The Palometa Club—which is billed as the world's #1 permit lodge—is located on a lush spit of sand between the Caribbean and the storied, permit-rich waters of Ascension Bay, in the small fishing village of Punta Allen. A world away from the bustling all-inclusives and high-rise condos of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Punta Allen has a personality all its own. Quaint cottages, palapa bars and boutiques line the sandy streets of the community, and it seems that everyone gathers at the local sports facility forfutbol contests, best enjoyed while sipping an ice-cold Sol cerveza. Evenings at the club leave time for a little exploring, where you might be able to find an NFL game enjoyed under the palm fronds at a local bar, or just pop into the mini-super for a cold beverage while you wander the village and take in life experienced at a distinctly different pace.
On the famed waters of Ascension Bay, the Palometa Club helps you maximize your chances for an encounter with the fish of your lifetime thanks to world-class, English-speaking Mayan guides who grew up fishing these waters, and the club's renowned two-guide system that offers anglers the advantage of a 1:1 guide-to-client ratio. And, with so much water to choose from, you’ll be able to try something new every day you spend in Ascension Bay. When back at the club, you’ll enjoy comfortable rooms, an oceanfront beach and patio with an endless view of the sea, and locally prepared dishes that will delight your palate. And the fishing? It’s nothing short of world-class.
Ascension Bay is part of the internationally protected Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve—a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Mexico’s largest protected areas. For the fly fisher, Ascension Bay possesses natural assets that make the region’s saltwater fly fishing among the best on the planet. First and foremost, Ascension Bay is known as a permit fishery — and it is, indeed, one of the planet’s most dependable destinations for anglers looking to tangle with the ultimate saltwater game fish. But its intact mangrove creeks and swamps, shallow sand flats, impossibly deep blue holes and coral reefs make this stretch of watery paradise a fishing destination like no other.
From the Palometa (the spanish word for permit) Club, anglers will get to experience as much or as little of Ascension Bay's bounty as they desire. Are you permit junkie, solely focused on searching for sickle tails slicing through the emerald waters of the bay? Have at it. Want a more complete angling experience, where you can tangle with juvenile tarpon in the creeks, bonefish on blonde sand flats, or snook tight against the mangroves? You can do that, too. The bay’s fishing menu also includes mangrove and mutton snapper, grouper, fierce barracudas, sharks and big jack crevalles that will destroy fly tackle if anglers aren’t careful. Ascension Bay is a fly fisher’s nirvana — and from the ideal environs of the Palometa Club — anglers are within reach of it all.
LODGING: You’ll stay in nicely appointed rooms complete with private bathrooms, and you’ll enjoy comfortable common areas inside the club. But you’ll be drawn to the lodge’s patio and bar that face the Caribbean — this is where you and your fishing buddies will share stories, make your permit plans and celebrate when the flags are raised at the end of the day.
FOOD/DRINK: Breakfast is a daily Mayan delight, complete with traditional local favorites and dependable staples ranging from eggs and bacon to ham and sausage. Boxed lunches are prepared to order each morning and usually enjoyed under the shade of island palm trees with an ice-cold beer or a bottle of water. Cocktails start flowing during happy hour from “Kaye’s Bar” on the patio — chilled margaritas and piña coladas will take the edge off the “one that got away,” and appetizers, including fresh ceviché, will whet your appetite for dinner, which might come in the form of tamales wrapped in banana leaves, moca de ajo, pollo con mole or even chile rellenos. And then … dessert. Save room. You’ll be glad you did.
CONNECTIVITY: Even though the club is remote and services in Punta Allen are limited, there is dependable wifi and 24-hour electricity.
The club’s driver will pick you up at the airport in Cancun the day you arrive and you’ll begin the trip south to Punta Allen. After a quick stop for staples like beer, spirits and cigars, you’ll board a boat at the Bocal Paila bridge outside of Tulum and ride across Ascension Bay. Once you get to the dock on the bay side of Punta Allen, all your luggage and gear will be gathered by club staff and, within minutes, you’ll have a cold margarita in hand as you sit on the patio overlooking the Caribbean.
It begins. If you're not ready to dive right into the pursuit of wiley permit, shake the rust off your saltwater cast by spotting and stalking Ascension Bay’s plentiful schools of bonefish, which cruise over stunning, white-sand flats. Once you get your “fish eye” dialed in and the your cast more or less in shape, you’ll be ready for more daunting prey.
Ready for permit? Chances are, you’ll get your shot. And you'll have an advantage on your side: the club's system that puts two guides in every panga. When fishing from the boat, the guides work in tandem spotting and tracking fish, coaching the angler, and clearing stray fly lines. When in the water chasing permit on foot—where anglers typically get more and higher quality shots at permit—you'll have one guide at your side and another perched atop the poling platform tracking the fish and using hand signals to communicate with the guide off your shoulder. You'll navigate your way across the bay's sand and turtle-grass flats, working to intercept the sickle-tailed fish. When your guide quietly says, “Cast your line,” be ready. Whenever you or any of the other anglers you're spending the week with at the Palometa Club land a permit, you'll hoist a flag on the lodge's beachfront pole when you return for happy hour—a time-honored club tradition.
The term "permit junkie," many discover, is a fitting one. Once you've seen that black sickle tail, your heart-pounding and palms sweating, it's hard to go back to less adrenaline rush-inducing saltwater pursuits. If you weren't already, you're hooked. Plus, you traveled to the world's #1 permit destination for a reason, right?
Maybe you landed a permit on the previous days. Maybe you landed five and want more. Or, maybe you spent the last few evenings sipping margaritas and watching the permit flags raised by fishing buddies waive tauntingly in the sea breeze, leaving you more determined than ever. So, back once again to the permit flats you go.
How about a boat ride into the mangrove creeks in search of tarpon and snook, with a stop over a blue hole where you can cast to everything from barracudas to jacks? Ascension Bay is part of a protected biosphere, and it’s full of life, both under the water and above it. American crocodiles, jaguars and intimidating bull sharks are some of the toothier denizens of this ecosystem, and you’ll see your share of critters as you cast to the bay’s plentiful game fish.
You got your permit. You landed an acrobatic baby tarpon that you plucked from under the mangrove roots. How about trying to convince a four-foot-long barracuda to hit your streamer? The club’s beach is protected by a stunning reef a mile or so offshore, and between the deep blue of the sea and the sand, big ‘cudas glide through the salt in search of prey. Of course, there's always those sickle tails to chase, and maybe just enough time to hang a couple more flags before you go ...
It’s get-away day, sadly. But, as you glide across the bay you spent the last few days fishing, you’ll have the memories of the fish you caught, the fish you missed and the experience you enjoyed in Punta Allen and at the Palometa Club. You’ll meet the airport shuttle back at the bridge where it all started, and, before you know it, you’ll be on a plane home. But, in the back of your head, you’ll be planning your return visit to Ascension Bay and the little club on the beach where it all happened.
- Ground and water transfers Transfers from Cancun airport to the club
- Lodging Comfortable, air-conditioned, beachfront lodging
- Meals Traditional, local Mexican cuisine
- Beverages Non-alcoholic and alcoholic happy hour drinks
- Guided fishing With a 1:1 guide-to-client ratio
- Fishing licenses Licenses for your trip
Guests traveling to the Palometa Club fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN), which has convenient, direct flights from over 40 U.S., 10 Canadian, and dozens of international cities. There, anglers will be greeted by the Palometa Club and will transfer first by road and then by water to the club in Punta Allen, Mexico, around 2-3 hours.