It’s that time of the week again when you’re packing up for a new adventure in the gorgeous Riviera Maya. You’re probably wondering what to do or where to go. Luckily for you, the beautiful state of Quintana Roo and its surrounding states offer an array of beautiful hidden gems, offering millions of options to explore. This weekend we’re headed to Punta Laguna. Ready? Let’s get going!
How to get there
Punta Laguna is located inland from Tulum, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes by car from Playa del Carmen, or just 1 hour from Tulum Downtown. The best way to reach Punta Laguna is by car, as there is no public transport or buses heading that way. The only other way is by taking a prepaid tour that offers transportation.
If you’re coming from Playa del Carmen you need to drive south on the 307 Highway until you reach Tulum. Once you’re entering Tulum, keep an eye out for signs signaling the exit towards Cobá on your right. Take the Cobá highway and drive until reaching a roundabout with several exits. You will take the exit that reads Punta Laguna; it’s a rather small sign, but easy to find. Drive through this almost abandoned highway for approximately 20 minutes. You will find Punta Laguna on your left. There is a parking lot on site.
Where to stay
At the reserve you can rent a Mayan hut for two people for $300 mxn ($18 usd). Take into account that this is a natural reserve and Mayan villagers run the area, which means not to expect any luxury. The other option is camping, for which they offer eco-bathroom facilities.
Punta Laguna is best as a one-day trip. If you want to make this a weekend trip, your best shot is to stay the night in Tulum. You will find many different types of accommodation from luxury hotels to eco-friendly cabins and even hostels in Tulum. If you’re staying there for the weekend, you will only need to drive for an hour to reach Punta Laguna.
What to do
Punta Laguna is a natural reserve, home to spider monkeys, howler monkeys and pumas. It is also home to approximately 30 Mayan families who share over five thousand hectares. If you’ve decided to visit Punta Laguna there is only one thing to do: take a tour.
The villagers of Punta Laguna are the perfect example of how they can live off tourism while protecting their natural and cultural heritage. The tour costs approximately $300 mxn ($18 usd) per person and it is worth every penny invested. The reserve opens at 8 am, and that is the best time to arrive, as prepaid and organized tours start arriving at 10 am. Additionally, at that time the monkeys are migrating towards their feeding areas and it is much easier to spot them.
Your guided tour will last for about an hour, and you will get close and personal with the region’s nature and wildlife. If you’re an early bird and you’ve hired a guided tour, chances are you will spot both howler and spider monkeys in the wild migration. They will not interact with you, but they commonly stop and stare. You will be walking through the lush jungle in small paths, so watch out for the flora and fauna as there are some amazing things around.
You will then be guided towards the beautiful and peaceful lagoon where you will be able to hear the birds chirping and the howler monkeys howling in the distance. You will get to row your own boat across the lagoon, as well as swim in it – its water is quite refreshing after strolling through the humid jungle.
After crossing the lagoon you will zipline with beautiful views of the jungle and finish the tour with a Mayan ceremony and swimming in an amazing cenote that is home to some old Mayan skulls that are found at the very bottom.
Shopping and eating
Punta Laguna does not really offer any shopping facilities, as it is a natural reserve. It is probable that the Mayan population that lives there sells handmade arts and crafts.
For shopping and lunch it is better to head back out to Cobá, 20 minutes from the reserve, where there is plenty of shopping and eating options. If you’re not keen on stopping by in Cobá, your best bet would be heading back into Tulum where you can shop in Downtown and go to one of the many quaint restaurants on offer.
Punta Laguna is a natural reserve and only accommodates nature lovers who do not mind walking through the jungle, keeping an eye out for wildlife and letting mosquitos feast on them. Here are some recommendations to take into account:
-Bring comfortable clothes and shoes. Flip-flops are not appropriate for walking through the jungle. Either tennis shoes or sandals are a better option.
-Bring biodegradable sunscreen and apply it 30 minutes before jumping into the lagoon. Don’t forget to bring your swimming suit, towel and a change of clothes.
-Arrive early! Tours start arriving at 10 am, and you want to beat the multitudes that tend to scare the monkeys away.
-Bring a camera. Chances are you will spot monkeys and you might catch a glance at other wildlife (like coatis!), so bring your camera and be prepared at all times. Wildlife doesn’t pose.
-Bring an open mind and a positive attitude. Walking through the humid jungle while mosquitos are flying around you can frustrate people. This is where these Mayan people live and you must respect their habitat and their way of living.
Hopefully these tips will allow you to have an adventure of a lifetime in this off-the-beaten-path paradise. There are always new places to explore in the Riviera Maya, so check back next weekend for a new getaway destination!
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