top of page
  • Writer's pictureInfo Mexico Kan Tours

How to get to Sian Ka'an ?

What is Sian Ka’an ?

Sian Ka'an Biosphere is the second largest nature reserve in Mexico, with an extraordinary variety of ecosystems and immense natural beauty. In the Mayan language, Sian Ka’an means “where the sky begins”. It is an area where the underground freshwater rivers flow out to meet the Caribbean Sea, creating a magnificent diversity of landscapes that will blow your mind. Home to a whopping 9 separate ecosystems, you can find tropical forests, coastal lagoons, coral reef, mangrove forests, marshes, beaches and savannah, providing a myriad of habitat for wildlife and ancient Mayan ruins. A true paradise for nature lovers, Sian Ka’an is one of the jewels of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Located on the eastern coast of the Peninsula, it extends over 528 thousand hectares from Tulum in the north almost all the way to Mahahual in the south, bordered to the west by Felipe Carrillo Puerto the Caribbean to the east. This is approximately 2 million acres, roughly the size of a small European country (Luxembourg, to be exact!).

For such an enormous area, there are only 5 access points and roads into the Biosphere. This is due to the fact that most of the reserve is either partially completely submerged in water, making it practically inaccessible for humans. 2 of these entrances are located very close to Tulum, the first of which gives you access to the coastal road south to Boca Paila and Punta Allen; the second is reached by continuing south on Highway 307 to the town of Muyil.

How to reach Punta Allen ?

In the first case, you must take the road from the hotel area in Tulum until you see the arch that marks the entrance to the Sian Ka'an biosphere, here they will ask you to pay for access in order to participate in the conservation of this site that since 1987 has been placed on the UNESCO world heritage list. Be prepared for a bumpy road, it is a dirt road with many holes. It is recommended to have a 4x4. To reach Punta Allen and its 43 kilometers from the arch you should count 2 hours of road or 3 hours if it rained the previous days. On the road you can make stops on the beaches of the Caribbean Sea on your left and observe the river channels and mangroves on the right. Also, if you pay attention along the forests you can also observe the Blue Land Crab, which are land crabs that live in tropical and subtropical areas.

Punta Allen is the furthest point you can reach in Sian Ka'an on the Caribbean Sea side. This small fishing village is a real little piece of paradise. Snorkeling, boat trips in the mangroves, and looking for animals are all activities that you can do from Punta Allen. Enjoy eating a delicious fresh fish caught early in the morning in front of the sea and stroll through the small sandy streets of this quiet village.

There are a few hotels and campgrounds in Punta Allen, but it's still a small village. If you want to experience the magic of waking up at the foot of the clear, translucent water in complete calm, make sure to book your night.

In order to avoid those long hours of driving, we propose the Sian Ka'an Adventure Tour, an amazing full day boat trip to get into the heart of the biosphere and spot wildlife.

After reaching the boat departure point, you will be boating into endless stretches of pristine wetlands looking for crocodiles, manatees in their natural habitat at Boca Paila. Also you will observe colonies of birds on an island.

From their roosting spot, Roseate Spoonbills, White Ibis, Reddish Egrets, Tricolored, Boat-billed, Great Blue Herons are regular guests. Don’t miss our Sian Ka’an Birdwatching Sunset Tour, a place of great importance for the nourishment, shelter and reproduction of resident, migratory and transient aquatic birds.

The lagoon feeds out into the Caribbean sea and we will search for dolphins, sea turtles and more before jumping into the Mesoamerican Reef System if the weather allows it. This second largest barrier reef in the world is found on the coasts of Mexico, Honduras, Belize and Guatemala. Here you could swim with a wealth of fish and corals, sea turtles, octopus and if you are lucky maybe baby nurse sharks, no worries they are harmless for humans.

To enjoy the blue of pristine water, we make a stop in a unique beautiful sandbank to swim in the “natural swimming pool” to have time to relax before eating a delicious lunch in Punta Allen and have free time to walk around the sand streets or relax in the hammock to appreciate the beautiful environment in front of the sea.

How to arrive to Boca Paila ?

Punta Allen is the furthest point. So you can also choose to stop at the bridge of Boca Paila where the wetlands meet the sea, to spot crocodiles, and enjoy the beach for the day and come back the same day in Tulum. To get to Boca Paila you can drive or cycle. Biking, you will take around 1h30 from the entrance and driving around 45 minutes depending on the unpaved state of the road. We recommend you to leave Tulum early in the morning as the sun can be really strong.

The Sian Kaan Discovery Tour is a perfect combination of a half day boat trip to discover the tropical wetlands paradise that takes you across diverging coastal ecosystems, through mangrove forest and out to the coral reef. Subject to the weather conditions you will snorkel and swim in the Caribbean sea looking for marine life.

You will visit Boca Paila and have free time to swim in the sea. It is also a good idea for families with children over 5 years old.

How to get to Sian Kaan from Muyil ?

The second entrance to get to Sian Kaan is by the archeological site of Muyil.

Previously occupied by the pre-Hispanic Maya civilization, there are more than 20 archaeological sites in the Sian Ka'an area including Muyil. Muyil is the perfect place to enjoy an introduction to Mayan history & ecology. At 25 minutes driving from Tulum and located in the jungle in the north of the biosphere, you will walk around different temples surrounded by lush vegetation and medicine plants. Nestled on the edge of the freshwater lagoon systems and the tropical forest, the ruins are connected to the entrance of the natural reserve.

The fresh water canals that are today for some a tourist attraction of floating because of their natural current were built by this population in order to create passages, trade river routes (Ancient Maya route) between the different cities, Tulum, Muyil, through these wetlands.

On our Sian Ka'an Muyil Tour, a well packed half day, you will be one with nature. This trip is focused mainly on the inland part of the reserve and you will visit the Muyil archaeological site with a relaxing activity of floating in a beautiful fresh water canal.

After climbing the tallest tower to have a beautiful 160 degree view on the reserve, your captain will be waiting for you to have a boat trip across the two fresh water lagoons, in that part you will learn about all the ecosystems of the wetlands and you could spot some birds.

Muyil is a great place to enjoy a great diversity of birds while learning about Mayan culture. On our Birdwatching Sian Ka'an Muyil Tour you can identify from 40 to 80 species of birds (depending on the time of the year).

If you want to escape for a while far away from the crowd from Tulum, Sian Kaan is one of the only remaining untouched stretches of the coastline and inland, quiet, completely protected and wonderful.

Respect the ecosystems

Visiting Sian Ka’an is a privilege, which is why we attach great importance to its preservation and respect for the animal species that inhabit it.

Once you enter this natural beauty you must follow a few rules to protect the environment. You will be asked not to use sunscreen in order not to contaminate the water or endanger the animals. This applies to snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea as well as in the freshwater channels that flow into the sea. Concerning the wild animals, we simply observe them, it is forbidden to touch them or to feed them. It is necessary to respect the distances not to interfere in their daily life. If an animal approaches you it is because it decides to do so.

The ecosystems of Sian Kaan are fragile and as responsible tourists it is essential to have good behavior.

If you want to participate in a Beach Clean up while visiting Tulum, do not hesitate to check out @tulumcircula page.

This unique reserve is full of breathtaking nature, so take advantage of this chance and don't forget to travel with intention!

240 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page