“Float to the Ecstasy” is what our itinerary for the day suggested. We were both a little unsure of what this meant, but since Riviera Maya Tourism hadn’t steered us wrong so far during our Press Trip, we knew we were in for a treat.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

This natural Unesco World Heritage Site spans over 1.3 million acres (652,000 hectares), making it the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. Not only is the size of this reserve impressive, the diversity of flora and fauna is truly astonishing. Here you’ll find 375 species of birds, 115 species of mammals (including Jaguars and Manatees), 318 species of butterflies and my least favourite, 310 species of mosquitoes! 

sian ka'an biosphere reserve
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

We arrived at Sian Ka’an and to our delight, we had a private boat for us, our driver, PR rep and guide. We cruised effortlessly over the glass-like waters and through canals created by the clever Mayan people over 1000 years ago!

sian ka'an biosphere reserve
Ready to go!

During our boat ride, our knowledgable guide provided us with information about the different mangroves, ecosystems, animals and history of this area. Not only are there stunning waters, clear lagoons and interesting animals here, there are also 23 known Mayan archeological sites! We were more than happy to be on tour with Community Tours Sian Ka’an, a non-profit company which employs Mayan people and gives back to the community.

the sian ka'an reserve
Crystal clear waters of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

We reached the point at which we were to “float to the ecstasy”, which meant that we were to don a life jacket (by putting our legs through it and sitting on it), jump in the water and bob along, while letting the current take us slowly and peacefully down the canal for 40 minutes. We enjoyed the serenity of floating through the clear waters, although, I have to admit I was a bit paranoid about illusive crocodiles pretty much the whole time!

floating in sian ka'an
“Floating to the Ecstasy

So far on our trip to the Yucatan, we had been able to witness traditional Mayan theatereat authentic foodvisit stunning ruins and now, we were able to drift through ancient hand-built canals. The Mayan civilization truly is incredible.

The Ruins of Tulum

Both the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the Tulum Ruins are near the small beach town of Tulum. This would be our third time visiting this touristy town, but not our last! After enjoying a freshly prepared fish lunch, we made our way to the very popular and precarious, cliff side ruins. We were greeted by hundreds of Iguanas and the intensity of the late day sun.

iguanas in tulum
Tulum is overrun with Iguanas!

Tulum was strategically built by the Mayans in the late 13th century. Defense was a high priority when choosing this site. Not only were they protected on one side by a sheer 12m cliff, but they built a 5m high/8m thick/400m long wall along the landward sides. I can’t even imagine the effort and time that must have taken them to create. Adding to the security, they built two watch towers at the SW and NW corners of the site.

tulum ruins mexico
Tulum was built in the perfect location

We wandered around gazing in awe at this aesthetically pleasing site before succumbing to the heat of the day. Lucky for us, these ruins are located on a pristine stretch of sand. We followed the wooden stairs down to the sea and jumped into the rolling waves. Definitely bring your bathing suit when visiting Tulum, the beach here is stunning!

tulum ruins

beach at tulum ruins

It was a great way to end our day in the Tulum area. We said our goodbyes to the Riviera Maya rep, Tania, and were dropped off at our luxurious resort to enjoy one final night on our Press Trip.

Check out this video of Floating to the Ecstasy & the Tulum Ruins!

Can you believe how industrious the ancient Mayan people were? Have you seen any Mayan ruins? Share with us below!

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Written by

Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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9 thoughts on “Floating in Ecstasy: Sian Ka’an & Tulum Ruins

  1. Tulum looks lovely. I’m traveling to Mexico in a few months and will need to check it out. Thanks for the post!

  2. The Mayans sure knew where to build their castles! Also, that canal looks amazing, though I totally hear you on being petrified of crocs or gators … yikes!

  3. Wow, swimming in the shadow of Mayan ruins — stunning setting! I guess they did well finding a perfect perfect ´beach front property´:)

  4. Hi Jen,

    Definitely make sure to get to Tulum, the ruins there are stunning 🙂 Mexico is a great place to travel, where do you plan to go?

  5. Hi Tim,

    The Mayans were very smart indeed! Floating through the canal was amazing and I wish the guide hadn’t said that there are crocs in there but that they’ve never seen one come into the canal…that’s all my mind could think about! haha.

  6. They sure did! Imagine what a house would cost in that location?!

    Cheers 🙂

  7. Tulum looks like paradise – or near enough for me!! And that picture of you guys “floating to the ecstasy” is beautiful – the water colour is amazing – and the caption is hilarious!! I’m glad you found the ecstasy in the end!! :p

  8. The beach at the Tulum ruins is amazing! The beaches in the other parts of Tulum are also gorgeous, but the sand and water here, complete with the towering ruins was truly magical. The water colour at Sian Ka’an was fantastic also. We were both in total awe the whole time.

  9. Looks great! I still have hopes to get there. This old Gringo Canadian spent last winter in Merida and we (Mx. esposa & I ) visited many ruins and cenotes. As well spent a few nice days at Progesso.
    Currently house-sitting in Ecuador; heading to Panama next month, then Manzanillo Mx.
    and then back to Panama. Where you guys from in Canada? I’m an Albertan; bought my
    first back-pack at 74.

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