One of the 20 archaeological sites found in Mexico’s Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a little south of the seaside resort of Tulum, Muyil is one of the lesser known of ancient Mayan settlements. Muyil takes its name from one of the two nearby lagoons, Muyil and Chunyaxche, and represents one of the most beautiful and well preserved natural environments of the nature reserve, making it a perfect day trip for those who want to combine nature and history.
The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a protected area measuring approximately 1.3 million acres, 70 miles of Caribbean coastal reefs, mangroves, and savannas, and is home to over 350 types of birds, as well as pumas, jaguars, ocelots, three different species of monkey, crocodiles, three species of turtle and an abundance of plant species. Bird watching in and around the Mayan ruins of Muyil is a very popular activity.
Muyil was settled by the Mayans around 300 B.C., centuries before Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tulum. It remained as a settlement up until the time of the Spanish invasion in the 16th Century when locals either fled or were killed by diseases spread by the invaders. It was a densely populated settlement during the pre-Hispanic era and buildings were mainly of a civic, religious and residential nature.
The settlement’s close proximity to the Muyil Lagoon made it an important maritime trade route, with well documented relations to the city of Coba. The canals joining the lagoons crisscross the reserve and can be explored with locally operated swimming tours.