with a/c) has gigantic guest rooms in two-story villas, each with one or two king-size beds, fully-stocked minibars, marble bathrooms, and satellite service on large flatscreen TVs, plus 24-hour electricity for air-conditioning and Wi-Fi. The grounds include a tidy beach and aboveground pool, both with drink service, and a spacious restaurant-lounge. Guides and boats are first-rate.

Accommodations in Punta Allen

Casa de Ascensión (near the entrance to town, tel. 984/801-0034, US$41-50 s/d with a/c) is a small hotel with three brightly painted rooms, each with quiet air-conditioning, hot-water bathrooms, and Wi-Fi (two also have satellite TV). The owner, a longtime expat, lives on-site and provides attentive service, including breakfast to order in the hotel’s 2nd-floor restaurant and recommendations for area tours.

Facing the central plaza, Posada Sirena (tel. 984/877-8521, US$38-75 s/d) offers simple Robinson Crusoe-style rooms. Most are quite spacious, sleeping 6-8 people, and all have private bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, and plenty of screened windows to let in the ocean breeze. Area excursions, including fly-fishing, snorkeling, and bird-watching, can be arranged on-site.

The accommodations Serenidad Shardon (road to the lighthouse, cell. tel. 984/107-4155, US$8.50-17 pp camping, US$150 s/d, US$200 s/d with kitchen, US$250 two-bedroom apartment for up to 5 guests, US$350 beach house for up to 10 guests) vary from oceanfront cabañas to a large beach house; all have basic furnishings but are clean and well equipped. You also can camp using your own gear, or rent deluxe tents with real beds, electric lighting, and fans; access to hot showers and a full kitchen is included, too.

A dedicated fishing lodge,The Palometa Club (north of the central plaza, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/824-5420) has just six rooms in a two-story structure facing the beach. Each has tile floors, a private bathroom, and two double beds. Meals are served family-style, with cocktails and snacks (including fresh-made ceviche) available at the club’s outdoor bar, après fishing. The Palometa is designed for serious anglers, with a fly-tying study, one-to-one guiding, and an emphasis on landing permits (palometa in Spanish, hence the name). Non-anglers are welcome if accompanying a fishing guest. The all-inclusive seven-night/six-day rate is US$3,650 per person (non-anglers US$2,000 per person). Rates are for shared room and boat; for private room, add US$100/night; for private boat, add US$200/day. Shorter packages are available but may include additional airport transfer fees.

Restaurants

With a gorgeous view of the Caribbean, Muelle Viejo (just south of the central plaza, no phone, 11am-10pm Mon.-Sat., US$6-14) serves up fresh seafood dishes and cold beers—perfect for a long lazy lunch.

Taco Loco (just north of the central plaza, no phone, 8am-10pm Mon.-Sat., US$3-8) is a locals’ joint with good, cheap eats.

The hotel restaurant at Casa de Ascensión (tel. 984/801-0034, 8am-10pm daily, US$4-17) offers a wide variety of Mexican dishes, pizza and pasta, and (of course) seafood. Seating is outdoors, under a large palapa. It’s located two blocks from the beach, near the entrance to town.

Groceries

There are three mini-marts in town: on the north end (near the road to the lagoon-side dock), south end (two blocks west of Cuzan Guesthouse), and near the central plaza (one block west). Each sells basic foodstuffs and snacks, though you may have to visit all three to find what you’re looking for. If you plan to cook a lot, stock up on supplies in Tulum.


Excerpted from the Eleventh Edition of Moon Cancún & Cozumel.

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