Located just a little way south of the “Coachella” vibing town of Tulum is the famous yet still hidden biosphere of Sian Ka’an Muyil. You will find yourself immersed in nature while learning about Mayan history and exploring ancient ruins that have been preserved from ancient times. So cool!!
Disclosure: This post has been created in collaboration with Mexico Kan Tours.
Thank you again for having us!
The Sian Ka’an Muyil tour is one of the best tours from Tulum and we recommend it to anyone who is wanting to experience a little bit of Mexico’s history and the story of the Mayans.
On top of that, you will explore the Laguna Kaan Luum and have one of the most relaxing times floating down one of the millennia-old canals which was used for transportation during the Mayan times.
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About the Sian Ka’an Tour
While we were doing research about how to explore Sian Ka’an we realized if we also wanted to visit Laguna Kaan Luum we would need to go on a tour. They limit the amount of people that can go into the boats on the lagunas and float down the canals each day.
We found really fascinating since there is so much money to be made with tourists wanting to visit the iconic lagunas. We were just really impressed with how important it is to them to preserve the landmarks. More of that, please!
We love the eco-friendly approach from the travel companies and also the local Sian Ka’an Tribe that still runs the whole biosphere area and limits the number of boat trips they do a day. So because of that we ended up doing a tour from Tulum and found Mexico Kan Tours who operate trips from Tulum to Sian Ka’an a few times a few.
They are one of the few tour companies that have a contract with the local Tribe to be able to get on the boats and float down the ancient canals. So we had our own tour guide with our group and on top of that, there was one of the local members of the Tribe who was operating the boat. He did not speak English but our tour guide translated the interesting information he shared about the area.
So now it’s time to share some awesome things you can expect to see in Sian Ka’an. Some you can do by yourself and some will require a tour company but we’ll mention all that with each activity.
5 Fun things you can do at Sian Ka’an
Sian Ka’an translates to “born from the sky” and that is exactly what you will get while exploring this tropical forest that is filled with diverse nature and Mayan history. Since it used to be an old trading post it feels like you’re taking a walk through history learning about all the Mayan culture and what they did to survive.
You’ll be able to walk into Sian Ka’an and pay 35 pesos ($2) to get into the site. You can also hire a local guide at the entrance if you want someone to share their stories and folk tales about this Mexican UNESCO site with you. Otherwise, you can explore the forest yourself and find the Muyil Ruins and all the other beautiful attractions!
If you’re feeling extra adventurous and want to explore the lagoons by boat and float down a lazy river then a tour company is required and we can highly recommend Mexico Kan Tours for that.
The activities listed below are not in order by any means but we’ll share with you which activities were our favourites.
#1 Find the Archeological Zone of Muyil
If you’re into history or just interested in learning about the Mayan culture then finding this ancient Maya site will be a treat for you. Some locals say this is the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya site on the eastern coast.
The fact it was a trading post had many people coming through Muyil for trade and business. Some of the main paths they used haven’t even changed.
We had our tour guide sharing all his knowledge about it but like we said if you don’t go through a tour company you can also hire a guide from Sian Ka’an who will take you around to Muyil!
#2 Climb the watchtower and stand in the sky
If you’re looking for one of the prettiest views from all of Sian Ka’an then you’re going to have to be brave and willing to climb the watchtower. It’s quite a high climb but the views from the top are worth it.
You’ll be blown away by the panoramic view of the biosphere. With the lagoons on one side and the tropical forest on the other, you’ll feel like a monkey high up in the trees, able to see as far as the eye can see. It was a magical moment!
It’s also a great place to take some pictures! Even though it’s quite windy up there you’ll have some great opportunities for some panoramic shots playing with the lagoon, trees, and sky!
So when you find a boardwalk, continue walking down it towards the lagoons and that is where you’ll find this watchtower hidden away in the forest of Sian Ka’an. Enjoy the climb up and don’t look down. 😉
#3 Boat Ride through ancient secret canals
After reading about the boat rides through the ancient canals that connect the lagoons with the open ocean we could not pass up on experiencing this. You’ll be taken through mangrove canals that will lead you to some of the most beautiful still water you’ve ever seen.
The fascinating thing about these canals is that the Mayans used them to travel and exchange goods. It’s an experience of a lifetime and we loved it.
Since it’s such a popular attraction and the locals don’t want the canals and lagoons to get overcrowded the local tribe is the only group that can legally do the tours. So you either have to personally arrange it with them which can be challenging or book a tour like the one through Mexico Kan Tours where they arrange it all for you and it’s part of the tour fee.
We found it much easier this way, and loved how simple and prepared the whole experience was. The fact we got to go on the boats and explore the lagoons made it worth it!
#4 Float down the lazy river
This was my (Dom’s) favourite part of Sian Ka’an! You can only get here if you get a boat ride from the local tribe that operates in Sian Ka’an. Once you cruise through the canals and lagoons of Sian Ka’an you’ll find yourself at the entrance of this lazy river.
It’s one of the most peaceful travel experiences ever. You just lay there while the (cold) current slowly takes you along this journey through this lazy river. There’s something remarkable about just floating down a river with no care in the world and just enjoying the sounds of wildlife and flowing water.
I seriously didn’t want it to end. It was so nice. The river goes in a big loop and once you come to the exit point you’ll have your shoes and towels waiting there for you. From there you walk down this gorgeous man-made boardwalk with mangroves, trees, and open air. One of the highlights of our whole Mexico trip was floating down the lazy river.
#5 Enjoy a nice picnic by the water
If you want to enjoy a nice and relaxing lunch by one of the lagoons then you can bring your lunch! Maybe even grab some yummy food in Tulum before venturing off to Sian Ka’an and enjoying a nice lunch at one of the picnic tables next to the water. (If you go with Mexico Kan Tours lunch is included.)
The picnic tables are found right next to the boats and at the end of the boardwalk that leads you out of the forest and to the lagoons. So you can easily find this little beachy area by yourself if you’re exploring Sian Ka’an without a tour group.
It’s great because you can pay the entrance fee to get into the biosphere reserve and spend a whole day exploring and enjoying nature without spending a ton of money! =) You can even go for a dip in the water next to the beach and the picnic tables. The water is so clear and blue.
If you don’t get a chance to go on the boats and float down the lazy river this nice little picnic and swim is the next best option!
How to get to Sian Ka’an Muyil
So there are a few ways to get to Sian Ka’an Muyil from Tulum, Playa Del Carmen, and Cancun. We recommend taking “collectivos” since they are the cheapest option and go quite regularly but there are also busses that go frequently as well. Or if you are already in Tulum and decide to go with Mexico Kan Tours they will pick you up from your hotel or Airbnb.
Cancun to Sian Ka’an Muyil:
The easiest and most convenient way is to get there by bus. Ado busses go every 30 minutes or so. The tickets cost about 190 pesos per person and it takes roughly 2.5 hours to get from Cancun to Tulum.
Once you’re in Tulum you can either get to the Sian Ka’an by “Colectivo” or by another Ado bus. Both options will cost around 30 pesos. Otherwise, if you end up staying in Tulum and do a tour with Mexico Kan Tours they will pick you up directly from your hotel or rental apartment!
Playa Del Carmen to Sian Ka’an Muyil:
Playa also has “Colectivos” going every few minutes. It should cost about 60 pesos from Playa to Tulum and then you can just do the same thing mentioned above. Hop on the Ado bus or another Colectivo going to Sian Ka’an!
This is a great article explaining to you what exactly a “Colectivo” is and where you can find them in each city! Super good to familiarize yourself with them if you plan to travel around the Yucatan area!
Other relevant information
There are so many amazing day trips from Playa Del Carmen or Tulum. If you’re wanting to explore an island with amazing beaches then we highly recommend a day trip to Cozumel. For other Mexico-related adventures, check out our other posts right here.
If you’re truly looking for some Mayan history and the full experience we’d recommend booking with Mexico Kan Tours. All 5 activities we mentioned above are a part of their tour and it’s a perfect afternoon trip that takes about 5 hours. So we think it was worth going with a company for this trip to be able to see it all.
We usually tend to do things on our own and find cheaper alternatives by booking things ourselves. But since you can’t just walk on the boats and pay the locals to do all of it it’s better to go through a company that has connections with the local tribe.
So we hope you enjoy this amazing biosphere that’s so rich in history. Let us know which part was your favourite!