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Mexico's Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve is known as one of the great biodiversity hotspots of the world and has been a World Heritage Site since 1987. It is a stunning reserve where ancient history, biodiversity, and cenotes come together. Visiting Sian Ka'an is one of the great, less touristy things one can do while visiting Tulum.

See scores of tropical birds as well as exotic butterflies, native orchids, and much more. On a lucky day, the tour may even be able to spot a manatee or two swimming up to the surface for air. Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula is so much more than just beaches and cenotes - it is one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world.

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The Beauty & Biodiversity of Sian Ka'an

"The diversity of life in Sian Ka'an is exceptional. The tropical forests are home to charismatic mammals such as Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot and Central American Tapir. The property also provides habitat for many resident and migratory bird species."

- UNESCO

The name "Sian Ka'an" means "gate of heaven" or "a place where heaven begins." The biosphere includes both onshore and offshore protected areas and a piece of the second-largest coral reef in the world - the Mesoamerican Reef. It is a reserve where one can see the stunning underwater water of a tropical reef and ancient Mayan ruins on the land.

  • List: World Heritage Site

Top Things To See In The Sian Kaan:

  • Ancient Mayan Ruins and Mayan Canals
  • The Second-Largest Coral Reef
  • Diverse Wildlife

See pumas, tapir, crocodiles, jaguars, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and more. Not only is there a large diversity of animal and plant life on the land, but also in the water. The waters are home to the West Indian Manatee and hundreds of fish species.

Related: Mind-Blowing: What Makes The Great Barrier Reef So Amazing

Sian Ka'an Nature Encounter

The best way to explore the biodiversity of the reserve is with a guided tour. Visit Sian Ka'an offers their Sian Ka'an Nature Encounter that opens up the stunning world of the region.

On this tour, guests take a boat tour into the lagoons of Boca Paila and Caapechen and explore a labyrinth of natural mangrove canals and lagoons. Along the way, visitors are likely to see the occasional crocodile sunbathing on the shore (and perhaps even a manatee).

One of the attractions on land is an ancient Mayan temple (as well as the hand-dug Mayan canals). The canals one will float down were built by the Mayans some 1,000 years ago as a trade route. Jump in the canal and float down pasts the endless mangroves and wetlands.

  • Boat Type: Shaded Boat With Comfortable Seats
  • Lunch: Includes Typical Mayan or Regional Lunch
  • Entry Fees: Included
  • Age Restriction: 3 And Over
  • Total Duration: 4 to 6 Hours
  • Availability: Monday to Saturday (Sundays are on request only)

It is recommended to bring one's own snorkeling equipment, insect repellent, and sunscreen. Non-alcoholic drinks and snacks are provided.

For more information and prices, contact them.

Related: This Is The Best Time To Visit Manatee Park In Fort Myers

Sian Ka'an Reef Snorkel & Mayan Canal

Much of the biodiversity of the reserve is located beneath the waves. Take the Sian Ka'an Reef Snorkel & Mayan Canal tour and discover the earth's second-largest barrier reef. It is one of the top 10 coral reef biodiversity hotspots.

  • Marine Life: Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Hundreds of Species of Fish
  • Mesoamerican Reef: The Second Largest In The World

At the reef, visitors discover a rich tapestry of coral that is home to a mosaic of marine life. See dolphins, marine turtles, and up to 500 species of fish. Spend one's time snorkeling the reef in the warm waters for extended periods without getting cold.

  • Boat Type: Shaded Boat With Comfortable Seats
  • Lunch: Includes Picnic Lunch
  • Entry Fees: Included
  • Age Restriction: 3 And Over
  • Total Duration: 4 to 6 Hours
  • Availability: Monday to Saturday (Sundays are on request only)

Following a snorkeling session on the reef, flop down on the untouched sandy beach and enjoy a mid-afternoon picnic. After lunch and perhaps a mid-day snooze under a coconut tree, head along the Caribbean coast. Discover the winding mangrove canal that leads to Boca Paila lagoon as well as the Mayan Canal.

See Mayan ruins and if there is time, float down the Mayan Canal.

As with their other tour, guests should bring their own snorkeling equipment and be prepared for a day out in the sun.