The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is the biggest protected area in the Caribbean and a unique place to visit! Blessed with Mayan ruins, freshwater lagoons, dense jungle, mangroves forests, and many Mayan canals reaching the Caribbean Sea, this place is a must for every traveler to this part of the world. And what’s great about these canals, you can actually float them. If you’re planning a self-guided day trip to Sian Ka’an from Muyil, read the entire article!

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve – Short Info

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a vast region, lying across 5,280 km2 and home to thousands of flora and fauna species. The area became a Biosphere Reserve in 1986, and one year later, Sian Ka’an was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located near Tulum, the Biosphere is still far away from the crowds and doesn’t attract masses of tourists. Sian Ka’an translates as: “Gate of Heaven” or “Origin of the Sun” or “A Place where Heaven begins”.

You can access the Sian Ka’an Biosphere from both Muyil and Punta Allen (the marina part) but the experiences are quite different. Getting from Punta Allen to Sian Ka’an is the heaviest way. A self-guided day trip is hard to do as requires an extra amount of time, money, and a 4WD rented car. The easiest and fun way is getting to Sian Ka’an from Muyil as we did.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere, Mexico

How to get to Sian Ka’an and Muyil Ruins on a self-guided day trip

Distances to Muyil Ruins from Riviera Maya:

Cancun – Muyil Ruins: 153km, about 2 hours drive 

Playa del Carmen – Muyil: 83km, about 1h30′ drive

Tulum – Muyil: 23km, about 20′ drive

Getting to Sian Ka’an by ADO bus

If you are traveling from Cancun to Sian Ka’an you need to embark on a bus departing to Playa del Carmen or Tulum and from here take another bus with the destination Chetumal. But finding the best connection is not always easy. If you are traveling from Playa del Carmen or Tulum, embark on a bus with the final destination Chetumal. The bus station at Muyil is just in front of the Archaeological Site entrance. Once you’ve visited the ruins, a boardwalk will take you to the Sian Ka’an entrance. Go on a boat ride, float a Mayan canal and after that, leave the Biosphere. From the boat docks, it’s about 5 minutes walk on a small path to the bus/ Colectivo station.

We wanted to book tickets online, on the ADO website, but we couldn’t find the destination: Muyil. The lady at the counter whom we asked seemed helpless. We asked an ADO driver for help and he had no idea where we could find this place. Everyone told us to book a tour. After some more research, we realized that our final destination wasn’t Muyil but Chunyaxché, which is the name of the Lagoon near Muyil. But surprise: we couldn’t buy the tickets online. So we went once again to the ADO bus station and asked the lady at the front desk for two tickets to Chunyaxché. Problem solved!

The next morning, we were sitting on a bus leaving to Chetumal, eager to start the self-guided day trip but we soon realized our driver had no idea where the Chunyaxché station was. He began to stress out and search for Infos on his display. We knew he was in a big dilemma as we were the only tourists on this bus and we asked him if this was his problem. He admitted yes, but luckily, we could follow the track on google. maps and as soon as we approach Muyil we let our driver know. He was extremely grateful and happy!

Playa del Carmen to Muyil/Chunyaxché with ADO bus: 95-pesos (4.86US$, 4.31€) per person

Getting to Sian Ka’an by Colectivo

The most common way of transport in Mexico is the Colectivo. It is safe, quick, and, as mentioned, affordable. There is no schedule; as soon as the Colectivo feels up, it will leave the station. We never had to wait for more than 10 minutes for the Colectivo to leave the station. Make sure you know the Colectivo stations in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum. The Colectivo will leave you just in front of the Muyil Archaeological Site. As soon as you finish your self-guided day trip to Sian Ka’an and Muyil Ruins, proceed to the Nr. 307 main road, a 5 minutes walk to the bus station. 

We waited no more than 5 minutes until a Colectivo approached the bus station. The driver stopped and asked if we needed a ride, as he had two more places so in no more than 20 minutes we were already in Tulum. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long for a Colectivo to show up. Road Nr. 307 is a frequented road and Colectivos are running quite oft here. 

Getting to Sian Ka’an by Car

Renting a car is a pretty common way to discover the Yucatan Peninsula. Driving in Yucatan Peninsula is safe and easy. The roads are in good condition and you will always find a proper parking place. The rental prices are low compared to other places in the world, and the traffic is good. 

If you travel by car, make sure to save the GPS Coordinates: 20°04’44.1″N 87°36’49.2″W

Our Self-Guided Day Trip To Sian Ka’an and Muyil Ruins 

Before traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula, we knew we had to visit this unique place. The information found on the internet was quite elusive, and we asked around how to get on a self-guided day trip to Sian Ka’an. The tricky part was that nobody seemed to know how to get there, although we asked some locals and an ADO driver. Everyone advised us to book a tour through the agency, and I must say the prices were considerably high. After some research, we realized it was easy to organize a self-guided day trip to Sian Ka’an and Muyil, not to mention affordable. That’s how the idea of putting all the information together came out and I hope it will help you better organize your trip to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Muyil Ruins

There is a small parking lot, free of charge, in case you arrive here by car. We arrived here by bus so, we just crossed the road, paid for the entrance fees and we were on our own. With no one around, we had this place only to ourselves. The Muyil archaeological site has not been rebuilt, but it is still well kept. We walked along the trails, admired the ruins and took some photos. The place was so quiet and lovely, no tourists at all but a lot of mosquitoes, so make sure to bring repellent (biodegradable since you are going to float lately).

Muyil entrance fee: 45-pesos (2.30US$, 2€) per person

Time spent: about 30 minutes

Self-guided day trip to Sian Ka'an & Muyil ruins

Muyil Ruins

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Behind the ruins of the Castle (El Castillo), after only 4 minutes walk, we came across a gate, which is the entrance gate into Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. We paid another fee and followed the path. Once again, we were the only one in the area, and it felt good to have the entire place to ourselves.

Soon after the entrance, we realized that everything changed, and we found ourselves in the middle of the jungle. A boardwalk, about 500 meters long, led us to an observation deck. We couldn’t miss this place so we climbed up to see the views. At the top, we were over the jungle canopy, and we’ve been rewarded with gorgeous views of the jungle and the lagoons in the distance. After that, we just followed the path until we reached the Chuanyxche lagoons. 

Sian Ka’an entrance fee of 50-pesos (2.50US$, 2.30€) per person

Time spent: 40 minutes

a bardwalk leading to Sian Ka'an reserve

reaching the observation platform inside Sian Ka'an Reserve

Chuanyxche Lagoons 

Once again, no one around, and we felt a little bit lost. We even asked ourselves if we’re going to find o boat to take us to the Mayan canals. The main reason for us being here was the idea of floating through the mangroves. We walked around a little bit and found the first lagoon. To our excitement, there were more boats waiting for tourists. 

As soon as a guy approached us, we paid for the boat that took us to the mangroves forest. The price was per person and, not negotiable, but we already knew that. We crossed the first lagoon at high speed, quite exciting in my opinion. Once we’ve reached a narrow and beautiful canal, the boat slowed down and navigated like this until we reached the second lagoon.

We left the second lagoon behind and our boatmen stopped the boat at a narrow canal. He kindly asked us to leave our belongings inside the boat and invited us to float down the canal. After providing us with a lifejacket, he told us that we will wait for us at the end of our floating adventure, 15-20 minutes later.

self-guided day trip to Sian Ka'an and Muyil

taking a boat ride at Sian Ka'an

Floating down a Mayan canal 

Now comes the highlight of this trip: floating down an ancient Mayan canal, through mangroves, in crystal clear water. We’ve waited for this adventure for so long and we couldn’t believe we actually reached this place so easily, with no group and time pressure. We were on our own, taking time to indulge the beauty of this place and floating!

Usually, the float takes about 20 minutes, for the 1-kilometer ride. We spent 40 minutes into the canal, grabbing the mangroves, taking lots of photos, and enjoying the ride — such a fabulous experience. 

By the end of our floating trip, suddenly, it began to rain. The boatman was expecting us, looking not so happy, since we’ve spent too much time on the canal. We had to walk on a beautiful boardwalk for a while until we reached the boat. The ride back was funny, since it began to poor. But that didn’t bother us too much. It was hot and we were happy! At the docks, we could change into dry clothes and left the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. We only had to walk 5 minutes, on a lovely path, until we reached the main road. 

Boat ride: 1.000-pesos (51US$, 46€) per person 

Time spent: 2 hours 

Self-guided day trip to Sian Ka'an

the long boardwalk, Sian Ka'an and Muyil

Self-Guided Day Tour To Sian Ka’an and Muyil from Playa del Carmen- Costs

Playa del Carmen to Muyil/Chunyaxché with ADO bus: 95-pesos (4.86US$, 4.31€) per person

Colectivo from Muyil to Tulum: 35-pesos (1.79US$, 1.63€) per person & Colectivo from Tulum to Playa del Carmen: 40-pesos (2US$, 1.86€) per person 

Muyil entrance fee: 45-pesos (2.30US$, 2€) per person

Boat ride: 1.000-pesos (51US$, 46€) per person 

Sian Ka’an entrance fee of 50-pesos (2.50US$, 2.30€) per person

Our self-guided day trip to Sian Ka’an and Muyil Ruins: transport to/from Playa del Carmen, entry tickets, boat ride: $1.265 pesos (65US$, 59€) per person.

Remember: Prices for a half-day organized trip to Sian Ka’an and Muyil start from 130$, 110€.

Our SELF-GUIDED Day Trip To SIAN KA’AN & MUYIL was a great and funny experience, once in a lifetime, easier to do than expected so I strongly recommend doing one when in Mexico!

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self-guided day trip to Sian Ka'an & Muyil Ruins

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