These two excursions include a stroll and a boat ride. It is often difficult to understand the difference between Sian Ka’an and Muyil. We think it’s one and the same excursion, or we do not know which to choose because we read everything and its opposite on the reviews and blogs of travelers which leads to confusion.
We will try once and for all to clear things up.
Muyil and Sian Kaan are not the same excursions
Unlike what can be read on several articles. The departure of Muyil is from the ruins of the archaeological site and the area of the lagoon of Chunyaxché while Sian ka’an is from the village of Punta Allen in the area of the Sian ka’an Biosphere Reserve .
Look at the map below to better understand, the red stars are the starting points of the Muyil and Sian Ka’an excursions and the yellow circles indicate the zones of visit:
Here we clearly see that these are two completely opposite places in the reserve and it is therefore not possible to do both in the same day.
Know that it is difficult to tell you which of these excursions is the best since these two excursions are totally different and that I personally loved both, they are two completely different ecosystems, a different vegetation, different animals and landscapes different.
We loved the Muyil tour because it is still preserved from mass tourism provided you do the tour or I do not see too much interest because there is not much to see if you take the short version .
We explain: there are two formulas to visit Muyil, the short version and the long version. Some agencies offer short and others long and if you try to do it yourself usually they are only the short version, the question of profitability;)
Here are pictures of both variants:
THE SHORT VERSION OF MUYIL LAST 1H30 (ZONE IN YELLOW)
It is the most widespread of Muyil’s excursions. Whether on site or with agencies, most offer this short formula. We take the boat, we take a walk in the mangrove and we go towards the Mayan channels where we put on a lifejacket to float in the current that leads us to the Chunyaxché lagoon.
Meanwhile, the boat is passing us and waiting for us at the exit. It’s a pretty cool time, there are not many fish in the Mayan channels but we float pleasantly and calmly in the middle of the tropical savannah. Return to the archaeological site of Muyil.
Some agencies offer this tour combined with visiting the ruins and the jungle trail. In this case, you make the same walk as described above but you visit in addition to the ruins of the archaeological site of Muyil and you take the path through the jungle to get to the boat.
Do not expect to see animals here in this part of a boat trip because there are none. Here we come only to float in the Mayan channels.
Know that on the spot you pay the price of 700 pesos per person on the condition of being 6 (this price has just increased on April 18, 2019 to 900 pesos per person). If there are no other people at the same time as you, you will pay 900 pesos per person + the number of remaining places on the boat to go out, that is 5400 pesos, it is the surprise when one arrives on the spot …
The Mayan community has hardened the rules for a few months and we can not negotiate anymore. It is frankly very expensive for only 1:30 of boat ride in Mexico.
THE LONG VERSION OF MUYIL LAST 6H (YELLOW + GREEN ZONE + GREEN CHANNELS)
This excursion is rare because very little proposed and it is however the best by far! You arrive at the archaeological site, you visit the archeological ruins then you make a tour in the jungle of Muyil where you can admire the birds, the vegetation and the swamps, it’s super nice for the nature lovers, you can also climb on a mirador that allows you to have a view of the entire lagoon and the surrounding jungle, from above it is magic!
This excursion is rare, but it is the best by far! You arrive at the archaeological site, you visit the archeological ruins then you make a tour in the jungle of Muyil where you can admire the birds, the vegetation and the swamps, it’s super nice for the nature lovers, you can also climb on a mirador that allows you to have a view of the entire lagoon and the surrounding jungle, from above it is magic!
Now comes the coolest part of the walk you go in the other Mayan channels to get to the beach Boca Paila, and you will zigzag in the Mayan channels at full speed, sensations guaranteed;) What a laugh, we have loved !!
You have the impression that you will finish in the scenery but the sailor masters and I weigh my words. Then you go through a mangrove tip or you usually see some crocodiles. Then at the end of these Mayan channels you arrive on a deserted beach that separates a second lagoon from the sea by a sandbar, it’s simply MA-GNI-FI-QUE.
You are alone, you can swim either in the sea or in the lagoon and the water is of different colors, this is where you can make exceptional photos. There are many birds and turtles here that lay in the sand so be careful not to walk on nests.
To end a walk in a Mayan village, discover the way of life of this community, how they get water, how they live etc … Then preparing a homemade guacamole with one of the inhabitants. And back to the car. This is really the added value part of this tour.
We are today May 10, 2019 and I update my article, I just returned from a month in Mexico where I made this excursion again. I must say that I was very disappointed because apart from the crazy increase in the price of boats on Muyil (supposedly to reduce the number of tourists …), the landscapes do not have the same colors at all.
Let me explain: the beach of Boca Paila is invaded Sargassum, I will do an article soon on this subject, the photo you see just above no longer necessary, the truth is that today on the spot the water is brown on meters and one can not bathe, add to that the smell of sargasse which rotten and you understood the back of the decorations …
The sargasses even enter the last lagoon so there is, it scares the future of all the fauna and flora that live there. I do not advise you anymore to do the big tour of Muyil and I invite you to do now Sian ka’an reserve, with dolphins, turtles and dream lagoons that are still a little preserved sargasses and who offers a better value for money.
Update of August 2, 2019: A fire of criminal origin is ravaging the Muyil reserve for more than 3 weeks now, the fire has already burned 3 hectares.
It is normally 85% controlled, but significant fire points are still burning. I advise you to avoid the area, knowing that excursions are not possible early in the morning but only from 11 am to let the fire department work.
Sian ka’an excursion is the most touristy excursion of Yucatan, the number of daily entries has been limited to protect the reserve. This reserve is surely one of the most beautiful of Yucatan and Quintana Roo thanks to its translucent and turquoise waters as far as the eye can see …
It’s an excursion for nature lovers. If you are looking for animals, this is the excursion you have to do. Here you will see crocodiles in the mangrove area, dolphins and turtles in the lagoon and sometimes manatees.
During the Sian Kaan tour, we walk with our French-speaking guide through the mangrove to look for crocodiles and we go to the island of birds to admire the sea eagles, pelicans, cormorants, and many more seabirds from the boat.
Then we go in search of turtles and dolphins in a lagoon with clear water, and once found we observe them swimming with the family. From time to time, we have the chance to admire dolphins jumping out of the water, we see large groups with babies. We see them very closely. They are sometimes 30cm from the boat but we can not dive with them because it is a protected area and they too are protected.
We continue to snorkel in the coral reef to see the different fish, if you are lucky you will sometimes encounter a manatee, a shark or a manta ray several meters in length.
You swim for 30 minutes with a lifejacket, flippers, masks and snorkel. I have heard some people disappointed with this snorkeling because they expected an intact barrier when it is not the case …
I want to say that as everywhere the barrier here, is not immune to global warming and pollution of man, so even if we are in a protected area, the coral reef is in poor condition.
That’s why I invite you to get in the habit and everywhere you go to take the reflex to buy only organic and biodegradable sunscreen.
Do not forget that fish and plants are absorbed in the water and unfortunately …
I allow myself to insist on this point because we all want our children and future generations to have the chance to see what we have seen, we can do every little thing to try to save our animals and our plants.
Then we bathe in a beach where the water is transparent and very hot about 31 ° is the natural pool. Here we take a swim in a dream setting.
We are alone with some fish and starfish in the form quite special, round and beige, it is a great moment of relaxation where we can talk with the guide and other travelers or we can simply relax in his corner.
After the lunch break, the lunch usually takes place on the edge of the beach where all the tourists from the different boats meet to eat in a local buffet held by the Mayan cooperative. Relatively summary buffet.
Some agencies prefer restaurants run by locals rather than the mass-market buffet, and so take travelers home with locals to keep the authentic side.
Then after the meal we visit the village of Punta Allen, there we receive explanations on how to live Maya and their culture. We also walk to the back of the village, sometimes we make a stop in the school to talk to children, and then we take the boat back to our starting point.
Depending on the agency we offer boat trips more or less long, it depends on your starting point in the reserve, some leave well before the village and others leave just before the village.
Personally, I turned my back on the agencies a few years ago because I do not like the organization, the pickup that lasts 1 hour, the timed and interested stops, the imposed shots. We can not choose our guide, some are more passionate than others …
Moreover when we are many we can not ask all the questions we want and so it’s quite frustrating.
In any case I think it’s very good for people who stay at the hotel during their stay and want to do one or two excursions but if you are a backpacker or if you make a roadtrip the demand is generally different and the Waiting is more focused on learning, understanding and meeting with locals.
The prices can seem prohibitive even when one goes on the spot because one generally pays a price imposed by the Mayan community and a part of the price is refunded to them.
The road to get to the starting point of the boats is a dirt road, it is inaccessible when it rained the previous days. Otherwise outside this period it is accessible in elevated SUV and van provided not to be chochotte and love the adventure because the road is more or less complicated depending on the period;)
It is usually redone once a year at the end of the year after the rainy season but it remains a dirt road with holes and bumps. Count between 1H20 and 2H drive from Tulum center to get you from the boats.
In Mexico, a sailor is not a guide. You will often not have explanations with a sailor (the one who drives the boat), unless you pay extra. It sounds crazy but it’s the reality.
The prices of excursions in tourist areas like Yucatan are almost no longer negotiable and the prices are those practiced in the USA.
A guide will give you rich explanations about nature, biodiversity, and local culture. A visit alone is good but not always rewarding.
Nature is fragile and in Mexico, as elsewhere the number of species is decreasing sharply, think to limit the use of sunscreens by putting t-shirts anti-UV. At worst, use organic products, such as sunscreens and mosquito repellents that have a lower impact on ecosystems.
You can bring notebooks, pens, soft toys, sweets to children when you go to a Mayan village.
In any case you will see Mexico is very beautiful, the inhabitants are adorable!
Ask your questions in comment and I will answer them in the day 🙂
Enjoy your stay,