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Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve -WOW!

The heart of sustainable tourism in the Riviera Maya

Welcome to the nucleus of sustainable travel and eco-tourism in the Riviera Maya. Sian Ka’an is a UNESCO World Heritage site and protected biosphere in the southern portion of the Riviera Maya. This protected national treasure is enormous, approximately 1.3 million acres in total, spanning 120 kilometers from north to south and comprising almost one third of the Caribbean coast of Mexico. With a rich historical background, diverse ecosystem and large waterways, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere is treasured by locals and visitors alike.

The northernmost section of Sian Ka’an contains what is thought to be an ancient trade route through the lagoons and mangrove channels between the cities of Tulum and Muyil. Parts of what is now the Reserve were once areas of chicle production and trade through the middle of the twentieth century. The fishing industry is still one of the most important economic activities for the residents in the reserve. Common species include spiny lobster, tarpon, grouper, permit, and snapper. Tourism is one of the main sources of income for fishermen in Sian Ka’an, who are hired to run boat trips to the reefs and lagoon systems with local guides who share the history and environmental richness of this area.

Sian Ka’an visitor and scientific research zones

The reserve contains three large core zones where human activity is limited to permission for scientific research only. These areas, known as the Zonas Nucleares of Muyil, Cayo Culebras, and Uaymil cover a total area of almost 700,000 acres. Low-impact human activities and sustainable development occur in the area of the reserve known as ‘the Buffer Zone’. This area is comprised of lagoons, the Caribbean coast and jungle. With the assistance of local guides, visitors can travel by boat or kayak and learn about the flora and fauna indigenous to the area and observe over 300 species of birds, both migratory and local. The human population is estimated at 2,000 inhabitants, the majority of which are located in the coastal regions, especially in the fishing villages of Punta Allen and Punta Herrero.

Entering from Tulum

The main entrance is located on the Tulum beach road to the south of the Tulum hotel beach zone. There is a stone archway at the entrance to the reserve where a small fee is charged, and sign-in is required. There are few services in Sian Ka’an other than pre-booked guided tours and a few random small restaurants so come prepared wth water, snacks and lots of gas in your tank. Vacation properties located in Sian Ka’an run on alternate energy and use sustainable building practices. The area is known for its fly fishing, bird watching and other eco-focused activities.

LocoGringo suggests these great vacation spots:

Zamas Bungalows
Zamas Tulum hotel, beach bungalows, Riviera Maya
Located right on the sugary white beach amongst the slender coconut palm trees, Zamas is a small beachfront cabana hotel, which features 8 very private beach bungalows. Each bungalow looks just like...
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Villa Iguana
Villa Iguana, Soliman bay, Riviera Maya rental home
This is a deluxe beach house with air-conditioned bedrooms, swimming pool, all on the beach side of the house. Full kitchen, living room & dining room all with pool view & open floor plan. 5...
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El Paraiso Hotel Tulum
El Paraiso Tulum Hotel, Tulum beach, Riviera Maya
Without doubt, such a heavenly place, with miles of powder-soft sandy beaches and the crystalline waters of the Caribbean, deserves nothing less than the name El Paraiso or "paradise" hotel. 10 air...
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Jashita Hotel
Jashita Hotel, Soliman Bay, Tulum, Riviera Maya
Being the only luxury boutique hotel nestled on the silky-smooth shores of Soliman Bay, Jashita offers that much-welcome and peaceful retreat.  Jashita Hotel’s deluxe suites boast awe-inspiring...
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Casa de las Palmas
Casa de las Palmas, Tulum beach house rental, Riviera Maya
One of few beach houses on amazing Tulum beach. This 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom alternate energy house is close to restaurants & beach bars. Each bedroom has a balcony. Multiple living spaces,...
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Casa Vallejo
Casa Vallejo, Zamas bungalows, Tulum beach rentals, Riviera Maya
Enjoy this 5 bedroom ocean view house rental affiliated with Zamas Bungalows on Tulum beach. Located across the street from the beach, 100 mtrs./yrds from Zamas. Service from the restaurant and dive...
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Azulik
Azulik Tulum hotel, Riviera Maya
Check out the adults only alternative to the mass marketed Caribbean vacation. Great for couples seeking a relaxing, romantic getaway. These ocean/beach front bungalows are all wood and glass w/...
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Suenos de Tulum
Suenos de Tulum Hotel, Tulum beach, Riviera Maya
Art imitates life on the beach at Suenos Tulum  with amazing wall reliefs and murals that reflect Nature and the Maya in the context of the beach environment. This alternate energy mini-resort has...
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