Yucatan Outdoors, Tulum, Mexico

Yucatan Outdoors is an ecological minded outfit offering a range of tours that teach you about the local environment and also offer a sense of adventure. Possibilities include kayaking, bicycling, snorkeling and bird watching. They are flexible and will facilitate special requests. We, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Alaska, wanted to learn how to recover a tandem kayak in the case we accidently flipped it. Better to fumble around in the warm Mexican waters than Glacier Bay.

To accommodate two other guests our afternoon trip started with snorkeling in a cenote before doing a kayak trip in the lagoon later in the afternoon when the sun was lower. My only complaint was we were not told in advance that we would be snorkeling and hadn’t brought our snorkeling gear. They thought it didn’t matter because they provide fins, masks and snorkels, but I have a prescription mask so it did matter.

They picked us up at the appointed 1PM for the slow trip down the coastal road to the cenote. Over the last 10 years or so the area south of Tulum has become built up with a crowded line of hotels and restaurants in the mangrove trees on both sides of the road. 

Yaxchen Cenote

At the cenote we snorkeled while we waited for the harsh mid-day sun to soften. This was our first experience at a cenote and the water was not as clear as I was expecting, even though they said we were lucky to have such a clear day. The water is cooler than the ocean but not too cold for a short swim.

The most tantalizing aspect was the rays of sunlight streaming through the water. The rock formations at the bottom were only mildly interesting with a few unremarkable fish swimming around. At one end of the cenote there is a passage way to another pool. A few small crocodiles were hiding the mangrove trees as well. All in all it was a pleasant lake swim on a hot afternoon.  Back at the van they had snacks for us – addictive spicy peanuts and fruit as well as hot coffee.

Kayaking on Laguna Campechen

After the cenote we headed down the road to the lagoon. There is a narrow strip of land that separates the lagoon from the sea. While we waited for the guides to prepare the kayaks we headed to the beach, a beautiful spot with crystal waters, soft white sand and few tourists – just two couples. Here we sipped lemonade and ate guacamole in the shade.

In the trees near the lagoon the mosquitos were terrible. They tell you not to wear repellent or sun screen as it can harm the environment, but for the kayaking I would recommend both.

Reentry Training

Photos Curtosy of Yucatan Outdoors

At 3:30 we started the kayaking portion of the trip. While we were doing our kayak reentry training the other guests paddled off on a bird watching loop through the lagoon. Antonio was a great teacher and successfully helped us learn what we wanted to do – how to flip the kayak, get out, recover the kayak, get back in and bail out the water. We practiced for as long as we wanted but not too long as it was exhausting getting back in the kayak. When satisfied with our expertise we headed off to rendezvous with the other group and watch the birds return to roost.

Bird Island

 Laguna Campechen is part of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. As such it is a protected area with great diversity of bird life. As the sun begins to set many of the birds head to one specific island. It’s a spectacular show in the low evening light. Biosphere reserve rules prevent you from getting close for good photos without a long lens, but it’s still a magical setting that only gets better as the light dims and the color of the sky intensifies.

Antonio offers tamales for kayak picnic including extra avocado and hot sauce.

We head back to shore in the very last rays of light. The moon light sparkles on the water like diamonds. Back at the pier the mosquitos are worse than ever. I run to the moonlit beach to change out of my wet clothes where we hang out for a few minutes, free from the mosquitos, and wait for the crew to finish loading the gear on the van. With a lot less traffic than earlier in the day it’s only a 30 minute drive back to our hotel.


Yucatan Outdoors is a professional and well-run organization. Their staff is eager to please and will arrange tours and outings that fit your interests and requirements. Our guide, Antonio, was knowledgeable and a great teacher, providing demonstrations, giving advice and letting us practice as much as we wanted.

December 7, 2019

For links to all the posts in this series see the Yucatan Peninsula page.