The BEST kept secret of Tulum, Mexico!
The Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO heritage site, is a 1.3-million-acre nature reserve located just south of Tulum, Mexico. It is home to countless bird, animal, and plant species. 379 species of birds, 115 species of mammals, 318 species of butterflies, 310 species of mosquitoes, and 1048 species of flora to be exact! There are also 23 Mayan archaeological sites to explore.
We were lucky enough to experience this magical place with Agua Clara Diving & Eco-Tours. As soon as we walked into their shop, we immediately felt the love the staff had for Sian Ka’an. We knew we were in store for an unforgettable day!
Our first stop was the Muyil ruins where we learned about the astonishing culture of the ancient Mayan’s. The best part was, unlike the Tulum Ruins, you have this place virtually to yourself. We only saw a hand full of people while exploring here. Behind the main Castillo (or castle) you will find a “hidden” raised board walk that takes you thru the dense jungle. We got lucky and spotted a coati, which can be described as a hog-nosed coon. It is a peaceful 10-minute walk that leads you to the entrance of Sain Ka’an lagoon.
Once to the entrance, we took a small motored boat across the glass-like lagoon. I was amazed at the different shades of blue the water was. Next thing we knew we were zooming thru the super narrow, hand-dredged canals made by the Mayans. The width of the canal is about as wide as the boat with mangroves on each side. A couple minutes later we arrive at a wooden dock.
The sun was shining bright that day, and it was hot. The water looked so clear and inviting. Once docked, our tour guide told us to take off our life jackets, turn them upside down like a diaper, and strap them on. This was to help you float down the canal with little to no effort on your part. They ask that you try to not touch the bottom of the canal, or the mangroves to help conserve it. The moment we had all been waiting for… Plopping into the beautiful canal, and floating down it. The water temperature was perfect, and cooled us off almost instantly. As we floated along, we learned new facts about the biosphere reserve, and learned a bit about each other. The float took about 30 minutes, and was the perfect way to relax.
We got back to the entrance, and it was time to head to our next destination, Cenote Escondido. It is a large open cenote, great for snorkeling and diving. We jumped off the 3-meter cliff into the cenote, and could see the caves below thanks to the crystal-clear water. There is also a rope swing if you are brave enough to enter that way. After about an hour of snorkeling around, exploring, and relaxing, it was time to head back to Agua Clara Dive Center. We finished the tour with some fruit and juices. We didn’t want the day to end, but were so thankful we got to experience such a magical day. We learned a lot of interesting facts, and left with a new appreciation for Tulum, Mexico.
Sian Ka’an is somewhat unknown and under rated in my opinion. It is not over run by tourist, and is full of wild life. If you want a fun filled day, with a very funny and knowledgeable tour guide, check out the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve tour offered by Agua Clara Diving & Eco-Tours! These guys go above and beyond to provide you with an experience you will never forget.