In the state of Quintana Roo, in the Riviera Maya, and the foothills of Tulum, is the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a natural jewel that is a paradise for travelers seeking adventure experiences and the limit sensations that only these paradisiacal corners of its geography offer.
Sian Ka'an means in Mayan "where the sky is born", and this ecosystem was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. This natural corner of the Riviera Maya, with its 650,00 hectares, is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean.
Along its 120 kilometers from north to south, it boasts beaches, mangroves, cenotes, dunes, coral reefs, and lush tropical jungle. This paradise is home to more than 300 species of birds, 100 species of mammals, and a thousand exotic plants. There is a core zone that is strictly protected, but its buffer zone is open to visitors. There is a transition zone where human intervention is allowed: this is where the small community of Punta Allen is located.
From Tulum begins the expedition
From this point, where it is certainly unavoidable to visit its splendid archaeological zone, begins the journey to the Biosphere Reserve. It is convenient to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle in Tulum since the main road of the reserve and many of the breccias are of difficult circulation. To spend the night in different places, it is indispensable to consider the following implements:
Drinking water in sufficient quantity
Preferably non-perishable foods
Flashlights and lamps
Suitable footwear, i.e. boots or tennis shoes
Small gas stove for camping
Containers for heating water and food
Diving or snorkeling equipment
It is very convenient to leave early in the morning to take advantage of the best natural lights of the day for taking photographs.
A first stop on the way: Boca Paila
After an hour of having taken the road from what is punctually the entrance of the reserve, one arrives at this splendid lagoon. Boca Paila is spectacularly beautiful: thousands of birds nest in its mangroves and crocodiles usually walk near them; in fact, it is not difficult to find them, as well as herons, cormorants, seagulls, kingfishers, storks, plovers, ibis, and even greater flamingos. This place of wetlands, swamps, marshes, and mangroves is ideal for the overnight stay, and even for swimming, although you have to be attentive to crocodiles.
The route to the south continues
Crossing the Boca Paila bridge, the expedition continues to the south of the reserve. Along the way, paradisiacal beaches, more lagoons, coastal dunes, and Punta Pájaros, Punta Xamach, Punta Piedra, Punta Santa Rosa, and finally: Emiliano Zapata Bay. In this journey, it is convenient to have binoculars and a camera at hand, since the tapir, the manatee, and the peccary enter the scene here. With luck this is the moment to discover some jaguar, here, on these subterranean rivers of freshwater that interconnect cenotes with petenes, is the home of this imposing feline.
Punta Allen, a fishing village
This small town that is called Javier Rojo Gómez, although still known by locals as Punta Allen, is perfect for an overnight stay and to hire the services of fishermen for boat excursions. These sea voyages take you to the most untouched and inaccessible beaches, with the brightest and most extraordinary colors of the entire reserve. You can also see the Punta Allen lighthouse, the mangroves and wetlands of the area, several coral reefs, and coastal dunes. But perhaps the most exciting thing is to watch the dolphins swimming near the boat, as well as the lionfish, and the fabulous Bird Island.
Other activities and services
In the town of Punta Allen, you can also hire special boat trips for fly fishing, tarpon, bonefish, and sea bass are the most appreciated species. The beaches near the town are perfect for water activities, sailing, kayaks, and especially diving and snorkeling, and is that the coral reefs here are simply spectacular. The community also offers cabins and hotels, but there are also all the camping services on the beach, and of course, excellent restaurants to taste the fish and seafood of the region.
Very close to the community several breccias lead to idyllic beaches, near the lighthouse, for example, there are spectacular nooks and crannies. The area has the peculiarity of offering solitary beach nooks, the walks and the maritime routes are here a caress to the soul, it is a nostalgic and melancholic retreat, only the birds burst from time to time, and in the breccias of the jungle, the jaguar is always waited for, because if in someplace it has to be manifested it is here, in the innermost part of "Where the sky is born", in the paradise of the Mayas.
Finally, if you want to have a magical experience, come to Sian Ka'an, since you can be sure that you will find yourself in the most extraordinary place on the planet, the place where the Mayas discovered the sky. Have a nice trip!