Part of our wishlist for our Mexican Road Trip was to combine a mix of nature, culture (both modern and ancient) with some relaxation. Punta Laguna was one that when it was mentioned by Stubborn Mule I was eager to visit. It didn't disappoint and our experience was more than I hoped it would be. So here we go our guide to Punta Laguna Nature Reserve in Mexico.
Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve
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Punta Laguna is a nature reserve run by a local Mayan village. It's about an hour and a half from the city limits of Cancun. It's easy to get to and once there it really is best to take a guided tour of the jungle.
From experience, I know that jungle is notoriously hard to spot animals in.
So although we went with the hope of spotting some of the Spider Monkey's that the reserve was set up to protect I had prepared the kids for the eventuality that we may not see more.
As we followed the guide through the jungle a rustle in the leaf litter alerted us to an animal nearby. At the same time in the distance our guide had spotted something jumping in the trees. We looked down and saw a Basalisk Lizard had been captured by a snake and looked ahead and in the trees across a small valley there was a troop of spider monkeys resting, eating and playing amongst the branches.Extract from the J's journal
It seemed my preparation for the kids wasn't needed and we saw a lot of different animals that I really wasn't expecting.
Our guide was just as shocked as us to see the lizard and the snake and like T spent a good amount of time taking pictures of something that he had never seen.
What Makes Punta Laguna Reserve Special?
As we walked around the jungle our guide, Julio explained to us about the reserve and how it had started.
In 1986 the process to protect this reserve by the families was started and in 2002 it became an official nature reserve. Managed and run by the Mayan community these are the people that know the area best.
Because of how protected this area the wildlife population are thriving. There are spider monkeys and howler monkeys (although these are a little more difficult to see) that move throughout the reserve.
There are also jaguars in the area as well and a small conservation project has been established to research and protect them - don't however expect to see any of these.
There are snakes, lizards, birds and lots of insects including GIANT grasshoppers which although look kind of scary eat the bark of trees and are harmless.
Activities at Punta Laguna for the More Adventurous
As well as the nature reserve there is also some activities for those that are thrill-seekers. You can zip line across the lake and then Kayak back to the dock.
Or you can abseil into the cenote in the reserve and then climb in the rope ladder back out.
Due to the weather conditions, we weren't able to do either as, as our tour finished a big storm rolled in and made these impossible.
How to get to Punta Laguna
Punta Laguna is on the road to Cobra from the Carretera Libre from Cancun to Merida.
It was a fantastic drive out of Cancun and then through the countryside. It was our first full day of driving in Mexico and we were worried about the roads as knew Punta Laguna was on a smaller road.
But using Google Maps navigation we found it easily and it was no more difficult than driving in the UK on some of the minor A roads.
If you don't want to drive it is possible to do this as an excursion from Cancun check out a full Punta Laguna Tour, or Punta Laguna and Coba Tours combined below from Get Your Guide
What facilities are there at Punta Laguna
Punta Laguna is a little off the tourist trail so it's not got lots of facilities but it has just what you need even when with the kids.
There is a bathroom which you can change in as well. This is a drop toilet and basic but it's clean and does what you need.
A small ticket office, museum and place where you can get drinks that are fantastic and cold perfect for when you return from the tour.
The tour also stopped at a local store where some of the women were selling clothes, souvenirs and jewellery that they had made.
If you are looking for food - then we continued onto Coba which is only 10 - 15 minutes drive away and got lunch there.
What do you need to Bring
This is the jungle - it's hot, humid, lots of bugs and it's over a combination of limestone and leaf litter.
So good shoes are a must. We wore our lightweight walking boots. They proved fantastic in Mexico for exploring the jungle and lots of the Mayan ruins as well.
Bug repellent was also essential - the kids wore a Bugwatch each and we all used Incognito Insect Repellent. Neither have DEET in which can harm the environment, plastics and isn't great for the skin. But, were just as effective.
Read our review of the bugwatch - we've been so impressed that we have purchased the adult bands for our next trips for us too!
It's really important that you don't add chemicals to the environment so with our plan for a swim we also used our reef-safe sun cream so that all of the chemicals that do pollute the environment wouldn't be present.
You will also need water. Lots of it! As it was so hot and humid.
Our bags held the water and our swimwear because until the weather turned we were planning to be a little more adventurous.
How long does the Guided Tour Last at Punta Laguna
As we found out this very much depends on you and how you are getting on.
We had about 45 minutes and then Julio asked us whether we wanted to continue as we had only seen Howler Monkeys (the least common to see at Punta Laguna).
Because we wanted to see Spider Monkeys if possible we said to continue on and ended up with a tour of around an hour and a half.
Our kids are used to walking and they are animal crazy which meant that as soon as we started to see more animals in the second half of the tour they wanted to continue on.
If you add in the zipline and the abseil into the cenote then you are looking at between 3 and 5 hours depending on how long you spend exploring and kayaking on the lake as well.
When you get your ticket you can talk to the person there and work out what you want and for how long and the cost was adjusted accordingly.
How Much Does Punta Laguna Cost
The complete Tour and Entrance Fee to the Nature Reserve cost us $500 Pesos per person. That was about £21 for a guided tour.
If you want to see the monkeys it's the best way. We wouldn't have seen them any other way.
What the Kids Thought About Punta Laguna
We always like to give the kids view as well as our own when we visit places, especially as a family so I'm handing over to J and T to tell you what they think.
J's Review of Punta Laguna
It was really hot in the Jungle and I didn't like the giant grasshoppers one bit. Every time we walked past them they flew up. One even landed on Mummy and it was HUGE.
But we did see a Basilisk lizard. Although, it was being killed by a snake. But Mummy says that even when she lived in the Jungle in Costa Rica she never saw that.
The monkeys were funny. The baby was jumping all around the trees and REALLY close to us. I thought at one point it was going to jump on my head.
T's Review of Punta Laguna
It was amazing - I came face to face with a baby spider monkey. It was so close I could have touched it but the teeth looked really sharp.
We also saw a lizard - it was really still even when we got close to it. And when we got close to it you could see that a snake had got it. I got my camera in and took a picture of it as I was the bravest and went really close.
J didn't like the big grasshoppers - I didn't mind them as if you let someone else walk just in front of you they scare them and you can quickly follow without disturbing them again. That's what I did and think everyone should do especially kids and then you won't be scared at all.
Punta Laguna Spider Monkey Reserve Review
This is a fantastic reserve to visit with the kids and take a guided tour. The guides are really knowledgeable, our guide Julio was able to find both Howler Monkeys and Spider Monkeys for us and the kids to see. We also saw toads, insects including giant grasshoppers, lizards and a snake.
Because of the weather (afternoon storms are common in July and August in the area) we were unable to do the abseil into the cenote or the zipline but both of these are available.
- AMAZINGLY easy to get close to nature in the park
- Easy to spot monkeys
- Take a guide they know the way and can find the animals for you
- The giant grasshoppers - they are scary looking and our eldest was terrified of them. But walk through after someone else and they won't be a problem.