Jo Simon

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Overview

In Mayan, the name Sian Ka'an translates to "Where the sky is born," and standing at the edge of one of the vast lagoons at the brink of the Caribbean, it can seem that there is nothing but sky emerging from the waves. At 2.3 million acres, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. The northernmost part of the reserve contains what is thought to be an ancient trade route through lagoons and mangrove channels between the cities of Tulum and Muyil about 15 miles south. At Muyil, visitors can walk among crumbling Mayan temples, the largest of which, the Castillo, is topped by a circular tower once ...

In Mayan, the name Sian Ka'an translates to "Where the sky is born," and standing at the edge of one of the vast lagoons at the brink of the Caribbean, it can seem that there is nothing but sky emerging from the waves. At 2.3 million acres, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. The northernmost part of the reserve contains what is thought to be an ancient trade route through lagoons and mangrove channels between the cities of Tulum and Muyil about 15 miles south. At Muyil, visitors can walk among crumbling Mayan temples, the largest of which, the Castillo, is topped by a circular tower once used as a lighthouse. From Muyil, take kayaks or a small "lancha" to the edge of Chunyaxche, a brilliant turquoise lagoon linked to the open sea by a narrow canal system dredged by the ancient Maya to provide access to the Caribbean. On the far side of the lagoon is a small building that was used as a Mayan customs post on the route where salt, chicle (gum), honey, and incense were once traded. This remote region is ideal for outdoors lovers and those who don’t need to fill the day with shopping and bar hopping.

Jill Robinson
About the Expert

Jill K. Robinson is a freelance journalist who specializes in adventure travel and culture and has written about Mexico and Central America for Frommer's and Lonely Planet.

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Jill Robinson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Sian Ka'an is a biosphere reserve in the municipality of Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. Part of the reserve is on land and part is in the Caribbean Sea, including a section of coral reef.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Mexican Peso
  • Research: Wikipedia | Tulum

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Visit during the dry season months of December through April.