Dolphins, turtles, snorkeling the second largest barrier reef in the world – yep, sign us up!
We went with Exotik Mayan Tours to Sian Ka’an. Sian Ka’an is a UNESCO World Heritage site and in Maya means “Where the Sky is Born.” It covers over 1.6 million acres and has many ecosystems including lowland tropical forests, wetlands, lagoons, bays and coral reefs. It includes 68 miles of the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. Additionally, 345 species of birds are found here and 103 species of mammals including all five of the wild cats found in the peninsula: Margay, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Jaguar, and the Puma. Meow!
It’s a little bit of a haul, but worth it. From Tulum, we got in the jeeps to drive in a caravan the 2-3 hours through the jungle all the way to Punta Allen. It is a bit of a long, bumpy drive on a dirt road, but it’s not too bad. Especially in the jeeps that are better equipped for that sort of driving than a van.
It was a long drive for someone who has a pea-sized bladder like me, then add the bumpiness and I was going crazy. We did stop half way for cold drinks and bananas and I was able to use the lovely appointed jungle for a bathroom break. I may or may not have pulled a leaf off of a tree to wipe. Erick said, “You have no idea what that is.” Right. Luckily for me, it worked out. 🙂
Looks like a gorgeous little spot for a swim, right? Not so fast. There are crocodiles lurking around in these waters — crocs that have adapted to salt water.
Our dusty trek ended in the village of Punta Allen where we got our snorkeling gear and were assigned a boat. The boat has a canopy! Hooray! I was thinking to myself the whole morning…there’s just not enough sunscreen. It was a scorching hot day and I knew I’d be out on the water all day.
We cruised through the manglar area and saw all of the birds. There’s several little islands where the birds flock to. It’s a safe haven for them away from the mainland where the big cats roam.
Our boat sped away and soon we were speeding into the horizon on the open ocean. Soon we slowed and started to see dolphins and sea turtles frolicking about. It never gets old seeing them. We had already been to Akumal to swim with the green sea turtles, but it was cool to see the turtles from the boat because you got to see them surface from above.
We took off again splicing through the turquoise water and anchored at the reef, which is the second largest in the world. I donned my mask and and jumped in. Our guide was great and pointed out many things to me that I would have missed. We saw lion fish, angel fish, parrot fish, puffer fish and many others that I have no idea what they were. Our guide dove down and retrieved a conch shell for us. I always feel like I’m in another world when I’m snorkeling somewhere like this.
To wrap up our day on the water, we went to what they call the natural pool and it was spectacular. So beautiful. The epitome of a gorgeous ocean setting. Crystal clear! Dario broke out a tequila bottle and went around sharing with anyone interested. Viva Mexico!
We went back to Punta Allen and had a great lunch buffet. I was thrilled to have made it through this long day in the hot sun without getting burned.
Sad to leave, but tired, we hopped back in the jeeps for another long drive back. We stopped on the bridge again and this time we were rewarded with a crocodile sighting.