Recreation in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: Sportfishing, Birding, and Kayaking

An osprey sits perched on a bare tree branch.

A male osprey spotted at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Photo © Robert Pittman, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.


Sportfishing is world-class in and around Sian Ka’an—it’s hard to go wrong in the flats and mangrove islands, or with the Caribbean lapping at its shores. All the hotels listed in the Sian Ka’an section of Moon Cancún & Cozumel arrange fishing tours, and most specialize in it, using their own boats and guides. If you prefer to go with an independent operator, recommended outfits include Pesca Maya (7 kilometers/4.3 miles north of Punta Allen, tel. 998/848-2496, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/894-5642, 8am-7pm daily); the Palometa Club (Punta Allen, north of the central plaza, toll-free U.S. tel. 888/824-5420, 8am-6pm daily); and Club Grand Slam (near the entrance to Punta Allen, cell. tel. 984/139-2930).

Weeklong fly-fishing trips range US$2,750-3,750 per person, in shared room and shared boat, depending largely on the style and comforts afforded by the lodge. Most packages include airport transfer, daily guided fishing, meals, and admission to the reserve, but it’s always a good idea to confirm this before booking. For private room or private boat, expect to trips are available, but may incur extra transportation costs to and from the airport. Fishing day trips can be arranged through most hotels; rates start at around US$400 for a private full-day tour, including lunch and admission and license fees. Variations like renting gear, adding people, and half-day options can also be arranged.


Sian Ka’an is also an excellent place for bird-watching. Trips to Bird Island and other spots afford a look at various species of water birds, including male frigates showing off their big red balloon-like chests in the winter. Tours often combine bird-watching with snorkeling and walking around one or more bay islands. Hotels in Punta Allen and along the coastal road can arrange tours, as can outfits in Tulum. Prices are typically per boat, so don’t be shy to approach other travelers in town about forming a group.

In Punta Allen, Punta Allen Coop (no phone, 6:30am-2pm daily) is a local cooperative that offers bird-watching tours (US$120-145, 2-3 hours, up to 6 pax); look for their two-story wooden shack along the main road near the entrance to town. Other operators to consider include CESiaK (Hwy. 307 just south of the Tulum ruins turnoff, tel. 984/871-2499, 9am-2pm and 4pm-8pm daily); Community Tours Sian Ka’an (Tulum, Calle Osiris Sur near Calle Sol Ote, tel. 984/871-2202, 7am-9pm daily); and, if your budget permits, Visit Sian Ka’an (Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Carr. Tulum-Punta Allen Km. 15.8, cell. tel. 984/141-4245), which offers customized private tours.


The tangled mangrove forests, interconnected lagoons, and scenic bays make Sian Ka’an ideal for kayaking. CESiaK (Hwy. 307 just south of the Tulum ruins turnoff, tel. 984/871-2499, 9am-2pm and 4pm-8pm daily) offers kayak tours (US$50, 3 hours) and rentals for do-it-yourself exploration (US$25/35 s/d, 3 hours). Community Tours Sian Ka’an (Tulum, Calle Osiris Sur near Calle Sol Ote, tel. 984/871-2202, 7am-9pm daily) is another good option.

Excerpted from the Eleventh Edition of Moon Cancun & Cozumel.

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1 Comment

  1. Glenn Steen says:

    Hi Guys, Is there any way you can help me to get a permit to paddle board fish in the Sian Kaan reserve? I have a home in Tulum but as of last June the guards will not let us take our boards in to fish anymore.