What is the Sian Ka'an Biosphere?
Meaning "Origin of the sky" or "Where the sky is born" in Mayan, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is a sprawling 1.3 million acre nature reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site located just south of Tulum in Mexico's Riviera Maya. It spans 120 kilometers from north to south and covers an area about twice the size of Rhode Island, making it the largest coastal protected area on the Yucatan Peninsula and the third largest protected area in Mexico.
Part land and part sea, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere is the top ecotourism destination in our area. It’s made up primarily of lagoons, mangroves, wetlands, coastal areas, and jungle. The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef runs just offshore and is home to more than 80 species of coral and visited by hundreds of species of fish, including sharks, bass, barracuda, tarpon, and bonefish.
The vast majority of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere is protected and undeveloped making it a haven for hundreds of different species of tropical birds and exotic wildlife, including toucans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, jaguars, pumas, ocelots and tapirs. There's also a great diversity of marine life, including manatees, dolphins, and sea turtles; and over 1,000 species of native plants.
Also within the boundaries of the reserve are hundreds of forested islands, known as "petenes," as well as freshwater cenotes, and 23 known Maya archeological sites, including Muyil. There are no indigenous groups living in the reserve and the vast majority of the population (around 2,000 people) lives in the fishing villages of Punta Allen and Punta Herrero.
How to Visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve
The Sian Ka'an Biosphere attracts nature lovers and adventurers who come to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, like fly fishing, bird watching, snorkeling, kayaking, and boat tours with local guides. If you want to go off-the-beaten-path, Sian Ka'an is a great choice!
The easiest way to visit the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is on a guided tour; however it can also be visited independently. Keep in mind that services are limited within the reserve, so you’ll want to come prepared with supplies for the day and of course, a full tank of gas.
The main entrance to Sian Ka'an is located on the Tulum beach road (Boca Paila) just south of the hotel zone. This is the best place to enter the reserve if you want to spend the day lounging on the pristine Caribbean beaches and exploring the vast coastal areas. There’s a second entrance located further south along the federal highway in the town of Muyil, which makes a good starting point for boat tours of the lagoon, jungle tours, and visiting the ruins.
Sian Ka'an also features gorgeous beachfront villas and eco homes that run on wind and solar power for anyone who wants to experience the ultimate in luxury off the grid living.