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Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) + VIDEO

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve - Tulum - Mexico - Happier Place

The incredible Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is what tropical dreams are made of. You’ll find white beaches, turquoise water, palm trees, birds, fish, iguanas, Maya ruins and you can float down a Maya trade canal!

Located just south of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo, Mexico, Sian Ka’an is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. The principle of any UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is to foster a balanced relationship between people and nature (e.g. encourage sustainable development). This makes Sian Ka’an a perfect Happier Place: beautiful, diverse, protected nature AND access for humans to enjoy the nature and make a living sharing it with others.

While the entire Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an is vast, our video shows you some of the amazing sights in just the small section between Tulum and the little fishing town of Punta Allen.

A few specific recommendations for Sian Ka’an Biosphere:

  • Boat ride on the inlet and then floating down the Maya trade canal (wearing a life vest like underwear in combination with the current is the best mode of transportation ever).
  • Fishing in the skinny waters of the inlet and off the Boca Paila Bridge – or, if you don’t fish, just watch fish and crocodiles in the clear waters.
  • Staying at (Colorado expat owned) eco resort Xamach Dos in one of the unique hand-built cabins and enjoying drinks, meals and great company in the open air palapa restaurant.
  • Watching the sun rise out of the Caribbean Sea.
Old Boca Paila Bridge on the way to Punta Allen in Sian Ka'an, Mexico. Happier Place
Old Boca Paila Bridge on the way to Punta Allen in Sian Ka’an, Mexico.
Pelican on old Boca Paila Bridge in Sian Ka'an.
Pelican on old Boca Paila Bridge in Sian Ka’an.

The Caribbean Sea on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Happier Place

The Caribbean Sea on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Beach road to the lighthouse in Punta Allen, Mexico.
Beach road to the lighthouse in Punta Allen, Mexico.
The clear waters of Sian Ka'an are perfect for fishing, snorkeling and being happier. Happier Place
The clear waters of Sian Ka’an are perfect for fishing, snorkeling and being happier.
Skinny Water Fishing in the Sian Ka'an Lagoon - near Tulum, Mexico - HappierPlace
Skinny Water Fishing in the Sian Ka’an Lagoon (near Tulum, Mexico).
More than just fish live in the clear waters of the Sian Ka'an inlet.
More than just fish live in the clear waters of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
Frigate birds in Sian Ka'an, Tulum, Mexico. Happier Place
When it all gets to be too much, go see a frigate bird!
Waiting for the sun to rise on the beach of Xamach Dos near Tulum, Mexico.
Waiting for the sun to rise on the beach of Xamach Dos near Tulum, Mexico.
The sun rises out of the Caribbean Sea in Sian Ka'an, Mexico.
Sian Ka’an means ‘Origin of the Sky’ in Mayan.
Pelican in the Sian Ka’an Lagoon.
Ancient Maya structure along a Maya trade canal in Sian Ka'an near Tulum, Mexico.
Ancient Maya structure along a Maya trade canal in Sian Ka’an near Tulum, Mexico.
Your view as you float down a Maya trade canal in Sian Ka'an. Mexico - Happier Place
Your view as you float down a Maya trade canal in Sian Ka’an.
Pure relaxation: floating on the current along a Maya trade canal held up by a life vest. Sian Ka'an - Mexico - Happier Place
Pure relaxation: floating in the current along a Maya trade canal held up by a life vest.

How to get to Sian Ka’an:

First, to get to Tulum, you’ll have to fly to Cancun, which is about 80 miles (130 km) north – and then rent a car or take a bus south. If you’re already in Tulum and have a vehicle, follow the coastal road (Road 15) south out of the Zona Hotelera to get to the Mayan Canals, Xamach Dos and Punta Allen – or follow Road 307 out of Tulum Pueblo (town) to get to the Muyil ruins. Beware that Road 15 turns into a dirt road! If you don’t have a car, there are plenty of tours you can book from Tulum.

If you take a trip to Tulum (which we consider one of the best vacation spots), we highly encourage you to explore Sian Ka’an. And if you don’t ever make it down there, we hope Luci’s video and photos will fuel your happier dreams.

Want to see more? Check out Luci’s video about Tulum made for the Moving Postcard video series.

Have you been to Sian Ka’an or maybe Tulum? Do you have other tips? Have you posted photos from your tips anywhere? Share your thoughts, tips and links below to inspire more. 


The video and photos in this post were created by Luci Westphal. By clicking on most photos, you can see a high-resolution version – and even purchase a print if you’re so inclined.

The song in the video is “12 Mornings” by Jason Shaw. Thank you, Jason! 

2 thoughts on “Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (Mexico) + VIDEO

  1. Yes, what a beautiful, relaxing, get-a-way Happy Place…..and the fishing & floating looked exciting.

    1. It was! Thank you for your comment, Ellie.

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