I have been to a lot of places around the world and every so often there is a place that really grabs my heart. Sure I love exploring new destinations, but it takes a lot for me to want to go back. Tulum is that place for me. I recently got back from my second trip there and each time leaves me wanting more and more. Tulum is definitely a hot spot right now but for good reason. There is so much to see and do! This time we discovered a new spot that quickly became a group favorite. We went to visit the Muyil Ruins and float the Lazy River in Tulum. There are guided tours to do this but they are expensive. Here is How to Visit The Muyil Ruins & Float the Lazy River in Tulum on your own.
I’m sure you have seen photos of the famous Tulum Ruins. It’s a beautiful piece of history nestled up against the Caribbean Sea and a fun day. That being said, unless you go early in the morning, it gets hot and crowded. While it shouldn’t deter you, I’d like to share a second option of Mayan Ruins to visit in Tulum.
The Muyil Ruins are a lesser visited Mayan site that is only 30 minutes south of Tulum. But here is where is gets better. The Muyil Ruins are located up against the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. In this biosphere you can float down a natural lazy river surrounded by mangrove trees and it is AWESOME. We didn’t want to spend $200 per person on a guided tour to do this, so we hopped in the car and went to visit the Muyil Ruins & Lazy River on our own. But there are some things to know before you do!
Muyil is a 20 minute straight shot from Tulum. If you have a rental car your GPS will be able to help you get there. The parking lot for the ruins will be on your left and parking is free. Another option if you do not have a car is to take a taxi. But make sure you give them a time to come back and pick you up because it would be hard to get one to take you back to Tulum after. You will need 5-6 hours here to visit both the ruins and do the lagoon / lazy river tour. Your last option would be to take a Collectivo, which is a shared van / small bus. You could catch this in Tulum and then get off at the Muyil stop. I personally have not done this, but I think it wouldn’t be hard to manage unless you were in a large group.
(Also, if you are staying in Cancun or Playa Del Carmen, this is a day trip worth doing!)
Cold Hard Cash
The benefit to doing this day trip on your own is you save quite a bit of cash. All of the tours I saw online were $150-$200 per person. Now truthfully if you must do a professional tour, this is one worth spending the money on because it is really special and unique. But the great news is you don’t have to.
But to do it successfully on your own, you need plenty of pesos. My group of friends and I almost learned this the hard way. There is no credit cards accepted at any point of this day and no ATM on site so come prepared. You need pesos for three parts of this journey. The ruins, entering Sian Ka’an, and to hire a boat at the lagoon. We did not anticipate the fee to enter the biosphere, so we nearly didn’t have enough to hire a boat by the time we got there. Here is a break down of the prices
What to do at the Muyil Ruins
Once you’ve paid your entrance fee for the Muyil Ruins, you can check out the different Mayan buildings on site. The ruins are fairly spread out but there are some beautiful shaded paths to take you between ruins. It’s nice because it offers you a break from the intense sun. These ruins are much less crowded than the ruins in Tulum. During our time there we saw maybe 15 other people? Once you’re ready to head to the lagoon, you can trek on back behind the main ruin and hang a left at the lagoon sign.
Welcome to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere
This starts the journey into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. Upon entry you have to pay more pesos per person. It’s a bit annoying because you do nothing during this other than walk, but I guess you can look at it as a tax or helping preserve the biosphere. (It’s protected) You will walk for a good half hour on a boardwalk shaded by trees and greenery. It’s really peaceful, quiet and beautiful. Not much to see, just keep walking ahead.
When the path opens up you’ll see the beach and the lagoon. It was so special when we visited at the end of May because there was a massive migration of butterflies that all mate on this specific beach in Sian Ka’an. I have never seen anything like it! Apparently they are only there for a couple of weeks.
Boats & The Lagoon
Here at the lagoon you can hire a boat captain to take you on a three hour lagoon and to float the muyil river tour. Everyone works together so someone will approach you to figure out the pricing, which for us came out to be about $70 per person. We were a group of 7 so we were split between two boats that left at the same time. The day had already been great but this is when things got awesome.
As your boat departs from the dock in the lagoon, you take off over beautiful crystal clear waters at full speed ahead. This lagoon is fresh water and protected from the sea, so the water is pretty calm. After about 20 minutes, your boat slows down and goes through some narrow passages surrounded by trees and leaves. It is truly spectacular to see. The passage way opens up to another massive lagoon where you boat docks and you get to swim in the lagoon for about 45 minutes.
**TRANSEAU TRAVEL TIP** MAKE SURE YOU BRING MARINE SAFE SUNBLOCK, lIKE THE ONE I WROTE ABOUT HERE. YOUR BOAT GUIDE WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO USE A CHEMICAL BASED SUNBLOCK AND YOU WILL GET BURNT
The water at the lagoon was so warm and fairly shallow, so it was really fun to swim and spend time at. There were no other boats at this lagoon. After you leave here you head towards where the lazy river is. Your boat navigates some more very narrow canals where you dock again. As if the day couldn’t get any better, buckle up because it does.
time to float the Mayan lazy river
Once you strap on your orange life jacket in an unusual way around your waist, you jump off the dock to float! You are now in the lazy river which surprisingly has a decent current and moves quickly. For the next hour you float down a lazy river that was used by the Mayans. Covered by mangrove trees and other vines and fauna, you are mostly in the shade. The water is warm and it is such a fun and special experience. It is probably one of my favorite things I have done traveling ever, and that’s really saying something.
Once you reach the end you walk back on a dock to get back to the boat and leave. The only downside to this is you wish you could float the lazy river a second time. If you have more time, I imagine you could pay a bit more to do it twice. A short boat ride and your back to the lagoon where you walk back to the parking lot. About a 15 / 20 minute walk.
Overall now that you know How To Visit the Muyil Ruins and Lazy River in Tulum, it should be at the top of your list to do. You could even do this as a day trip if you are staying in Cancun or Cozumel, it is that good. As far as things to do in Tulum goes, this is my by far my personal favorite.