Sian Ka’an (pronounced “see on con”) means “origin of the sky” in the language of the Maya people who once inhabited the region more than 1,000 years ago. This is a fitting name for this gorgeous biosphere reserve that contains unique flora and fauna. Located near the small town of Tulum, Sian Ka’an was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, comprised of more than 1 million acres. Sian Ka’an offers a relaxing alternative to other overtly “touristy” destinations in Mexico. With environmental preservation in mind, visitors can feel good about supporting an area rife with extraordinary natural beauty.
Sian Ka’an ecosystem:
- Over 379 species of birds.
- Home to 115 species of mammals, 90 species of native bees, 47 species of dragonflies, 74 species of beetles, 276 species of crustaceans, 310 species of mosquitoes, and 318 species of butterflies.
- The barrier reef is made up of over 84 species of coral.
- It is visited by hundreds of species of fish.
- There are 1048 species of flora.
- Visitors can expect to see creatures that are rarely found elsewhere.
- Sian Ka’an has 150,000 hectares of deciduous and semi-evergreen forest.
- The petens, which can grow up to 30 meters tall, can only be found here, in Florida and in Cuba.
- There is a variety of marine grass, inlets, mangroves, marshes and coastal and in-land lagoons.
For a detailed description of all the beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya, visit here. Sian Ka’an vacation planning is simple, just read on and find everything you need for your Sian Ka’an Mexico vacation.
Sian Ka’an Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Sian Ka’an is between November and December. Temperatures fall to around the low 80s as the hurricane season slides away. Plan a trip for the early part of the this season if you want to save money. You’ll get the benefit of post hurricane-season breezes, and hotel prices are reasonable. Not to say that it’s hard to find good room rates at other times of the year – this small pocket of the Yucatán has one of the widest ranges of price points on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. If you’re concerned about crowds, though, avoid the region from January to March.
Sian Ka’an Attractions
The Muyil Ruins archaeological site is an exceptional place to visit. Located in the northwestern border of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, this historical site is will provide you with a relaxing tour around the fascinating Mayan ruins. Since the lush grounds are simple to navigate, the ruins are a terrific place to explore for nearly all ages and abilities. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve contains the ruins of 22 pre-Hispanic settlements, but the Muyil ruins are certainly the most noteworthy.
This majestic, untouched stretch of sand is surrounded by looming palm trees and rugged cliffs. A popular place for yoga enthusiasts and iguanas, the beach is large enough to ensure that it’s never overrun with people. There are also plenty of restaurants on site to buy food and cocktails and boats offering snorkeling excursions in the warm sea.
Laguna de Kaan Luum
What makes Laguna Kaan Luum special is the color of the water and the fact the center is a deep cenote. Some say the center is about 80 meters (262ft.) deep. You can tell the color contrast between the center of the lagoon and the sides. This is also a not very well known location to go swimming since many of the other cenotes in Tulum are move visited and well advertised.
This cenote adventure can be an all day affair or a quick tour. It is surrounded by the jungle, and you feel you are in your private paradise. This cenote is best for swimming and snorkeling. Siestas are also a perfect activity in this location. Bring what you need, snorkel equipment, snacks and water as there are few services, which makes this cenote idyllic.
Sian Ka’an Beach
The Sian Ka’an reserve is one of the most fascinating beaches in the Riviera Maya. If you love nature, Sian Ka’an has a lot to offer; there are over one 1,400 species of plants, as well as more than 300 species of resident and migratory birds. If you like diving or snorkeling, you will discover an endless show of sponges, pink conch, starfish, sea urchins, and spiny lobsters, just to name a few.
Sian Ka’an Tours & Activities
Sian kaan and Tulum Snorkel
Experience the Yucatan’s rich nature and history on this all-day excursion. After a convenient hotel pickup, see Sian Ka’an Biosphere by boat and learn about its mangroves, jungle, wetlands, savannah, and blue lagoons. Visit Mayan ruins at the Muyil archeological site, explore a coral reef with complimentary snorkel gear, and enjoy a delicious lunch—it’s included in the tour price. Read more about Sian kaan and Tulum Snorkel
Sian Ka’an Deluxe Boat Tour
Discover the beauty of the UNESCO-listed biosphere of Sian Ka’an on a full-day boat tour from Tulum. Sail through mangroves in Campechen lagoon and look for wildlife, then enter Ascension Bay where you may see dolphins and sea turtles, along with colorful corals and natural pools. Lunch, beverages, and transportation are provided. Read more about Sian Ka’an Deluxe
Sian Ka’an Adventure From Tulum
Discover the remote UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an on a full-day trip from Tulum. Your guide points out the protected area’s immense biodiversity, including coastal and mangrove habitat teeming with marine life. Search for elusive manatees at Boca Paila Lagoon, snorkel on the Mesoamerican reef (weather-permitting) and find nesting birds at Ascension Bay. Boat ride with lunch and free time in Punta Allen is included. Read more about Sian Ka’an Full-Day Tour from Tulum with Snorkeling
Early Access to Chichen Itza with a Private Archaeologist
Discover the ruins at Chichen Itza with a private archaeologist guide on this all-day Viator exclusive tour. Skip the lines and the crowds with early morning access and view parts of the ruins that most traditional tours don’t visit. Learn about Mexico’s past through your guide’s insightful commentary about this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Read more about Chichen Itza VIP Early Access with Private Guide
Day Trip to Chichen Itza, Valladolid with Cenote Swim and Lunch
Journey to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to visit the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on this full-day excursion that includes easy hotel pickup and drop-off. Along with seeing El Castillo and learning how this Pre-Columbian city played an important role in the Mayan civilization, visit the colonial town of Valladolida, stop at a cenote for a quick swim, and enjoy a buffet lunch. Read more about Chichen Itza Tour
Best Rated Sian Ka’an Restaurants (Nearby Tulum)
Hartwood $31 – 60
Hartwood is a sustainable, organic restaurant where the menu changes daily, based on what the Earth provides. Only local ingredients are used. Solar panels power their lights and music. They are only open Wednesday to Sunday 6 – 10 p.m. for dinner and they are closed during low season (September and October). They welcome both walk-ins and reservations, but if you really want to dine in this enchanting establishment, make a reservation. Web: Hartwood
Arca $11 – 30
This rustic, open-air restaurant in the jungle, lit with candles and twinkling lights, serves Mexican cuisine using fresh local ingredients. If you’re dining with children, they are happy to create something kid-friendly. On the adult end, one of Arca’s specialties is creative, unique cocktails. Telephone: 52 984 111 5379 Web: Arca
Ziggy’s $11 – 30
Dine with your toes in the sand at Ziggy’s, located right on Tulum’s white sand, aqua blue, Caribbean beach. This hip, funky, friendly restaurant and beach club serves everything from breakfast to dinner to cocktails and everything in between. They also feature live music every single day. If you want to spend the day at the beach club, get there early or you won’t get a chair. Telephone: 52 984 871 1145 Web: Ziggy’s
La Zebra $11 – 30
This gorgeous beach-side restaurant is casual and welcoming, but at the same time stylish and chic. They serve authentic Mexican breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Patrons dine in an open-air palapa-roof ambiance, with the Caribbean wind blowing in their hair. Telephone: 52 984 115 4726 Web: La Zebra
El Tabano $11 – 30
El Tabano is a hip Mexican restaurant that serves original dishes inspired by European cuisine. Here, the ever-changing fresh, healthy menu is written on a chalkboard, and the open kitchen allows diners to see their food being prepared. The candlelit, eclectic, jungle feel and live music makes for an inviting ambiance. Don’t miss the Pollo Rojo, the guacamole with pumpkin seeds and oats, and the Passion Fruit Mojito. Telephone: 52 984 134 8725 Web: El Tabano
Best Sian Ka’an Nightlife (Nearby Tulum)
Gitano is a mescal bar and is the place to go for cocktails, dancing and lite bites. Tiny lanterns are hung on overhead branches, along with an array of beautiful chandeliers. Two cocktails not to miss are the Mescal Mule and the Stardust. The mule is mixed with Gitano’s own how made mescal, while the Stardust has mescal, dark rum, and a mixture of fruit juices. Telephone: 52-984-745-9068 Web: Gitano.
Try the expertly mixed mojitos which range from the classic to local fruits like prickly pear, to innovative combinations like cucumber basil. No matter which flavor you order, the sugarcane juice is pressed to order. The kitchen turns out some great Italian snacks to go with your mojitos. Telephone: 52-984-745-4571 Web: Batey.
This is a favorite of the local business owners. You can get an expertly mixed cocktail and chat it up with the friendly bartenders. The ingredients are fresh. Try the Maria Sandia with mescal, watermelon, lime, and worm salt on the rim. You can eat dinner here as well, with grilled seafood, rib eye, and the catch of the day. This has a picturesque open-air jungle setting. Telephone: 52-998-222-2749 Web: Casa Jaguar.
Papaya Playa Beach Club
The Papaya Playa Beach Club throws a major party every Saturday with guest DJs. The drinks here include mescal and papaya or the well-balanced cucumber and lime drink. Great place for dancing. Telephone: 52-984-871-1160 Web: Papaya Playa Beach Club.
Best Nearby Sian Ka’an Hotels
Mukan Resort South of Tulum
Mukan Resort has a unique identity and eco-influence. Boasting more than 200 meters of beachfront, the vast property excites the senses, allowing guests to completely surrender to the beauty of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve around them. Incredibly remote but accessible by car, boat and helicopter, the property offers five beach rooms, three ocean bungalows and one premium bungalow with a private garden.
Nueva Vida de Ramiro
Exotic tropical woods and situated right on the beach facing the Mexican Caribbean Sea. Superior facilities, grilled to perfection steak or fresh caught fish, natural reefs to explore in crystal blue waters, endless white beaches and tropical forests are just a small sample of the wonders to behold at Nueva Vida de Ramiro.
Alaya Tulum by Ahau Collection
Disconnect from the world and enjoy a full connection with mind and body while staying at this eco-chic beachfront hotel. This hotel features eco-conscious amenities and rustic charm for tranquil, sustainable stays on the Caribbean. Ideal for yoga and wellness retreats, guests can enjoy private beach access and recreational activities that promote inner peace. Sleep well in villas inspired by the raw natural beauty of Tulum and awaken to views of the crystal-blue ocean.
These luxuriously appointed, rustic Tulum cabanas sit on a secluded stretch of white, powder-fine sand where one can enjoy the view from your private deck, steps away from the crystal clear Caribbean waters. Up and down the coastline you will find a natural peacefulness, gentle breezes and the hypnotic sounds of waves crashing against the sand, all in the simple tranquility of Tulum.
Immerse into a world of art while being pampered by their dedicated staff as you enjoy the glorious sun, bathing in beautiful crystal clear waters & walking on amazing white sand beaches. Relax on their roof top deck where you can enjoy a sunset like no where else in Tulum and later in the night give into the star filled sky.