It's inevitable that on a luxury vacation to Mexico, you will be in awe of the inspiring scenery as well as the wildlife you see around you. If these natural environments are not conserved, however, it will be impossible to observe the plant & animal life for years to come. That's why the term ecological tourism has become a buzzword in recent years. As travelers become more conscious of how they can support conservation efforts, they are increasingly dedicating their itineraries to doing so. Riviera Maya & surrounding areas offer a lot of options for ecotourism, thanks to the unparalleled geographic location & unusual environmental conditions, which produce lush tropical foliage & provide the perfect home for exotic creatures.
On your next vacation to this region, make a stop at one of these reserves & parks, which are dedicated to protecting the diverse plant & animal life:
Xel-Ha This isn't just another Sea World – Xel-Ha is an aquatic theme park that also acts as an ecotourism development. The park is best known for a program that allows visitors to swim with the dolphins. However, there are a bevy of other thrilling activities, like the Sea Trek & Snuba, a combination of snorkeling & scuba, that allow you to see hundreds of colorful fish up close. You could also hop on the Zip Bike, which allows you to pedal through the jungle at 23 feet for 30 minutes so that you can get a bird's-eye view of the untouched landscaped once ruled by the ancient Maya.
Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve It makes sense that Sian Ka'an means "gift from the sky" or "gift from heaven" in the Mayan language. Covering 2,500 square miles of breathtaking river-ways, lagoons, coral reefs & unexcavated ruins, this is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, & serves as the home for hundreds of species of mammals & birds. Due to its 23 archaeological sites set in the rain-forest, this reserve has also been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. Visitors have the chance to go kayaking & fly fishing, learn about the environment on a land tour or even get involved in a conservation project. All proceeds go to fund the park's educational & conservation programs.
Parque Nacional Arrecifes Puerto Morelos One of the top eco adventures to be had in Riviera Maya awaits at this park, which costs a mere $2 to enter. The best part? This hidden treasure has yet to be discovered by most tourists, so you won't be swarmed with other visitors while snorkeling, scuba diving or simply taking a tour. The Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative has worked to limit these activities to designated areas, & this is one of the only spots where you can do so.