Located just 20 minutes south of Tulum and part of the huge Sian Ka’an Reserve, the site of Muyil is one of the most spectacular locations in the Riviera Maya. If you’re looking for breathtaking views, the chance to immerse yourself in Mayan culture and experience the Reserve’s natural surroundings, you won’t want to miss a trip to Muyil. Here we run you through everything to know and expect from a trip to this ancient site!
Muyil - also known as Chunyaxché - was inhabited as far back as 300 BC, centuries before other ancient sites including Tulum, Chichen Itza and Uxmal. It remained inhabited by the Mayan up to about 1550 AD, and is the largest and most noteworthy of the 22 pre-Hispanic settlements of the Sian Ka’an. It reached its peak in 700 BC when most of its main buildings were constructed and was inhabited by the Mayans until the Spanish invasion, where its inhabitants either fled or were killed off by the diseases spread by the Spanish.
Touring the Muyil Ruins
Spanning across 38 hectares of jungle, visiting the Muyil Ruins is one of the most scenic tours in Tulum’s vicinity, and perfect for all you wildlife lovers out there! There are two archaeological sites at Muyil, but only one is open to the public. Expect a picturesque and tranquil walk down well-preserved paths and jungle trails, populated with all kinds of wildlife, including spider monkeys, armadillos, deer, birds and more.
As you enter the Muyil Ruins, you will come across El Castillo - the largest and most notable structure of this ancient archaeological site. Standing at 57 feet high, it is the highest pyramid on the Riviera Maya Coast and truly unmissable! During your walk, you will come across several other structures. The Muyil Ruins are less frequented by tourists, with the whole walk taking about an hour, eventually leading you to the lagoon in the Sian Ka’an biosphere.
At the end of the trail, you will have the option to climb the observation tower for a truly breathtaking view of the jungle, forest and lagoons. Well worth the climb in our opinion!
The Muyil boat float
Without doubt, one of the best ways to experience the beauty and nature of the Sian Ka’an Reserve is through the Muyil boat float - one of our most popular private tours!
Once you have reached the lagoon, you can opt-in for a tranquil boat trip down the winding canals of the Reserve. These canals were dug by the Mayan people and used for over 2,000 years, with crystal clear water running through them.
The trip will take you past other ancient Mayan sites within the Reserve and give you the chance to swim and float tranquilly down the canals. Have your cameras at the ready as you get an up-close view of the wildlife and vegetation protected by the Reserve - including turtles, mangroves, crocodiles and more!
Cenote near Muyil
For the full experience, combine your Muyil trip with a visit to a near cenote - an underground sinkhole created by years of limestone erosion (more on cenotes in our previous blog!). There are a few cenotes near Muyil that you can visit, such as Xulo and Caterpillar. However, they are mostly cave-diving cenotes so if that’s not right for you then head towards Tulum where you can find a number of stunning and popular cenotes, including Gran Cenote and Cenote Calavera.
If you’re looking for a private tour of Tulum or the Sian Ka’an Reserve, you can book one of our O2 Tulum tours here.