Sian Kaan

Sian Kaan is biosphere reserve located on Mexico's Caribbean Coast in the town of Tulum. It was formed by conservationists with the help of the Tulum municipality. The main purpose of the reserve is to protect natural areas, and it covers an impressive 1.3 million acres. Visitors are welcome to come by and take it all in, and tours can be arranged if you want help making sense of it all. Tours aren't the only things to do at Sian Kaan, however, and any and all visitors are encouraged to interest themselves in all of the available activity options.

Both land and sea areas make up the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. One year prior to getting its World Heritage Site designation, the reserve was named a Mexican national park, and it has been open to the general public ever since. The park has a high biodiversity value and is also home to numerous Mayan archaeological sites. These archaeological sites total 23, and some of the relics that have been found among them are more than 2,000 years old. So along with famous Chichen Itza, the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve is a great place to go if you are interesting in seeing Mayan ruins near Playa del Carmen and the other Mexican Riviera destinations.

More than 100 mammal species inhabit the vast lands of the Sian Kaan Reserve, and 336 known bird species have been identified within its boundaries. This makes it a fine place to do some wildlife viewing, and you won't want to forget your binoculars if you have a pair. The birdwatching possibilities are especially good. You can also take to the area waters in a kayak to search for fascinating avian creatures. Both morning and afternoon kayak tours are available at the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, and they include either lunch or dinner at the park's Ecological Center.

The Sian Kaan tours aren't limited to kayak tours. It is also possible to enjoy sightseeing boat tours that highlight both the natural history and Mayan history of the area. At various points, stops are made along the way so that guests can observe Mayan ruins. Some of the tours can last the better part of a day, while others are shorter, and you can hope to enjoy a special tour at sunset if you prefer. The sunset tours have birdwatching as a focus and can be enjoyed from December until May. Competent tour guides are on hand at the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, and many, if not all, speak both Spanish and English.

When you think of Playa del Carmen fishing, you might only envision the deep sea possibilities. Interestingly enough, you can also enjoy fly fishing on a Playa del Carmen escape, thanks to places like the Sian Kaan Reserve. The reserve offers both day trips and multi-day excursions for the angling enthusiast. Possible catches include barracuda, tarpon, bonefish, jack, and permit, and the trained guides can help you find all the right spots. Included in the fishing packages are a boxed lunch and some beverages. The beverage options include beer, soft drinks and water.

While many a great Mexican beach resort offers relative proximity to the Sian Kaan Reserve, true nature lovers might prefer a stay at the reserve itself. Thatched-roof cabins of sorts that are fully furnished serve as the available units, and guests have access to a central kitchen and dining center. The bathrooms are shared, and great effort is made to keep them clean. There is an eco-resort appeal to the Sian Kaan guest units, and you might be surprised at just how comfortable they are.

Image: Jo Simon (flickr)

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