Muyil River Float
The Muyil river float will take you to one of the more spectacular locations in the Riviera Maya. You will be entering into Sian Ka’an reserve and discovering a beautiful natural area. None of this is manmade except if you count the Mayans cutting a canal over 1000 years ago to connect the lagoons.
What makes this so spectacular is the fact that this is all ground water flowing out towards the ocean. The water has been filtered through the limestone and is crystal clear. When you enter the “river” to swim, there is a current and you are gently floated along the river through an area about 4-6 feet deep. Along the banks are mangrove and savanna areas with local flora and fauna.
What to expect when going to Muyil
When you arrive to the dock, either if you came by yourself or by tour, you will get in a small boat. The local guides all belong to the local community. You will be supporting the local people by taking this tour.
The boat will take off across the first lagoon and then through a narrow canal to the other lagoon. After you cross the second lagoon you will enter the area where you will start the Muyil river float.
Just where you enter is a remnant of the Mayan culture. After you finish your river swim you will return here and be able to take photos.
Floating along in the river
Either the boat captain or your tour guide will show you how to wear the life vest upside down so you can sit in it. It seems very silly to have it like a diaper but it makes sense when you are in the river. This way you can sit and float along the river. Your upper body will be more free. The current will take you along and your total time will be around 40 minutes in the water. This is a super tranquil experience.
Finishing your river float
At the end of the river your captain will bring your shoes to the dock where you can put them on and walk the boardwalk back to the boat. The surrounding area is beautiful savanna with pockets of water and small fish. This area is also home to over 300 species of birds, so keep a look out for them.
Once you arrive back at the boat, your captain will take you back across the lagoons to the dock.
Our video introduction to Muyil river float
Just so you can see how beautiful this area is, we made this video of above and below the water.
How to get to Muyil
Muyil is known as the ruins just south of Tulum along the 307 Highway. Hence the area got the name “Muyil river float”.
Going south from Tulum you will drive about 19km or 23 minutes on the highway. When you get to the Muyil ruins on your left, pass the ruins and in about 20 seconds on your left will be a dirt road (see map below). There is not a good sign for the road entrance. Take this dirt road all the way to Lagoon Chunyaxche. Along the way make sure you watch on your right hand side the remnants of Mayan ruins. There is one distinct carving visible right next to the road.
At the end of the road is a parking area. It can get full at times, especially midday. Parking is allowed along the narrow dirt road. Just be careful not to park too close to the edge especially if it has been rainy, you can get stuck.
Taking a tour to do the Muyil river float
Some people might not feel comfortable setting this activity up themselves. It does involve getting yourself there via transportation, arranging a price and even then, there might not be availability for the boats if they are busy. You might consider taking a tour here.
A tour to Muyil can include the nearby ruins and a certified archeological guide to show you around. Here is one tour you can take to Muyil to float in the river and visit the nearby Mayan ruins. This is not too touristy so you will have an opportunity to see this beautiful area while the crowds are all in Tulum ruins and miss out on this river float.
This tour does pickups from the Tulum area. Either you can plan on taking the colectivos or ADO bus to Tulum to meet this tour or after booking, see if they have any ability to pick you up from other locations outside of Tulum.
Sian Kaan Muyil Floating Canals
How much is it to take the boat to the canals?
If you go there yourself you can expect to pay around 1050 pesos per person for the boat. There are minimums for how many people the boats will take and prices do vary. This is cash only when paying at the dock.
Have you been to the Muyil river float? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.
If you are going to be in the Tulum area, you might also like to read our article on the best things to do in Tulum.
Since experiencing the float down Muyil’s canal, it has become the first place I take friends that come to visit. I have seen tourists skip the ruins to get to the lagoon, which is a shame. But that’s all right, I prefer to keep it a treasured secret!
Is this activity available year round? It looks beautiful and I want to do this river float in February.
Yes Mike! The weather and water temperature is warm enough to enjoy Muyil and Sian Ka’an year round. It is very enjoyable if you can make it.
How long would you say we should allow to explore the ruins and then do the river float? We have limited time and are trying to prioritize what is “must see”. Trying to get an idea of how long the boat ride takes to get to the floating river.
Would is be possible to do the ruins and floating river, AND still do the Tulum ruins on the beach, in the same day?
Thank you so much for any tips and advice!
Thank you for your question. We would go first to Muyil and depending on the weather and how warm it is, go first to the dock and ask about a boat. Getting there early beats most people. The entrance to the dock is just past the ruins of Muyil on a dirt road that is not well signed. It can take about 25 min in boat to get to the river then about 45/1 hour floating and coming back. It is not rushed so there is a spread of time there. Then go see Muyil ruins. This can take 30 minutes or a little more if you do the trail from the dock to the ruins. Then Tulum ruins and end with going to the beaches just south of the Tulum ruins for late afternoon beach and sunset. A big tip would be to drive from Muyil into Tulum and take the road to the beach, then at the beach take a left. Go to the end and park. There is a paved trial to the entrance of the ruins and then when you are done, exit to your car. Sometimes this beach access road is closed when full. Plus you save time not parking and driving to the beach afterward.
Awesome article! Very informative. Thank you for sharing.
You provided all the information we needed to arrange our own tour. We went to the boat dock/landing as you suggested and bartered with the boat owners waiting there. We paid about $700 pesos each for a tour that included the float down the canal, about 2 hours long. Our guide happened to work with Community Tour, the Mayan-owned business, but we lucked out and found him between tours so paid less than usual. He was wonderful and we tipped him generously. After the tour, we had a delicious lunch at Restaurante Chayunxche across the road from Muyil ruins.
That is great Alex. Glad you got to go to this magical place.
Do they provide you with lunch or snacks
These tours are only a few hours. So no food is included. There is a local restaurant on the highway just across from the turn here or you can eat in Tulum.
Is there a number I could call for this place? How would I get there if I am at a hotel in Playa.
There is no phone number. For transport from Playa Del Carmen you can take the bus or colectivo to Tulum and take a taxi or colectivo toward Chetumal. This area is not as visited so it is good to have a rental car or take a tour here. It is very hard to figure out public transportation here. Even the road into to the pier is about 1 km from the highway.
With the seaweed situation in Playa right now, sounds like this is a good alternative to the beach!
Yes, there are many alternatives to the beach. Cenotes, ruins, colonial towns, eco parks ad rooftop pools. This place is special so we hope you get to go.
Hi, what time would we have to be there? We would love to have this experience of floating towards the ocean.
If I have a telephone number I could call you, otherwise you hold send us the information via mail.
We don’t offer this tour but you can click the link where it says Sian Kaan Muyil Floating Canal in red and you can book a tour there.
I loved the Muyil River Float. It’s such an inspiring and meditative experience. As you float you can literally feel the magical energy of the Mayans.
We are so glad you enjoyed it! It is a magical place!
I stopped by and checked prices and they are now at 700 pesos per person. I had done it a few years ago and it was 500 pp then.I thought it was overpriced then so of course the new prices are a tourist gouge.
Rates are controlled by a collective so free enterprise has been cast out the window.
Hang on to your wallet Gary…now at 1000 pesos
Has anyone managed to get themselves to Muyil Ruins and the River float from Playa del Carmen without a tour and using public transportation? My boyfriend and I are in our mid-twenties, active people, and both fluent in Spanish. It’s going to be our second time visiting PDC. We’re trying to explore outside of PDC in a more affordable way and on our own. We think we can handle finding our way too Muyil by ourselves, but after reading the comments we aren’t so sure. If we take the ADO Bus to Tulum, are there colectivo stands nearby the ADO Bus Stop? Do we have to walk into town to catch a colectivo toward Chetumal?
If you take the ADO to Tulum you can get a colectivo going south toward Chetumal. These are not as frequent as the ones between Playa and Tulum. You will have to specify the entrance to the Muyil lagoon entrance and not Muyil ruins. The stop is about 1/2 km further. Then from the highway walk about 10 minutes to the boat dock. Here you will need to negotiate a price. We have ben with a group and solo. When we have gone as two people there were no other groups and it was going to be very expensive to take the boat since you need to pay for gas and time of the driver. If you do go, it is good to go early since you get a better chance of getting on a boat with people. Returning to Tulum you will have to catch a colectivo. These come every 15/20 minutes. So you will have to be paitient.
Looks like fun! Would you recommend this for children ages 7 and 9? They know how to swim.
It is fun for everyone. All people wear a lifejacket and the current is very gentile. So you float along. the boat ride is also very smooth since it is a lake. So it is very good for children.
February 2020. Price for arriving on your own has jumped to M$1000 yes that’s 1000 pesos. 700 if you are with a pre arranged tour. It was fun and unique but we can see a lot of cenatos for that money
Update on price. $1050 pesos per person. Includes a tour of the ruins and boat ride to float down the channel. Well worth the price.
Thank you Tracy for the update on the price.