Travel Guide to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Written by EJ Ray

June 19, 2024
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Immerse yourself in the beauty of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Discover Mayan culture, wildlife, and beauty in this travel guide to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

If you want to connect with nature and explore Mayan culture, Sian Ka’an is an excellent choice. This Biosphere Reserve is in the Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Sian Ka’an is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, covering approximately 650,000 hectares (1.6 million acres) along 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) from north to south, between Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto. In this article, we will provide all the information you need to visit Sian Ka’an, from how to get there to the activities available in the Reserve.

a small island with trees in the water Quintana Roo, Mexico, the Sian Ka'an lagoon reserve

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Photo by Gim42 via iStock by Getty Images

How to Get to Cancun?

Commercial flights into Cancun occur multiple times daily. It is one of the easiest locations to reach from within the US. The trip to Cancun takes about two hours from major hubs like Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.

Getting to Sian Ka’an From Cancun

The most common way to get to Sian Ka’an is through Cancun. From Cancun, you can rent a car and take the road south towards Tulum. The reserve is approximately 2.5 hours south of Cancun.

Getting to Sian Ka’an From Tulum

You are much closer to the reserve if you are already in Tulum. You can rent a bicycle, cab, or colectivo to the Sian Ka’an access. The distance from Tulum is approximately 30 minutes by car.

What is Sian Ka’an?

Sian Ka’an is a Biosphere Reserve on the Mexican Caribbean coast, in the state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is a key site in Mexico for biodiversity conservation.

Mangrove Tree and Frigatebirds

Mangrove tree with Frigate birds in the Caribbean Sea in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Photo by DC_Colombia via iStock by Getty Images

This reserve is home to mangroves, coastal dunes, coral reefs, and tropical rainforests. Sian Ka’an is home to more than 800 species of plants and 350 species of birds, and a great variety of mammals, reptiles, and fish.

It is also one of the main tourist attractions of the Riviera Maya, and a visit to this place is a unique experience for those interested in environmental conservation, biodiversity, and Mayan culture.

What Can You See in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve?

The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is one of the most impressive places in the Riviera Maya. Read on for activities and sights you can explore in Sian Ka’an with Xplora Riviera.

This natural park stands out for its beauty and the diversity of its landscapes. Some of the places you can visit in Sian Ka’an include:

  • Punta Allen is a small fishing village at the end of the Sian Ka’an peninsula. It has a white sand beach, crystal clear waters, and abundant marine life. It is an excellent place to observe dolphins and sea turtles.
  • The Muyil Canals are a network of canals connected to the Muyil Lagoon. Boat rides are available, and you can appreciate the place’s natural beauty. You can also book a guided tour of the Muyil Canals to learn about the history of the Maya who inhabited the area.
  • Sian Ka’an Reef is one of the most impressive reefs in the Riviera Maya. Its diverse corals and marine species make it a perfect place for aquatic activities such as snorkeling and diving.

In addition to these outstanding sites, in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, you can enjoy various outdoor activities:

  • Kayaking is an excellent way to tour the canals and lagoons of the reserve
  • Boat trips are ideal for relaxing and admiring the landscape and marine life of Sian Ka’an
  • Numerous hiking trails exist in the jungle and on the beach, where you can appreciate the area’s nature and biodiversity
a group of people on a boat in the ocean with dolphins

Tourists watching dolphins in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Photo by Gim42 via iStock by Getty Images

Best Restaurants in the Reserve and Surrounding Areas

Sian Ka’an Restaurant

Sian Ka’an Restaurant offers typical regional dishes prepared with fresh, local ingredients. It is an ideal stop to taste the local gastronomy while enjoying the panoramic views.


In Tulum, just minutes from the reserve, Hartwood is a restaurant famous for its focus on local ingredients and sustainable cooking techniques. Its menu changes daily, depending on the fresh produce available.

Schedules and Rates

The reserve is open to the public every day of the week. Hours may vary depending on the season but generally from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Entrance to the reserve costs approximately $100 MXN per person. This price may vary slightly, so we recommend checking the updated prices before your visit.

Travel Tips

  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, as you will be walking on trails and uneven terrain
  • Apply sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated during tours
  • Respect the rules of the Sian Ka’an Reserve, such as not leaving garbage and not disturbing the fauna and flora
  • Bring a raincoat or jacket if you are traveling during the rainy season

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Sian Ka’an is during the dry season, from November to April when the weather is more favorable for outdoor activities.

an aerial view of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve

Aerial view of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve near Tulum, Mexico. Photo by steffie82 via iStock by Getty Images

Hotel Occidental at Xcaret Destination

If you are looking for a comfortable and luxurious place to stay near the reserve, we recommend the Hotel Occidental at Xcaret Destination.


The hotel is in Playa del Carmen, a short drive from Sian Ka’an. Its strategic location allows you to combine your visit to the reserve with other tourist attractions in the Riviera Maya.


The Occidental Hotel at Xcaret Destination offers many luxurious facilities, including several swimming pools, themed restaurants, a spa, and access to a private beach. It is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring the reserve.

Activities and Amenities

The hotel also offers a variety of activities, from water sports to nightly shows. Guests have unlimited access to Xcaret, an ecological and archaeological park where they can enjoy nature and local culture without leaving the hotel.

If you want to know more details about this hotel, visit

When You Go to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

If you are a nature and adventure lover, you won’t want to miss the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. This guide provides all the information you need to plan your trip and make the most of your visit. We also invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more of our favorite things to do when you visit the Cancun area or other parts of Mexico

Written by EJ Ray

EJ Ray is a traveler at heart. It is part of her soul and she loves to share her travels through her words. She has traveled the world, seeking great food, wine, and experiences. EJ was born in the Eastern US but has lived across the country and in Europe and Mexico. She also took to the road for a while, exploring from her RV. EJ always seeks the next great sip, bite, and adventure.


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