Besides the glorious beaches and the world renowned archaeological site, Tulum has yet another attraction you should visit: the astonishing Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. If you’re interested in ecotourism, consider yourself a conscious traveler, and you care about the environment, then visiting Sian Ka’an is for you. Interestingly enough, this section of land along the Caribbean sea has a fascinating story to tell. Here are our top 10 fun facts about Sian Ka’an.
1. A gift from above
In the ancient language of the Mayan people who once inhabited this region, Sian Ka’an means “Origin of the Sky”.
2. The bigger the better
Sian Ka´an is one of Mexico’s largest protected areas, established across roughly 1,300 000 acres (600,00 hectares) of intricately linked marine, coastal and terrestrial ecosystems – taking up approximately 10% of the State of Quintana Roo.
3. Yucatan’s cultural heritage
The area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 by UNESCO, essentially putting Sian Ka’an tours at the top of the international travel community’s to-do list. This title is only given to sites with highly natural or cultural value for the general heritage of humanity.
4. Wonderful wildlife
The diversity of life in the reserve 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 a large number of resident and migratory bird species – perfect for bird watching. There is also a great diversity of marine life, including the West Indian Manatee, four species of nesting marine turtles (yes, swimming with turtles is possible!) and hundreds of fish species.
5. Population zero
There are no indigenous groups within the Reserve. Most of the population (about 1,500 people) live in the fishing villages of Javier Rojo Gomez (Punta Allen) and Punta Herrero.
6. Unexpected guests
Bottlenose dolphins often frequent the waterways of the Biosphere. And there’s a great chance that you’ll get to witness entire families of these sweet mammals every day.
7. One of the most valuable natural environments this side of Mexico
About a third of the property is comprised of highly diverse and productive mangrove communities, which are vitally important to upholding and sustaining fisheries in the surrounding region.
8. A land of ruins
The gorgeous Mayan Pyramids at the Muyil archaeological site, is located on the mainland side of a lagoon in the reserve. It also happens to be one the oldest of Mayan sites, dating back to 300 BC.
9. Protective properties
Sian Ka’an also happens to be the owner of a self-protecting system that is unique to the Mexican coastline; the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the 2nd largest reef system in the world) shelters local mangrove forests and seagrass beds. These mangroves trap sediments, filter pollution, and serve as nurseries for many vertebrates and invertebrates in the reef – you can begin to understand why their protection is so important.
10. The real motivation
Seasonally speaking, it’s much like the rest of the Yucatan; the winter high season is cooler than the summer months, and the rainy season sees nighttime thunderstorms. The temperate climate means that visitors to the biosphere can get out and about most days, almost without fail, to bask in the glory of the natural beauty on offer.