Only a short drive south of Tulum, there's a nice little site with very few visitors. This site goes under two names, Muyil and Chanyaxche. It is not big, but there are a few interesting buildings and the historical significance is apparent. Muyil makes a nice stop on your Tulum or cenote day-trip.
Muyil is a Post classic city, which means it is contemporary or a little earlier than Tulum. Most of the buildings on the site date back to 1100-1200 AD. There is no doubt that this was an important trading post for the for the Post classic Maya, thereby playing a significant roll in the developments during this era. During this time of Mayan history, trading flourished and became more extensive, both in volume and distance. The technique of building large sea-going canoes were refined and international exchange increased. We know Muyil served as a trading post, because of its location. It is constructed very close to a couple of lagoons, Laguna Muyil and Laguna Chunyaxche, which provide a protected port. The lagoons are connected with each other and with Boca Paila on the coast through a 24 km long canal. The canal is built right through the nature reserve Sian Kaan, with wetlands and mangrove. It was constructed by the ancient Maya, and it is maintained by their descendents of today. About halfway down the canal is a small, unrestored Mayan ruin. This was most likely a point of security and/or customs where out-of-town merchants had to state their purpose.
Although not many of the buildings in Muyil have been restored, it is a nice little site to visit. It is not well known, so chances are you will be on your own. The Castle, El Castillo, is actually quite unique in the Mayan World. It stands 17 meters high, making it taller than any of the buildings in Tulum or elsewhere on the coast. This pyramid is a great example of the Mesoamerican tradition of adding newer and bigger structures on top of old temples. Even a layman can clearly see at least four different layers of construction of El Castillo. The remodeling of temples was done for various reasons, for example to celebrate a new ruler or the coming of a new era. A round tower presides on the top of the pyramid, which is an unusual feature in Mayan architecture.
Another reconstructed building in Muyil is the Pink Palace, where you can still see evidence of the stucco the Mayans used to cover and decorate their buildings. Some of the original paint is still clearly visible in the little temple on top . This is also a good example of the somewhat asymmetric, almost crude, architecture employed by the Post classic Maya. Classic Mayan constructions are usually more precisely made when it comes to angles and details. The photo on the Mundo Maya page shows the Pink Palace.
There are many more buildings in Muyil, although most of them have not yet been reclaimed from the jungle. In some cases you can make out the shape of a pyramid in the wild rubbles, tickling your fantasy. Ancient paved roads, called sacbe, can also be found on this site. Their unrestored appearance shows the force of the jungle beneath. One of them, logically, leads to the lagoon that would have been the entrance for most visitors 800 years ago.
The site is open daily between 8am and 5pm. Entrance fee is 17 pesos, except on Sundays when admission is free. Your visit will probably last about half an hour. Restrooms are being constructed. Parking is free.
Continue south about 15 minutes (22km) after passing the village of Tulum and you'll find it on the left hand side. Very easy.