Punta AllenMexican state of Quintana Roo in the Si'an Ka'an biosphere, with a friendly atmosphere and a good number of places to stay.
By carBy car, head south on Mex 307. The four lane divided highway takes you through Playa del Carmen and Tulum. In Tulum, you take a left at the first traffic light in Tulum and head south on the only road, which ends in Punta Allen. After leaving Tulum, you will come the Sian Ka'an Park entrance - an arch made of native stone - where you need to stop and pay the entrance fee of thirty seven pesos per person per day. There is a wonderful nature trail located at the park entrance. The short trail ends at a large cenote (natural swimming pool) where you can take a refreshing dip in the water. The dirt road begins here and runs to Punta Allen, the only way back is the same road. Don't be in a hurry to get to Punta Allen, for both the beautiful scenery and the dangerous road conditions. Along the road are numerous pull-offs where you can stroll long stretches of virgin beach or watch waves crash against beautiful razor rock formations. If you rent a car to drive be sure to check your fuel levels. There are no gas stations in Punta Allen, and a round trip with the road conditions in 2018 used about 15-20L of gas (1/3 tank) in a Jeep Sahara.
Road conditionsThe road is not paved south of the park entrance. The 40 km drive can take as little as 60 minutes for the locals in big beat-up pickups, and as many as 4 hours in a rented sedan. In June 2018 it took about 2 hours in a rented Jeep. Prepare for a slow, extremely bumpy ride. It is extremely inadvisable to attempt this with anything smaller than an SUV, and a Jeep is preferable if you are concerned about damage to a rental car. There are no lanes, and vehicles criss-cross the road to avoid potholes, so be aware of oncoming traffic around corners. Other traffic will often be traveling either much faster (local residents and resort staff) or much slower (motorbikes, sedans, and large trucks), so leave ample room for passing. If you find others traveling in similar vehicles, traveling convoy-style can help you identify the worst of the road conditions.
Pay attention to the weather forecast and do not attempt this ride during/after a heavy rain unless you have good 4x4, off-road skills, and/or local knowledge of the road. The thousands of potholes fill with water extremely fast, and the dirt road turns to mud, so it is impossible to tell the relatively small potholes from the suspension-shaking ones. Expect frequent washouts/flooded sections during heavy rain.
Beware also of wildlife, especially iguanas and large crabs, that wander on the road and take their time moving out of the way.
By busOne option for bus travelers is The first class buses running from the airport to the central bus depot in Cancun where you transfer to a direct bus to Tulum and provides the best way to quickly head toward Punta Allen. Once you get to Tulum you can transfer to the one combi leaving for Punta Allen daily at 2PM. The buses from Cancun to Tulum make a stop at the Maya ruins of Tulum and then end at the bus depot in central Tulum.
The other option is to take the buses from Tulum to Felipe Carrillo Puerto (a very nice, non-tourist pueblo). If you do this, it would be better to hop a bus to Carrillo Puerto from Tulum. This is not a through road for private cars and takes almost three and one-half hours. The combis (small state run vans) leave from the corner of the Mercado for Vigia Chico at 10AM and 3PM. to Vigia Chico takes you to a pier across the bay from Punta Allen. There the water taxi will take you on a 10 minute small boat trip across the bay to Punta Allen. You might spend one night in Carrillo, depending on your travel plans and the ride to PA the next day puts you right on the beach.
There is a vast array of different colored plastic washed up among the tons of seaweed on these beaches!
There are several grocery stores and the Fishermen's Cooperative has seafood, including lobster, for purchase. If you stay at either Serenidad Shardon or Sirena's, you will have kitchen access.
Punta Allen also has many small home based luncherias open in the evening serving great and inexpensive, regional fare. The locations seem to change frequently, so ask when you get to town.
If you stay around long enough, say a month or more, to be considered a "local", beers in restaurants are the equivalent of $1. Otherwise, the rate is twice that.
Cuzan Guest HouseThis is a bit more expensive and is geared to people who fish, but it deserves to be listed as well. It is a good place for a meal too.
address: 1 Beach Side Rd
Serenidad ShardonThis is on the beach, with a common kitchen and good range of accommodations, including some very inexpensive options. If you e-mail and want something cheap, ask about the dorm that is nearer the kitchen than the beach or the camping.
The central park of any Mexican village or city is where people gather in the evenings to visit with family and friends. The park in Punta Allen has a playground, a half football field, and a volleyball court. This is a great place to stroll in the evenings for a meet and greet with the locals.