‣ Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, mexico
Had enough of the high-rise resort schtick in Cancun and Playa del Carmen? Head south an hour or two to Tulum and on to the Sian Ka’an (Mayan for “origin of the sky”) Biosphere Reserve. From Tulum, follow the rough, dirt road along the narrow peninsula that makes up the most accessible portion of this World Heritage Site. To the east: the turquoise Caribbean with gentle surf, sections of coral barrier reef to snorkel through and miles of coastal dunes. To the west: protected waters seamed with channels through mangroves and quiet lagoons full of tropical birdlife, from frigate birds to roseate spoonbill. The reserve covers 1.3 million acres and includes 23 Mayan archaeological sites, sea turtle nesting beaches, and wildlife from jaguars to Caribbean manatee. Much of it is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Two traditional fishing villages, Punta Allen and Punta Herrero, offer boat tours for snorkeling and wildlife viewing as well as kayak rentals.
Local Knowledge: Snag a fishing license. Sian Ka’an is known for world-class angling for tarpon, snapper, bonefish, and snook. — Alan Kesselheim
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