cenotes near tulum

The complete guide to the Coba’ ruins and surroundings

In ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES, MEXICO, TULUM by Isabella Biava2 Comments

The Coba’ ruins, or more properly named the Coba’ archaeological site, is one of the most interesting among the Mayan Pre-hispanic cities and one of the most popular.

His location, immerse in the Mayan jungle makes it a popular attraction for many tourists.

And yet, is not even close to the crowd you would find in Chichen Itza.

Visiting Coba ruins is still very enjoyable whether you are alone or friends or family. It’s actually one of the most kids-friendly among the archeological sites, both because of the shadows offered by the thick jungle preparing you from the hot sun, and also because you can rent a bike or a cart to take you around so the kids would not get tired.

The popular main pyramid, Nohoch Mul, towering over a thick and overwhelming jungle is also another reason why you would want to visit.

It is very easy to find it, as it is situated right in the town of Cobà,  a tiny village with so much to offer, as I explain in my guide.

As you drive along the lagoon, once you arrive in town, you find the entrance of the site right in front of you. You can leave the car in the parking lot (small fee required) and purchase the ticket at the counter inside.

There you will find clean toilets and restaurants where you can purchase your drinks; it is always recommendable to bring water with you even though inside the site, by the main tower, you will find a small refreshment kiosk (but no bathrooms).

Coba archeological site mayan ruins - Boundless Roads

How to visit the Cobà ruins?

WALKINGThis ancient city is spread out throughout the vast territory and it is kind of a walk. It’s pleasant and mainly in the shade of the beautiful secular trees, but it can still be tiring if you are not used to walking, or to the heat, especially with the humidity rate.

BY BIKE – The good news is that if you don’t like walking you have other options, one of which is by renting a bike. The trails are wide and flat so renting a bike makes it very easy and much faster than walking. Rental cost Mx 50 per person.

BY CART – It’s called bici-taxi, an even more comfortable way to get around the place. It’s a sort of cart with two seats in the front while the driver (who has to pedal) sits behind. The cart will only take you only to the main pyramid and back. Rental cost Mx 150 per cart. For families with small kids especially, this is your solution: kids won’t get tired and they will have so much fun.

Mayan pyramid in the jungle

Should I hire a guide to visit the Coba’ ruins?

At the entrance, you will also have the option of hiring a local guide, which I always recommend just to get the basic information on Mayan history, from what little is known.

Just bear in mind that many pieces of information are just suppositions from different historians who sometimes make broad interpretations. This is at least what I have learned in all these years. Still, I find it enlightening to know the different versions.

If you don’t wish to have a guide, before you start your pleasant walk in the jungle, you will find a map with indications on where to go.

You won’t get lost. There is actually one at every site.

cart in coba

What to see in the Coba’ archeological site

Nohoch Mul Pyramid

The main tower,  42mt tall (137ft), is without a doubt, the highlight of the Coba’ ruins and one of the few high pyramids left that you can still climb, although at your own risk. There is a rope all along the stairs which you can hold on to make you feel more comfortable.

If you have vertigo, like me, just don’t look down. Look straight at the next step and you will conquer it one at a time; once you reach the top it will make it all worth it.

I find this site very special for being so spread out and within a thick, lush jungle. Although it is very touristic and you will find quite a crowd visiting, it doesn´t take away the charm of the original ancient city.

Coba archeological site mayan ruins - Boundless Roads

Since I am not an expert in Mayan history, yet, I am not going to offer you any historical details about the Coba’ ruins here and I’ll leave it to you to discover through the expert guides at the site or specific books that can introduce you to this fascinating world, like for example Popul vuh, considered a sacred book on the Mayan history and traditions, an interesting introduction to the Mayan mystery.  However, I would like to mention here for you a few highlights to keep in mind when visiting the Coba’ ruins:

The Coba’ group

A few constructions situated at the entrance which include the ball court, an important element in the Mayan religion, for the so much represented and talked about ceremonies.

Coba Stelae

Its hieroglyphics reveal a great amount of information about the life in Coba’, their dresses, ceremonies, and their society in general. An interesting source of information for archaeologists and historians.

Sac Be

The limestone white paved roads that were built to connect the different settlements and cities for commercial purposes.

Having said that I would suggest you should do what I always do when I visit:  just walk in, look up and look around you, breathe deep and let it all come to you. It’s magical.

the view from a Mayan temple

Coba’ entrance fee

The entry fee starts from 65 pesos (about 4 USD) and it decreases according to the number of people in your party. You can check that information on a spreadsheet at the ticket counter.

A guide costs around 500 pesos (USD ), for up to 4 people

When to visit Coba’ ruins

The site Opening Hours are from 8 to 5 but if you wish to stay longer until 7.30 you can do so by paying 220 pesos per person. You also have the opportunity to go early morning from 6 am for the same 220 pesos but you would need to book in advance and have a minimum of 5 people.

I highly recommend to be there as soon as possible to beat crowds and heat, especially in the summer, it can be exhausting.

What to pack when you visit the Coba’ ruins

How to get to the Coba ruins from Tulum (bus, car, tour)

You have many different options to get to Coba’.

Reach Coba from Tulum by bus

Take a second-class bus Mayab which leaves at 7:20 AM. from ADO bus terminal. (The ticket costs MXN 50)

There are later busses as well but I suggest you should get to Coba early, both because this way you manage to visit both the Coba ruins and the Coba cenotes but also because it’s extremely hot later in the morning and the archeological site would be overcrowded with groups. The ride to Coba village takes about an hour.

Return bus to Tulum leaves Coba at 3 PM (first-class bus ADO), and Mayab leaves at 5 PM.

Very Important to know that you can check the ADO schedule online but the Mayab schedule is not published so you need to ask to the ticket office at the bus station. Please always double-check the time I gave you because they might change.

Reach Coba’ by Colectivo

The colectivo is a minivan, the preferred means of transportation by locals who don’t have a car.

There are collectives (or combis), that take you from Tulum to Coba at a cost of 70MXN. However, be mindful that they leave only when they fill the van, so they don’t have a precise schedule. If you want to try the experience you will find them waiting for passengers at the intersection of Tulum Avenue and Calle Osiris.

For the return, make sure you know the BUS scheduled in case you don’t find any colectivo available, especially if you are not planning to spend the night in Coba’.

Book a tour

If you prefer to join an organized tour you can choose among many options. There are in fact many tours that combine different destinations, for half days one full day.

They almost always come with a guide which I find useful when you are visiting an historic place and in general to know about the local culture and society.

Going to Cobá by car

I always suggest to rent a car and drive around because you have the freedom to visit in your own terms, without having the pressure of the tight schedules that groups normally have. I love to drive around a place and find new corners to discover, for as long as I want.

If you are new with driving in Mexico, I have written a useful post with tips and interesting information that might be useful as there are a couple of things you need to know and need to be careful about.

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How to visit  Coba’ cenotes

The small village of Coba is blessed with a strategic location and rich with spectacular natural resources, among which 3 cenotes that happen to be close to one another.

Cenotes are natural sinkholes and only in the Yucatan peninsula, there are around 6000 of them scattered around.

They offer a refreshing experience especially after a long and exhausting walk in the humidity and heat of an archeological site.

If you want to know more about the origins of a cenote please check my guide to the cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula for more detailed information.

How to get from Coba ruins to Coba Cenotes

Unless you travel around Mexico by rental car, which I always recommend, the only way how to get to Tamcach-Ha, Choo-Ha, and Multum-Ha cenote is either by bike or by taxi as there is no public transportation.

You can find are a couple of rental shops by the entrance to Coba Ruins, no reservation is required.

The road is safe, flat and there is no traffic at all. It’s around 7 km to get there only.

Cenote Tankach-Ha

The first Cenote is Tankach-Ha, 20m deep.

There is a platform with 5m and 8m jumps, from which you can test your courage.

Cenote Choo-Ha

Choo-Ha, the second one, closer to the entrance, has a different shape and a maximum depth of only 10m; you cannot jump from here as the ceiling is quite low, but it has a beautiful configuration with a stalagmite and stalactite sticking out in the middle of the water.

Cenote Multum – ha

The third one is Multun – ha, a bit further up the main road.

Just follow the signs, and don’t feel lost if it seems like you never get there.

It is a white gravel road in the jungle that leads you right to the entrance.

Among the Coba’ cenotes, this one is the deepest, at 32m/90 ft., though there is no high platform to jump off, since the ceiling is quite low here, too. The entrance looks like a well, and it feels a bit scary to think you are so deep down into the earth.

Coba Cenotes Opening Hours

The three cenotes of Coba’ open from 8 to 6, every day.

Coba’ cenotes entry fees

110 MXN (6USD approx) per person for both cenotes (Multun-ha has a separate entrance and its fee is 65mxn per person, 4 USD approx)

To know more about Coba’ cenotes, check out my full guide.

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Where to stay in Cobà (with rates)

Top Luxury hotel in Cobà

Coqui Coqui > 400$

An exquisite high-end property for the sophisticated traveler who is looking for elegance and tranquility. Located at the very end of the main road of Cobà right on the lagoon.

Check prices on Booking.com I Hotel.com – Read reviews on TripAdvisor

Mid-range price hotel in Cobà

Aldea Coba > 140 $

If you love luxury and beauty but you are not particularly interested in breaking the bank. This is the hotel for you. A relatively new property (2017) boasts spacious and nicely decorated rooms in a spectacular jungle-garden. Hard to beat for that price. According to previous guests, service is also impeccable. Located on the main road on your way to Coba’.

Check prices on Booking.com – Read reviews on TripAdvisor

What to do and where to stay in Coba - Boundless Roads

PHOTO COURTESY OF COQUI COQUI HOTEL

Budget hotel option in Cobà

Hotel Sac Be’ Cobà > 30$

If you are not interested in luxury but still love nice and cozy, Sac be’ Coba is a cute little property located on the main road on your way to Coba’.

Check prices on Booking.com  – Read reviews on TripAdvisor

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Comments

    1. Author

      Hello Bob! thanks for stopping by! Coba is really beautiful! If you happen to come back you should definitely check this out. And many more 🙂

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