Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve – Punta Allen
In the Yucatec Mayan language, Sian Ka’an means “born from the sky”. Sian Ka’an is one of the largest protected areas in Mexico with 6520 km2 (1,6 million acres) and with an enormous amount biodiversity. The UNESCO program "Man and the Biosphere" has three aims: conservation, research and promoting sustainable development. Therefore, people can live with these protected areas and be part of the economic activities such as fishing and tourism as long as it's done in a sustainable manner. With a population of 800 people, the town of Punta Allen is located at the end of a 56 km sand dune covered with dune coastal vegetation, the Caribbean Sea on one side and Ascension Bay on the other side. Lobster fishing is the main source of income in Punta Allen but tourism is becoming important for the local economy because Punta Allen is an excellent opportunity to experience caribbean culture and is also a great departure point to marine ecosystems where it is possible to find reptiles such as iguanas, lizards, crocodiles and sea turtles ; birds like fregates, pelicans, boobies, cormorants, herons, egrets, ospreys and many more. Dolphins are a common sight and with luck is also possible to spot a manatee. Snorkeling in the Mesoamerican reef (second largest in the world) is an obligated activity to enjoy sights of its incredible diversity. When it is time to relax, we visit a beautiful sandbank that the locals refer to as "the world's largest swimming pool".
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