How to visit the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve in Mexico, on your own?

Options to go: The option 1 of Muyil is easier and cheaper. You can even take a bus from Tulum to Muyil which is about 40 minutes, and leaves you near the archaeological zone. Option 2 of Punta Allen is more complicated because there is little public transport and the dirt road is long, although in good condition. You can take around 1:30 in your own car.

The road runs straight down the entire Maya Rivera from north to south. Simplifying we will say that it starts in Cancun, and goes south along the sea to Playa del Carmen, and then to Tulum, passing Akumal.   That main highway takes off from the sea passing Tulum, surrounding the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an towards Muyil and much later Bacalar.   In fact, around here in Darwin Nomad we have written about the trip to Bacalar, and even about the trip to Calakmul a little further.

Another dirt road continues straight to the sea, passing through the small trendy hotel zone of Tulum and entering the Reserve heading to Punta Allen. In the map below you can see it.

Then two roads surround the immense Reserve of Sian Ka’an, and are two different ways to visit the reserve: 1.- The option from the interior that surrounds the Reserve via Muyil … and 2.- the parallel to the sea getting into Reserve by dirt road via Punta Allen. They are two different trips. Both are worth it.

Options to go: The option 1 of Muyil is easier and cheaper. You can even take a bus from Tulum to Muyil which is about 40 minutes, and leaves you near the archaeological zone. Option 2 of Punta Allen is more complicated because there is little public transport and the dirt road is long, although in good condition. But this option of Punta Allen is very worthwhile. You can take around 1:30 in your own car.

What is certain is that even if you bring a car or not, or walk alone or with family … if you are in the area of ​​Tulum try to go to Sian Ka’an.

1.- The option of Muyil: There is an archaeological zone and a zone of jungle of the interior. There is a fresh water lagoon, marshes and water channels built by the Mayans where you can launch yourself to float. It will be hot and the sun will be incessant. In this option you can first visit the archaeological zone and then go to the lagoon to cool off. This option is much closer and cheaper if you walk without a tour. You can do it in half a day.

Muyil is 22 kilometers south of Tulum. The archaeological zone opens every day at 8 in the morning, and there are restaurants on the road. Bring water to the archaeological zone! In the area you will find boaters who offer excursions where you can swim in the lagoon.

2.- The option of Punta Allen: The option in Punta Allen is different, it is lagoons facing the ocean, turtles, dolphins.   Once you reach Punta Allen you can get a boat trip with local cooperatives that can take you to snorkel , to see turtles or dolphins, or to stop in a turquoise zone of water up to the waist.

The Punta Allen option is more expensive, and it will take you all day. But is it worth it.  Although there are tour operators, and a very sporadic public transport, probably the most efficient is to rent a car for the day you can get for about US$40 in Playa del Carmen.  The road is dirt road, but very walkable. You will be slow, but you can see the sea, the lagoon, and if you want you can stop at a virgin beach to cool off for a while.

In Punta Allen there are restaurants, and good lobster tails!


On both places we recommend you to go with short, comfortable shoes for sea and land, light clothing, the less the better because the heat will be hard; take insect repellent, sunscreen…   bring water and enjoy!

We recommend you see this Post by Darwin Nomad about the exploration of the Spaniards on the Mayan coast in the 1500s.